Moore: A Preposterous PawSox Proposal

Monday, April 20, 2015

 

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After the jaw-dropping proposal from the Pawtucket Red Sox ownership, that would, among other things, force Rhode Islanders to pay the team $120 million for an $85 million stadium they'll build was released, former State Representative David Segal took to Facebook to ask a question: Why wouldn't the state just buy the team itself?

It's a fair and just question seeing that the new Pawtucket Red Sox ownership paid just $20 million for the team. And if the state is going to risk all that capital to pay for the stadium, why not just buy the team outright so that it could benefit from the profits?
But the question is obviously rhetorical, because it contains an inherent assumption that only Rhode Island political observers would catch: that state government works for the interests of the common people. In reality, state government is filled with snollygosters—folks who look out for the interests of themselves and their friends, the wealthy and connected, not the general public.

If the state bought the team, the state taxpayers would benefit from the profitability of the franchise instead of Skeffington and his partners personally. That wouldn't work for him, and that's what this is all about. Skeffington wants the risk socialized, but privatize the profit. Segal's suggestion would be too fair to the little people in that the risk and profit would be socialized.

Corporate Welfare

If this were a straightforward situation where a non-connected, ordinary person who wasn't part of the state government class here in Rhode Island, approached the state with a ludicrous proposal that would force the state to enter into a situation that was so blatantly crony capitalistic and filled with obvious corporate welfare, he'd be laughed out of the room. But because Skeffington is so immersed in the culture of state government--the government and legacy media treat it as a legit proposal.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that Skeffington and his prominent partners have been donating money to prominent politicians like Governor Gina Raimondo for years on end.

For far too long, there's been a culture in Rhode Island where the highly connected beautiful people like Skeffington have taken advantage of those without a connection to state government other than their tax payments. 
This proposal is yet another example of the strong preying on the weak. Yet Skeffington makes it seem as if by forcing taxpayers to pay for his team's brand new stadium so he can profit handsomely, he's doing them a favor.

A Playround for the Connected

Skeffington made what had to be one of the most disingenuous comments I've ever read several weeks ago, when he told wpri.com's Ted Nesi that he saw being a part of the ownership group that bought the Pawtucket Red Sox "an opportunity to give back to my community". If that's the definition of "giving back", I'm sure just about every citizen in this state is looking for precisely such an opportunity.
Inviting local  bands, who are struggling to make end’s meet, to play at McCoy Stadium this year for free was also a nice touch. It just shows that Skeffington and this ownership group are cheap and inconsiderate.

In addition to being cozy with so many politicians and state officials, Skeffington is also leveraging the nostalgia for the Pawtucket Red Sox. So people have such fond memories of the Pawtucket Red Sox dating back to their childhoods. Like so much else from his past, it’s a trick.

In case anyone needs to be reminded, Skeffington is the man who brought moral obligation bonds to Rhode Island—the concept that brought us 38 Studios.

Bloopers of Yesteryear

While 38 Studio’s isn’t his fault at all, Skeffington was the driving force behind the financing mechanisms of the construction of the Rhode Island Convention Center. When the Convention Center was constructed roughly 21 years ago, original forecasts by Skeffington was that the center would pay for itself. The reality is that the state has had to pour about $450 million dollars into the facility to keep it up and running.

Rest assured however, Skeffington made a hefty sum out of the deal, so it worked out well for him. 

Of course, Skeffington is up to his old trick again. Golocal reported earlier this week that the consultants the team has hired to make economic projections on the proposal have a history of telling their customers precisely what they want to hear. But that's no surprise, such consultants are little more than PR people parading as economists.

Odds in Skeffington's Favor

Despite these truths, the odds are in Skeffington's favor once again. He is a close ally of Governor Gina Raimondo and has raised money for the candidate. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed haven't indicated any opposition to this project yet either, and that's also a good sign for Mr. Skeffington (and a bad sign for the people of Rhode Island).

Yet in this particular interest, all is not lost. This issue has galvanized opposite from both sides of the political spectrum, and everywhere in between. Folks with such diverse political perspectives as Segal and State Representative Doreen Costa (R-North Kingstown) have come out in opposition to this deal. Groups on Facebook have been created with the express intent of opposing this boondoggle. 

It needs to be thwarted. Mr. Skeffington is certainly not the only mover and shaker in Rhode Island who would, and has, used the taxpayers as his own personal ATM machine, but with this latest scheme, he's certainly become the poster boy for it. It's about time the people whom the government is supposed to be working for pushed back. Call your representatives, senators, and Raimondo and tell them we don’t need want any more corporate welfare.

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Russell Moore has worked on both sides of the desk in Rhode Island media, on both political campaigns and for newspapers. Follow him on twitter @russmoore713. Send him email at [email protected] 

 

Related Slideshow: Greatest Moments in PawSox History

With the Pawtucket Red Sox sold and looking to leave Pawtucket, here is a look back at the some of the greatest moments in Pawtucket Red Sox history. 

See the slideshow below. 

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4th of July

McCoy Stadium fills up on every 4th of July for baseball and then one of the best fireworks shows in the state of Rhode Island. 

The PawSox put on several fireworks shows that go throughout fourth of July week and weekend depending on the team's schedule. 

Baseball and fireworks has become quite the family event over the years. 

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Mondor Gardens

In 2011, the Pawtucket Red Sox completed work on Mondor Gardens, a tribute to late owner Ben Mondor behind the left field fence. 

