Corporatism at its worst: the Miami Marlins

Just one week after the election, Jeffrey Loria (owner of the Miami Marlins) reminded us all just how much big government is actually local government.

Loria convinced the City of Miami and County of Miami-Dade to cough up over half a billion dollars (to be exact, $509 million – Miami Herald) for a brand new ballpark, which opened earlier this year. The Marlins had to pay less than 20% of the stadium cost.

So, once Loria was able to offload his capital cost on the taxpayers of Miami-Dade, he engaged in a massive fire sale, which reached its pinnacle overnight when he sent most of the team’s talent to the Toronto Blue Jays (Miami Herald). It is now considered “the first step in Jeffrey Loria’s exit strategy, the first step toward him selling the team” (Fox Sports).

Just to be clear, when a corporation owner feels he needs to cut costs to preserve profitability, he is doing what he is supposed to do.

It’s the part where he and the politicians agree to aid the corporation’s bottom line by transferring half a billion in cost to the taxpayers that should enrage South Floridians (and the rest of us, for that matter).

This is corporatism at its very worst – and an excellent example of how local government can create an economic and political disaster via market intervention, with the President and Washington Republicans nowhere in sight.

The team may be the Marlins, but its the taxpayers who are on the hook for this.

If the Republican Party is serious about deep soul-searching in the quest for renewal, it will make it clear that it no longer considers any taxpayer funded stadiums acceptable. At the federal level, this is pure (but necessary) symbolism; at the state and local level, it could be the difference between frugal, accountable governments and taxpayers by government-blessed corporations laughing all the way to the bailed-out bank.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

NL East Champions!

Quick diversion from politics.

A couple of years ago we celebrated the opening of the Washington Nationals stadium on in DC.  Tonight the Nationals proved they are a team to contend with.

With a Pittsburgh Pirates win over the Atlanta Braves the Nationals are National League East Division Champs!  On to the playoffs!

Maybe we can even get Riley to celebrate and cheer on the Nationals since his Red Sox are done for the year.

Nattitude!

George Steinbrenner, RIP

New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner has passed away this morning.  He was 80 years old.

Because he owned the Yankees for so long – since 1973, the year after I was born – so many of us are completely unaware of the state of the Yankees before he bought them.  They were a mess.  From 1965-72, the team was a complete disaster.  He rescued them, and through a combination of money and moxie brought the Yankees back to the pinnacle of baseball in just five years (his first Yankee championships were in 1977-78).

The 80s were lean years, when the game changed an he didn’t seem able to change with it (and then there was the Spira-Winfield thing), but he adapted in the 1990s, and the rest is history.  In his tenure, the Yankees have more than twice as many championships (seven) as any team in Major League Baseball.

As a Yankees fan, I feel this more acutely than most.

Fans of other teams may be tempted to blame Steinbrenner for messing with “competitive balance.”  With all due respect, spare me.  The 1980s were chock full of “competitive balance,” and by the early 1990s, people were wringing their hands at baseball’s decline anyway.  I am still convinced that what brought the sport back from the 1994 strike (and BTW, Steinbrenner was not one of the hard-line owners during that fiasco) was the Yankees-Red Sox 1999 ALCS, which nationalized a previously regional rivalry by giving millions of Yankee haters a team to root for.

I would also note that in this decade, the supposedly uncompetitive sport of baseball had the most diversified list of Champions (8 from 2000-9, compared to 7 for the NFL and 5 from the NBA) – not the Steinbrenner or any of us are happy with that.

As for me, as much as I will mourn Steinbrenner (and a younger version of me would be shocked at how much I will), I can take some comfort that as he and Bob Sheppard shed their mortal coils, the team to which they gave so much was right where it should be: the defending MLB champions with the best record in baseball.

Cross-posted to RWL

Obama + Baseball = PAIN

OUCH!!!

I would say that Obama throws like a girl, but I know many girls who are much better pitchers than he is so that would be an unwarranted insult to an entire gender.

Even more painful, however, was listening to him try and name his favorite White Sox player(s), which he couldn’t. Heck, he didn’t even get the name of their ballpark correct. It was Comiskey Park, not Kaminski, where they played until 1990. (He moved to Chicago in 1985 and left in 1988 to go to Harvard Law, so at least he was there while the ballpark was open.) And how about him starting out at the 20 second mark saying he’s a “Southside [of Chicago] Kid,” but then 30 seconds later stating he grew up in Hawaii, so he was an Oakland A’s fan?

