michael pineda pine tar

If you’re against unwritten rules, be against all unwritten rules

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Jon Morosi writes today that the calls for baseball to legalize pine tar or some other substance for pitchers in cold weather in the wake of the Michael Pineda incident are dumb:

So, because Pineda foolishly and brazenly flaunted baseball’s cold-weather code, Major League Baseball is supposed to tear up its rule book? . . . The Yankees have lost Pineda for 10 games, because they did a poor job of communicating baseball’s unwritten rules: You can’t use pine tar . . . but you actually can . . . everybody does it . . . you just need to be careful . . . it’s probably a good idea to rub it on your glove or belt loop so that the umpire and TV cameras can’t see.

Repeating myself from yesterday, I’m not sure how people are supposed to accept the directly conflicting ideas that (a) “there is absolutely nothing wrong with using pine tar and everyone else does it”; with (b) “by God, don’t let anyone see you doing it, you idiot!” It’s either wrong or it’s right, cheating or not, isn’t it? We can talk about how severe a case of cheating it is and whether it warrants big discipline or little discipline, but things are either allowed or they are not. If they are not, criticizing people for not being sneaky enough in doing it seems like a really dumb message.

And, in this case, a bit of an inconsistent one from Morosi, who has quite admirably advocated for doing way with baseball’s silly and antiquated “unwritten rules.” Indeed, just four days ago he quite wisely said that baseball needs to get over itself with the unwritten rules and dumb codes of respect some people have read into the game regarding bat-tossing, admiring home runs and on-field exuberance. Now he’s all for the same sort of silly code about how one does or does not properly break rules.

Of course, given the guy’s track record on consistency, perhaps I shouldn’t be all that surprised here.

Jake Peavy is having a bad go of things right now

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 25: Jake Peavy #22 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at AT&T Park on May 25, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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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.

The AT&T Park mortgage is paid off

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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.