Leftover bits of the Phillies in Clearwater

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I wish I was joking when I say that I spilled water on my keyboard yesterday and now the “r” key on it doesn’t work anymore. But that’s what happened. I’m putting them in via CTRL-V, which makes everything a lot slower. It’s pretty nuts, actually. Weirdest part? When I type the letter “i” it types “ir.” Like the r migrated down the keyboard. I think the water I spilled on it was possessed by evil spirits. Or the computer watched the movie “Electric Dreams” or something.

Anyway, I’ll try to salvage this post as best I can. I have no idea how I’ll write the rest of the day, but we’ll deal with that later.

It was a nice day. As I said the last time I was here back in 2010, Bright House Field is one of the nicest in all of spring training. a great park with a great, beachy-party vibe. Good food. Nice people. Phillies’ employees, from the people in the executive offices to the guys who wipe down the seats, are impossibly polite and make your day at a ballpark as pleasant as can be.

I already posted about my conversation with Gene Garber and the ceremony for Jim Fregosi — and as I said yesterday morning, the clubhouses were closed, so there wasn’t much of a chance to speak to players — so let’s just look at pictures I took. Lord knows the mostly boring game I saw — a 2-2 tie — wasn’t worth too many words.

There are lots of familiar faces on the Phillies spring training staff. Here’s one:

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Unfortunately, Chase Utley got the start over him today.

 

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Yes, I eavesdropped. The conversation was not quite as good as a Charlie Manual-Bobby Cox summit meeting likely was back in the day, but you take what you can get.

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A year ago, if I told you that all three of these guys would be significant parts of the 2014 Phillies, you’d have told me I was crazy. Abreu was out of the game, Brown was considered a bust and Utley hadn’t played a full season in ages. Yet here they are.

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Same goes for Larry Bowa, actually. He seemed done as a coach or manager and was left to TV duties only. He seems invigorated back in uniform. He hit fungoes for what seemed like forever, then pitched batting practice for much longer than you usually see a coach pitch. The man is a machine.

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But let’s not kid ourselves. This was my favorite coach on the field yesterday. For obvious reasons. Those reasons being that I am 12-years-old.

 

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I considered it for a second. But c’mon, there’s a reason I look so sad here. I could never purchase Phillies gear.

Bright House Field is home to some serious non-baseball entertainment:

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Coolio: you’re sharing a  marquee with a sibling, a cover band and “Black Honkeys.” Maybe it’s time to consider something else to do with your life? Something new?

Eh, who cares. I had all the entertainment I needed:

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A cheesesteak and a lager at a ballgame: that’s about as good as it gets.

Now, off to figure out how to be a professional writer without an “r” key.

Report: The Yankee Stadium charity is a secretive, self-dealing boondoggle

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The New York Times has a blistering report on the New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund. The Fund is the charity the Yankees created in 2006 as a means of making up for the negative impact the construction New Yankee Stadium had on the surrounding community, primarily via its taking over 25 acres of parkland.

The idea of the Fund was a good one: to distribute $40 million in cash grants and sports equipment, and 600,000 free baseball tickets to community organizations in the Bronx over four decades. And it has been distributing funds and tickets. As the Times reports, however, the manner in which it has done so raises some red flags. Such as:

  • Charitable donations have, in an amazing coincidence, often gone to other charities which share common board members with the New Yankee Stadium Fund;
  • Funds have gone to many wealthy groups in affluent parts of the Bronx far away from the Stadium while the area around the stadium remains one of the most impoverished in the nation. For example, a private school in a wealthy part of the borough and a rec center in a gated community have gotten a lot money that, one would think anyway, could be and should be devoted to organizations closer to the ballpark that are in greater need; and
  • There has been almost no transparency or oversight of the Fund. Reports which were supposed to have been submitted have not been. And no one, apart from the Times anyway, seems to care. The Yankees certainly don’t seem to. Indeed, as the article notes, the team has worked hard to keep the Fund’s operations out of its hands. They just got their new ballpark and write the checks and hand out the tickets. Everything else is someone else’s problem.

Cronyism in private philanthropy is not uncommon. As is a lack of oversight. Often it’s the best connected people who receive the benefit of such funds, not the people most in need. This is especially true in charities whose creation was not born of a philanthropic impulse as much as it was born of a need to put a good face on some not-so-good business dealings.

If the Times’ report is correct — and the lack of anyone coming forward to dispute it on the record despite the Times’ requests that they do suggests it is — it appears as if the New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund is one of those sorts of charities.

Who is the fastest sprinter in baseball?

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We’re not talking the 100 meters here. We’re talking practical baseball sprinting. That’s defined by the StatCast folks at MLB as “feet per second in a player’s fastest one-second window,” while sprinting for the purposes of, you know, winning a baseball game.

StatCast ranked all players who have at least 10 “max effort” runs this year. I won’t give away who is at the top of this list, but given that baseball’s speedsters tend to get a lot of press you will not be at all surprised. As for the bottom of the list, well, the Angels don’t pay Albert Pujols to run even when he’s not suffering from late career chronic foot problems, so they’ll probably let that one go. I will say, however, that I am amused that the third slowest dude in baseball is named “Jett,” however.

Lately people have noticed some odd things about home run distances on StatCast, suggesting that maybe their metrics are wacko. And, of course, their means of gauging this stuff is proprietary and opaque, so we have no way of knowing if their numbers are off the reservation or not. As such, take all of the StatCast stuff you see with a grain of salt.

That said, even if the feet-per-second stuff is wrong here, knowing that Smith is faster than Jones by a factor of X is still interesting.