The garden features six miniature bronze statues of kids playing baseball along with park benches and handicap accessible area's. 

"Mondor Gardens adds a park-like setting to the exterior of McCoy where fans both young and old can sit and relax and enjoy thinking of tonight's game or memories of seasons gone by," said PawSox president Mike Tamburro at the time. 

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Move to AAA

The Pawtucket Red Sox moved from AA to AAA prior to the 1973 season. 

They have since stayed in AAA and have become one of the model franchises in the international league. 

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Community Work

The Pawtucket Red Sox have done great work in the community and in 2014 they were rewarded for it, winning the John Henry Moss Community service award. 

Over the last five years, the Pawsox Charitable Trust has donated more than $250,000 to important causes in the area and their Ticket Fundraiser Program has contributed over $200,000 to organizations like the American Parkinson's Disease Association. 

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Major League Stars

Throughout the history of the Pawtucket Red Sox, they have been able to develop great Major League players who have gone on to be successful in Boston or in other organizations in the Major Leagues.

The list of players is endless but here are a few of the names that came up through Pawtucket.

Wade Boggs, Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice, Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis among others.  

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Ortiz Comes to Pawtucket

Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz has made a couple of rehab starts with the Pawtucket Red Sox and McCoy Stadium has been filled for each and everyone. 

Ortiz's last rehanb start with the Pawsox came in 2013 when he batted third as the DH in the PawSox lineup. Ortiz went 2-for-3 in the game and notched one RBI.  

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Perfect Games

There have been four perfect games in Pawtucket Red Sox 121 year history. 

The last one came in 2003 when Bronson Arroyo was perfect against the Buffalo Bison in a 7-0 PawSox Win. 

Arroyo threw 101 pitches and had nine strikeouts in the game.

Photo courtesy of Aaronstrout/ flickr

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Baseball Hall of Famers

Jim Rice, Wade Boggs and Carlton Fisk are among several former PawSox  players that have made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. 

Other PawSox members such as Ben Mondor, Joe Morgan, President Mike Tamburro along with Rice and Boggs have been inducted into the International League Hall of Fame. 

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Mike Tamburro

PawSox President Mike Tamburro's story is one of the great stories in the Pawtucket Red Sox history. 

Tamburro started with the PawSox as an intern under Ben Mondor and worked his way up to now being the president of the team. 

Tamburro was inducted into the International League Hall of Fame in a 2012 ceremony at McCoy Stadium and is the only front office employee ever to earn the International league's Executive of the year award five times. 

Mike Tamburro is a major reason why the Pawtucket Red Sox continue to be a model franchise in AAA ball. 

 

 

Photo courtesy of tjperr/ flickr

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The Longest Game

The Pawtucket Red Sox played in and won the longest game in ever played in baseball history. 

The game started on April 18, 1981 and went until play was suspened at 4 a.m. the next morning in the middle of the 32nd inning. 

The game resumed on June 23 and that is when Pawtucket's Dave Koza got a base hit to drive in Marty Barrett .

The PawSox won the game 3-2 in the bottom of the 33rd inning. 

Photo courtesy of bunkosquad/ Flickr

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1984 Champions

The Pawtucket Red Sox won their second Governors Cup Championship in franchise history, defeating Maine 3-2 in the best of five series. 

The team went 75-65 under manager Tony Torchia that season before making a playoff run and winning the title. 

This was a huge turnaround for Pawtucket considering the previous season the PawSox went 56-83. 

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First Title

The PawSox won their first championship in 1973 defeating Charleston 3-2 in the series. This was Pawtuckets first season in AAA ball. 

Pawtucket then went on and won the Junior World Series (now the Triple-A National Championship) by beating Tulsa 4-1. 

Darrell Johnson was the manager of the team that season as the PawSox went 78-68 finishing second in the International League. 

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Birge/ Flickr

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Ben Mondor Purchases Team

After the 1976 season, the Pawtucket Red Sox franchise, which actually had changed it's name to the Rhode Island Red Sox, went bankrupt and it looked certain that the team's stay in Pawtucket was over. 

Ben Mondor bought the Pawtucket Red Sox in 1977 and kept them in Pawtucket. The Pawsox won the Governors Cup in 1978 and in 1998, Ben Mondor oversaw the revamping of McCoy Stadium into one of the nicest minor league ballparks in the country. 

Ben Mondor passed away in October of 2010 at the age of 85. 

The PawSox have since won two Governors Cup Championships (2012, 2014) and McCoy Stadium remains one of the nicest minor league ballparks in the country.

Photo courtesy of Butch Adams/ Flickr

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2012 Governors Cup Champs

In 2012, the Pawtucket Red Sox won their first Governors Cup title in 28 years, defeating the Charlotte Knights 4-1 in South Carolina.

PawSox pitcher Nelson Figueroa earned the win in the game shutting down the Knights while the PawSox offense scored two runs in both the second and seventh innings.

 

Photo courtesy of tjperr/ Flickr

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2014 Governors Cup Champs

The Pawtucket Red Sox won the Governors Cup for the second time in three years in 2014, defeating Durham 3-2 in the best of five series. 

The PawSox trailed 2-1 in the series and faced elimination in game four before Ivan De Jesus hit a two run home run to force a game five. 

In game five, the PawSox Keith Couch pitched a one hitter through 6 2/3 innings while the PawSox added offense. Pawtucket defeated Durham 4-1 to advance to the International League Championship. 

Ryan Lavarnway was named MVP. 

Photo courtesy of tjperr/ Flickr

 
 

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