In May, voters in Cleveland will decide whether to renew a tax on alcohol and cigarette — everyone is calling it the “sin tax,” but it’s formally called Issue 7 — to fund upgrades and maintenance of Cleveland’s professional sports facilities. The tax has been in place for several years — it helped pay for the Cavaliers Arena, Progressive Field and the Browns stadium — but it’s expiring. If it passes, the new sin tax would be in effect for 20 years. While not a personal fan of any public dollars going to professional sports stadiums, at least this is being put to the voters, so do whatever you want Cleveland.
But even if democracy is at work here, there is still some unseemliness afoot. Specifically, at Progressive Field. The Indians, obviously, support Issue 7 . So much so that they are alleged to have fired an employee because he was unwilling to serve as a campaign sign for issue. From Cleveland Scene:
Edward Loomis, a former usher for the Cleveland Indians, says that the team’s campaign to get voters on its side also includes mandatory pro-Issue 7 stickers that must be worn by employees and that his refusal to wear the pro-sin tax gear led to his dismissal from his job.
Read the whole story. There is a suggestion that Loomis was fired for other reasons — there was a dispute about him coming to work on days he wasn’t scheduled — so it is possible that his refusal to wear an Issue 7 sticker while working wasn’t the real reason he was canned.
But even if he was fired for other reasons, is anyone else uncomfortable with an employer forcing its employees to wear campaign stickers like that? It’s legal in the private sector, I realize, but it’s not the sort of thing that has ever made me feel comfortable. At the very least, give people who may not agree with bringing politics into the peanut-selling business the option of remaining silent on the matter.
Former Tigers infielder Casey McGehee has reportedly signed a one-year deal with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
It’s the fourth move the corner infielder has made in the last two seasons after seeing short-term stints with the Marlins, Giants and Tigers. He signed a minor league deal with the Tigers prior to the 2016 season, providing the club with some infield depth behind 24-year-old Nick Castellanos. When Castellanos hit the disabled list in August with a broken hand, McGehee was recalled from Triple-A Toledo for a 30-game stint and slashed .228/.260/.239 with one extra-base hit in 96 PA. His career batting line (.258/.317/.384 over eight seasons) isn’t too shabby, but his age and a long history of knee injuries puts a damper on his potential.
McGehee last appeared in the NPB circuit in 2013, when he signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. He spent the bulk of his season at the hot corner, batting an impressive .292/.396/.515 with 28 homers in 590 PA and appearing in the Eagles’ first and only championship run to date.
The deal comes with a club option for 2018, Rosenthal reports, though no figure has been specified.
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.