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Arizona Diamondbacks sue to get out of Chase Field

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The Arizona Diamondbacks have filed suit against the Maricopa County Stadium District to get out out — or to alter — the terms of their lease for Chase Field. Specifically, they have asked for the removal of a clause in their lease which¬†prevents the team from talking to outside stadium groups until 2024 and prevents them from leaving the ballpark until 2028.

The lawsuit is the latest chapter in an increasingly acrimonious dispute between the team and the county stadium authority. At issue: the team has claimed that the county must make $135 million in necessary capital improvements to the ballpark. The county maintains that the Diamondbacks are asking for mere cosmetic improvements to the park. Others have claimed that the Dbacks simply want to reduce the number of seats in the 48,500-seat stadium in order to increase ticket prices and revenue.

The Diamondbacks had attempted to get an outside investment group to cover the costs in exchange for development concessions. They have also told the county that they would handle the improvements in exchange for allowing the team to essentially take over the ability to host non-baseball events in the park. The development deal has fallen through and their offer to the city rebuffed. Last spring the team asked the county to let them out of the lease. That was sharply and colorfully refused by the county. Now the club is suing to do it.

Chase Field opened for business in 1998. Despite the Diamondbacks’ claims in the suit that the renovations are needed to ensure the safety of the facility, it seems far fetched that the ballpark is on the verge of being structurally unsound after 19 seasons of use (the club says it’s OK for 2017). That matter, of course, would be at issue if the lawsuit progresses and each side would present expert testimony on the matter.

What does not seem far fetched, however, is a club looking for a lucrative new ballpark — or seeking lucrative renovations on someone else’s dime — despite playing in a relatively new one. The Braves are doing that this spring as they move into Sun Trust Park after playing in Turner Field between 1997 and 2016. The Rangers likewise are building a new ballpark despite Globe Life Field coming online in 1994. In both cases, the reason for the move was/is clearly financial.

Are the Dbacks doing the same thing? That would seem to be a matter for the courts now.

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
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Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.