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Should Mets fans feel guilty about the new stadium?

Mike SteffanosMonday, January 23, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

Our Monday look at the New York Mets news offers a potpourri of stories, including a Tom Glavine feature, Baseball America's scouting report on Mike Pelfrey, some dubious small-market stadium whining, and a Jeff Reardon update.

Daily News: Tom Glavine Profile
Anthony McCarron profiles Tom Glavine, who is in the last year of his contract with the Mets. After getting off to a horrible start, Glavine changed his pitching style, mixing in curves and a cut fastball that allowed him to start pitching inside again. Now Glavine is excited to prove that the success he enjoyed the second half of last year is no fluke:

I have a better feeling this winter and a much better anticipation of the upcoming season. It's like, 'Hey, all right, I have a new bag of tricks,' so to speak. I had it working for half a year and, boy, I'd like to do that for a whole year. You couple that with the changes we've made as a club and it's an exciting time.

The changes in his style allowed Glavine to post a 2.22 ERA after the all-star break. McCarron documents the talks between Glavine and pitching coach Rick Peterson that led to the changes, quoting Peterson on Glavine's courage in making the change so late in his career:

It's a lot easier to make changes when you're unsuccessful, but to have the courage to make them when you're as successful a pitcher as Tom Glavine has been, that's not as easy. He rewrote his recipe.

Glavine is 25 wins short of 300, and could conceivably could reach that number by the end of next year. He will turn 40 in March.

Mets.com: Daryl Strawberry and Cliff Floyd Chats this week
For those of you that enjoy on-line chats, you can get a double dose of it this week, with Daryl Strawberry this Tuesday at 3:30 PM EST and Cliff Floyd this Thursday at 1:30 PM EST.

Baseball America: Mike Pelfrey Scouting Report
In a chat last Friday, BA's Jim Callis offers Mets fans the scouting report on the recently signed top draft pick Mike Pelfrey from the 2006 Prospect Handbook:

Baseball America's top-rated pitching prospect in the 2005 draft, Pelfrey received consideration from the Diamondbacks as the No. 1 overall choice. Arizona ultimately chose Justin Upton, and other teams were wary of Pelfrey's price tag, so the Mets were able to nab him with the ninth pick. He held out until January and was the last first-rounder to sign. Pelfrey received a club-record $3.55 million bonus as part of a four-year major league contract worth a guaranteed $5.25 million. Easily attained roster bonuses could push the value of the deal to $6.6 million, and there are performance and award incentives as well. Pelfrey starred for three seasons at Wichita State, going 33-7 with a 2.18 ERA that broke Darren Dreifort's school record. Shockers pitching coach Brent Kemnitz called him the best pitching prospect in school history, a rich tradition that includes seven other first-rounders. Pelfrey suffered from draftitis in 2002, when he entered his high school senior season as a projected first-round pick, but that wasn't the case last year. He blew away hitters consistently with a 92-97 mph fastball that's as notable for its sink as for its velocity. He's adept at getting grounders or strikeouts, depending on the situation. He has refined a straight changeup that will be a plus pitch and keeps lefthanders in check. He also has tightened his curveball and become more consistent with it. Add in a perfect pitcher's frame, good control and a competitive makeup, and there's not much to quibble with. Pelfrey likely will start his pro career at high Class A St. Lucie and may not need much more than a year in the minors before he's ready for New York.

Hopefully he will avoid the pitfall Philip Humber fell into last season and stay healthy. I'm looking forward to getting a peek at him in a spring training game.

Baseball Prospectus: More Crap on the Stadium
In what is honestly becoming somewhat of a tedious broken record, Neil deMause talks about the financing for the Mets' new stadium, and how it really isn't costing the Mets anything near the $444.4 million price tag. We can all debate the costs that taxpayers will wind up footing for both this stadium and the Yankees' new one. What is tiresome to me is writers like deMause making it sound like the baseball rule that allows teams that build a new stadium to deduct bond payments from their revenue sharing dollars is depriving small market teams of what is rightfully theirs:

The first discount the Mets will be getting on their stadium costs is the revenue-sharing deduction that I've previously written about in this space. One can debate whether this is a clever dodge of baseball's attempts to level the playing field for low-revenue teams, or a way to reclaim money that's rightfully theirs--judging from some of my e-mail, it seems a fair number of folks consider revenue-sharing to be an evil on a par with the diabolical progressive income tax--but the fact remains that by building a stadium, the Mets will get a discount on their revenue-sharing payments. Fair or foul, it reduces their effective costs.

A "clever dodge of baseball's attempts to level the playing field for low-revenue teams"? The Mets revenue comes from fans like you and me that go to the ballpark to cheer our team on. Forgive me if I am actually happy that some of this money will be put into building a beautiful new stadium to replace a 40 year old dump instead of supporting the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. We gave them Scott Kazmir -- what more do they want from us?

In the previous article that deMause refers to, he makes this statement regarding the new Yankee stadium:

Taking a deduction for $40 million a year in stadium bond payments would thus earn the Yankees a $15.6 million-a-year write-off on their annual revenue-sharing obligations. Over time, about $300 million of the House That George Built would be paid for by the other 29 teams. [my emphasis]

When deMause says that stadiums are paid for by the other 29 teams, he is specifically addressing revenue sharing. No wonder he got a lot of negative email on this.

Look, I support revenue sharing, but this loophole was written so that new stadiums could be built. Years ago, cities built new stadiums. This is becoming more rare, and rightfully so. But there has to be a way to get new stadiums built, and this idea works. With the cost of building a stadium in New York City, and the unwillingness of the city to take on the cost, this loophole might be the only way Mets fans could enjoy a new stadium. And again, this is not "stealing money". Revenue generated from Mets fans is spent on something that benefits Mets fans. Pardon me if I don't cry for fans in small market cities like Houston and San Diego that are enjoying their new stadiums.

For something in a similar vein, see my Major League Franchises Need to Be in Major League Cities post.

Palm Beach Post: Jeff Reardon Update
Carlos Frias offers a really heartbreaking look at the emotional pain that Jeff Reardon has endured since the death of his son, and updates us on what's going on in that heartbreaking story.

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