The Braves new ballpark becomes fodder for a Tea Party vs. Establishment GOP political battle

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It’s primary day down in Georgia, and in the Atlanta suburbs north of town, there is a primary battle for a state legislative seat which pits a Tea Party guy against an establishment, business-backed GOP candidate. The odd twist: it’s the establishment guy challenging the Tea Partier. Usually it’s the other way around. The twist which make this germane to HBT: one of the issues is the deal Cobb County made with the Braves to move them out of downtown Atlanta and into a new ballpark.

The entire story, along with the arguments from each side about the merits of giving taxpayer money to the Braves can be read over at Nathaniel Rakich’s excellent Baseball Ballot blog. For our purposes, know that for all of you guys who like to call me a flaming pinko, I have at least one thing in common with the Tea Party guy:

“So what I would say to the Atlanta Braves is, ‘We would love to have you. You, just like any other business, you take out your loan. You build your stadium. You buy your land. You make your investment. You take the risk, and you keep all the profits,'” Gregory said. “We don’t need to be putting or socializing the risk on the backs of taxpayers. It really is legal plunder, corporate welfare, corporatism, whatever you want to call it. The taxpayers don’t need to fund private business.”

Gregory said he would love to have a water park in his backyard, but understands the government is not going to give him the money to build one.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Of course, if I lived in the district I’d be totally willing to vote for his pro-stadium deal opponent given that this Gregory cat is insane on just about every issue I care about. You can’t go very far in life being a single-issue voter as it is, but being a single-issue voter on stuff like ballpark financing is bound to lead you into trouble eventually. I rant about it here, but when you see the tradeoffs you make in picking a candidate based on that stuff I’m a bit more measured about it all.

Politics, man. They’re rather complicated. Someone should talk about this more.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.