Thursday, January 31, 2008
UPDATE: While I still think his prospects list is great, the fact that he hates, hates, hates Watchmen is something you may want to take into account as you weigh his judgment and credibility.
I don't offer any of this for your pity. I offer it as an explanation for what I'm about to say:
Sorry about that. I'll go ask that young doctor to change my medication now.
UPDATE: Here's the first comment below, posted within about 15 minutes of this article going up:
"I was actually in charge of the photoshoot where that Jay Bruce photo came from. The way that works is we had all of our minor leaguers stand in line, grab a name tag, and take six different hats, one for each affiliation. Not every hat fit the same so some people look like goobers. I can't speak for Longoria and Joba, and I agree."
I've said it before, but it's worth repeating: ShysterBall readers are the bestest on the internets.
Ryan Howard was dressed in red on Wednesday, only it wasn't his Philadelphia Phillies uniform.
Howard, the 2006 NL MVP, donned a skintight, high-tech red suit dotted with 55 sensors to have his motions captured for MLB '08 The Show. The slugger will be on the cover of the video game, which will be released March 4 for PlayStation2, PlayStation3 and PlayStation Portable.
In all honesty, I could go the rest of my life without seeing the words "Ryan Howard" and "skintight" in the same article again.
Alison Rohan, who lives across the street from Kulpa in Maryland Heights, Mo., said Christopher knocked on her door two or three weeks ago and gave her his card.
"He explained they were going to be talking to neighbors and friends because of the problems with the basketball league and that Ron knew about it," she said. "He listed about 10 different questions, the first one being did Ron live out of his means? For example, does he drive a Rolls-Royce?"
Rohan said she told Christopher that Kulpa lived in a manner similar to that of his neighbors.
"He asked if Ron belonged to any groups or organizations," she said.
"Groups?" she remembered replying.
"You know, like the KKK," she said Christopher told her.
"We both laughed and I said no," Rohan said. "He belongs to a neighborhood Harley-riding group of dads."
Asking about group affiliations is a typical background check question. At worst this investigator used an ill-advised but essentially harmless "f'rinstance," which the interviewee rightfully took as a humorous exaggeration. There is no issue here, and the umps -- still upset that they're being checked in the first place -- are simply casting for some PR and sympathy. This criticism from the head of the umps union, however, is rich:
"Once again, baseball's favorite way of doing things: Ready, fire, aim," Hirschbeck said. "It's not a good way to start the season."Yeah. And ready, fire, aim is something the umpires union has never done.
UPDATE: If there was any doubt that this is a tempest in a teapot, that doubt has been put to rest by the always frivolous presence of Jesse Jackson.
The Pirates lost out on Johnny Estrada yesterday, but another free-agent catcher should be added soon. The team is negotiating with Paul Bako, who spent all of last season with Baltimore, on a minor-league contract that would include an invitation to spring training. Bako, 35, batted .205 with a home run and eight RBIs in 60 games for the Orioles and has a .233 average over 10 seasons in the majors.You don't "negotiate" with someone like Paul Bako. You tell him "Paul, if you'd prefer to play baseball instead of working at warehouse or something this summer, you'll take the bus ticket we just mailed you and show up at spring training. No, meals will not be included."
I suppose of course that Bako could reject their offer -- some warehouses are quite tolerable and this is the Pirates we're talking about here -- which would mean that Pittsburgh would be unable to land two washed-up, castoff Braves catchers in the space of a couple of days.
Ozzie Virgil and Bruce Benedict: keep your cell phone with you this week.
Major League Baseball plans to build a home on 125th Street, Harlem’s premier boulevard, for its cable network, which is scheduled to make its debut early next year with some 50 million subscribers, real estate and baseball executives said on Wednesday.I'm pretty sure that if a bass-ackwards organization like the Big Ten can make its network more or less work, Major League Baseball should have no problem. Still, you'd think that they'd at least wait to make sure of that before building a place. I mean, there's nothing wrong with renting for a little while, right?
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
My guess is that Santana will dominate the National League like Greg Maddux did in the mid-1990s and Randy Johnson did five years later. But maybe we shouldn't assume any limits.
