The guy who stole that home run ball in Boston being called “The Angel of Fenway”

102 Comments

The guy who grabbed a home run ball out of a woman’s hand to throw it out onto the field, and who is reported to have called a black fan nearby “Trayvon” and “Prince Fielder’s crackhead brother” has a fan club! It’s the mouth-breathers over at Barstool Sports Boston, who have dubbed this fine gentleman “The Angel of Fenway” and are quite upset that anyone thinks differently of the guy.

Upset at me in particular, as they quoted my post about it at length under an old picture of me and accused me of overreacting. It’s not racist to tell a black guy to “go back to the ghetto,” the Barstool guy says. Really!

They took specific issue with me when when I implied that the guy taking the baseball from the woman could be construed as assault and battery. But hey, don’t take the lawyer’s word for it. Here’s some legal discourse that absolves the guy in their view:

Has there ever been a bigger overreaction to anything in the history of earth than this guy’s take on the “Angel of Fenway” throwing that ball back last night? Trying to insinuate that it was the same thing as stealing her cell phone? That it was assault and battery. Umm no it’s not.  This wasn’t preplanned. This guy wasn’t taking it for himself.   It was pure instinct.  He did what he thought was right in the heat of the moment.  He was making a point. At worst it was a dickhead move. At best he won the game.

I think it says everything about the impotent wannabes at sites like Barstool that they think this guy could have “won the game.” They’re the sort of fans who believe they are far more important than the really are. Who believe that their ridiculously over-the-top passion actually has impact beyond allowing them to enjoy the game and making themselves feel better.  But hey, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe these guys, and not David Ortiz won it! Don’t doubt Boston pride! You wouldn’t understand!

In other news, I would suggest they take their own advice and see what it does for them. Go out and commit some actual crimes sometime, dudes, and tell the police that it’s OK because you didn’t preplan it and it was all in the heat of the moment. I’m pretty sure that’s a total defense to everything ever. One more:

But to start comparing it to a real crime is so far off the reservation crazy that it’s mind boggling.

Yeah, no one would ever think that taking a ball out of another fan’s hand by force is a crime. Well, except for police:

A teenager was assaulted and robbed of the home run ball he claims he retrieved Wednesday during the Giants’ loss to the Boston Red Sox at AT&T Park, police said. The 16-year-old was in the standing-only section above Levi’s Landing in right field when he scrambled to fetch the seventh-inning home run hit by the Red Sox’s Stephen Drew, Officer Albie Esparza said Thursday … Right after the victim took possession of the baseball, the suspect allegedly tackled him from behind, twisted his wrist, then pried the ball away and fled, Esparza said.

There was some he-said, he-said about it all but the fact of the matter is that police considered the matter a potential criminal act.

Oh, and the fan in that incident? The one who had the ball allegedly taken from him? Red Sox fan. How much you wanna bet that the Barstool guys are far more critical of the ball-snatcher there?

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

Getty Images
4 Comments

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.