And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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I’m gonna be honest here: I didn’t want any games last night. Instead I watched “Serenity,” which seemed necessary after finishing up the entire 14-episode run of “Firefly” on the treadmill over the past couple of weeks.  The verdict: not bad, but I liked the series better. As “Star Trek: The Next Generation” showed, when you don’t have unlimited time and money for special effects, your drama is better. That said, watching Summer Glau go all killing machine on everything was pretty sweet.

Fun happening: As I was watching it, my daughter Mookie came downstairs to get a drink of water. I just introduced her to “Star Wars” recently. She saw a spaceship and said “is this ‘Star Wars?'”  I said no. Then she saw Mal and she said “but he’s just like Han Solo.”  From the mouths of babes.

Sorry. Got caught in a geek hole there for a second. Won’t happen again. At least until the next time it happens. The scores:

Twins 4, White Sox 1: Here’s how it is: I always love it when I tape a radio spot for an overnight show and then, after taping but before it airs, something happens that makes whatever I said on the show sound dumb. Stuff like “Carl Pavano is kind of a mess,” which is what I said on the show I was on last night. Pavano: CG, 6 H, 1 ER.

Red Sox 3, Rays 0: Something else that made me sound retro-stupid: I exchanged some emails with HBT Daily’s Tiffany Simons yesterday, talking about potential segment topics. One of them was to riff on some ESPN reader poll about who the four or five best pitchers in baseball are, a list which included Josh Beckett. I went on about how Beckett doesn’t belong and then a few hours later he tosses a freakin’ one-hitter. Shows you what I know. And hey, Mitt was in the house!

Nationals 10, Cardinals 0: Livan Hernandez really took St. Louis to the cleaners. You could even say he laundered ’em. Eh, OK, that was a little forced. Still: CG SHO 3 H, 6K.

Rockies 6, Padres 3: From the actual AP game story:

Jhoulys Chacin is starting to make a name for himself, even if few can properly pronounce it.  For the record, it’s yo-LEES cha-SEEN.

I can’t say I ever saw that in a game story. But hey, at least I know how to pronounce it now.

Reds 7, Dodgers 2: Cincy sweeps the Dodgers, taking this one thanks to three hits and three RBI from Scott Rolen. Oh, and it was Dusty Baker’s birthday yesterday. He turned 62. Which means that he’s about eight months younger than my mom. Which is kind of weird to think about.

Phillies 8, Marlins 1; Phillies 5, Marlins 4: I’m sure all of you placed large wagers on Kyle Kendrick having a more dominant outing than Roy Halladay and are now on your way to your bookie’s place to collect your winnings?

Blue Jays 4, Orioles 1: Ricky Romero had 12Ks in eight innings and the Jays had three homers. None from Jose Bautista, though, who has had a very mortal June. I guess he stopped taking all of those undetectable steroids once John Harper of the Daily News got on his trail during that series in New York.

Indians 6, Tigers 4: The Tribe rallied from being down 3-0 in the fourth and Orlando Cabrera put them ahead in the fifth. O-Cab (eh, why not?) was 3 for 4 with two RBI. Cleveland is back in first place by percentage points.

Yankees 12, Rangers 4: When the Yankees lineup for the game was announced yesterday afternoon, all the Yankees fans on my Twitter feed bitched and moaned about Jones, Nunez, Cervelli and Pena filling up the back end of the lineup. Guess it was OK, because for the second night in a row the Yankees win by a 12-4 score. This time some of the 12 came courtesy of two Mark Teixeira home runs.

Brewers 9, Cubs 5: Rickie Weeks homered and hit two doubles, powering Milwaukee into sole possession of first place in the Central. For Chicago, I defer to an email I got from reader Kerry N., who had a few observations about the “strength” of this Cubs lineup:

How do you know when you need a new left fielder?  When he’s batting 7th.  Blake DeWitt can’t even get ABs as a backup middle infielder, but tonight he starts in a corner outfield slot. But wait, there’s more!  The Cubs starting OF had four home runs coming into tonight.  Reed did just hit another, but … wow.

It’s always more satisfying to outsource criticism of a team to a fan, because only a fan can truly capture a team’s faults.

Giants 5, Diamondbacks 2: Madison Bumgarner gave up a couple of homers — which he doesn’t do very often — but he was otherwise effective and the Giants gave him some run support, which they don’t do often.

