Report: MLB to change All-Star starter selection procedure

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Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that Major League Baseball plans to introduce an a new step to the All-Star voting procedure this season with something called “Election Day,” aimed at picking the starters at each position.

The regular All-Star voting will proceed as normal. Then, once that’s done, the the top three vote-getters at each position will be placed on a new ballot from which fans would then vote again during a single day to decide who starts.

Which sort of defeats the putative purpose of the weeks of fan voting to begin with, which has always been about selecting starters. Of course this greatly serves the actual purpose of All-Star voting, which is to drive internet traffic to the extraordinarily lucratively sponsored All-Star voting site, brought to you by eSurance or whoever the heck it is now.

If you doubt that that’s the actual purpose of All-Star voting, ask yourself what interest is best served by allowing fans to vote a gabillion times and to easily circumvent even those restrictions, which they certainly can and do: (a) choosing the best, most deserving All-Star team possible; or (b) encouraging maximum site traffic and sponsor engagement. I submit to you that it’s the latter.

Now ask yourself what an additional round of voting does. Yeah, again, it drives traffic to the website and sponsor. And does so at a time — post regular voting — when, in the past, all the traffic has usually died. Now they’ll squeeze one massive traffic day out of it, all while, possibly, getting a top vote getter knocked out of an All-Star start for what is, in essence, a gimmick. Which, because it’s the All-Star Game and the All-Star Game doesn’t matter means I won’t lose much sleep over this, but just know what’s going on when MLB’s P.R. machine tries to sell it as some exciting new way to get a better All-Star team or whatever.

Another new wrinkle being discussed, according to Passan:  increasing prize money to the Home Run Derby to entice top talent to take part. Last year’s winner, Bryce Harper, just signed a $330 million contract, so if he’s reluctant and you still want to get him on board, you had better come with some pretty big money, guys.

Luckily, there will be more money on hand thanks to the Election Day gimmick.

New bill to build Athletics stadium on Las Vegas Strip caps Nevada’s cost at $380 million

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports
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CARSON CITY, Nev. — A bill introduced in the Nevada Legislature would give the Oakland Athletics up to $380 million for a potential 30,000 seat, $1.5 billion retractable roof stadium on the Las Vegas Strip.

The bulk of the public funding would come from $180 million in transferable tax credits from the state and $120 million in county bonds, which can vary based on interest rate returns. Clark County also would contribute $25 million in credit toward infrastructure costs.

The A’s have been looking for a home to replace Oakland Coliseum, where the team has played since arriving from Kansas City for the 1968 season. The team had sought to build a stadium in Fremont, San Jose and finally the Oakland waterfront, all ideas that never materialized.

The plan in the Nevada Legislature won’t directly raise taxes. It can move forward with a simply majority vote in the Senate and Assembly. Lawmakers have a little more than a week to consider the proposal before they adjourn June 5, though it could be voted on if a special session is called.

The Athletics have agreed to use land on the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip, where the Tropicana Las Vegas casino resort sits. Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao has said he is disappointed the team didn’t negotiate with Oakland as a “true partner.”

Las Vegas would be the fourth home for a franchise that started as the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901-54. It would become the smallest TV market in Major League Baseball and the smallest market to be home to three major professional sports franchises.

The team and Las Vegas are hoping to draw from the nearly 40 million tourists who visit the city annually to help fill the stadium. The 30,000-seat capacity would make it the smallest MLB stadium.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said a vote on the Oakland Athletics’ prospective move to Las Vegas could take place when owners meet June 13-15 in New York.

The plan faces an uncertain path in the Nevada Legislature. Democratic leaders said financing bills, including for the A’s, may not go through if Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo vetoes the five budget bills, which he has threatened to do as many of his priorities have stalled or faded in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

Under the bill, the Clark County Board of Commissioners would create a homelessness prevention and assistance fund along the stadium’s area in coordination with MLB and the Nevada Resort Association. There, they would manage funds for services, including emergency rental and utility assistance, job training, rehabilitation and counseling services for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

The lease agreement with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority would be up for renewal after 30 years.

Nevada’s legislative leadership is reviewing the proposal, Democratic state Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager said in a statement.

“No commitment will be made until we have both evaluated the official proposal and received input from interested parties, including impacted community members,” Yeager said.