The Braves Ballpark Bamboozling is beginning on schedule

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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)

Derek Jeter: no longer the media’s darling

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There was a time, not too long ago, where the baseball press practically gave Derek Jeter awards for providing them no information whatsoever. As a player, he turned not answering questions into an art form. To the point where, eventually, the press just stopped asking him substantive questions almost entirely.

Unlike a lot of players who shut out the media, Jeter did it rather politely, so he did not get that passive aggressive treatment — or, occasionally, the aggressive-aggressive treatment — the press often gives uncommunicative players. To the contrary. He was positively lauded for his lack of communication. Lionized, even.

Take this column from Jeff Peralman at CNN.com from 2014, under the headline “Derek Jeter: Baseball’s Humble Hero”:

Throughout the first 18 seasons of his career, Jeter has often been labeled “dull” by the media. His answers to questions are unimaginative and full of cliché baseball nothingness blather. In hindsight, however, such lameness is almost to be admired. We live in an era where too many athletes feel as if they need to draw attention to themselves — for confidence, for commercials. If you’re not tweeting trash talk, you’re texting trash talk. Or making bold promises. Or demanding money or respect . . . he’s a guy who merely wanted to be a guy.

How about this from the New York Times around the time of his retirement:

Jeter’s ability to maintain a posture of sustained inscrutability — or, if you must, dignified comportment — has extended especially to the spoken word . . . he has played his best defense in front of his locker: catching every controversial question thrown to him and tossing it aside as if it were a scuffed ball unsuitable for play.

In a major league career that dates to the Clinton administration’s first term — he is the only Yankees shortstop a generation of fans has known — inquiring reporters have gathered around Jeter in the clubhouse thousands of times. He has maintained eye contact, answered nearly every question posed to him — and said nothing. This is not a complaint, but rather an expression of awe; of admiration, even. His batting average and fielding percentage aside, this kid from Kalamazoo, Mich., entered the New York meat grinder two decades ago and came out the other end looking as sharp as Joe DiMaggio’s suit.

This opinion of Jeter was pervasive throughout his career, but especially pronounced at its end of it. Jeter was deified by the press for saying nothing to the press. Praised for making the media’s job harder by the media itself. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it.

Times, however, have changed.

Some minor grumbling about Jeter’s non-answers to media questions began soon after he took over as Marlins co-owner. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post wrote a column about it all back in October, saying Jeter’s “Crash Davis Rules of Media Relations don’t apply anymore.” Not too many people echoed that at the time, probably because it came in the wake of a pretty boring introductory press conference and the stakes were pretty low. I did wonder at the time, though, if the media was waiting to turn on Jeter once he actually started making moves in his new role.

I think we can now say the answer to that is yes.

In the wake of the Giancarlo Stanton trade, a lot of baseball writers had a lot of questions for Derek Jeter. Jeter, however, decided that he didn’t even need to show up here at the Winter Meetings to answer them, despite the fact that he lives just a couple of hours away.

On Monday morning Buster Olney of ESPN made conspicuous note of it:

Later in the day Jeter deigned to talk to the media via a conference call. As usual, he said mostly nothing, but unlike 1997, 2007 or 2014 (a) he got testy about it; and (b) the press made a note of it:

They likewise noted when he passed the buck to someone below him on the org chart:

Last night I think a dam broke, and I don’t think Jeter will ever be able to sweet non-talk his way out criticism again. It all happened at a football game:

To sum up:

  • Jeter is now bad for not talking to the press;
  • Jeter is not lauded for his composure anymore; and
  • Jeter is being called out as a poor leader who does not face the music.

What a difference a few years and a change of role makes.

All of which, one would think, would make me at least a little happy. I mean, I’ll totally own up to rolling my eyes at the kid glove treatment Jeter got back when he played. About how his attributes, however great, were elevated even above their actual greatness and how his faults were, perversely, spun into attributes. You’d expect that, in light of that, I’d be sorta pleased that the tables have turned.

I’m not happy, though. Indeed, I have something approaching sympathy for Captian Jeets.

Why? Because, while I’d like to see him face the press, defend his moves as owner and explain his vision to Marlins fans everywhere, I know that he cannot. I know that he has no good answers to any of the questions he might be asked because the real answer to all of them is “hey, we need to make money for the ownership group and everything flows from that” and that’s not an answer he’s prepared to give.

Have some sympathy for Derek Jeter. He’s really in a tough, tough spot. Even if he put himself into it.