What should have happened last year via free agency has happened this year by trade: Carlos Degado has gone to the Mets! This trade has already benefited the Shea men because it signaled to this year’s No. 1 free-agent closer, Billy Wagner, that the Mets are serious about winning.
Delgado will discover that he likes New York better than he thought he would when he signed with the Florida Marlins last year. Yes, NYC is a couple of hours farther away from Puerto Rico than Miami. But NYC has a large and vibrant Puerto Rican community that will welcome him. If he produces as expected, the rest of NYC will love him too.
And there’s nothing like winning to make a baseball player feel good about his surroundings.
…which brings me back to Wagner. The Mets dealt with the Wagners’ lifestyle concerns: they put money on the table, committed to 3 years with an incentive for a fourth, took Wagner and his wife, Sarah, on a tour of the family-friendly suburbs, and had the Wagners talk to the Glavines.
And, as Wagner said after visitng NYC, they took care of the baseball side: "I really like what they’ve done. And I don’t think they’re done. I’m excited. They look like the one team that wants to win, so far. They’ve got a game plan for winning. …[I]t sure looks like the Mets aren’t just trying to put a competitive team on the field. They want to win."
Wagner said this before the Mets acquired Delgado.
Meanwhile over in the American League, the Baltimore Orioles have finally made an effort to keep their free-agent closer, B.J. Ryan, who is considered the best reliever after Wagner in this year’s market. Word is that the O’s have made a three-year, $18 million offer. I am glad to see the Orioles make an effort to keep the best pitcher on their staff.
I remember the Oakland A’s saying at the beginning of 2003 that they would not even make an offer for Miguel Tejada for 2004. This after Tejada won the 2002 AL MVP award. I don’t care how many times players spout the "I understand baseball is a business" cliche. Actions like that have got to hurt the player. They certainly hurt the fans, even though, in this case, 2004 Rookie of the Year, Bobby Crosby, has been a decent replacement when he’s been healthy. Go to an A’s game and you will still see fans wearing Tejada shirts.
As for whether staying with the Orioles is a good idea for Ryan, that may be another story. Cleveland is interested and they are closer to the playoffs than Baltimore is. The Yankees are also interested, but then Ryan would end up being Rivera’s set-up man. He could stay a closer AND be with a contender by going to Cleveland. The Indians met with the Ryans, but there’s no word on whether the Tribe made an offer. How serious are they?
Whether the Orioles can keep Ryan may depend, not only on the offer to him, but on their ability to contend quickly. That means further improving their pitching staff and finding a strong defensive catcher who will allow Javy Lopez to play first base.
The Birds were in first place for 62 days early in the 2005 season, so they have a recent memory of how it feels to do well. But they have an even more recent memory of how it feels to have everything fall apart. Can the Orioles show Ryan a plan to win, the way the Mets have shown one to Wagner?
The New York Mets have traded Mike Cameron to the San Diego Padres for Xavier Nagy.
While I am sorry to see the New York Mets let go of a Gold Glove outfielder, I am very happy to hear that Mike Cameron passed his pre-trade physical with flying colors. I saw his collision with Carlos Beltran on TV as it happened, and it was just horrible! And watching it being replayed several times did not take the edge off the horror. I hate to see any player get hurt and this was one of the worst injuries I’ve seen in a baseball game.
The collision ended Cameron’s 2005 season. He sustained broken bones in his face and required surgery. (Fortunately, Beltran’s injuries were less serious and he was back in action in a few days).
But now Cameron’s fine, needing no rehab. He’s happy with the trade, which will enable him to return to his natural position, center field. (Cameron had been moved to right after the Mets signed Beltran).
The issue now is to see how well he performs when another teammate comes very close to him on a play, especially at PETCO in San Diego, where the collision occurred. On a conscious thought level, he’s ready to go. But sometimes the body has a mind of its own.
I remember being hit in the eye with a tennis ball many years ago. I had moved close to the net to volley and the ball glanced off my racket frame. I was wearing soft contact lenses. After checking out my eye in the bathroom and seeing no harm, I resumed the match. I kept playing the same attacking serve-and-volley style, but for 6 months after that incident, I involuntarily flinched when I was at the net and a ball approached at eye level.
