The Inside Baseball

One sunny day more than a decade ago, I learned an intrinsic truth about the game of baseball: what you don’t see – the psychology and strategies of the game, the “inside baseball” – truly make the game.  For anyone who doesn’t realize that, sitting through nine innings is as interesting as watching the spin cycle on a washing machine.  Thanks to my friend and baseball maniac JT who did play-by-play for me at that spring training game, I learned there is much more to baseball than meets the eye, and that it is fascinating as it unfolds.

 

Sort of like politics.

 

Now combine the two, and you have the maneuverings and machinations behind what may eventually be a billion tax-dollar deal to build a new stadium for the Marlins. 

That said, some questions arise from the Friday the 13th vote-that-wasn’t, questions that probably won’t make the evening news:

 

* The Miami commissioner who raised concerns about the details of the deal was criticized for “rewriting” the deal on the dais.  But where else does an elected official officially and publicly question a deal crafted largely in closed meetings and not fully released until hours before?

 

* What is it about maternity leave that prevented Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence Jones her from casting the all-important vote? (Congrats, by the way).  I’ve been on maternity leave.  Twice.  Tired?  Yes, but fully functional.  No, it wasn’t the baby that kept the up-for-reelection Commissioner Spence-Jones from showing up to be a certain swing vote.   If the commissioner wants to develop her parenting skills, she should start with role modeling responsibility and courage.

 

* Is the Miami Herald bi-polar?  The day before the scheduled vote, the newspaper’s editorial writers endorsed the stadium deal, even as its own reporters had spent weeks detailing every reason why the deal is a bad one for taxpayers.

 

* Why are “jobs” the big selling point now?  It was never about jobs, not during any part of the last decade of debate about whether to publicly fund a new stadium and how much to spend.  It was never about jobs, until the economic hemorrhage a few months ago added an opportunity for supporters to insert the new buzzword “stimulus” into the argument for a new construction project.  Certainly thousands of construction jobs, however temporary, would be a great benefit.  The question is – at what cost, and can half a billion dollars “buy” more and better.

 

 

Supporters of the stadium deal, including the Miami and Miami-Dade County mayors, have waxed poetic about the “intangible” benefits of a new stadium, the inherent value of baseball, the love of the game, tradition-building.  Filled with misty-eyed emotion, they envisioned dads taking their kids to the ballpark and team spirit that would build our civic bonds.  Contrast that with a conversation I had a few weeks ago with Marlins President David Samson, who helped craft the potentially profitable deal for his franchise using a lot of public money.  He said, flat out, the stadium negotiation is “a business deal”.  Nothing more, nothing less.  No passion, no drama, no emotion, just a numbers game to get to a profitable conclusion. 

 

March 12th is the next “at bat”.

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5 Responses

  1. Greed is good, we learned that long ago from Academy Award winner, Michael Douglas. That should’ve been the lead line here and then it would have been far more compelling a read, altho it is a good read and it provokes thought; the missing city commish has shown the masses, more than once before, she is also not to be fully trusted in matters of this important a scale.

  2. Glenna, thanks for that excellent, insightful commentary. All so true.

    Keep up the great work, reporting on this corporate welfare, super sweetheart deal.

  3. How can Dade County, South Florida or even the State of Florida possibly consider such a hugh financial undertaking when they are having such financial hardships with the school board? If you ask the general public, I’m sure you will hear other parents such as myself tell you that before we build a stadium for a wealthy sports team, let’s take care of our children first. After all, if they take away the arts, sports, and other things from the school budget, we may not have baseball players in the future to even play in such a stadium. I think it’s terrible that we even consider spending millions on a new stadium or even the underwater bridge they are proposing for the Port of Miami, when they can’t afford raises for our teachers and are considering taking classes away from children in school in order to balance a budget. It’s time we asked what exactly is important here and that answer is our children.

  4. I think that deals like these should be considered loans from the tax payers and should be paid back from the profits. What kind of business deal is structured so that the owner of a baseball team gets free funding?

  5. Nice meeting you over at Michael’s Genuine last week. This is a great analysis of the latest pull-the-wool-over-their-eyes effort by our government “leaders” to get this stadium deal passed. Thankfully at least one commissioner stood up and voiced his concern, though you never can tell if that was a political smokescreen.

    Your comments and those echoed by Don Simonns as they relate to Michelle Spence-Jones are spot on. She cant be trusted, period. Pimping out her vote as in favor of the stadium as long as Overtown is granted money for improvements is a blatant abuse of her voting power. It mortgages the best interest of all citizens against that of a small area. Not surprising for a government official in Miami though. We citizens have been getting boned for years and thats why this city, which has a ton of potential to be a major destination, will always remain stuck in 1st gear.

    I also love how you pointed out the buzzwords and catch phrases being used to dupe the public into thinking this horrible idea is a good one. Ditto with the “love of the game”. If Miami “loves” baseball so much, please explain why the stadium never sells out, has had 50% less than the median attendance in the MLB for the past 2 years, and last year had a game with less than 200 fans in the stands.

    The only way to save baseball in Miami is to have a stadium built downtown or turn the Marlins from an NL team to an AL team, or a combo of both. Otherwise, good riddance.

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