And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Red Sox 9, Athletics 6: Just yesterday Mike Napoli was named player of the week for last week. He’s making a bid for a repeat now, hitting a grand slam and driving in five runs here. Overall he has 25 RBI in 19 games.

Orioles 2, Blue Jays 1: Chris Tillman had a one hitter into the seventh. Nick Markakis walked it off with an RBI single which was made possible by Aaron Loup hitting a guy and then Munenori Kawasaki throwing the ball away on what should have been out number three.

Cardinals 3, Nationals 2: Practically the whole AP game story for this one was recapping game 5 of last year’s NLDS. Which, sure, I suppose provides a nice story and everything, but isn’t exactly insightful about today. For today know that Shelby Miller struck out eight in six and two-thirds and that while Drew Storen handled the ninth inning again, he didn’t contribute to the loss.

Rays 5, Yankees 1: Matt Moore is now 4-0 after giving up one run on two hits and fanning nine in eight innings. Two homers for Ryan Roberts.

Phillies 3, Pirates 2: Johnathan Pettibone made his MLB debut and it was a good one: two runs on six hits and striking out six in five and a third. He also reached on a walk and came around to score.

Mariners 7,  Astros 1: It’s almost unfair to make Houston face King Felix. Hernandez struck out nine in six shutout innings and, for once, got some run support in the form of homers from Kyle Seager, Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero. It was Hernandez’s 100th career win. If he got seven runs to work with more often he’d have, like, [does calculations on the back of an envelope] 3,394 wins.

Reds 5, Cubs 4: This one went 13 innings an lasted four and a half hours. I’m pretty sure there are committees within the United Nations who are working diligently to eliminate 13-inning Cubs games from the world on a human rights basis, but so far their work has been stymied by Real Politik concerns and obstructionism in the Security Council. The Cubs actually had a 4-2 lead in the 13th. Unfortunately the rules of baseball required them to try to close out the win in the ninth, where Michael Bowden coughed up three runs on four hits including a Jay Bruce RBI double.

Indians 3, White Sox 2: The White Sox are reeling, losers of ten of 13. Justin Masterson walked a few too many guys but picked up his fourth win. Two of them have come against the pale hose.

Brewers 7, Padres 1: Not exactly thrilled with my pick of the Padres as the surprising team in the NL West this year.  Ryan Braun and Yuniesky Betancourt hit homers and the Brewers won their eighth in a row. Kyle Lohse pitched well but injured his pinkie finger while batting. Commence your DH/anti-DH arguing … now.

Giants 5, Diamondbacks 4: Brandon Belt after the game: “I’m pretty lightheaded and my kidneys hurt right now.”  Uh oh! [looks at game story]. Oh, OK, it’s just because his teammates mobbed him during the walkoff celebration. Now if he’d only hit when he started.

Rangers 7, Angels 6: A.J. Pierzynski with a homer in the ninth which proved to be the winning run. Adrian Beltre hit a drive that fell just short of the wall before that. Safe to say that Ernesto Frieri wasn’t fooling anyone.

Braves vs. Rockies: POSTPONED: My eyes are blind but I can see. The snowflakes glisten on the trees. The sun no longer sets me free. I feel the snowflakes freezing me. Let the winter sun shine on. Let me feel the frost of dawn. Fill my dreams of flakes of snow. Soon I’ll feel the chilling glow.

Marlins vs. Twins: POSTPONED: There is no end to what we can do together. There is no end. The willow turns his back on inclement weather. We can do it, just me and you.

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.