Associated Press

Chris Ilitch to be the Tigers owner

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This is not at all surprising, but as this story in the Detroit News makes clear, Chris Ilitch, son of Mike, will now ascend to the Tigers’ ownership chair by virtue of his father’s passing. Major League Baseball will, eventually, designate him the control person of the franchise.

As the story notes, Chris Ilitch has been running the day-to-day operations of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. for years. That’s the company which manages all of his parents’ business interests, including the Tigers, the Red Wings, Little Caesars Pizza, the new Little Caesar’s Arena and the Motor City Casino, which is operated by his mother. As such, there will be little if any change in continuity with respect to the company.

The article is nonetheless enlightening as a piece of perspective. The family business he now helms has revenue of around $3.4 billion. All of major league baseball takes in around $10 billion. As such, the Tigers’ portion of Ilitch Holdings is relatively small, all things considered, especially compared to the amount of attention they receive by virtue of being a professional sports team.

Mike Ilitch was lauded as a generous owner due to his willingness to put money into his team and to sign and retain players who excited the fan base. And he certainly was. The reality of the situation, however, is that what constituted big splashes for the baseball team were relatively small potatoes in the context of the larger business empire, so Ilitch could certainly afford to do it. Ilitch was generous, yes, but he was no fool and did not take silly risks.

There are many baseball owners, however, who are wealthier or who operate larger businesses with greater revenue than Ilitch had and nonetheless place tight budgets on their ballclubs and take every opportunity to explain how they’re just getting by or, in some cases, losing money.

When Ilitch passed over the weekend, he was widely praised. Not all baseball owners are when they shuffle off. There’s likely a lesson to be learned in all of that.

Giants remove pitching coach Dave Righetti

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After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.

According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.

Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.

Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.