Gary Sheffield wants to move Braves spring training to a landfill site


The Braves are hot garbage, and if former Braves outfielder Gary Sheffield gets his way they’ll be playing on top of garbage every February and March.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that an investment group, a part of which includes the Gary Sheffield Sports Foundation, has made a proposal to build a new spring training facility for the Braves in Pinellas County on a site that served as a garbage dump from the 1960s through the 1980s. Back in April the Times said this about the site, then not attached to any development plans:

. . .lurking beneath the grassy surface is a construction engineer’s nightmare: a layer of garbage, perhaps as thick as 60 feet in some places, emitting methane gas and creating an unstable building surface. Though the location of the former Toytown landfill is prime, the roughly 25 years worth of buried household trash, construction debris, yard waste and sludge takes the sheen off a site the county has been trying for years to sell or lease.

Which sounds perfect for the Braves, really. And for many other sporting events and facilities, according to the article.

The Braves are under lease at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex for another year, but that is quickly losing its appeal as a spring training location given the Astros’ impending move to Palm Beach, leaving only the Braves and Tigers in central Florida. A St. Pete site for the Braves would put them much closer to the many teams in the Bay Area — the Phillies, Blue Jays, Yankees, Pirates and Orioles are all very close — and would make for more manageable drives down the Gulf Coast to where the Rays, Red Sox and Twins are.

Very desirable indeed! At least if you ignore the 60 feet of garbage underneath home plate.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.