Pirates 7, Astros 3: Xavier Paul came in as a pinch hitter and doubled, so he stayed in the game and then hit a two-run homer and a single. Neil Walker drove in three. Pittsburgh is a over .500 now.

Mariners 3, Angels 1: Seeing Erik Bedard effective (7IP, 3 H, 0 ER) is not the most surprising thing in the world because he’s an excellent pitcher. Seeing him actually take the ball every fifth day, however, is kind of strange.

Mets 4 Braves 0: Probably good that I watched “Serenity,” because if’n I was going to watch baseball, I probably would have watched this and would have been been dealt the dual frustrations of long rain delays and Dillon Gee totally flummoxing my team. The Braves mustered only two hits on this long night. The Mets are at .500.

Athletics 2, Royals 1: Josh Outman shuts out Kansas City on four hits over seven innings. Bob Melvin gets his first win as an A’s manager at home, delighting the no doubt dozens in attendance.

The Padres owners try to explain why they aren’t spending money

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There was an interesting article in the San Diego Union-Tribune over the weekend about the Padres, their owners and their finances.

The article purports to be a rare look into the finances of a big league club. And yes, the owners opened their books, to a degree, to the writer of the story, talked about the team’s financial position, its debt and its approach to team payroll, past, present and future. The upshot: the team has had lots of debt, has had to do a lot of work to get out of that situation and now, with some restructuring out of the way, the club looks forward to spending more on players. Eventually. Like, maybe in 2020 or 2021.

On the one hand, yes, it’s actually got some good information in there! Some details about team finances you don’t often see. Which is totally cool as far as that goes. The problem is that the article doesn’t go nearly as far as it may seem and, in the end, is just a far more elaborate than usual excuse from a team about its failure to spend money.

The tell here comes from what is not mentioned as opposed to what is. For example, while it talks about how much is being spent on various things — baseball salaries, operating, marketing, etc. — nowhere does it talk about the owners’ own take. Rather, it leaves you with the impression that the owners haven’t seen a dime from the team in the several years that they’ve owned it. Color me extraordinarily skeptical about that. As we’ve seen with other clubs — most notably the Marlins, but most do it — broad categories such as “baseball operations” or “non baseball operations” often include substantial payments to owners in less-than-obvious line items. Payments to LLCs and partnerships for “consulting” or “management fees” or what have you. Do the Padres have similar expenditures? We can’t tell from this article, but it’s telling to me that they have spent about as much on front office/miscellaneous baseball ops stuff as player salaries over the past several years. A lot of that has been at building a strong minor league development system, but I’m guessing not all.

Similarly, there is an awfully large portion of the article aimed at telling the tale of the clubs’ massive debt and its restructuring. Yes, debt service can be a killer for liquidity, but it doesn’t really talk too much about the debt for its own sake. Such as the fact that (a) the current owners knew full-well of the debt they were inheriting from the previous owner, John Moores, when they bought the team; and (b) that by assuming the debt, their purchase price for the team was lowered, as it always will be in transactions that involve a lot of debt-assumption. The current owners have had the team since 2012. I don’t recall them telling the public then that there would be a near decade’s worth of swimming against the current of debt before they started paying for players. That’s never been in the season ticket brochure.

It’s also worth noting that, for as much as the debt restructuring is talked up in the story, it is saving the Padres only $8 million a year. They’ve been at least $60 million below the luxury tax threshold for several years now. It’s more than the club’s debt keeping them from spending money. It’s largely been a choice.

Again, none of which is to say that the article is not interesting in its own right. It certainly is. There is certainly more information here than one typically sees in an article about a team’s finances. But it is just partial information. Moreover, it seems to be aimed at justifying another year or two of non-contention to fans without satisfactorily explaining all of the many years of non-contention which preceded it. The Padres famously went all-in and spent some money on players in 2015. Why did that make sense then if this debt problem has been there all along? Why did they give Eric Hosmer over $100 million last year? The article wants to portray ownership as sober and responsible and prudent and use that to explain why the Padres have stunk on ice for a good long time, but it is not very convincing in communicating some consistent, rational thread from ownership.

That all of this comes at a time when clubs are being criticized for not spending money is no accident, I suspect. As such, I am choosing to read the piece for some interesting information it conveys while understanding that it has a pretty significant P.R. component to it as well.