Query: while the NL isn't nearly the hitters' league the AL is, how does the NL East stack up itself? Sure, Santana is going to pitch half of his games in a pitcher-friendly park, but there are going to be an awful lot of at-bats against Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Mark Teixeira and Chipper Jones. Heck, even the lesser-lights on the Phillies look scarier because of that bandbox they call a ballpark. Though Florida and Washington aren't exactly scary, losing RFK is going to change the game in the NL East in favor of hitters as well.
This is not to say that Rob is wrong -- I agree that Santana is going to experience a considerable boost moving to the NL -- but circa 1995 Maddux and circa 2002 Big Unit approach the upper limits of what any pitcher is capable of, even one as talented as Santana.
Not that what happens in public and before Congress isn't still important to Clemens -- remember, this is just as much a PR strategy as litigation -- but it won't prevent Clemens from winning the lawsuit, and my feeling is that whatever happens before Congress, the results of that lawsuit are what will determine Clemens' ultimate legacy with respect to this issue.
There are notable exceptions, but my sense is that this may be an example of the bargaining phase of grief as opposed to acceptance.
Whitey Ford decided it was time to clean out his attic - and his stash of pinstripe goodies could be worth a mound of cash. The legendary Yankee pitcher showed off an array of belongings that will go on the auction block, including a baseball President John F. Kennedy signed for Ford and his Hall of Fame induction plaque.
"When your house starts getting full and your kids don't have a place to sleep, it's time to get rid of stuff," said Ford, 79. The treasure trove also includes a signed photo of Mickey Mantle, Ford's rookie jersey and an authentic, used game glove.
The old Mantle-Ford-Martin bar tabs will be available for review prior to the auction as well. To inquire, please provide seventeen data CDs and allow several hours for downloading.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Update: the prospects are Deolis Guerra (P); Carlos Gomez (OF); Kevin Mulvey (P); and Phil Humber (P). They are ranked by Baseball America as the Mets' 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 7th best prospects, though I'm sure other prospects raters' mileage will vary.
Not that he couldn't still kick Robin Ventura's ass . . .
But better than merely relying on an expert's opinion is the fact that Peter Angelos seems hesitant to do the deal. Let's review the bidding on Angelos' other key decisions during his tenure, courtesy of Will Leitch's helpful rundown in God Save the Fan:
- Running legendary broadcaster Jon Miller out of town;
- Running Davey Johnson out of town;
- Letting Mike Mussina leave;
- Alienating Brooks Robinson so badly that he refused to show up for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of his debut;
- Raising ticket prices 22 percent in the face of declining attendance, but not until after slashing the team budget; and
- Inspiring an annual fan revolt, to which he responded "whoever joins that protest has no comprehension of what it costs to run a baseball team." Meanwhile -- as the Orioles have sucked for a decade -- the value of the franchise has risen 425%.
So cheer up, Seattle! This may be a blessing in disguise!
The head table included Denny McLain, Ryan Braun, Bob Melvin, Jake Peavy, Jimmy Rollins, Johnny Damon, Joe Girardi, Joba Chamberlain, Omar Minaya, Brian Cashman, Bobby Murcer, Alex Rodriguez, Yogi Berra, Craig Biggio, Goose Gossage, Billy Wagner, Jeff Wilpon, Dick Williams, Willie Randolph, Dustin Pedroia, C.C. Sabathia and Luis Tiant.
Hope the people at the Hilton counted the place settings at the end of the evening.
Update: if anyone is unaware of Denny McLain's wonderful reputation, here's a great place to start.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Pages 7-11: Comparing Clemens to Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, and Nolan Ryan to show that, hey, such erraticism in ERA and late-career resurgences aren't all that uncommon.
Roger Clemens 2007 compensation:
Per Pitch: $10,748
Per Inning: $175,152
Per Start: $982,801
Per Win: $2,948,402
The most interesting graphs to me, however, were the ones showing the yearly fluctuations in Rogers ERA margin compared to Johnson and Schilling. Roger's bounces up and down throughout his career. Both Johnson and Schilling start off below their career averages, have a long steady period above their averages, then fall and don't recover. The fact that Clemens bounces around a lot means he suffers years of unexpected poor performance that Schilling and Johnson don't. Those might be the times Clemens is tempted to use steroids.