I can only hope that Cameron, as a professional athlete, will not involuntarily flinch insituation similar to one that caused him such serious injury. We won’t know until he actually faces (no pun intended) the situation.
Good Luck, Mike!
OK, for weeks I have been promising (or threatening, as you consider the case to be) to post a big article on Eric Byrnes’ batting stance. Well, it’s morphed into something a whole lot bigger than big. As my colleagues in Radioland know, short is not my long suit.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what was ailing Eric Byrnes at the plate in 2005. This is the first part (of five) of the first of two articles, segmented for online reading convenience, on Eric Byrnes’ batting difficulties. This article deals with the mental aspect of solving these problems. I will address the actual batting stance issues in the second article. This article and the one to come are based on my observations of Byrnes, especially in the second half of the 2005 season. That’s when he joined the Baltimore Orioles and I got a subscription to MLB.TV.
WARNING: If you don’t like offense, in which case you should probably be a soccer fan, or if you get bored reading about the minutiae of improving a hitter’s chances, or you’re just plain against armchair psychology, please skip all this. If you really like pitching, I’ve got a nice (and much shorter) piece on A’s closer and 2005 AL Rookie of the Year Huston Street that you might find interesting. Check the November archives.
FURTHER WARNING: If you don’t like Eric Byrnes, now is definitely the time to leave. In fact, if you don’t like Eric Byrnes, you’ve wandered into the wrong blog.
If you know Eric Byrnes, please tell him this is here. And if you ARE Eric Byrnes, hello, thanks for stopping by, please read this, keep an open mind, and give the suggestions a try. Something(s) might work. You don’t come across as the type of person who would sit in front of a computer or anything else for long, so read it in bits and come back a bunch of times. Peace on earth might be a pipe dream, but your batting .300 in 2006 is not. (Assuming we have a 2006 baseball season, but that’s a whole ‘nuther article altogether, about things like bird flu, Peak Oil and such that I wouldn’t publish on the Byrnesblog).
A technical note: I am uploading these segments so that the most recent entry is actually this one. You can just read down as you would a book. Otherwise, you would end up reading it backwards, which messes up the sequence.
First, the obvious question: What makes me think I have any answers for Byrnes when experienced baseball professionals like Orioles hitting instructor Terry Crowley couldn’t get him turned around last year?
Well, I started going to baseball games and reading about baseball long before Byrnes was even born, so I do know a thing or two about the game. I have also personally experienced competitive sports and stage performance, so I understand something about the mental pressures of performance, even though I have never done anything remotely as impressive as being in the AL playoffs, which Byrnes has done.
But the idea that a fat, 50-year-old female journalist, whose ball field experience is mostly limited to a very small, barely-remembered amount of intramural grade school softball in the 60s, has anything to say that would help a major league hitter goes back to the mid-80’s when I lived briefly in Indianapolis and worked as a paralegal for a Social Security Disability attorney. One day, one of his clients, an older man who had already won his disability benefits, brought in his three brothers. He was hoping the attorney could win benefits for them as well. The youngest of them was 42. All had multiple chronic medical problems from years of brutal physical labor. They had worked this way because they were all very poorly educated. They could be termed functionally illiterate, i.e. able to sign their names, read basic road signs, such as "stop" and "yield" when they drove, but not much else. I did client intake, and in hearing their stories, I discovered that they were all dyslexic.
Unfortunately, in rural Indiana when these men were growing up, no one understood what dyslexia was or how to compensate for it. These guys were simply written off as stupid, and so that’s what they themselves came to believe they were. They were left to do brute physical labor in terrible conditions, and it had ruined their health. But by the mid-80’s, dyslexia was talked about more, and people like me read about it and knew the tell-tale signs.
I told the attorney what I had discovered, and showed him the simple written test I had conducted with one of the brothers (simply copying the words and numbers on his cigarette pack, just as he saw them). I was disturbed that a paralegal had seen in two hours what doctors and social workers had been missing in years of appointments. The attorney told me that sometimes lawyers and paralegals are in a position to spot something that doctors or social workers miss. That experience has always stayed with me. Being a paralegal and later a journalist means that the powers of observation are my stock-in-trade.