With that said, it could have been worse.  Just ask Sen. John Kerry about Manny Ortez.

Well THAT’S bizarre

After nearly two decades here in Virginia (just over half my life), I only have two strong ties left to my birthplace: family and professional sports teams.

As a Yankee fan, I’m used to hearing, deflecting, and taking as pride the resentment of fans of other teams – and I must say it feels good to get it from Red Sox fans again.

Here’s the weird part, my NFL team is now in the same boat (Tim Graham, ESPN):

Based on reader feedback and the disdain expressed on sports-talk shows and message boards, the Jets have replaced the New England Patriots as the team opposing fans love to hate.

What?

Keep in mind, we Jet fans are usually the ones aiming the resentment: at the other team in New York (the Giants), at the Dolphins, at the Pats, etc. To be on the receiving end is a little disorienting.

But, I’ll admit, it’s fun!

The team just better earn the jealousy this fall.

Cross-posted to RWL

Happy Patriots’ Day

Today, the third Monday in April, is Patriots’ Day, commemorating the anniversary of the first battles of the American Revolutionary War — the Battles of Lexington and Concord — that occurred on April 19, 1775. Every year on Patriots’ Day, the Boston Marathon is run and the Red Sox play an 11:05 am game (today is the finale of a four game series against the Baltimore Orioles — the Sox have taken the first three games.)

Thank You, Curt Schilling…

After 23 professional seasons playing baseball, Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling has officially announced his retirement.  Schilling was drafted by the Red Sox in 1986 and started out with them in the minors before being sent to Baltimore in 1988 (along with Brady Anderson in a trade for Mike Boddicker) where he made his major league debut that year.  He later played for Houston, Philadelphia and Arizona before finally coming full circle and joining the Sox in 2004.  That year he led them to their first World Series title in 86 years (and his role in that immortalized by the bloody sock that is already in Cooperstown) and repeated that feat again in 2007.

From Boston.com’s Extra Bases blog:

Schilling retires with a 216-146 record and 3.46 ERA, and ranks 14th all time with 3,116 strikeouts. But Schilling, a three-time World Champion (he also won with Arizona in 2001), accomplished his greatest feats when the games meant the most.

In 19 postseason starts, he compiled an 11-2 record with a 2.23 ERA, striking out 120 batters in 133.1 innings while allowing just 104 hits. His teams won 10 of the 12 playoff series in which he pitched.

Thanks for the great ride, Curt!  Now on to the next phase of your life — elected office!  Curt has been a die-hard Republican activist, campaigning for many candidates.  It will only be a matter of time before he is a candidate himself.  Don’t be surprised to see Gov. or Sen. Curt Schilling (R-Mass.) someday.

Jim Rice Heading for Cooperstown; Roger Clemens Heading To Court?

Long-time Red Sox left fielder Jim Rice has finally been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame following 15 years on the ballot.  Meanwhile, former Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens is under grand jury investigation for possibly lying under oath to Congress.  At this rate, Clemens won’t have to worry about what cap he’ll be inducted with at Cooperstown.  He should be worried about being indicted and whether his potential future prison has denim work outfits or orange jump suits.

Roger Who? Yankees Diss Clemens

From the NYTimes:

The big question was whether the Yankees were going to be honest and courageous. Did they have faith that the depth and the breadth of their highly acclaimed history was more powerful than the alleged trespasses of one individual? Would the Bombers bring out one final special guest? Would they bring out the Rocket, Roger Clemens?

Nope. No Clemens.

We all looked and listened, but on Sunday night, it was as if Clemens were dead to the organization. When the Yankees played a video celebrating the team’s greatest players at every position, Clemens was nowhere to be seen.

Congressman Davis and the MLB

Full story here on ESPN.com.

A source close to Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., told ESPN.com’s T.J. Quinn that the congressman says he was misquoted and misunderstood in a published report about Andy Pettitte‘s deposition.

Appearing on ESPN’s “Outside The Lines,” Davis wouldn’t directly address the details contained in the Newsday report but said that Pettitte’s affidavit “doesn’t get into a lot of detail.”

“His entire deposition eventually will speak for him. He does have an affidavit that probably will be in the record [Wednesday.”

Davis said that Pettitte wasn’t needed at Wednesday’s hearing.