By comparison, this year's Baseball Prospectus comes in at over 600-pages. Of course, the BP folks are breaking down thousands of players, so my guess is that it will provide far more bang for your analysis buck.
Update: the report is here. It's 42 pages. Their font is a bit bigger than I expected.
Update 2: watch this BTF thread, for it will probably contain some of the best refutation and/or support of the report you'll find today. It's quiet now, but if you listen, you can almost hear the tapping of calculator keys.
Update 3: I have a go at it here.
But just because something is true doesn't mean someone in Cashman's position should be saying it. Just odd, really, because Cashman has never been a guy to call players out like that, let alone one two years removed from the team.
A friend of mine, who is a Yankees fan, was saying that he doesn't care that Hank Steinbrenner has been running his mouth as much as he has this offseason because, in the end, the cool heads are making the right decisions. Loose lips in any organization have a funny effect on the behavior of others, though, and Cashman's comments make it look as though Hank's verbal diarrhea is contagious.
That may be fine if it ends here, but what happens -- other than unrestrained glee in non-Yankee quarters -- if Cashman starts trashing Jeter or someone?
UPDATE: Jason at IIATMS holds forth more generally about Hank's issues with discretion.
My parents always taught me to have perspective, to recognize where parts of your life really fit in the overall picture," Glavine said. "When you become a parent, you see things differently. The health and welfare of your family comes first. Maybe I wasn't prepared to hear that word -- devastated. As disappointed as I was, I didn't think about devastation, not because of a baseball game.
My son is 11, he has a friend who's going to lose his leg to cancer. That is devastation. That was an awful game, a terrible outcome for us. But it wasn't life and death. What I said -- how I answered that question after the game -- was a reflection of how I was raised, that the game is fun and important and sometimes disappointing. But there is a point where your disappointment ends.
It's one thing to hear that coming from some player who coasts on his raw skill, plays lazy, and mails it in. Glavine isn't one of those guys, and anyone who questions his toughness or desire (as many Mets fans did last year) is crazy.
More personally, that quote from Glavine pretty much captures how I, and I hope most folks, feel about sports.
Below the little summary, in blue, are the names of various blogs which have already linked to the story. Check out how many of them are Mets and Yankees-specific blogs. I haven't read them all yet so it's possible that this is mostly a case of bloggers willing to go outside of their bailiwick during a slow news time. My first thought upon seeing this, though, was that Mets and Yankees fans have to be quite shocked that teams other than their own had the wherewithal to go out and get a big pitcher.
I'm actually going to go read them now.
Update: OK, my preconceptions about Yankee/Met takes on this were wrong. Only two of those blogs view the trade from the New York perspective, one noting that the AL East will be an easier place for the Yankees without Bedard around, and the other noting that Minaya wanted Bedard but never had the prospects.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Prompted by an on-air moment last summer, Darling decided his grasp of at least one aspect of today's game would benefit from winter workouts. He already knew his physique would, too. So he began six-per-week sessions that included lifting, running, stretching, pulling, pushing, throwing, sweating, groaning ... and learning . . .
. . . The work is quite different from what he recalled. "I came from a time when pitchers didn't use weights and you didn't drink water while you were working out," Darling said. He recalled a emphasis on extended running. "The mentality was to finish," Darling said. "To be successful [as a starting pitcher], you had to win and finish, pitch a complete game. Mel [Stottlemyre, Darling's pitching coach with the Mets] had us run the trail in Port St. Lucie -- three miles. And he stressed finishing."
Darling recognized less emphasis on cardiovascular conditioning in the workouts suggested to him: "More stretching, weight training and doing things in quick spurts," he said. The game is played spurts.
MAB Celebrity Services has filed a $5,000 lawsuit against the former Yankees and Oakland Athletics great, accusing him of not showing up to events
that he had agreed to attend to sign autographs.
UPDATE: Jason's blog was already cool, but now it's even better because freakin' Shaq is linking to him!
