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.
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.