Thanks to the Internet, I have been able to turn those powers of observation on Eric Byrnes. I sat at my desk in Oakland, or at my workstation at KPFA-FM in Berkeley, watching him on my computer, with no other agenda but that I was rooting for him to succeed and asking myself why he was having so much trouble in 2005, after a career year offensively in 2004. I watched him like a hawk every chance I got, listened to what the announcers were saying, and kept notes on my Eric Byrnes Pitch Count Reports, which quickly developed into something much more detailed than the title would suggest.
And I had certain advantages in studying him. I was not in a situation where I was required to compare him to others, or decide whether or not he fit in. I’d already decided that Eric Byrnes is my player no matter what his batting average is; the challenge was to see whether I could spot whatever it was that was keeping him from having the season he and his organization wanted him to have. I was not charged with watching the others on the team for signs of trouble, even though others had also slumped. In other words, my baseball-watching attention was not, perforce, divided. So I thought that, perhaps, I could see what the experts and what Byrnes himself, caught in this frustrating quandary, could not. Some people, especially the ones who don’t really think much of Eric Byrnes—and I have encountered some of those–may think me a fool for trying to point out solutions to his difficulties at the plate. I don’t care what they think. All I know that I do not think Eric Byrnes should be written off as those guys in Indiana were written off by people who could not or would not see the root of their troubles.
This is the second part of a long article, segmented for online reading convenience, on Eric Byrnes’ batting difficulties, and the mental aspect of solving these problems. WARNING: If you don’t like Eric Byrnes, now is definitely the time to leave. In fact, if you don’t like Eric Byrnes, you’ve wandered into the wrong blog.
Here are some stats with which to lay the foundation for my theses. They will be especially helpful to you Eric Byrnes novices:
Eric Byrnes made his major league debut on August 22, 2000, with the Oakland A’s. He made the A’s Opening Day roster in 2003. Here are some stats for 2003-2005 from ESPN.com:
G AB Avg HR RBI H R
2003 121 414 .263 12 51 109 64
2004 143 569 .283 20 73 161 91
2005 126 412 .226 10 40 93 49
In 2005, Byrnes played 59 games with Oakland, 15 with Colorado and 52 with Baltimore. (He actually batted in only 47 of the 52 Orioles games).
As I have said repeatedly in other posts, 2005 was Byrnes’ "abysmal, aberrant year." It is not unusual for professional athletes to have a season that they would love to just excise from the record books. Typically, it’s the dreaded "sophomore jinx" or it’s a year near the end of the career that signals a diminution of skills brought on by the cumulative effects of age and injuries sustained over the course of the career. Sometimes, it’s a year ruined by a major injury requiring significant DL time and possibnly surgery. Byrnes’ second year was the best of the three full seasons he’s had in the majors so far. He doesn’t turn 30 until February 16, 2006. One look at him will tell you that he is in great shape.
In fact, here’s the photo of him, taken by Daryl of Daryl’s Place, that I keep as wallpaper on my home computer.
Fortunately, Byrnes has not ended up on the DL from all the banging into walls and diving on the ground he’s done to make all the spectacular catches he’s made to rob opponents of extra-base hits.
(Holy ankle-sprains, Batman!)
Here’s the big problem: Eric Byrnes is a model of inconsistency.
All batters have hot spells and slumps, but Byrnesie, as we call him in the S.F. Bay Area, has always been notoriously streaky. Here are some descriptions from his official MLB web page for 2003:
…replaced [Jermaine] Dye in the fifth inning on April 24 against Detroit after [Dye] tore cartilage in his right knee fielding a Dean Palmer double…had his first multiple hit game of the season that day and moved into the starting line-up on April 25…had seven consecutive games with an extra base hit from May 8 to 15 (four doubles, three triples, one homer)…that began a career-high 22 game hitting streak from May 8 to June 1, during which he hit .376 (32 for 85) with 10 doubles, three triples, four home runs and 20 RBI… went 0 for 9 in his next two games before putting together a 10-game hitting streak from June 5 to 15 (15 for 40, .375)…had the hitting streak snapped on June 17 and then put together a 13-game hitting streak from June 18 to 30 (21 for 59, .356)…had a career high four RBI on May 15 at Detroit…homered in all three games of the Montreal series, June 13-15, the first time he had homered in three straight games in his career…tied an Oakland record with a career high five hits on June 29 at San Francisco when he hit for the cycle… at the end of June, he had hit safely in 23 of his last 24 games and 45 of his last 48 and was batting .335 overall…that was the fifth best average in the A.L., his highest ranking of the season…then hit .095 (7 for 74) in 20 games in July…snapped a career long 0 for 17 slump on July 20…appeared in just 12 of the A’s 28 game from July 22 to August 20 before ending his 9 for 95 slump with a two-hit game at Boston on August 21…the slump had dropped his average 66 points to .270 but he went 7 for 17 (.412) over a nine-game stretch from August 21 to September 8…replaced the injured Chris Singleton in center field on September 9 and started 16 of the A’s final 18 games (8 for 49, .163)…snapped a 39-game, 121-at bat homerless streak on September 11 against Anaheim.