(yes, that's in all likelihood a phony Shaq blog, but it's fun anyway).
Many are skeptical of the ability of sports venues to anchor these urban redevelopment initiatives. From the same piece, “Stadiums attract large crowds on an infrequent basis who stay for short periods of time and cause traffic congestion. That kind of activity cannot support neighboring businesses, and it can make living near a stadium a hassle." "'Sports venues alone are just big black holes that have the ability to depress the neighborhoods in which they're in,'
economics professor Roger Noll told the trade magazine Retail Traffic." Stanford University
. . . the Chair of Economics at Clemson University Raymond Sauer asks, “ . . . as the myth of stadiums as economic development gets exposed, will that lead to more or less government spending? In the
case, and other cities where these integrated development plans are emerging, the answer seems to be 'more.'" Atlanta
On the one hand, this is absolutely stupid. On the other hand, the same kinds of people making these dumb decisions that are the ones sending me a check for $600 this spring, so we may want to keep them around regardless.
Bolivia's western mountains would be quite a setting for baseball. The capital La Paz, at 11,800 feet above sea level, is one of several Bolivian cities that would make Denver's famous elevation laughable. The Colorado Rockies hosted World Series games last year at Coors Field - at a mere 5,280 feet.Let's see, home runs, no curve balls, lots of wheezing and shortness of breath . . . wasn't this already tried with the 1993 Phillies?
Baseball fans have long argued over how much the game is distorted by Denver's altitude, where balls fly farther and pitches lose their curves.
Bolivia's high plains would provide an extreme laboratory. The thin Andean air raises the specter of vast home runs, no breaking balls, and visiting lowland players bent over wheezing after a sprint to first base.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
"HGH is nothing. Anyone who calls it a steroid is grossly misinformed," Stallone says in the [Time magazine] issue out tomorrow. "Testosterone to me is so important for a sense of well-being when you get older. Everyone over 40 years old would be wise to investigate it because it increases the quality of your life. Mark my words. In 10 years, it will be over the counter."
In the meantime, I ask you all to consider what the Fukudome flag flap mentioned in the post below is going to do to MLB's China initiative I mentioned yesterday. I mean, I'll concede I may be overreacting a bit to the rising sun, but the Chinese of all people are entitled to have their blood angried up a bit, no? At the very least, methinks a testy conference call between the Cubs and the MLB marketing folks is going on as we speak.
Kosuke Fukudome is among the players featured in a new ad campaign unveiled on Tuesday designed to showcase the international breadth and depth of the Cubs. A graphic red, white and blue image of the Japanese outfielder that includes a rising sun includes the statement, "I don't need an interpreter. My bat does the talking."
My first thought was that the folks responsible for the Cubs' website simply didn't read the biggest sports website around, because if they did, they certainly would have realized the coming backlash and taken the story down. When I read further, however, I realized that this probably wasn't this case. Rather, they are simply sociopaths with no conception of what's offensive and what is not. Proof:
There also is an ad with pitcher Kerry Wood that will feature the Texas flag.
Texas?! Those insensitive monsters!
OK, that was a dumb joke. I love Texas. Here's a good joke, written by Deadspin commenter Ronzookonredbull:
What do the Japanese Imperial Navy and the 2008 Cubs season have in common?Heh.
They're both finished by Midway.
José Canseco, the former major league slugger and admitted steroid user who exposed other players in his 2005 best-selling book “Juiced,” offered to keep a Detroit Tigers outfielder “clear” in his next book if the player invested money in a film project Canseco was promoting, according to a person in baseball with knowledge of the situation.
The outfielder's name is Magglio Ordóñez, and if the allegations are true, Canseco's name is mud.
In other legal news, Chuck Knoblauch appears to be on the lam, and Barry Bonds has moved to have his indictment to be dismissed (my expert opinion on his chances of success: ain't happenin').
We are quickly approaching the point where I would drown puppies if it meant this freakshow would end and some actual baseball would start happening.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
On January 3rd he debuted his College Basketball Closer on Deadspin.
Today it's announced that he's no longer doing the Deadspin thing.
