Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Saturday, April 12, 2008

You've Been Warned

An interesting little tid-bit buried in Jayson Stark's latest column:

Bet you didn't even know there is a spring training crisis, right? Well, there isn't yet. But something happened this week that's about to unleash one.

That development was the finalization of the Reds' financing deal with Goodyear, Ariz., making their 2010 move to Arizona official. So why is that a crisis? Well, it's bad enough that one of the best sites in Florida (Sarasota) will be teamless. But it's a crisis because when the Reds leave, it's going to create an odd number of teams (15 apiece) in each state.

The big ramification of that mess is that at least one team will either have to be off, or scheduled for a split-squad game, every day of spring training. That's not an issue early in the spring. But by the last week of the spring, nobody wants to play a split-squad game. And if there is one, there will be so many minor leaguers playing in it, we bet some ticket-buyers will want their money back.

The Reds' exit also worsens the already-arduous travel issue in Florida, where teams are much more spread out than they are in Arizona. And you'd be surprised how many baseball people are ticked off by all of this.

Some of that unhappiness is being aimed at the government officials in Florida who don't even seem to care about all the tourist dollars they're chasing away. But some folks in baseball are also asking this question:

How could the commissioner's office sit back and let this happen? Wasn't this an issue worthy of MLB's intervention? Couldn't the commissioner's discretionary fund have ridden to the rescue when the Reds and Sarasota couldn't agree on how to fund necessary improvements to the complex?

"My understanding is, that's exactly what it was intended for," said an official of one team that trains in Florida. "They don't like to tell us what that fund is used for. But that's what it was supposed to be used for."

You'll be reading lots of stories about this "crisis" in 2010. We just wanted to be the first column on your block to alert you to the impending panic attack.

At the risk of sounding cynical, here's my two cents: Why didn't Baron Budhausen use his discretionary fund to "rescue" the Sarasota training site? Because if a MLB team is getting government financing (say, from Goodyear AZ), why in God's name would he want to spend MLB money?

That's how Budhausen has rolled in every other new facility debate that's crossed his desk. Why should his attitude be any different for a spring training stadium?

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