Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Zen Dayley: Judge Jeri smacks Jeffrey Loria with a fresh-caught marlin

You can keep Tina Fey -- this is the sharpest woman in America over the past week to 10 days.

The invaluable ShysterBall linked to an article about the ruling Judge Jeri Beth Cohen handed down in the Florida Marlins stadium lawsuit. As you know, the court denied the claim that it would be unconstitutional, based on the rather broad term "public purpose," to use taxpayer money to build a stadium for Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria.

That's the end-of-story for most people, even though Loria is the gentle soul who took the hammer from Claude Brochu and drove the final nails into the Montreal Expos' coffin. There's no objectivity here.

Cohen's written ruling, though, is a multilayered masterpiece. In not so many words, yet in language that upholds jurisprudence (granted, it's Florida, it wouldn't take much), she basically calls the city of Miami a bunch of big idiots for wanting to having anything to do with the Marlins, let alone drop $500 million on a stadium for a crappy baseball club run by jerks.

It's fun to picture Loria, after hearing the verdict read in court: "But you're not saying I can't have the stadium, right?"

This is very narrow reading by someone who still rues the day, Sept. 28, 2004, that the Expos died. On a more marco level, Judge Jeri's ruling is a must-read for anyone who hates the idea of big-league sports franchises that are practically a licence to print money receiving corporate welfare (although if you're going to project bile toward the filthy rich, there's are better targets this week).

It's a good idea to bookmark that article for easy consultation the next time a smooth sports operator starts talking about all the benefits that will accrue to a community if it builds a big sports arena -- like a 30,000-seat stadium for Major League Soccer, just to give a random example.
"There is no evidence in the record that the building of a stadium in Little Havana will increase attendance and, thereby, promote social cohesion. Simply put, no one will know whether a new retractable roof stadium will increase attendance... until it is built."
Line by line, Judge Jeri -- bearing in mind, this in a civil court, where the judge is supposed to soften the blow for the winning and losing sides -- just basically slams the city of Miami for wanting to hop into bed with Loria. She flat-out alls it "a sweet deal" for Loria and the Marlins and pretty much says, hey, the bozos who run this city are giving these clowns a stadium rent-free, but insofar as upholding the state constitution goes, "the court does not find it relevant."

In other words, it's not her job to make policy, but simply belittle the city officials who think they're progressive and pro-growth instead of simply stupid.
"... This court is well aware that more citizens may be opposed to the building of the stadium, even to retain the Marlins in Miami, than in favor of building the stadium. These considerations, however, may not sway this court..." (emphasis mine)
Really, that's a huge burn -- Jeffrey Loria can get his stadium, but it's been made perfectly clear that he's only getting through the idiocy of the powers-that-be in South Florida. The people in Miami didn't ask for Loria as owner, and it's not even clear that they're asking to keep the Marlins, but hey, it's not Judge Jeri's problem, nor should it be.

She simply hit her target with impeccable wit and timing. That's high comedy.


  • The Rays' big win over the Red Sox, 10-3, might very well have wrapped up the AL East a week-and-a-half early. Much is will be made of the fact that the Red Sox are staring at a first-round matchup against the L.A. Angels, whom they're 1-8 against this season.

    The whole idea that two teams from the same division can't meet in the first round should be dumped. The Red Sox will have a better record than the AL Central winner, so why are they facing the No. 1 seed? (And why are baseball fans reduced to using basketball and football lingo like No. 1 seed?)

    The Red Sox finish their year 1-8 at Tropicana Field -- which is coincidentally their record against the Angels, whom they might end up facing in the first round of the playoffs.
  • Jonah Keri's look at the whole notion of who knows how to win is worth a look-see, especially since there's a couple playoff spots (NL East, NL wild-card, AL Central) that no one wants to claim.
    Each baseball game contains so many random events that, with an eighth of an inch here or a fluke hop there, it could just as easily go the other way. The Twins have had a huge number of those random events go against them lately, just as they had many go in their favor earlier this year. The Twins now are what they have been all year: a talented team that might be a player away from winning a division title. The dice have just come up snake eyes a lot more often lately.
  • MLB Trade Rumors passed along word that the Seattle Mariners might cut Erik Bedard (or "non-tender" him) after the season. Bedard's fall from grace has probably not been that sudden for people who understand PitchFx data.
  • Ichiro Suzuki made it eight straight seasons with 200 hits tonight. Does anyone still care who leads the league in hits?
  • Former Ottawa Lynx pitcher J.A. Happ got his first major-league win tonight.
Damn, the Jays
  • The shock of J.P. Ricciardi likely coming back as GM, let's just say it hasn't fully metatashized.

    Walk Off Walk, for what it's worth, said that by the time interleague play rolls around next June, "J.P. Ricciardi should be building a contender with the Brockton Rox."

    On Ricciardi's Jays Talk appearance tonight was that the Jays are going to seek an "upgrade" at shortstop. Before the end of the show, he said the Jays were "happy with (Marco) Scutaro and Johnny Mac (McGlovin)."

    The free-agent crop for shortstops is pretty thin. The second thing Ricciardi said might actually make more sense.
  • This actually happened: Alex Rios slammed a go-ahead home run vs. the Orioles tonight on the first pitch after a streaker interrupted the game by running on to the field.

    On the radio, Jerry Howarth joked, "You had to figure that might happen with Rocky Cherry pitching," which was a rather involved reference to Wild Cherry (You Sexy Thing, get it). It put the Jays ahead for the first time after being down 6-0...
    Rod Black: We've seen it all tonight.
    Pat Tabler: Unfortunately.
  • Matt Stairs hit his first homer for the Phillies tonight. He's had just 11 plate appearances since the trade at the end of August, which of course raises the question whether the 2009 World Baseball Classic will be his valedictory.
  • How about Mike Wilner citing the fact that Derek Jeter is a three-time Gold Glover? Unheard of.


random commenter said...

Bedard's fall from grace has probably not been that sudden for people who understand PitchFx data.

I know this is from some months ago, but I was wondering if you would elaborate on what you gathered from the Pitchf/x data.

I looked at it back then, and noticed that there were differences of up to 2 inches in the movement of the curveball from 2007 to 2008, and the release point for the fastball was a foot higher last season.

I always suspected arm injury, even from back in spring training, but before it was confirmed I thought if he maybe was just standing up straighter. I couldn't watch that many of his starts, but from the ones I did watch, I couldn't tell if there was something wrong with the arm motion, or if there was something different with the rest of his mechanics, other than being less consistent in his landing. His velocity up to the last two starts seemed alright -- he had lost some in average, but he was still able to hit 92-93 plenty of times, even 94 occasionally.

So, what I'm trying to get to is: what did you see in the data that screamed "injury!"

sager said...

There's no way I could ever go back and find it, but I saw a graphic very early last season (I want to say it was on FanGraphs but cannot be sure) that showed Bedard's pitching motion was putting an undue amount of strain on his left hip. A couple months later, there was that Tom Verducci S.I. cover story on Lincecum which showed how he has an almost perfectly designed, fluid windup. A surprising amount of pitchers do not, that's why so many of them break down. No one had ever really explained it like that to me.

Oftentimes, from my limited understanding, muscle memory will cause athletes to do something differently to try to avoid pain. One could infer that Bedard's release point, his landing and the snap on his curveball changed because he was favouring the hip, but I'll defer to you on this one since you might have watched more of his starts last season.

I don't claim any special expertise. What I was saying with "those who understand" is that to the hardcore types who are at that level of understanding saw it coming.