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Saturday Morning Breakfast & Baseball: Target Field News, Darren Oliver, Kershaws In Africa, and Hunter's Anti-Gay Comment

Today's B&B post looks at the Target Field debt potentially being paid much earlier than anticipated, Darren Oliver's "Pay me fairly, trade me, or I'm retiring" ultimatum with the Blue Jays, Clayton Kershaw and his wife running an orphanage in Africa, and Torii Hunter's comments and backtracking on how he'd feel uncomfortable playing with a gay teammate.

Clayton Kershaw poses with some children in Africa.
Clayton Kershaw poses with some children in Africa.

Hello, everybody. I hope your Saturday is and continues to be going well thus far. I've had an extra-long Christmas break thanks to my school, because our grading periods are set up to require full weeks and having school start up again on Wednesday was not going to help. On the flip side, I've been easily bored for the past few days, and thus I've started a rotation of Angry Birds, Words With Friends, Hardball Talk, Facebook, Breaking Bad, and MLB '12: The Show, with everything but Breaking Bad accompanied by Kasabian and Muse music in the background (I received a lot of English rock music for Christmas). So.... yes, I'm a bit antsy to have school started again. In the meantime, here's some baseball news from the past week.

  • It sounds like the debt on Target Field is on track to be paid off much earlier than expected. The stadium was expected to be entirely covered by 2037, but the Minnesota Ballpark Authority and Hennepin County announced that a new target could be moved up by 5 or even 10 years. One benefit of financing the stadium early is that it avoids having to include interest payments in future years. As for the taxpayers, the final finance payment would signal an end to the 0.15% sales tax on every $20 sold in Hennepin County. I suppose you conspiracy theorists could argue that the Twins are lowering their payroll in order to cover the cost of Target Field faster, but you have to realize that it's Hennepin County that is paying for the ballpark.
  • LHP Darren Oliver is currently under contract for one year and $3 million with the Toronto Blue Jays for 2013, but he's been mulling retirement this offseason. However, there is one way that he'll come back to the Jays: Have his salary increased. On one hand, I have to commend him for trying to get more money, but on the other hand, it's his contract of which he agreed to sign prior to last season (originally a 1-year contract with a club option, which Toronto exercised) and he's stuck with it. While we might say we'd be thrilled to play baseball for $3 million, Oliver is 42 years old and acknowledges that his contract is below market value, as fellow lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt just signed for 3 years and $18 million with the Giants, and Oliver does not want to leave his family for another season if he's not being paid fairly. A compensation to this conflict might be to trade Oliver to the Rangers where he'll be closer to his family, and it would also mark his fourth stint with the Rangers, but no deal appears imminent right now. To me, it looks like Oliver might be forced into retirement thanks to his pride and the Blue Jays' unwillingness to set a precedent for future players.
  • Last offseason, our feel-good, "Are you serious?" offseason story was from R.A. Dickey and Kevin Slowey when they climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to raise money to fight human trafficking and slavery. This year's story is from Clayton Kershaw and his wife Ellen, who are sponsoring an orphanage in Zambia. This is their second year partnering to run the orphanage. They currently have eight orphans and the Kershaws noted that this is the first time in their lives these kids have slept in actual beds. If you'd like to see updates, they are running a blog right now, and they also have a deal where a donation of $100 will net you a signed 8x10 Clayton Kershaw picture and a blue Dodgers Kershaw shirsey. Honestly, I'd do it just for the picture.
  • Finally, Torii Hunter is in the news again and it's not for a positive thing. The outspoken outfielder was interviewed for an article on homosexuals in sports, and this is what he had to say.

"For me, as a Christian … I will be uncomfortable because in all my teachings and all my learning, biblically, it’s not right," he says. "It will be difficult and uncomfortable."

People have predictably split over Hunter's comments, from saying that he's bigoted and misquoting the Bible, to applauding him for using his right to free speech, to saying that we shouldn't overreact to his comments because he was simply stating what he has been taught as a Christian, and that his comments do not contain any hate speech. I fall somewhere in between the first and last arguments, where I feel that he has now alienated any future gay teammates he may ever have, but I also agree that he did not say anything that was actually hateful. As it turns out, there was enough backlash that Hunter felt the need to tweet this message.

I'm very disappointed in Kevin Baxter's article in which my quotes and feelings have been misrepresented. He took two completely separate quotes and made them into one quote that does not express how I feel as a Christian or a human being . I have love and respect for all human beings regardless of race, color or sexual orientation. I am not perfect and try hard to live the best life I can and treat all people with respect. If you know me you know that I am not anti anything and to be portrayed as anti-gay in this article is hurtful and just not true.

So... Hunter was misquoted, but then he does nothing to explain what he actually said. The fact that Hunter felt the need to accuse the reporter of mashing two separate quotes together is curious, especially when you try to separate the above quote into two pieces. The ellipsis is a bit suspicious, but reporters do that all the time to omit unnecessary language, and again, assuming that's where the quote gets split doesn't change the meaning of Hunter's words. I feel that Hunter spoke his mind, and was forced to backtrack when he learned of the backlash of his comments. Maybe he should have blamed Kevin Correia instead.