The Confidential – Oct. 16, 2017

Braves Break Ground On New Spring-Training Complex Today


A groundbreaking ceremony will be held today for the Braves’ new spring-training complex in southwest Florida, just 16 months before the team intends to hold its first workout at the $100-million facility. 

The stadium and training complex will be built on former ranch land in the West Villages development in the southern Sarasota County city of North Port.

The project, which got its final governmental approvals last month, will officially begin its construction phase with Monday afternoon’s ceremony, which is expected to draw officials from Sarasota County, North Port, the Braves, the West Villages Improvement District and West Villages home-builder Mattamy Homes. 

The construction schedule is aggressive, with the Braves planning to begin holding spring training in the facility in 2019. But there is a recent precedent for building a spring-training stadium in Florida under a similar timetable: A new West Palm Beach facility shared by the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals, which opened this year, broke ground in early November 2015 and was built over a span of about 15 months.

The Braves will train in 2018 for the final time at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports near Orlando, their spring home since 1998. 

Plans call for a North Port stadium with a capacity of about 8,000, plus six full practice fields, two half fields and about 55,000 square feet of clubhouse and office space. 

Taxpayers will contribute more than $40 million toward the new facility, plus interest. Sarasota County will cover $21.3 million of the construction cost, the state of Florida $14.4 million and North Port $4.7 million. (The state’s commitment is $20 million over 20 years, including interest payments.) 

The Braves are on the hook for $55.5 million through a combination of up-front payments of about $18 million and annual payments over 30 years sufficient to cover debt service on $37.5 million in bonds. A private developer will contribute $4.7 million.

Al Michaels Dropped a Harvey Weinstein Joke On "Sunday Night Football," Then Apologized

Al Michaels. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

The New York Giants have had a terrible season and a particularly terrible week. Despite this, they are destroying the Broncos in Denver. Al Michaels set out to make this very point mid-way through the third quarter and somehow steered the conversation toward disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Why? No one knows.

Michaels’ ill-advised joke will have significant ripple effects in the outrage pool, and it’s easy to see why.

Certainly an interesting choice when the cost-benefit analysis is considered.

UPDATE: Michaels offered a swift apology moments later.

Report: Jameis Winston To Have MRI, X-rays Negative On Shoulder Today

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) throws a pass against the Arizona Cardinals. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

The early news on Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is good.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, X-rays on Winston’s shoulder came back negative, though he will have an MRI on Monday.

Clean x-rays do not mean that Winston has escaped uninjured, but there seems to be a belief around the team that the quarterback has escaped serious injury. He went down in the first half and actually looked like he made a couple attempts to test out the injured shoulder, but it simply did not happen for him. We should know more within a day or two. Ryan Fitzpatrick came in and threw 3 TD’s to make things interesting.

Martavis Bryant’s Girlfriend Appears To Confirm He Wants To Be Traded

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant. (AP Photo/Fred Vuich)

Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant has denied a report that he is unhappy as a Steeler and wants to be traded. But Bryant’s girlfriend appeared to confirm the report.

Deja Hiott, whom Bryant has identified as his girlfriend multiple times on social media, posted a tweet on Sunday night that responded to the report of Bryant wanting a trade and seemed to confirm that the report was accurate.

“Well. You guys should’ve seen it coming. Taking him off the field, not giving the ball or the chance to reach his full potential,” Hiott wrote, in a tweet she later deleted.

It’s hard to believe Hiott would write that on Twitter if Bryant hadn’t told her privately that that’s the way he feels. So while Bryant is saying publicly that he’s happy in Pittsburgh, there may be more going on than he’s willing to admit.

Ex-Boston College RB: X-Rated Recruiting Parties Ain't New, I've Got Video Proof


A former Boston College football player says strippers and underage boozing is nothing new when it comes to recruiting players … and claims he’s got the video to prove it. 

We spoke with ex-BC running back Jamall Anderson — who says he committed credit card fraud to fund illegal recruiting parties to entice top players to join the BC family. 

Which brings us to the video … which Anderson claims was shot on campus in 1995 and shows various football players grinding with strippers, taking shots and one guy even passes out in a bathroom.

“What you see on the video is just us outta control. We just did it all,” Anderson says. 

We reached out to Boston College and a rep told us, “This 22 year old video, which is alleged to have taken place at Boston College, depicts unauthorized and unacceptable behavior that does not reflect the culture of BC or the standards to which our student-athletes are held.”

America’s Obesity Epidemic Reaches Record High, New Report Says


America’s obesity crisis appears more unstoppable than ever.

A troubling new report released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that almost 40 percent of American adults and nearly 20 percent of adolescents are obese — the highest rates ever recorded for the U.S.

The continued weight increase in the youngest Americans is especially worrisome for long-term health. One in five adolescents, ages 12–19; one in five kids, ages 6–11, and and one in ten preschoolers, ages 2–5 are considered obese, not just overweight.

Obesity is medically defined as having a body-mass index of more than 30. The findings on obese kids in the U.S. comes on top of this week’s World Health Organization report that childhood obesity is soaring around the world, increasing more than tenfold over the past four decades.

Overall, 70.7 percent of Americans are either overweight or obese, meaning that an unhealthy weight has become the norm, with normal weight Americans — a BMI of less than 25 — now in the minority. Public health experts say that an unhealthy diet and the lack of exercise are still the two biggest culprits.

In addition to unhealthy foods and a sedentary lifestyle, there could be another possible reason for the increasing obesity rates: sleep deprivation. An estimated 50 million and 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders or sleep deprivation, according to the Institute of Medicine.

Inadequate sleep is a risk factor for childhood and adult obesity, says Hu. Sleep-deprived people may be too tired to exercise, take in more calories and may undergo hormones changes that control appetite.

Man Finds $24 Million Lottery Ticket In Old Shirt...Just In Time!

The New York Gaming Commission let local folks know a winning ticket, worth $24.1 million, was sold at a store in New York City last May 25th — but it didn’t know who bought the ticket.

Winners have a year to claim the prize and that expiration day was quickly approaching.

So earlier this year, the New York Lottery started to get the word out.

“We urge New York Lottery players: Check your pockets. Check your glove box. Look under the couch cushions. If you have this winning ticket, we look forward to meeting you,” Gweneth Dean, director of the Commission’s Division of the Lottery, said at the time.

For 68-year old Jimmie Smith, it was an old shirt hanging in his closet he went to check. Stuffed in its pockets was a stack of unchecked lottery tickets.

Smith, a retired security officer, caught a news story about the search for the mystery winner. That inspired him to check his old tickets.

It’s a good thing he did. Because had he waited two days longer, he’d have lost out on $24.1 million. The winning ticket would have expired.

When the numbers matched up, he “stood there for a minute thinking, ‘Do I see what I think I see?'”

Smith chose to receive his payments over the course of 26 years.