Could things be any better for the Royals right now?
– Their 13-0 win over the Twins on Monday was their most lopsided victory since they beat the Mariners 17-3 on July 3, 2007. It was the first time since May 16, 1987 that they scored at least 13 runs and shut out the opposition (they beat the Brewers 13-0 that day).
– Jeremy Guthrie pitched his second career shutout in the game. He went his first 187 career starts without ever pitching a shutout. Now he has two after picking up his first May 5 against the White Sox.
– The victory was the career-high 12th of Guthrie’s career. Pitching for poor Orioles teams, he never won more than 11 games previously.
– Eric Hosmer homered and drove in a career-high five runs in the game. He hadn’t even driven in four runs in the same game since July 2011. He hit one homer in his first 61 games of the season, and he’s hit 11 in 46 games since.
– Mike Moustakas collected four hits for just the second time in his career. He’s batting .322 with four homers and 11 RBI in 59 at-bats since the break, compared to .215 with six homers and 17 RBI in his 275 previous at-bats.
But to answer that original question, yes, things could be going better for the Royals right now, because while they’ve won 12 of their last 13 games, the first-place Tigers have won 13 of their last 14. The Royals are currently 7 1/2 games back of Detroit in the AL Central and four games behind the Rangers for the second wild card, with the Indians and Orioles also ahead of them.
Veteran hurler Jake Peavy has not signed with a team. It’s not because he’s not still capable of being a useful pitcher — he’s well-regarded and someone would likely take a late-career chance on him — and it’s not because he no longer wishes to play. Rather, it’s because a bunch of bad things have happened in his personal life lately.
As Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports, last year Peavy lost millions in an investment scam and spent much of the 2016 season distracted, dealing with investigations and depositions and all of the awfulness that accompanied it. Then, when the season ended, Peavy went home and was greeted with divorce papers. He has spent the offseason trying to find a new normal for himself and for his four sons.
Pitching is taking a backseat now, but Peavy plans to pitch again. Here’s hoping that things get sorted to the point where he can carry through with those plans.
This is fun: The San Francisco Giants recently made their last payment on the $170 million, 20-year loan they obtained to finance the construction of AT&T Park. The joint is now officially paid for.
The Giants, unlike most other teams which moved into new stadiums in the past 25 years or so, did not rely on direct public financing. They tried to get it for years, of course, but when the voters, the city of San Francisco and the State of California said no, they decided to pay for it themselves. They ended up with one of baseball’s best-loved and most beautiful parks and, contrary to what the owners who desperately seek public funds will have you believe, they were not harmed competitively speaking. Indeed, rumor has it that they have won three World Series, four pennants and have made the playoffs seven times since moving into the place in 2000. They sell out routinely now too and the Giants are one of the richest teams in the sport.
Now, to be clear, the Giants are not — contrary to what some people will tell you — some Randian example of self-reliance. They did not receive direct public money to build the park, but they did get a lot of breaks. The park sits on city-owned property in what has become some of the most valuable real estate in the country. If the city had held on to that land and realized its appreciation, they could flip it to developers for far more than the revenue generated by baseball. Or, heaven forfend, use it for some other public good. The Giants likewise received some heavy tax abatements, got some extraordinarily beneficial infrastructure upgrades and require some heavy city services to operate their business. All sports stadiums, even the ones privately constructed, represent tradeoffs for the public.
Still, AT&T Park represents a better model than most sports facilities do. I mean, ask how St. Louis feels about still paying for the place the Rams used to call home before taking off for California. Ask how taxpayers in Atlanta and Arlington, Texas feel about paying for their second stadium in roughly the same time the Giants have paid off their first.