And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Yankees 4, Mariners 1: And then there were 17.  CC Sabathia carried a perfecto into the seventh — broken up right after he came back following a rain delay — and struck out 14.  The M’s struck out 18 times in all. But then again, they’re horrifyingly bad, so that’s understandable.

Braves 4, Pirates 3: The game ends in the 19th on one of the worst calls I’ve ever seen in a major league baseball game. Jerry Meals must have really, really wanted to get back to his hotel room.  Just inexcusable.  Instant. Replay. Now.

Mets 8, Reds 6: Johnny Cueto’s ERA stays sparkling thanks to all six of the runs he gave up being unearned, but it’s not like he pitched well.  The Mets had to get hits and stuff after those errors, and Cueto was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, Jon Niese gave up five runs in five innings and got the win. Baseball is a funny game.

Marlins 11, Nationals 2: HBT’s Macondo correspondent, Old Gator, wired in his report from this one last night right after it ended:

Just a heads-up about something wonderful that occurred during the Feesh game tonight.  Not just that they climbed over the imploding Gnats. Much better. A praying mantis flew into the visitor’s dugout during the late innings and landed on Clay Hensley’s cap, and he carried it around for awhile as his teammates laughed their asses off and he had no idea why. However, as soon as the mantis arrived, the Feesh exploded for five more runs. Eventually the mantis took up a position on the dugout rail – some priceless shots on TV of the ballplayers leaning on the rail with the mantis between them, watching the game – and then the best part: as the inning ended, Logan Morrison swung around to put his cap on, the mantis freaked and flew at him and landed on his back, and LoMo totally freaked out and was jumping up and down and bending and sashaying but the mantis stayed on his back. Someone took it off and put it back on the railing. Some viewer emailed the announcing crew and named it “Mickey Mantis.” It got a lot of play from the announcers who christened it the Mantis Game.

I’m pretty sure this is how the movie “The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh” started. Except somewhat differently.

Phillies 7, Giants 2: Philly made short work of replacement starter Barry Zito, who filled in for the scratched Tim Lincecum.  Really short work, as in this game was over in two hours and eight minutes. Zito wasn’t around for all of it, though, as he was knocked out after giving up six runs in seven innings. Vance Worley, on the other hand, looked like an ace (CG, 3 H, 2 ER), though I think the Giants’ bats had a lot to do with that. Inside the park homer for Chase Utley.

Angels 2, Indians 1: Jered Weaver and Josh Tomlin each had strong starts. Each only gave up one big hit too. Except that the one Tomlin gave up — a double to Mark Trumbo — happened with two guys on base and the one Weaver gave up — a homer to Matt LaPorta — came with the bases empty. The Tribe had a chance in the ninth, getting two men on with no one out against Jordan Walden, but couldn’t push a run across.

Orioles 12, Blue Jays 2: J.J. Hardy had two homers, Derrek Lee drove in five and the O’s had no problems with the Jays.  The Jays probably had some problems with the O’s, however, given that Jose Bautista had to leave the game after getting beaned.

Cardinals 3, Astros 1: A two-run homer for Pujols in the first was all the Cards would end up needing thanks to a solid effort by Jake Westbrook.

Brewers 3, Cubs 2: All of the scoring went down in the first inning so the game was either wonderfully front-loaded or else had eight wasted innings, depending on whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist. Or if you’re just one of those fascists who only cares about scoring. And actually …

Red Sox 13, Royals 9: … If you’re one of those fascists who only cares about scoring, this was the game for you.  I would think that sitting through this kind of game would be pretty brutal, however.

Twins 9, Rangers 8: Carl Pavano gave up all eight of those runs to Texas, who took the lead into the ninth. Neftali Feliz couldn’t seal the deal, however, allowing a single, a double and watching a run score on an Elvis Andrus error to tie it. Then Joe Mauer pinch hit for Drew Butera and hit a go-ahead RBI double. Nice way to shake off Monday night’s shellacking.

