Attended my first Lookouts game since before the pandemic last night.
It was a glorious night.
And no, this is not about minor league baseball. In fact, it's never been about minor league baseball. I can't name a current Lookouts player other than the select superstars that have come through town during my two decades and easily more than 200 Lookouts games over that time.
But the future of the Lookouts here is not about the game or the players, at least those on the field.
There certainly feels like there is something brewing just under the surface with the Lookouts' wants for a new stadium funded with a large upfront stake from city, county and state dollars.
To that end, there was a Tuesday afternoon Twitter thread from Weston Wamp. It came less than 24 hours before the Hamilton County Commissioners meet this morning. (I am planning on heading there. You can follow along with any pertinent details on my Twitter at @jgreesonTFP if you'd like.)
Some background, assuming something crazy or unforeseen does not happen, Weston will almost certainly be Jim Coppinger's successor as our county mayor. So his words carry extra weight.
Those words came in an eight-part Twitter thread that can be viewed here.
Weston is a smart dude. He also is a buddy of mine.
He mentions some very important words in his social media soliloquy. Rush is one of them. Transparency is another one of them.
Those put together are enough to raise some serious questions about where the process is. Are we rushing to get this done in the new budget, which will be approved by the commissioners this morning and, if done, enacted on Friday.
And in terms of transparency, have we seen a good, detailed representation of what the $80-plus-million up front will look like or what, exactly, the team owners are ponying up on the front end?
Conversely, not sure if Wamp's mention of John Woods is needed but so it goes.
The simple truth is without a new stadium, the Lookouts will leave. That was originally the plan, and has been the way Jason Freier and his company - the rightly named Hardball Capital - have done things. That's always been true, but it's also 100% true that those demands also fall in line with the recent interest and demands Major League Baseball has imposed on minor league clubs about facilities that deem AT&T inferior.
What will happen? Not sure. I am not super keen on our county and city ponying up $80 million for a bunch of millionaires to have a venue to make more millions. I am 100% sure I do not want to lose the Lookouts.
Maybe some wise soul - a David of Dalewood or a Solomon of Soddy - could suggest that we meet in the middle: Lookouts folks put up half; we put up half, and get the entire foundry project started. Over the life of the deal, I think both sides would be pleased.
As Bearddawg explained in one of our earlier conversations around these parts, there are long-term benefits for both sides, but it sure feels like we are taking all the risk on the front end. Maybe if we had a little more idea of what the hard details were. You know, a little more transparency, maybe??
Braves' big night
So, that got long. Let's move quickly. Atlanta played. Atlanta won, beating the Phillies 5-3 last night.
It was a nondescript game in a season filled with them, but the difference between being a factor in the 'er' months and being an afterthought are nondescript games like last night.
The Braves beat an opposing ace in Zach Wheeler. Without Ronald Acuña in the lineup. With Charlie Morton having very mediocre stuff - the right-hander lived dangerously all evening, allowing 11 baserunners in 5.2 but only two earned runs - and with closer Kenley Jansen being moved to the IL.
Still, the power punch of Travis d'Arnaud - who is playing like an All-Star - and Matt Olson delivered a road win over a team every bit as hot as they are.
And that's anything but nondescript.
Speaking of Braves and off the script
Is whatever the next cleat to fall in this whole Freddie Freeman going to surprise any of us?
Quick caveat: I have been a big Freddie fan, from his time in Atlanta to his move to the Dodgers, which I pull the most for. But this entire ordeal has not been a good look for the five-time All-Star and former NL MVP.
OK, we knew his return to Atlanta last week was going to be emotional. And since Freddie is an emotional guy, it was like watching a "Steel Magnolias" and "Terms of Endearment" double feature - or like Vader watching the 2019 LSU highlight tape. Tears everywhere.
But now, after that return, Freeman has reportedly fired his representation and is his own agent. That move, of course, screams that he was unhappy with how the free agency process unfolded.
Was this unhappiness multiplied because of his emotional return to the A-T-L or was it because of something he or his family learned during said return?
Either way, without ever having been talented enough to need an agent, the one thing I know about agents is that they ultimately work for the client, and if Freddie is that unhappy with his representation, well, he might need to look in the mirror.
(Side note: If playing for the best team in the NL and one of the favorites to win it all - while making $27 million a year to do it - is the consolation prize, then, well, you're ahead of the game.)
And go ahead and cry me a bucket of those crocodile tears if you want.
This and that
- This is a cool story about Carson Pickett becoming the first person with limb difference to play for the U.S women's national soccer team. Good on you Carson Pickett.
- Deshaun Watson's meeting with the NFL bigwigs continues today.
- The NBA free agency starts tomorrow afternoon. There are a lot of names being bandied about, but other than Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving opting in to deals that are paying them surreal amounts of money - like $40-plus million per year crazy - the rest of the names really feel like shuffling pawns in the grand scheme of things. Is Dejounte Murray really the difference for a Hawks team? Is Jalen Brunson to the Knicks a call to reorder the East?
- Hard to believe Brooks Koepka did not have any chats with the LIV people before his now-famous - and borderline hypocritical - rant about the controversy before the U.S. Open, right? And if he did not speak to them and after that and went from "No talks to fully in" in this short amount of time about something so life and legacy changing, they dropped a quarter of a billion in his checking account, right?
- All-time NFL straight-shooter Aqib Talib - who is right there with long-time Vikings wide receiver Ahmad Rashad on the all-time sports rhyming players names team - will join Amazon's coverage of Thursday Night Football. Not surprisingly, Amazon has spared no expense in assembling its crew to cover one game a week. Talib joins the pregame studio show with Richard Sherman, Tony Gonzalez and Ryan Fitzpatrick. And remember Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit are in the booth for the game action.
- Some shocking Wimbledon news that has nothing to do with cycles, Serena Williams was bounced in round one and Nick Krygios spit at a fan at the All England Club. Now that's surprising. (The Serena thing; not the Kyrgios thing. Dude is a jack wagon.)
Which way Wednesday starts this way, which is worse shooting someone the bird or spitting at them?
Which season will be Serena's last - this year, next year or later?
Which way would you vote if you were in the room making the decision - public funds for almost all of the Lookouts new stadium or let them leave? (And you can email me your thoughts at email@example.com if you'd rather do that.)
We quoted "Some Kind of Wonderful" on Tuesday, and it has a special place on the sneaky underrated great 1980s films. If we offered a Rushmore of that - while completely arbitrary - which film would you nominate?
You know the drill, answer some 'which ways' leave some 'which ways.'
As for today, June 29, let's review. Dang, we are almost halfway through 2022. Where did the year go?
Happy 68th birthday to Rick Honeycutt, longtime MLB pitcher and pitching coach who was born right here in our neck of the woods.
It also is a 'Hug Holiday' but I wonder does that mean we need to give more hugs or are we on a holiday from hugs? Discuss.
It's also Fred Gandy's birthday. He's 74. He was Gopher on "Love Boat" and was later elected to the U.S. House.
Rushmore of most surprising celebs elected to federal office because Gopher from "Love Boat" is a strong candidate.