The Braves Ballpark Bamboozling is beginning on schedule

47 Comments

A little more than 48 hours after the Braves announced their move to Cobb County, an editorial has appeared in the Marietta Daily Journal celebrating the move. And, boy is it a celebration:

The move by the Atlanta Braves to Cobb is a homerun for this county. The economic impact will be huge, the new stadium “will be one of the most magnificent ever built,” according to Braves president John Schuerholz … Schuerholz has strong management skills but, most importantly, he has integrity. He is not given to hyperbole … this deal should be a slam dunk for commissioners … What is so appealing to the commissioners is the economic impact which obviously will be very substantial.

Obviously. Except nowhere in this endorsement if there any consideration or assessment of that impact. The closest we get to it is when he says that there will “probably” be hotels.  Really. A companion editorial is a little less cheerleader-y in tone, but says this:

Revenue bonds could be paid off with funds generated by the stadium complex, although county taxpayers could still be responsible for making up the difference if stadium or other revenues fall short . . . A more likely scenario, though, is that the stadium will more than pay for itself and that its presence will unleash a flood of additional sales and hotel/motel tax revenues.

More likely? Based on what, peyote hallucinations? How about some acknowledgment — even the slightest acknowledgment — that every single stadium ever built has been accompanied by promises of economic development that have gone unfulfilled. That pie-in-the-sky “it’ll pay for itself” rhetoric is almost always shown to be utter baloney in the end. How about a little more critical thinking and a little less magical thinking

Not happening, because boy howdy, magical thinking is clearly the order of the day here. To wit: there are acknowledgments of traffic problems that are quickly dismissed with an assertion that they’ll surely fix those problems by then. How they’ll fix it is all vague, but we have top men on it. Top. Men. And there is an assertion that “99% of taxpayers” will not feel any sting from this thing because of some magic taxes that don’t have any economic implications at all will take care of it. Don’t worry your pretty little head.

None of those kinds of assertions ever turn out to be the case, of course. Stadiums always cost more than first claimed. The public part of the bill is always bigger than it’s initially claimed to be. The economic impact of these places is always far less, if it even exists at all. But this time it’ll be different, though! Because Jon Schuerholz has integrity. And the commissioners find it appealing. It’s a home run/slam dunk hybrid, after all.

Why do people continue to peddle this stuff? Maybe it’s because people buy it. Or don’t care. But whatever the case, the fact that it is peddled at all is an absolute disgrace. It’s cheerleading disguised as journalism.

And all of it will be forgotten when there’s a “Marietta Daily Journal” sign painted on the left field wall of the new ballpark and when the publishers and editors of the paper are ensconced in their luxury boxes, watching the Braves play ball.

(h/t to J.C. Bradbury for the heads up)

Matt Carpenter suspended one game for bumping umpire

Dylan Buell/Getty Images
1 Comment

Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter has been suspended one game for bumping home plate umpire John Tumpane when he didn’t like a called strike three in the seventh inning of Sunday’s game against the Brewers. Manager Mike Matheny was also ejected along with Carpenter.

Carpenter will serve his suspension Tuesday night, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Through his first 69 nice plate appearances this season, Carpenter is hitting .236/.362/.364 with a pair of home runs and five RBI.

Dave Stewart says Diamondbacks’ early success is proof he was good as GM

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
10 Comments

After the completion of the 2016 regular season, the Diamondbacks fired then-GM Dave Stewart and then-manager Chip Hale. Stewart acted as GM for two seasons. His most controversial move occurred in December 2015 when he acquired pitcher Shelby Miller and minor league pitcher Gabe Speier in exchange for outfielder Ender Inciarte and prospects Dansby Swanson and Aaron Blair. After his firing, Stewart blamed his superiors for the trade and said his gut was telling him not to make the trade.

The D-Backs are now led by new GM Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo. The club had a relatively quiet offseason, as its biggest acquisitions were Taijuan Walker and Fernando Rodney. Defying expectations, though, the Diamondbacks enter Tuesday night’s action with a 13-8 record, just a game and a half behind the first-place Rockies. Stewart spoke to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports and said that the D’Backs’ success shows that he knew what he was doing all along.

This means a lot to me because this is the same team, or very close to the one that I put on the field. So basically all of those guys and baseball analysts who said I didn’t know what I was doing, it showed I knew exactly what I was doing.

Everybody was just beat up and not living up to expectations. So all of a sudden, it’s my fault. Well, it’s not my fault. I couldn’t prevent injuries or jump in their bodies to make them pitch better in the starting rotation. We put the right people on the field. So I don’t think anybody should be surprised how well those kids are playing. They’re healthy now. I knew this was going to happen.

Everyone should have seen it coming.

Not to rain on Stewart’s parade, but the Diamondbacks are five games over .500 in a relatively tiny 21-game sample size. Had his team valued analytics during his tenure, he might have known that. Additionally, few of the players performing well for the team right now are players Stewart himself was responsible for bringing to Arizona. Furthermore, the team’s success doesn’t retroactively justify what he gave up for Miller nor does it justify practically giving away Touki Toussaint and signing a 32-year-old Zack Greinke to a six-year, $206.5 million contract.

During and after his tumultuous tenure with the D-Backs, Stewart has appeared very insecure. When he was fired, he quipped, “Quite frankly, I’ve got better things to do.” He appeared on MLB Network Radio in February to deflect any blame directed at him for the team’s failure. And then there’s his most recent quotes in which he heaps praise on himself for the team’s success.

Stewart was an All-Star starter who finished in the top-three in AL Cy Young Award voting three times in his career. He’s understandably competitive and has probably built up a very strong distaste for failure. Sometimes, though, one has to make peace with the fact that things didn’t go one’s way. Stewart simply appears to be tilting at windmills to protect his ego.