And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Yankees 7, White Sox 2: Gosh, I just don’t know how the Yankees are gonna compete with the rotation in such bad shape. I mean, really, it’s dire (Ivan Nova 7.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER 10K).

Phillies 3, Giants 0: Cliff Lee tosses a seven hit shutout. Microcosm game: both teams can pitch, the Giants have no offense anymore, and thus comparisons between this series and the 2010 NLCS are not exactly apt. Seven straight for the Phillies.

Rangers 5, Tigers 2: The Rangers put at least a temporary halt to their current skid behind a strong outing from Alexi Ogando. Brad Penny — who seems to only pitch in day games — got lit up again.

Cardinals 7, Marlins 4: Single, double and a homer for Albert Pujols and — thanks to Edwin Jackson totally wearing that game on Wednesday afternoon — the Cards were able to trot out seven pitchers to keep the Feesh at bay. Like I’ve always said: that Tony La Russa is a genius.

Indians 7, Red Sox 3: Justin Masterson outpitches new hire Erik Bedard. At least by a little. Same number of runs allowed in one more inning for Masterson. The bullpens were the difference, with Andrew Miller giving up two runs on four hits while walking two in two and two-thirds. Carlos Santana went 3-for-4 with three RBI and Kosuke Fukudome had three hits.

Rays 7, Blue Jays 6: An exciting twelve inning affair. Desmond Jennings hit a solo homer in the 10th to tie it up at four. Then Robinson Chirinos tied it in the 11th with a pinch-hit single and won it with a two-out single in the 12th.

Cubs 7, Pirates 6: Things were relatively under control for the Pirates until the eighth, but then four Pirates relievers managed to allow three Cubs runs, turning a 6-4 Pirates lead unto a 7-6 deficit, which proved to be the final score.

Royals 9, Orioles 4: Before the season, every time I was asked about the Orioles’ chances, I’d say something about how that young rotation needs to come around.  Guess what? They never did, and a nightmare season continues.

Angels 7, Twins 1: Dan Haren took a shutout into the eighth and Mark Trumbo drove in four. Home run number 598 for Jim Thome.

Rockies 6, Nationals 3: Esmil Rogers slid into Ubaldo Jimenez’s slot in the rotation and things went just fine (5.2 IP, 7 H. 1 ER).  A homer for Tulowitzki.

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.