The U.S. Track and Field team hired a former PED user as a coach. His name is Dennis Mitchell and he was part of the BALCO scandal. He was banned, reinstated and now he’s back.
New York Times columnist Juliet Macur is NOT happy about this. And I mean seriously not happy. Her unhappiness is cast in the sort of pearl-clutching, fainting couch moralizing and scandalizing that even the most anti-PED baseball writers have more or less given up because they realized it was basically self-parody. And while her story is about track and field, her unhappiness with this extends to baseball too:
Other sports also have some explaining to do, too, especially after assuming the public has forgotten — or simply doesn’t care — about the drug use that has wrecked the purity of their games.
Look in the dugout at Los Angeles Dodgers games, and you might see the hitting coach Mark McGwire, a slugger who once used steroids to perform his great feats. Stop by the San Francisco Giants’ spring training camp for a glimpse of Barry Bonds, the player convicted of obstructing a grand jury in a case centered on doping, who still will not admit that he doped to succeed. Or take a visit to the Chicago Cubs’ Class AAA Iowa affiliate, where Manny Ramirez, twice suspended for drug use, has just been hired as a player/coach.
I know some New York Times people read HardballTalk occasionally. If any of them could slip by Ms. Macur’s desk and explain that baseball’s purity was gone a long, long time before Mark McGwire got hired to be a hitting coach, I’d appreciate it.
Oh, and slip her the All-Star voting results too — the ones which currently have Ryan Braun starting in the outfield — to show her that to the extent baseball assumes fans don’t care, well, they’re absolutely right.
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.
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.