Of course, pitchers have a say in these matters. Have a series against a team with a stellar pitching staff and you can be 0-17 in a hurry. But 2005 included longer dry spells, such as a very depressing 0-37 streak broken by a double off Boomer Wells in the last week of the season. After hitting safely in his first 11 games as an Oriole, Byrnes struggled at the plate for the rest of the season at an unprecedented level, even given his characteristic streakiness. The Orioles announcers were hoping Byrnes could get a broken bat single to get him started. But his broken bat contacts ended up being outs, like this one Daryl got the last Sunday the A’s played in Baltimore:
Broken bat AND treacherous ankle positions! <shudder> Sometimes, if you don’t have bad luck, you wouldn’t have any luck at all.
This is the third part of a long article, segmented for online reading convenience, on Eric Byrnes’ batting difficulties, and the mental aspect of solving these problems. You’re still here? Then you must be an Eric Byrnes fan. Great! The more the merrier!
Why does Eric Byrnes matter? It’s not like I’m getting paid to analyze his hitting.
I’ll let Audrey Hepburn provide the answer. She said it better than I ever could.
more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and
redeemed; never throw out anyone,
Byrnesie is at a critical time in his career. He will be 30 in 2006 and thus deemed to be in the middle of his prime years as a ballplayer. 2005 was anything but prime. Thirty seems to be the defining year. You’re expected to have fulfilled your potential as a player by then. Oh, you may still have a career year in the offing, but in general, how good you are ever going to be is decided by then, by whomever decides these things. When a player is 30, there are many other younger players willing to do the job for less pay. It seems like every other day, if not more frequently, we hear the sentence, "Baseball is a business." We even hear it uttered stoically by guys like Byrnes himself.
And just what does that mean? There’s a baseball exhibit from Cooperstown that has taken up residence at the Oakland Museum for the next few months. It’s called BASEBALL AS AMERICA. At some point I am going to see it and I will write you a review. I will look for an aspect of the exhibit that has to do with baseball economics.
In the United States, the culture demands that everyone earn a living, (or be supported by someone who does) in an economic system that does not need everyone to participate in order to function. In fact, having some people not participating, even though they want to, creates a pool of workers to use against the wage demands of those who are participating. I know the effects of that personally.
People, in all fields of endeavor, are routinely thrown away in America, even after functioning quite well. We are told to strive for those promotions and those raises, and then are thrown away for becoming too expensive. In baseball, perhaps there was no greater example of this than the Florida Marlins after they won the World Series in 1997. Remember the fire sale? Do any publishing companies have editors who will develop promising writers anymore? Such editors were probably the first group of workers thrown out of the publishing industry when it retrenched in the face of desktop publishing. Remember when the minor leagues had more classes than they do now? Today, colleges are expected to do the development work that the lower classes of the minors once did. It’s like that everywhere these days; let some other organization develop the worker you want to eventually have. One of the compliments paid to Theo Epstein as he decided to leave the Red Sox was that he revitalized Boston’s farm system. So what does that say about what it was like before? What was behind the thinking that put the Red Sox farm system in a condition to need revitalization?
