Bob Raissman of the Daily News spoke with Curt Schilling, ESPN’s new Sunday Night Baseball color commentator. They talked about style and stuff, and Schilling, quite characteristically, does not lack confidence:
“I can watch a pitcher for an inning and have a deep and wide understanding of who and what they are and what they do . . . If I were to talk to you about a pitch sequence to a hitter in the seventh inning, literally every pitch has 50 to 60 thoughts, ideas and processes around it and behind it,” Schilling said. “Just getting some of that out there is going to be different, new and unique.”
I don’t know how unique that is. Tim McCarver, Schilling’s predecessor Orel Hershiser and many others talk about what the pitcher is thinking. Maybe Schilling can do it better because he’s a better pitcher than most analysts ever were and is certainly a smart guy. But hearing Schilling talk about being “different, new and unique” gives me pause. I’d love him to just give us an enjoyable broadcast, not try to make his mark. But I suppose we’ll see how it plays out.
The other big issue that comes up: criticism of players. Schilling says he’s going to criticize in a way that is not negative. I’m not sure what that means. In the context of broadcasting — and in the opinion of players — there appears to be very little distinction made between criticizing performance and being personally negative or attacking someone. Merely saying a guy didn’t have a good game plan at the plate is taken as out-of-bounds criticism at times and, as a result, there is a big tendency among ex-athletes to say almost nothing negative. It’s really a drag, because sometimes you have to say something negative.
If Schilling is able to make that distinction — to hate the player’s game, not the player — that truly would be revolutionary. I hope he does it. Because viewers will be just as much if not more enlightened to understand what led to a player’s failure in any given moment than merely to what led to his success.
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.