Dodgers 3, Rockies 2: Four wins in a row for the Dodgers and they do it on a night when Clayton Kershaw had nothing approaching his best stuff.

Diamondbacks 6, Padres 1: Joe Saunders pitched eight and two-thirds innings of a shutout, but allowed a homer to Jesus Guzman with two outs in the ninth. He still finished the Padres off with only 99 pitches.

Athletics 6, Rays 1: The Rays have lost 10 of 14 and the A’s continue their nice little offensive resurgence. Against David Price of all people.

Tigers 5, White Sox 4: New acquisition Wilson Betemit had an RBI single in the eighth and Justin Verlander did his usual thing, throwing eleventy billion pitches and winning, although he wasn’t the sharpest we’ve ever seen him.

The Braves are not just a baseball team. They’re a real estate company too.

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I’ve taken the Braves to task quite a bit in this space lately. This post and then, later, this post got a lot of attention, both from Braves fans who agree and nod their head and those who disagree and think I’m an overly cynical bad fan or whatever.

I don’t think I’m a bad fan or that I’m cynical. I just look at the facts on the ground and draw conclusions from them. The overarching fact that seems to matter here — separate and apart from any individual move or non-move the Braves front office makes — is that the Braves, as an organization, have interests other than winning baseball games and those interests, in turn, cannot help but impact the Braves’ approach to winning baseball games.

Interests like real estate. As the Cobb Business Journal reported yesterday, the Braves are involved in a complex bond transaction, the details of which bore me, but the upshot of which is that the Braves are building office towers:

The Development Authority of Cobb County signed off on a necessary step for the Braves to get the loan on Tuesday . . . Jonathan Smith, deputy general counsel for the Braves, said at Tuesday’s meeting that the project will span about four acres owned by the Braves. About half the land is being leased by Thyssenkrupp for the R&D tower, which the German conglomerate will own.

The other half will house the office building, which the Braves are building and will own, according to Smith. Half the office building is being leased to Thyssenkrupp, Smith said, and the other half is being leased to other companies, though no tenants have been announced yet.

This is all part of the Battery complex which surrounds SunTrust Park and in which the Braves — through a vehicle called Braves Development Company — have a substantial interest. When you appreciate the magnitude of that development and the sort of revenue the Braves are realizing from it now and will realize in the future, it’s hard not to conclude that the Braves did not get SunTrust Park built for them simply or even primarily to become a more competitive baseball team. They got it built for them so that they can become a real estate development company that happens to have a baseball team as one of its many components.

And don’t think that that the relationship between the development and the ball club is some weak and attenuated thing. Check out the Braves’ org chart, as set forth on MLB.com, with my highlight added:

Whatever the legal relationship is between Braves Development Company and the baseball team, both entities answer to Terry McGuirk, apparently on equal footing based on the titles of the people who run them. As such, when McGuirk says, as he did last week, that he “couldn’t be more optimistic” about the Atlanta Braves, it makes one wonder if he means the baseball team or the overall venture, only one part of which is concerned with baseball. Indeed, one of his answers to the question about why all the increased revenues aren’t being plowed into the team was “it costs a lot to build this edifice.” That answer was likely more literal than most people understood.

Sure, the Braves want to win — I truly believe them when they say they want to — but achieving that desire is far less critical to the Braves, financially speaking, than it would be if they did not have office towers to build, own and lease out with favorable tax treatment and other governmental assistance. The hit from missing the playoffs, for example, is a drop in the bucket compared to what it might’ve been back when they played in Turner Field or Fulton County Stadium. At the same time, money that is realized by the Braves, their real estate ventures, or both, can be used in any number of ways. Maybe the baseball team is the priority sometimes. Maybe it’s not.

Observing that does not make one cynical. The Braves are a baseball team with real estate interests. Or maybe they’re a real estate company with baseball interests. The proper way to characterize that depends on a lot of stuff about their financials and their priorities the Braves are likely unwilling to share with us, but it’s a simple fact that they have priorities that have little if anything to do with baseball. It’s fair game, then, to question the organization’s priorities when scrutinizing the baseball decisions they make.