And how many displaced workers find jobs that pay what they formerly made? In the ‘80s, as corporate raiders broke up even profitable companies because sale of the assets made more money in the short term than running the acquisition, the millions of workers displaced in that phenomenon where told to retrain. But older workers found they were not wanted or had to take much lower paying jobs. And the courts found ways to decimate the age discrimination laws. How many anti-union companies do a merger with, or buyout of, a unionized firm, fire all the workers and invite them all to re-apply for their old jobs? How many times do we hear of a team that cuts a player but hopes to re-sign that same person at a much lower salary? BASEBALL AS AMERICA, indeed!
I put up the Audrey Hepburn quote, which is part of a poem she wrote that was sent to me recently, because I am convinced that 2005 was an aberration, and that to throw out Eric Byrnes: to relegate him to the bench, or to give up on him entirely, is a huge mistake. And it’s a mistake not just on the moral grounds of which Ms. Hepburn was probably thinking when she wrote her words; it’s a mistake on baseball grounds.
Re-read Byrnes’ stats, focusing not on the "ofers," but on what he’s accomplished, and you will see that Eric Byrnes is a guy with major league tools. In fact, he’s got that rare combination of power and speed that gives him 30-30 potential. (Not that the Moneyball A’s really like stolen bases, which is one of the reasons Byrnes is better off out of Oakland, even though a bunch of us didn’t like the idea, or how it was done). He also has the desire and the work ethic to do well. The issue is consistency. Some guys, like the 2005 AL Rookie of the year, Huston Street, seem to be born with it. But I think it is also teachable; I think it is a skill that can be honed. I wouldn’t be spending all the time I do thinking and writing about Eric Byrnes if I thought consistency was solely an inborn trait that he apparently wasn’t born with.
From his 2003 MLB web page:
Replaced the injured Jermaine Dye on April 24 and for the next nine weeks of the season, he was one of the hottest players in baseball…beginning on April 24, he hit .352 (83 for 236) with 11 home runs and 41 RBI over a 59-game stretch that culminated on June 29 when he hit for the cycle at San Francisco …at the end of June, he had hit safely in 23 of his last 24 games and 45 of his last 48 and was batting .335 overall…that was the fifth best average in the A.L.
And from 2004:
…was named AL Player of the Week for the week of July 26 to August 1 after going 11 for 25 (.440) with seven runs, two doubles, three home runs and nine RBI…it was his first career Player of the Week award…drove in at least one run in six consecutive games from July 23 to 28 (12 total)…finished July with eight home runs and 24 RBI in 24 games…the home runs and RBI were his most ever in a month…
Imagine Byrnesie hitting .335 for an entire season. What was it about this 59-game stretch that made .335 possible? Imagine more AL Player of the Week awards. What was it about that week that made performance at such a level possible? If he’s done it before, he can do it again. How can Byrnes perform this well consistently?
NY Yankees third baseman Alex "A-Rod" Rodriguez is the 2005 American League Most Valuable Player. He certainly put up some impressive numbers this year: He was the AL Homer King with 48, plus a .321 batting average and 130 RBI.
But I was rooting for Boston’s designated hitter David Ortiz, who finished second in the MVP vote. Ortiz hit 47 home runs, batted .300 and led the league with 148 RBI.
The difference for me was the "close and late" stat, i.e. at-bats in the seventh inning or later with the team either ahead by one run, tied or with the potential tying run at least on deck.
In these situations, Ortiz hit .346 (27/78) with 11 HRs, 33 RBIs, with a .447 on-base percentage. A-Rod hit .293 (22/75) with four HRs, 12 RBIs, with a .418 on-base percentage.
I was listening when Ortiz hit his last regular season homer. The announcer said that 20 of his 47 home runs had either tied the score or put the Red Sox ahead.
Red Sox Chick, in a comment to one of my older posts, made the observation that I think defines what an MVP is:
"[Ortiz] has been absolutely irreplaceable to us. Take him out of the equation and the Sox are a different team. Not so with ARod. He’s a great player on ANY team, but he never seems to be the difference maker."
To me, that’s what MVP is all about: who is the difference maker?
To me, in 2005, it was David Ortiz.
Do the departures of Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro from the Orioles mean that the Birds can now afford the kind of money that would induce free-agent pitcher B.J. Ryan to re-up with Baltimore?