If anyone finds Jonah Keri, please return him to the front desk so that his rightful owner can be notified.
This is an example of a WordPress page, you could edit this to put
information about yourself or your site so readers know where you are coming
from. You can create as many pages like this one or sub-pages as you like and
manage all of your content inside of WordPress.
Here's something for those of you who are more into Mulder.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled baseball programming.
Cubs sources said one hangup is that the MLB owners must approve the new owner by a three-fourths majority, and the quarterly owners meetings are scheduled in May and August. If a deal is unlikely to be approved before August, as expected, the Cubs would wait until the end of the season to complete it.
These extended limbo periods are never good for a team. Ask Expos fans. Closer to reality, ask Braves fans, who saw lame duck ownership nickel and dime the team for quite a while before a deal was finally done (not that the new owners aren't nickel and diming too . . .) As for the naming rights thing:
As the Cubs contemplate selling naming rights to Wrigley, one fan complained about annual ballpark alterations and said he didn't like the idea of going to "Pepto-Bismol Park." McGuire elicited laughs by responding, "I do think there's a natural tie between Pepto-Bismol and the Cubs franchise."
Heh. But the seriously, what's with renaming the stadium?
[Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney] said he spent his childhood at Fenway Park and pointed to all the changes in that ballpark that led to new revenue streams and helped Boston win the World Series titles in 2004 and '07. "We're not going to ruin Wrigley Field in any way," Kenny said. But he said modern baseball economics demand new ways of thinking.
I assume he's referring to things like putting seats on the Green Monster and isn't under the delusion that the Sox renamed Fenway because, like, they didn't. More importantly for Cubs fans, I sincerely hope that Crane appreciates that whatever the Red Sox did with the stadium to "tap into new revenue streams" had way less to do with their ascension than did being acquired by a committed owner and assembling a smart front office that had a clue about how to build a ball club.
I mean, sure, Pepto Park would be awesome, but Mark Cuban would be better.
The deal has numerous incentive clauses, particularly in the option years, that will help protect the Rays if Shields doesn't live up to expectations or reward the pitcher if he continues on an upward trajectory. If all the options are picked up, Shields would give up his first two years of free-agent eligibility to remain in Tampa Bay.
Smart move, as was the Carlos Pena deal from last week.
Now: I don't follow the Rays all that closely, but what's going on with Scott Kazmir? I know he got a one year deal to avoid arbitration, but given that he is younger, better, and closer to free agency than Shields is, why aren't the Rays trying to lock him up too?
[MLB's Paul Archey] is expected to announce in Beijing that MLB will play its first preseason games there in mid-March, likely between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres.
If you think veterans enjoy begging off road games in the spring to get out of the bus rides now, just wait for the excuses when it comes time to get on that plane to Asia. I expect many "family emergencies."
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
I got a gentleman's C in 11th grade chemistry -- I probably would have failed if I hadn't played the Todd Rundgren requests my chem teacher called into the radio station I worked for -- but as best as I can tell, the link to ShysterBall corresponds to Technetium. According to this, Technetium is "the lightest chemical element with no stable isotope."
Which sounds about right.
Happy Birthday Ernie!
No full review yet because my advance copy came courtesy of the New York Post which, for some reason, asked me to review it for them, and since they're paying me and you're not, they get it first (the review should run on Sunday and I'll be sure to link it here).
In the meantime, I'll share one of my favorite passages in the book:
. . .as far as I'm concerned, there's not a stadium in all of sports that's a less enjoyable place to watch a sporting event than Yankee Stadium. It's not just that the park, because of an ill-fated mid-70s remodeling, has the nostalgic architecture of an International House of Pancakes (Though that doesn't help). It's that the mythos of Yankee Stadium, hand in hand with that unique blend of entitlement and narcissism that makes New York what it is, have combined to make attending a game there feel like you've been invited to your rich uncle's house, the one who never talks to you, works for some evil law firm somewhere, and makes you take your shoes off the minute you get out of the car. Oh, and he charges you forty bucks once you make it through the front door. It's the biggest rip-off in all of sports.