“No ballplayer in their right mind wants to come up before a congressional committee. It wasn’t like he could add anything,” Davis said.

R.I.P. Johnny Podres

One of baseball’s all-time greats, Johnny Podres, has passed away.  Podres was the 1955 World Series MVP for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  My dad met Podres when he was in boot camp with him and still has the photograph of the two of them together.  Podres had an incredible impact upon baseball right through today with pitchers such as Curt Schilling crediting him for helping them achieve their potential.

Curt Schilling Speaks Out About Mitchell Report

Curt Schilling has posted a commentary on his blog 38 Pitches about those named in the Mitchell Report on steroids in baseball.  On Jose Canseco:

His entire career, all of it, is a sham. He never belonged in the big leagues and anything he ever did in the major leagues is a hoax. He made it clear that he would not have been the player he was had he not cheated. His statistics should be erased, his MVP given to the runner up and he should go down as the guy who broke the silence on a horrible period of the game, period. He was never in his life a major league player.

On Roger Clemens:

Roger has denied every allegation brought to the table. So as a fan my thought is that Roger will find a way in short order to organize a legal team to guarantee a retraction of the allegations made, a public apology is made, and his name is completely cleared. If he doesn’t do that then there aren’t many options as a fan for me other than to believe his career 192 wins and 3 Cy Youngs he won prior to 1997 were the end. From that point on the numbers were attained through using PED’s. Just like I stated about Jose, if that is the case with Roger, the 4 Cy Youngs should go to the rightful winners and the numbers should go away if he cannot refute the accusations.

Cleveland Indians Pitcher Caught Buying $25K Worth Of Performance-Enhancing Drugs

A big dark cloud has been cast over Cleveland Indians pitcher Paul Byrd with today’s revelation that he has purchased $25K worth of human growth hormone and syringes “from a Florida anti-aging clinic that was targeted by law enforcement for illegally distributing performance-enhancing drugs.”

But wait, it gets better.

Two of Byrd’s prescriptions for growth hormones were not written by a physician, according to a law enforcement source. Instead, the prescriptions were written by a Florida dentist, said the source, who asked not to be quoted by name because he was not authorized to comment. The dentist’s license was suspended in 2003 for fraud and incompetence, state records show.

. . .

It is illegal to use the drug without a valid prescription and a doctor’s supervision. It also is illegal for doctors to prescribe growth hormone for uses not specifically approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Performance enhancement is not an approved use.

Byrd won the deciding game of the ALDS against the Yankees and Game 4 of the ALCS against the Red Sox. It will be interesting to see if Byrd is in the bull pen tonight for Game 7 of the ALCS at Fenway.

“The Curse of Clinton” Continues for Yankees

June 10, 1999 – Upon deciding to run for the U.S. Senate from New York, Hillary Clinton claims to be a lifelong New York Yankees fan. 

   

Oct. 26, 2000 – Yankees win the World Series.

Nov. 7, 2000 – The people of New York elect Hillary Clinton to the U.S. Senate.

2001 – Yankees lose the World Series in 7 games to the Arizona Diamondbacks (Co-MVP Curt Schilling.)

2002 – Yankees lose the American League Division Series to the Anaheim Angels.

2003 – Yankees lose the World Series in 6 games to the Florida Marlins (MVP Josh Beckett.)

2004 - Yankees lose the American League Championship Series to the Boston Red Sox after jumping out to a 3-0 lead in games.  This is considered the biggest choke in sports history.

2005 – Yankees lose the American League Division Series to the Anaheim Angels.

2006 – Yankees lose the American League Division Series to the Detroit Tigers.

Nov. 7, 2006 – The people of New York re-elect Hillary Clinton to the U.S. Senate.

2007 – For the first time since 1998, the Yankees do not win the American League East Division.  The Yankees proceed to lose the American League Division Series to the Cleveland Indians.

Do you see a pattern emerging here?  I like to refer to this as “The Curse of Clinton.”  Hillary claims to be a lifelong Yankees fan, the people of New York buy her lies and ever since they elected her the Yankees have been denied.  In fact, after they re-elected Hillary, the Yankees didn’t even win the AL East for the first time in nearly a decade.  Just think how poorly the Yankees will do after the people of New York vote for Hillary for President next year.

All I can say is that as a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan (with the ability to prove it), I’m enjoying the show.