The Braves are going to ask for tax credits for their new ballpark

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The idea behind tax credits and other tax incentives is to convince businesses to invest in the jurisdiction over which the taxing authority holds sway. When the business is already committed to investing in the area and there is no danger of losing said investment to another jurisdiction, there is little reason to grant that business tax credits and incentives. To do so is pretty gratuitous, actually.

But hey, sports:

Jim Walls at Atlanta Magazine has secured some documentsshowing “negotiators for Cobb County and the Braves considered funding packages that included up to $60 million in state tax credits on top of the $300 million in county funding.”  . . . another incentive, created especially for new tourism destinations, that can be granted only by the governor. If the team were approved for the program, it could earn the Braves a 10-year rebate on all sales taxes it collected at the new stadium – perhaps $20 million.

The Braves are absolutely undoubtedly staying within the state of Georgia. They have committed to it. There is no going back to Wisconsin or Massachusetts. They’re building a stadium in Cobb County. Yet I wouldn’t bet a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys that Georgia won’t give them the tax credits they want. Because governments — especially when sports are involved — have totally forgotten what the whole point of using the tax system as a means of incentive creation and have committed to straight corporate welfare. It’s pretty gobsmacking.

Tommy La Stella talks about his refusal to report to the minors in 2016

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In late July of 2016, Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella was demoted to Triple-A. It wasn’t personal. It was a roster crunch situation and La Stella had options left so, despite the fact that he had been an effective player to that point of the season, it made sense to send him down.

La Stella didn’t take the demotion well. In fact he refused to report to Iowa and went home to New Jersey instead. It was not until August 17 that he finally reported and then only after prolonged discussions with the Cubs and the assurance that he’d be back in the majors once rosters opened up. Which he was, after spending just over a week down on the farm.

Such a move by a player would, normally speaking, make him persona non-grata. His teammates would shun him and the organization would, eventually, cut bait, with the press characterizing him as a me-first player as he walked out the door. That did not happen with La Stella, however, who remains with the Cubs two years later and, by all accounts, is a popular and important guy in the Cubs’ clubhouse, even if he’s not one of the team’s big stars.

Today Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has an in-depth story about La Stella, what went down in 2016 and how he and the Cubs have proceeded since then. The story is subscription only, but the short version is that there was a lot of understanding and empathy on the part of the Cubs organization and their players about what was going on in La Stella’s head at the time and how everyone allowed everyone else the space to work through it.

I’m happy to read this story, because all too often we only hear about such incidents as they occur, with little followup. To the extent the story is told, most of the time its completely one-sided, with the player who acts out being treated like a bad seed with little if any explanation of his side of things. And, yes, there are always two sides to the story. Sometimes even more.

Kudos to Rosenthal for telling this story. Here’s hoping the next time a player is involved in a controversy that, in the moment, makes him appear to be a bad seed or have a bad attitude, we hear more about it then too.