Mark Armour and Dan Levitt have written a book: In Pursuit of Pennants, which examines how front offices have historically found innovative ways to build winning teams. In support of that, they are counting down the top-25 GMs of all time over at their blog. Since it’s slow season, I’m going to continue linking to the countdown as it’s great stuff we rarely read about in the normal course.
If you came of baseball-watching age sometime between the late 1990s and, oh, three or four years ago, you can be forgiven for thinking that the Baltimore Orioles are a perpetually messed-up and dysfunctional franchise. Yes, they’ve righted the ship just fine since Dan Duquette has been there, but before that, hoo-boy, things were a mess.
If you’re older than that, though, and if you paid attention to baseball between the late 50s and the late 80s, you know that the Orioles were, for decades, the Gold Standard for how a franchise should be built and run. Which makes the fact that this top-25 list Mark Armour and Dan Levitt have put together contains a boatload of executives who either got their start, made their bones or completed their legacies while working for the Baltimore Orioles make all kinds of sense.
The latest — and not the last, if I have the top-10 guessed properly — is one Harry Dalton. Go learn about him here.
The business we’ve been discussing about Cuban players being unblocked by the U.S. government and Major League Baseball comes to an absurd little point today. ESPN reports that, as part of the new procedures to clear players, they must provide a sworn statement. This is the statement:
MLB provided teams a copy of the statement each prospect must sign. It says, in part, “I have taken up permanent residence outside of Cuba. In addition, I hereby state that I do not intend to, nor would I be welcome to, return to Cuba. Further, I hereby state that I am not a prohibited official of the Government of Cuba … and am not a prohibited member of the Cuban Communist Party.”
It’s unclear from this story where the bit about their party affiliation comes from. My assumption is that they are magic words designed to track the language the government is using in defining what is and what is not subject to continued U.S. sanctions in light of the recent announcement regarding normalization of relations. Whereas before any Cuban playing here is assumed to be here in a political asylum posture, in the future, some could be here on other terms and the U.S. government wants to maintain restrictions on Cuban Communist Party members while relaxing things with respect to regular citizens.
Still, it’s messed up optics to have people making such oaths. I want to know if a guy can hit an offspeed pitch, not whether or not he gets a Happy Triunfo de la Revolución card from Raul Castro each January 1. Neither or government nor our institutions should be in the business of asking about political affiliations, let alone requiring certain affiliations in order to let people ply their trade.
The president’s new budget proposes the elimination of a tax break that team owners take advantage of in getting publicly-funded stadiums built:
Under current law, governments can use the proceeds from tax-exempt bonds for private activities, such stadium projects, unless more than 10 percent of the debt service comes from a private business, and more than 10 percent of the use of the facility is attributed to a private interest. Both have to be true for the exemption to be denied.
As part of its fiscal 2016 budget request, the Obama administration is proposing to change this dual test for sports facilities by focusing the exemption only on the question of how much the facility is used by a private interest.
There’s a good chance that the provision will be trashed during the process of budget negotiations — that’s just how it goes — but sometimes merely putting something on the table changes the parameters of the discussion.
If nothing else it will possibly force politicians who claim they are protective of taxpayer money, to explain why they support the giveaway of hundreds of millions to wealthy sports owners for ballparks which do little to benefit the public but a great deal to benefit said wealthy sports owners.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro “covets” Padres starter Andrew Cashner. Handy, of course, given that the Padres are one of the teams said to be interested in trading for Cole Hamels.
It would take more than Cashner, though. He’s pretty spiffy when he’s pitching, but he has struggled to stay healthy. Still, the 28-year-old right-hander has a 2.96 ERA in 51 starts while holding opponents to a .234 batting average since becoming a full-time stater.
I don’t much care who A-Rod takes out for dinner, but apparently some anonymous person with the Yankees thinks it’s really bad that Rodriguez and his girlfriend, Torrie Wilson, have broken up. From the august Page Six:
Rodriguez and superfit Wilson, both 39, began dating in late 2011 and were often seen working out together. Wilson is popular in the Yankee organization, as she was seen as a “good, calming influence” over Rodriguez. A Yankee source said, “Torrie is a lovely girl. The last thing Alex needs now is to be single, dating and distracted by women.”
What, exactly, about Alex Rodriguez over the past couple of years has suggested that she has had a good, calming influence over him? At least from the Yankees perspective? These same anonymous Yankees sources have painted A-Rod as a raving, out-of-control sociopath who has done everything this side of literally pouring gasoline on the floor and lighting it while cackling, but now they’re concerned that his “good, calming influence” is gone.
Oh well. Ladies: line forms on the left.