The Braves Ballpark Bamboozling is beginning on schedule

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A little more than 48 hours after the Braves announced their move to Cobb County, an editorial has appeared in the Marietta Daily Journal celebrating the move. And, boy is it a celebration:

The move by the Atlanta Braves to Cobb is a homerun for this county. The economic impact will be huge, the new stadium “will be one of the most magnificent ever built,” according to Braves president John Schuerholz … Schuerholz has strong management skills but, most importantly, he has integrity. He is not given to hyperbole … this deal should be a slam dunk for commissioners … What is so appealing to the commissioners is the economic impact which obviously will be very substantial.

Obviously. Except nowhere in this endorsement if there any consideration or assessment of that impact. The closest we get to it is when he says that there will “probably” be hotels.  Really. A companion editorial is a little less cheerleader-y in tone, but says this:

Revenue bonds could be paid off with funds generated by the stadium complex, although county taxpayers could still be responsible for making up the difference if stadium or other revenues fall short . . . A more likely scenario, though, is that the stadium will more than pay for itself and that its presence will unleash a flood of additional sales and hotel/motel tax revenues.

More likely? Based on what, peyote hallucinations? How about some acknowledgment — even the slightest acknowledgment — that every single stadium ever built has been accompanied by promises of economic development that have gone unfulfilled. That pie-in-the-sky “it’ll pay for itself” rhetoric is almost always shown to be utter baloney in the end. How about a little more critical thinking and a little less magical thinking

Not happening, because boy howdy, magical thinking is clearly the order of the day here. To wit: there are acknowledgments of traffic problems that are quickly dismissed with an assertion that they’ll surely fix those problems by then. How they’ll fix it is all vague, but we have top men on it. Top. Men. And there is an assertion that “99% of taxpayers” will not feel any sting from this thing because of some magic taxes that don’t have any economic implications at all will take care of it. Don’t worry your pretty little head.

None of those kinds of assertions ever turn out to be the case, of course. Stadiums always cost more than first claimed. The public part of the bill is always bigger than it’s initially claimed to be. The economic impact of these places is always far less, if it even exists at all. But this time it’ll be different, though! Because Jon Schuerholz has integrity. And the commissioners find it appealing. It’s a home run/slam dunk hybrid, after all.

Why do people continue to peddle this stuff? Maybe it’s because people buy it. Or don’t care. But whatever the case, the fact that it is peddled at all is an absolute disgrace. It’s cheerleading disguised as journalism.

And all of it will be forgotten when there’s a “Marietta Daily Journal” sign painted on the left field wall of the new ballpark and when the publishers and editors of the paper are ensconced in their luxury boxes, watching the Braves play ball.

(h/t to J.C. Bradbury for the heads up)

More position players have pitched this year than ever

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Yesterday, in Milwaukee, utilityman Hernan Perez pitched two scoreless innings, and backup catcher Erik Kratz pitched one himself, mopping up in a blowout loss to the Dodgers. In doing so they became the 31st and 32nd position players to pitch this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the most position players who have taken the mound in a season in the Expansion Era, which began in 1961. Presumably far fewer ever did so when the league had only 16 teams.

It’s pretty remarkable to set that record now, in this age of 13 and sometimes 14-man pitching staffs. That’s especially true when teams shuttle guys back and forth from the minors more often than they ever have before and when, due to the shortened, 10-day disabled list, it’s easier to give guys breaks because of “injuries” than it ever has been.

Pitcher usage is driving this, however. While teams carry far more relievers than they ever have before, they actually carry far fewer swingmen or mopup men who are capable of throwing multiple innings in a blowout to save other pitchers’ arms. Rather, teams focus on max-effort, high-velocity relievers who go one or two innings tops, thus requiring catchers and utility guys to help do the mopping that actual pitchers used to do.

I don’t know if that’s a bad thing necessarily — some of these backup catchers throw harder than a lot of pitchers did 30 years ago and it’s always kind of fun to see a position player pitch — but it is yet another way the game has changed due to a focus on specialization and velocity when it comes to pitchers.