Yesterday we linked the story about Aroldis Champan’s offseason in the wilderness. He’s having adjustment problems. He sleeps late. He seems aimless in the offseason. It was kind of sad, actually, and you do wonder about where his head is at.
Paul Daugherty certainly wonders. He’s quite upset at the story — he even questions its veracity it is so surprising to him — and he gives Chapman a talking-to via his column. A serious one. If you doubt that, note that he cites Joey Votto as a positive example. This after Daugherty has spent the past year ripping Votto until Hell wouldn’t have it. Any weapon at hand, I guess.
The weird thing, though, is that Daugherty doesn’t even mention the single biggest reason to rip Chapman: that he is apparently a chain smoker. On what planet that’s acceptable for a professional athlete these days is beyond me, but Daugherty doesn’t mention it. If he had I’d be nodding in chorus.
What he does rip him for is (a) not considering starting pitching, preferring only to be a closer; and (b) working on his hitting and saying that the game gets repetitive.
Daugherty asserts that Chapman and Chapman alone has insisted that he be a closer, but that doesn’t exactly jibe with stuff we’ve heard from the Reds in the past. Dusty Baker and others in the organization used to give a lot of quotes about preferring that Chapman close. Maybe that has changed — perhaps the Reds approached Chapman recently and asked him to start only to have him refuse — but if that’s the case it’s both news and it’s, in all likelihood, a partial function of how the club has treated Chapman in the past few years: as a closer.
As for the other stuff? Eh, a lot of players get bored and try different things in the offseason. Some players spend all winter in duck blinds or something. Chapman goes to the batting cage and sleeps in. So what? It seems to me that the biggest takeaway from the Chapman profile is some concern about how he’s been adjusting (or not) not dissatisfaction at his attitude. But that’s just me I suppose.
But seriously, Aroldis: quit smoking. That crap will kill you.
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.