Or does the fact that new O’s pitching coach Leo Mazzone hates pitch counts and likes complete games mean that Baltimore will let go of its sought-after closer without a fight so that it has more money for starters (Burnett? Millwood?) and a catcher (B. Molina? R. Hernandez?) who would enable Javy Lopez to play first base?
Those would be good moves. But a contending team also needs a good bullpen, even with a de-emphasis on specialized relief pitching (grin). Would there still be room for Ryan?
Or is there an as-good or better alternative?
Word around the Hot Stove League is that Ryan is thinking Yankees. Meanwhile, Yankees set-up man Tom Gordon has filed for free-agency looking for a chance to be a closer again. Hmm. What do you think of pitching at Camden Yards, Tom?
The greedy Kéllia Ramares of Oakland, CA, who is interested in what the Orioles are doing as long as they keep Eric Byrnes.
Congratulations to Oakland A’s closer Huston Street for being named 2005 AL Rookie of the Year. Street is now the 7th A to be Rookie of the Year. He follows A’s shortstop Bobby Crosby who won the award last year.
Street’s 2005 record was 5-1 with 23 saves in 27 opportunities. His ERA was 1.72; that was second only to the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera among AL closers. Street had 72 strikeouts in 78 1/3 innings. Opponents batted only .194 against him.
Street was drafted out of the University of Texas in June 2004, played in the Arizona Fall League and made the big club this spring. He took over the closer’s role in May when Octavio Dotel left for Tommy John Surgery.
I’m not a big fan of closers. I like complete games. But I was hoping Street would be Rookie of the Year because to be so good so young at such a pressure position—he did not turn 22 until early August—is really something special. In fact, the idea of a rookie filling that role is mind-blowing.
Street’s most memorable outing of 2005 came on August 30th. The A’s were at Angels Stadium playing their geographically-challenged division rivals. The aces, Barry Zito for the A’s and Bartolo Colon for the Angels, squared off in a classic pitchers’ duel. Zito went 9 full and Colon 9-1/3. The relievers inherited a 1-1 score. Kiko Calero pitched a scoreless 10th for the A’s. Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez took over from Colon in the 10th and shut the A’s down for the rest of the inning. But he gave up a solo homer to Bobby Kielty in the 11th.
Huston Street pitched to the Angels in the bottom of the 11th. With 2 out and Chone Figgins, the potential winning run, on second, and Garret Anderson on first, Street got Vladimir Guerrero to hit into a 4-3 groundout.
"He’s got ice in his veins." Zito later said.
It was Street’s 18th save and the high-point of the A’s season. The win was their 7th straight and put them two games up on the Angels, in first place in the AL West. But they dropped the next two games, falling back into a tie with their Southern California foes. The Angels eventually won the division.
Street has also won the Players Choice 2005 AL Rookie of the Year award and The Sporting News AL Rookie of the Year.
Congratulations also to Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies. The first baseman, who turns 26 in mid-November, is the NL Rookie of the Year. He hit .288 with 22 homers and 63 RBI in 312 ABs as the replacement for the injured Jim Thome. Howard hit more homers than any other rookie in the 2005 season.
The big sports news in Oakland last week, so big on November 3 that it was the big page one headline on the Oakland Tribune, was the demise of the Oakland Raiders Personal Seat License or PSL. The headline read "Raiders sack seat licenses." There were three stories: "Deal also ends years of legal wrangling" by staff writer Paul T. Rosynsky, "Fans happy to cast off chains of dreaded PSLs" by staff writer Angela Hill, both in the news section, and "He11 must have frozen over" in the sports section by sports writer Art Spander.
"So what’s up with that?" And why have I included this football bit in the Byrnesblog?
Well, without getting into ALL the gory details, I can tell you that a PSL was the right to buy season’s tickets. You had to buy a PSL before you could buy the tickets. They were first sold in 1995 and were scheduled to be renewed this year (2005). The PSL was marketed as a tradable asset: you could sell, give or trade away your PSL or put it in your will.
The PSL system led to several unpleasant developments: Oakland Raiders home games did not sell out. That meant lost money for both the Raiders and the City of Oakland. And local games were routinely blacked out, leaving fans who simply can’t afford the price of any tickets unable to view the games on TV. People were able to buy individual tickets the day of the game and sit next to a PSL-holder without having paid the price of a PSL, which ranged from $250 to $4,000. That made people who sprang for the PSLs rather unhappy. According to Raiders owner Al Davis, quoted on page 1 of the November 3, Oakland Tribune: "The word PSL has become a negative in the Bay Area. The PSL, if it had been remarketed, there would have been protests."