He may be based in Brooklyn, but Leitch is all-Midwest, and I mean that as a compliment.
Like I said, it's a good book, and a very different beast than Deadspin in many important ways (there is very little re-hashed content and is far less snarky and flip than you might expect). I highly recommend it.
Wait, er, that's not right because he wasn't. Their basis: Clemente was the first Puerto Rican ballplayer.
Um, nope, he wasn't that either. How about this: their basis: Clemente was the first Hispanic star.
Damn, this is getting hard. I guess we're left with this: their reason for wanting to honor Clemente is to pander to an important New York City voting demographic.
Yes, that seems to fit nicely.
Look, I love Roberto Clemente. Fabulous ballplayer. An even better human being. But that can be said about a lot of players, and we don't go retiring their numbers all willy nilly. The best way to honor Clemente is to (a) not forget his accomplishments and, ultimately, his sacrifice; and (b) allow players who wish to honor his legacy to actually wear number 21 -- as many have done since he died -- rather than hang it up in ballparks to collect dust.
If they do go ahead and retire number 21 anyway? Look out, because the floodgates will open. Sure, no one would argue with honoring Hank Greenberg or whoever the first Jewish ballplayer was (Update: the judges will accept Lip Pike), but things are going to start looking silly when the Dutch lobby gets Bert Blyleven's number retired or the Canucks pull strings for Bill Phillips.
Update: Deaner from Blue Collar Baseball disagrees with me, as I imagine a lot of people do. Can't help it. I'm just not a big fan of gestures and symbolism and stuff, even when it's well-intentioned.
Update: I may not have Deaner, but I do have the New York Post:
Few players would merit such an honor more than Clemente - a Hall of Famer and a tireless humanitarian. Indeed, he was killed in a 1972 plane crash while delivering disaster-relief aid in earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua.
But only one number has ever been retired league-wide: Jackie Robinson's 42.
That decision was announced on the 50th anniversary of Robinson's breaking the sport's color barrier - suggesting that baseball knows how best to honor its groundbreaking players.
And it does: The league presents the Roberto Clemente Award every year to the player who best embodies Clemente's humanitarian spirit.
But the council, forever in search of ways to justify itself, now figures it knows better.
It's simply beyond comprehension.
Get a life, councilpersons.
I don't read Ratto enough to know how he feels about PEDs in baseball, but I am hard pressed to imagine that any sane person can believe that's a good idea. Yes, the Giants' willful blindness was embarrassing, but in terms of harm caused, it pales compared to baseball's ridiculous, anti-competitive territorial scheme (which would only be further legitimized if employed to punish the Giants) or the way teams play one municipality off another in order to extract more tax dollars for their cash-cow ballparks, both of which would be encouraged by Ratto's proposed solution.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Moreover, in historical terms, recession has been, if anything, good for baseball. Since the end of World War II, five recessions have started during the off-season and lasted into the season. None of them harmed attendance at all: Baseball fans are a hardy and dedicated lot.To support this conclusion, Tim cites some attendance figures for years in which recessions stretched into the baseball season. In all cases, Tim notes, attendance either held more or less steady or increased a tad.
But looking at attendance figures for the seasons which take place during recessions may be a bit misleading. I say this because it's often the case that the general public does not really feel the effects of a recession until after it has already occurred. The best recent evidence of this can be found in the example of the 1992 Presidential election, which was decided by an economic downturn that had ended over a year before people went to the polls. Even though I was a Clinton guy back then, hindsight gives me no small amount of sympathy for then-President Bush who correctly, albeit vainly, tried to argue that the economy was on the upswing and had been for many months before people went to the polls. Didn't matter of course, because Joe public was still feeling the pinch no matter what the leading economic indicators had to say.
