Deadspin’s Albert Burneko is a national treasure whether he’s writing about sports or movies or punctuation, and his takedown this week of a Fivethirtyeight article that asserts there are too many minor-league baseball teams is very much no exception. Drop whatever you’re doing — which is reading this post, so okay, drop whatever you were going to do after that — and read it now, whether you care about the purpose of sports as entertainment or the role of the media in management-labor relations or the increasing propensity to reduce human beings to measures of technocratic efficiency. With the demise of the alt-weeklies, there are fewer and fewer outlets eager to combine tenacious reporting and big-picture analysis and engaging writing toward the end of helping us understand the world we live in beyond “here are some potentially viral things that happened today,” so we need to cherish those that remain while we can.
And with that, here are some potentially viral (in the not especially infectious sense) things that happened this week:
- The Arizona Diamondbacks signed a nondisclosure agreement with the city of Las Vegas in 2018, which the Las Vegas Review-Journal takes as enough evidence to run a headline saying that the D-Backs were talking with Vegas about relocation, so long as they add the word “apparently.” This is truly a new breakthrough in relocation threats, as team owners no longer even have to go through the trouble of hopping on a plane to get news outlets reporting that their team could move; now, you just have to sign some paperwork and wait until reporters notice. Why, this way, you don’t even have to answer any embarrassing questions like “Why would you want to move to a much smaller market?” or “Are you worried that D-Backs fans will burn you in effigy on Opening Day?” Truly a sign of disruptive efficiencies at work.
- Sacramento is supposedly finalizing a deal to bring an MLS expansion franchise to town in 2022, and though there are no details yet, it’s only a matter of time before it happens, mostly because it’s only a matter of time before every census tract in America and maybe a few other countries gets its own MLS team.
- The Voice of O.C. has calculated that the city of Anaheim has turned a $1.6 million profit on running the Los Angeles Angels‘ Angel Stadium over the past nine years, which isn’t much, but at least it’s not a sea of red ink. Though as sports economist Victor Matheson points out, “What are 155 acres of prime real estate worth in the LA metro area? That’s a gigantic opportunity” that’s being lost by using the land for a stadium instead. All food for thought in those upcoming public forums on the proposed stadium land deal that the city won’t tell the public basic facts about like how much the land is worth.
- The Kansas City Star really can’t stop writing about that new downtown Royals stadium that nobody with the Royals has actually asked for. The latest is a column explaining how laws on the books could be used to hold a referendum on using tax money for a new stadium, maybe, if some tax money also went to arts organizations, and if a referendum on a new Royals stadium could even pass, which maybe it couldn’t. This is all a very informative investigation of a process that nobody at all has actually proposed for a stadium plan that likewise only seems to exist in the minds of Star writers and some downtown business interests, so maybe not the absolute best use of our dwindling few journalists’ dwindling available time?
- And here’s an column talking about how poverty is down and out-of-town visitors are up since Arlington spent a billion dollars on new sports facilities, which should make a nice addition to Wikipedia’s “correlation is not causation” page.
- The Atlanta Hawks are kicking the Atlanta Dream WNBA team out of their arena, I think? That’s how I read this Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, anyway; you tell me if you conclude otherwise.
- Oklahoma City is definitely going to be voting this December on imposing a 1% sales tax hike to fund a bunch of stuff including a new soccer stadium. OKC Energy co-owner Tim McLaughlin would like you to know that “it’s more than just a soccer facility” because right now “Jimmy Buffet concerts happen down in Frisco in Dallas.” (Jimmy Buffet is a Jimmy Buffett tribute act that features an all-you-can-eat salad bar, I am really really hoping.)
- A lawsuit filed this week charges that the city of Nashville created a conflict of interest when it assigned three Nashville S.C. owners or employees to the panel evaluating construction bids for the team’s new stadium, which, yeah, that does seem bad, though whether it’s illegal is above my pay grade.
- The Rolling Stones and San Francisco 49ers execs are mad that the city of Santa Clara told the Stones at the last minute not to set off fireworks on stage, and Mayor Lisa Gillmor has responded that it’s really the 49ers’ fault: “The 49ers should spend less time criticizing others and more time learning how to follow the laws like those governing workers wages and the curfew, which they agreed to when they opened the stadium in 2014.” Remember that hot minute when the Santa Clara stadium was supposed to be a beacon of how to successfully arrange a sports venue deal? Those were such simpler times.
- Here’s a video report on Austin F.C.‘s stadium groundbreaking that mostly features clapping fans and Matthew McConaughey with a shovel, and remember what I said above about the death of alt-weeklies? (Austin still has one, actually, and its report on the groundbreaking is short but still way more instructive.)
- Here are three options presented for Honolulu’s $350 million replacement of Aloha Stadium, none of which, weirdly, are “Keep the $350 million and spend it on something else, you do realize that you don’t have a pro football team and even the
AlohaPro Bowl moved to Orlando three years ago, right?”
- Airline that owns naming rights to two arenas in two different cities won’t own the naming rights to one soon. You know, guys, we don’t have to use these names just because somebody signed a contract to put a big ad on the side of the building. Just a thought.