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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.

Mike Scioscia and the Angels played yesterday’s game under protest

KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 27: Matt Shoemaker #52 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim throws to first as he tries to get the out on Raul Mondesi's #27 of the Kansas City Royals bunt in the seventh inning at Kauffman Stadium on July 27, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. Shoemaker's throwing error lead to Mondesi advancing to third and Alex Gordon and Paulo Orlando scoring.  (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Getty Images
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The Royals beat the Angels last night, but Mike Scioscia is hoping Joe Torre and the Commissioner’s Office gives him a do-over.

The Angels played the game in protest following what they believe to be a rules misinterpretation following a base running incident in the seventh inning. That’s when Raul Mondesi reached on a bunt single which scored two runs following a throwing error from Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker, whose attempt to put out Modesi sailed into right field. Watch the play:

Mike Scioscia came out claiming interference, arguing that Mondesi was not running within the baseline. The play was reviewed for over six minutes but the call — everyone’s safe and two runs scored — was upheld. After that Scioscia indicated tht he was playing under protest.

The thing about protests, though, is that they cannot be based on judgment calls. Rather, they have to be based on misapplication of rules by the umpires. Running outside of the baseline is a judgment call, though, right? So how can Scioscia protest it? Here’s his explanation:

“It’s not a judgement call. I would not have protested if I was not 100 percent correct on this. This is a misinterpretation of a rule. It was very clear. Phil Cuzzi, the home plate umpire, had Mondesi running inside the line in jeopardy the whole way, and stated that it’s okay because he was stepping back toward the bag, which is wrong.”

For his part, Royals manager Ned Yost believed it was a judgment call. For everyone’s part, protests are almost never upheld in baseball and, despite Scioscia’s comments, baseline calls are generally considered judgement calls.

If Scioscia is right, the game will be replayed, resuming with one out in the seventh inning and the runners where they started. But don’t hold your breath.

Politician behind the Braves new ballpark deal voted out of office

Suntrust Park
Associated Press
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Tim Lee was the Cobb County commissioner who led the charge to build a new stadium for the Atlanta Braves in the northern suburbs. The operation, despite being taxpayer-funded, was not passed on by the voters beforehand and was cloaked in secrecy at every turn. Best of all, once Lee and his fellow commissioners started taking heat for it, he held his critics in contempt and shut down any effort to examine the deal in public meetings or to allow dissent to it by the people he claimed to represent.

That’s not a great look for a public official. Which is why Lee is now a former public official:

Incumbent Chairman Tim Lee lost his reelection bid Tuesday to challenger Mike Boyce, a retired marine colonel, in a runoff seen by many as a litmus test for support of the deal to bring the Atlanta Braves to Cobb.

Boyce beat Lee, winning 64 percent of the vote, with all precincts reporting.

If you read that linked article, you’ll be amused to see that Lee’s supporters blame his defeat on Donald Trump and general anti-incumbent sentiment. To the folks watching that race, however, it was obvious that this was a referendum on bringing the Braves to Cobb County in the manner that Lee did. His opponent, also a Republican, ran a grassroots campaign that was explicitly about Lee’s lack of transparency and, in many respects, total secrecy in spending hundreds of millions of public dollars on the sort of project which study after study has shown does not provide economic benefits to the public in any way approaching the degree to which it simply enriches the owners of professional sports teams. Lee’s opponent, Mike Boyce, said this after his victory:

“Cobb County is a very conservative county and people simply want the respect shown to them that if you’re going to use their money, you have to ask them,” Boyce said.

Doesn’t seem all that controversial, Trumpian or anti-incumbent to me. That just seems like good sense.

Not that Lee is going away quietly. After his defeat, he said this:

I wanted to make a positive difference for my community. Thirteen years later, I can safely say that I’ve done that. In my last term, Cobb County landed the biggest economic development deal in its modern history. That investment – however unfairly maligned and misrepresented – is already paying off and will enrich this community long after many of us are gone . . . The election is over; our friendship is not. How about we catch a ballgame together? I know a great place about to open up. It’s in the neighborhood.

I’m assuming Lee will have free Braves tickets for life after what he did for them so, yes, he’ll always be at the ballgame. And yes, I’m sure he’ll always consider the stadium to have been economically beneficial because he’ll just point to a ballpark full of fans and, eventually, a winning Braves ballclub and claim that makes everyone’s life better. If he chooses to measure the ballpark’s economic impact the way actual economists do, however, as opposed to the way professional sports teams and their crony politicians do, I’m guessing he’ll have to reassess that stuff about how great all of this has been.

Not that I ever expect him to measure it that way. No one in power ever does. They’re too busy hobnobbing with retired ballplayers and team executives in the luxury suites and explaining away their failure to fund true public works and services as either something wholly unavoidable or the fault of someone else.