For this reason it may be more profitable to look at the year or two after a recession is over in order to gauge its effect on baseball attendance. Eyeballing Marchman's examples -- the recessions of 1949, 1970, 1980, and 2001 -- shows that, at the very least, it's a mixed bag. The 1970 recession truly appears to not have had any material impact on attendance either at the time or in the following year or two. We can't truly assess post-1980 recession attendance because the 1981 strike gums up the data, but I will grant that 1982 and 1983 were strong. The other two examples, however, show a sharp decline in the seasons immediately following the recession:
pre-recession attendance (1948): 20,938,388
recession year attendance (1949): 20,215,365
post-recession year one attendance: (1950): 17,462,977*
post-recession year two attendance: (1951): 16,126,676*
pre-recession attendance (2000): 72,702,420
recession year attendance (2001): 72,567,108
post recession year one attendance (2002): 67,944,389
post recession year two attendance (2003): 67,630,052
I'm not suggesting the attendance decline in these two examples was caused by post-recession ennui. Indeed, in each example there were factors -- the Korean War and September 11th/Afghanistan/Iraq War -- which may have contributed to people turning their attention to things other than baseball in the ensuing years. That said, none of these events had such a great impact that they themselves led to recessions, so we shouldn't overstate their impact on baseball attendance.
What does this all mean as we head into what appears to be The Great 2008 Recession? Hard to say. It's quite possible that this time around attendance hits will occur contemporaneously with the recession because, unlike in previous years, reports of economic doom and gloom have been circulating for some time prior to the technical downturn. Indeed, given the speed at which information is obtained and processed these days, it's not out of the question that, by the time the recession is ending, baseball fans will have already dealt with their vanishing home equity and devalued currency, regrouped, and renewed their season ticket packages for 2009.
But baseball certainly can't bank on that for a couple of reasons. For starters, this recession may be a very different and scarier beast than those in the past. If so, ticket sales will no doubt suffer more than they usually do when things get bleak.
But what may give baseball a larger headache is the same thing which has given it so much joy in recent years: the game's economic expansion and diversification. Even if assume ticket sales will be resilient because hardcore, ticket-buying fans will be willing to scrimp in order to continue to go to games, so much more of the game's income these days is driven by more passive, and therefore more easily jettisoned, fan behavior. Fantasy games. MLB.tv packages. Video game and merch sales. These are products which, while lucrative, don't require the same investment of time and mental energy as does spending years on season ticket waiting lists or making the sorts of sacrifices occasioned by actually leaving one's home and going to a ballgame. In other words, those more recently-realized income streams were easy come, but in an economic downturn, they may also be more easy-go.
All that said, I still tend to share Marchman's cautious optimism because he's right in noting that (a) season tickets are purchased by richer, more recession-resistant folks; and (b) during recessions, sports and entertainment are often the only things keeping folks away from the ledge. In the end, baseball may weather the coming economic storm just fine.
But I certainly wouldn't bet my home equity on it.
*The link only shows 17,153,172 in attendance for 1950 and 15,661,207 for 1951. For some reason, however, the figure seems to exclude attendance for the Philiadelphia A's, which I've added to the total. It also lists the St. Louis Browns totals under Baltimore which, while understandable for purposes of later numbers in the decade, is inaccurate as the move east had not yet been made. Somebody please let me know if these totals are still off.
If you like that and want more, no worries, because over the past two months, Chris ran down the top top games one through six as well.
On the one hand, you could say that the Rockies buying out all of the arbitration years and up to two free agent years for one of the game's up-and-coming young players was the more significant of the two deals. That would ignore the fact, however, that Brett Tomko brings more than just a 4.62 career ERA to the table.
What does he bring? Mrs. Tomko.
(link IS safe for work, but if you're creative and interested you can find many, many for yourself that are not).
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Friday, January 18, 2008
If McHale had had this level of involvement with any other Major League team, there would no doubt be a memorial patch or initials sewn onto the home jerseys -- or something -- to honor his memory and contributions. The undead Expos, however, now forced to walk the Earth as the Washington Nationals, will no doubt fail to make such a gesture, just as they have failed to honor or even recognize Tim Raines, Andre Dawson, Gary Carter, or anything else that occurred before 2005.
McHale was an aide to former commissioner William Eckert in the 1960s when the National League was looking to expand by two teams - San Diego and either Montreal or Buffalo.
He was deeply involved as National League president Warren Giles helped sort out Montreal's fractured ownership group, settling on majority ownership by Charles Bronfman, which saved the Montreal bid, Fanning said. McHale then turned down an offer to replace Eckert as commissioner to join the new franchise as its first president.