The PSL was a flop because a lot of fans understood it to be the sham asset it was: a "right" created out of thin air, that was really a surcharge on season’s tickets. The right to buy a season’s ticket means having the money to buy a ticket, not buying a PSL to buy a ticket.
Don’t try this, MLB. The new stadiums being built or proposed will no doubt lead to higher ticket prices as it is. The idea that we need to pay for the right to pay for a ticket is an insult. Part of what is wrong with the American economy today is that we don’t value goods and services or even the stocks and bonds that underlie the companies that make goods and services. There are all sorts of so-called "assets" that have been invented because speculation has become the game. Actual manufacture is something to be relegated to the "developing world" for as low a cost as possible. Football fans who want season’s tickets should want season’s tickets, not "assets" called PSLs they can buy, sell, trade or put in their wills. That game is played on Wall Street, not at the Coliseum.
I have the uncomfortable feeling that the ideal for professional sports, including MLB, would be new stadiums full of season’s ticket holders and corporate luxury box occupiers, with the games broadcast only on cable, and the actual success of the home team generally irrelevant because the game itself is generally irrelevant except to a few deluded (but rich) fanatics. There would be so much else to do at the stadium from shopping, to dining, to working off a few calories on a walking course, that the score wouldn’t matter.
When I lived in Indianapolis 20 years ago, I went to one football game at the Hoosier Dome between the Colts and the Steelers. As an individual ticket buyer, I could only sit in one of the top three rows at the Dome, even though I had the money to pay for a seat closer to the field. The rest of the stadium was reserved for season’s ticket holders. Did I get the ticket? Yes. Did I come away feeling unwanted? You bet.
The relatively new stadium inhabited by the San Francisco Giants has the walking course. And at the end of July 2005, when I listened to a game between the A’s and the Tigers from the viewpoint of the Detroit announcers, I heard them call the Coliseum ugly. They repeated the propaganda that the A’s needed a new stadium. (Not that they fill the one they’ve got now!) The Detroit announcers said the only reason to go to Coliseum was to watch a ballgame; there was nothing there to attract people who were not really into baseball. Nowadays, that’s considered a bad thing.
I like the Coliseum. You can get a ticket for $10, sometimes for $2. And they are good seats for watching a baseball game. But then again, I’m quaint; I want to go to a ballpark to watch a ballgame, not to shop, do a walking course, or cut a business deal.
<sigh>Gone are the days when the owners loved the walk-up trade represented by my father, who occasionally decided rather spur of the moment that he and I should take in a game at Yankee Stadium. He’d buy the tickets right at the box office before the game. He taught me to keep score. We ate hot dogs. We got our exercise walking to and from the train station. And the only business deal we cut came during the second inning, when my dad would tip an usher to find us better seats.
Remember when baseball was baseball, and you went to the ballpark to watch the game?
MLB radio broadcast the Arizona Fall League Scorpions vs. Saguaros game today. Actually, I started writing this during the 7th inning stretch. I have never had any experience with minor league baseball, so I decided to listen for a few innings.
The announcers went on a bit about the backgrounds of the different players to a greater extent than one usually gets in the majors, but these are largely unknown players, so that’s OK.
But then the announcers did an interview with Mike Scoscia of the geographically-challenged Angels and that was the end of announcing the game itself. The announcers got so into the interview that 3 runs scored with listeners hardly knowing that it happened or how it happened. One guy hit a homer, but we didn’t hear it actually happen. At the end of the half inning, they announced that 3 runs had scored, the score was now 9-4 Scorpions and it was middle of the 7th. So, of course, it was time for commercials.
We know that major league announcers can weave an interview in between actions on the field. It would have been great if Scoscia, a former MLB player and current manager, could have helped the announcers along with that by shutting up when something was happening on the field. Maybe the announcers would have caught on. Having totally lost the flow of the game because the interview took over everything, I turned the radio off.
Baseball fan and radiojournalist