UPDATE: Greetings Neyer fans! Click here for more ShysterBally goodness!
A progressive field sounds like something the Starship Enterprise would pass through, causing the crew to temporarily sprout goatees or beaks.
There are perks to being World Series MVP, as Mike Lowell happily recounted yesterday.
"I got to shoot an ad today with Rene Russo," the Red Sox third baseman said before the Boston Baseball Writers dinner at the Westin Waterfront Hotel. "I don't think that if I went 1 for 17 in the Series I would have gotten the same chance."
Methinks that meeting Rene Russo would have been a much better perk for being the 1987 World Series MVP as opposed to 2007, but I suppose you take what you can get.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
If you only caught the tail end of his injury and illness played career, you wouldn’t know it, but Eric Davis was far and away the most exciting baseball player I’ve ever seen. There have been guys who can do it all: run, hit for power, hit for average, make spectacular fielding plays. But Davis was something different. Davis was a high wire act that you knew had a chance in ending in
disaster. Davis lacerated his kidney diving for a ball in the World Series, but with Davis that was the norm.
C: Tony Pena. I loved the odd squat behind the plate and the way he'd fling the ball around.
OK, I suppose this list may have been a little best-ever heavy, but there you go.
UPDATE: Neyer asks how I could put this list together and not include Bo Jackson. Good question, but I have a (sorta) defensible answer. Jackson saw his first real playing time in 1987, but didn't really become HOLY CRAP THIS IS BO JACKSON until 88 or 89. One thing you'll note about this list is that it's basically devoid of post-1985 AL players (I got hooked on Henderson in the early 80s). There's a reason for this, and that reason is that I lived in West Virginia from 1985 through 1991 and saw damn little American League ball during those years. Yes, I saw the Jackson highlights on SportsCenter, and yes, I saw his legendary All Star Game performance, but I really didn't see much of the guy and thus don't have the same level of appreciation for him as many do.
But even if I did -- I have to wonder whether I'd still not rather watch Rickey in left.
Riding the crest of unprecedented financial success and an impressive performance before Congress Tuesday, Bud Selig agreed to stay on as Major League Baseball's commissioner for three more years.
Selig, 73, agreed to continue his reign just two days after he appeared at a Congressional hearing on the Mitchell Report on steroids, a report authored by former Sen. George Mitchell at Selig's behest.
Selig left Washington Tuesday night for the MLB owners' meetings in Phoenix, where the owners asked him to stay on until 2012.
I think that’s a fabulous idea. Let’s compare the mindblowing stupidity of MVP voting to the mindblowing stupidity of Oscar voting. For example, guess how many combined non-honorary Oscars Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, and Federico Fellini won?
The last three years [Silva and Robertson] have been fairly durable but inconsistent. Some of the best projections we have available for next year have them as pretty close as well. The Mariners simply paid too much for what I think Silva is going to give them. I think the Silva deal stinks. I know it is not particularly instructive to compare anything to the least common denominator, but you would have a very tough time arguing Silva is worth an average of 5 million more a year than Robertson.
I realize that whatever he eventually writes isn't intended to be fine literature, but honestly, there are college kids who don't play things this fast and loose with term papers.
In a country with sports venues with names like Jobing.com Arena and Monster Park, and with telecommunication and financial company mergers causing venues to change names seemingly every year, New Yorkers lucked out when it was announced that Citigroup was paying $20 million a year over 20 years for naming rights to the Mets new ballpark. Not only is Citi Field an inoffensive name for a ballpark in New York City, but the Citi name has been in use since the mid-1970’s.
But with yesterday’s news that Citigroup lost almost $10 billion in the fourth quarter of 2007, it is looking more likely that unless Citigroup turns things around in the near future, the Mets’ new ballpark might eventually fall victim to the name-changing plague that has been seen around the country.
I suppose if the Astros could survive "Enron Field" the Mets can survive this, but I think ballclubs have underestimated the hassle and possible embarrassment that can come with hitching your nominal fortunes to a corporate star.