May 23, 2013
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Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Anybody seen Jack McKeon?
Apparently much to the surprise of the Miami Marlins, Ozzie Guillen firmly put his foot in his mouth in a recent interview with Time magazine. A Latino manager hired to manage a team in a city that has a neighborhood call "Little Havana" can't say:
"I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that [expletive] is still there."
The reaction to Guillen's comments in Miami was less than favorable, in particular from Cuban refugees who fled their home country because of Fidel Castro. The Marlins gave Guillen a five-game suspension today.
Guillen has drawn attention from the commissioner's office for his comments in the past. In 2006 he was fined and order to take sensitivity training for using a gay slur toward Jay Mariotti, a Chicago sportswriter.
He has apologized for his Castro comments and people who know him say he is about as upset as they have seen him, but the hard fact is that Ozzie and the Marlins are in a difficult position.
It should be interesting to see if Guillen has lost the clubhouse or, at least, the respect of many of his players for his comments. I will admit to not understanding the full depth of Guillen's comments until I talked to a few people from the Miami area. For Guillen, who has called the area home for over a decade, to not understand is quite unbelievable. It may be very hard to Guillen to get his team to completely trust his sincerity in his apology.
But now the Marlins have a larger issue at hand.
The Marlins have a new publicly funded stadium. A stadium, in Little Havana, that will cost the city $2 billion over the next 40 years. The Marlins have lavished millions of dollars on payroll. About the worst thing that could happen to them, in a city where the Cuban community is politically powerful, is for their manager to praise Castro.
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria had to work with that community to get the new stadium. The pressure on the Marlins from a community of people driven from their homeland by Castro is going to be immense. I am sure the commissioner's office, which lobbied to the same groups for a new stadium, is going to apply further pressure to make sure the Marlins don't have a full blown taxpayer revolt on their hands. One idea of the intensity of the issue can be found here:
“We strongly disagree with the opinion of Ozzie Guillen, and consider it a provocation against the Cuban and Venezuelan communities,” said Miguel Saavedra, head of Vigilia Mambisa. “Tomorrow starts a boycott. We are asking for the resignation of Guillen.”
Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez has called for "decisive steps" to end the controversy.
The five-game suspension gives the Marlins a bit of time to find the full scope of the damage Guillen has done. It gives the Marlins time to figure out how, exactly, to free themselves of Ozzie.
The Marlins, though, hold some blame here. Guillen also has waverd between supporting and not supporting, Hugo Chavez, president of Ozzie's country of birth, Venezuela, and a Castro supporter. They should have taken this consideration before hiring Guillen.
I am sure they will take it into consideration when they decide his fate. If, before the suspension is up, the Marlins announce Guillen was fired in part because he lost the trust of players in the clubhouse I wouldn't be surprised but it won't be the full reason.
Today marks a memorable anniversary in the history of baseball stadiums. Exactly a half-century ago today, the Los Angeles Dodgers played their first game in Dodger Stadium at Chavez Ravine.
It was a breakthrough—the first of the modern stadiums. Dodger Stadium was the first place to try to get rid of obstructed seats. Up to that point, stadiums sought to maximize capacity (in frequently tiny stadiums) by putting the upper deck seats right over the lower deck, making it impossible for those way back on the lower level to follow the flight of the ball. Dodger Stadium moved the upper deck back a bit to lessen the problem.
Many older stadiums had minimal room for accommodations such as concessions stands. Dodger Stadium ensured there would be more concessions stands, allowing people to buy a wider variety of food and other items. That made the fans happy—and their spending money made the team happy.
Dodger Stadium was hailed as a step forward, and often considered a model for how to build a stadium. It remained that until Camden Yards came around 30 years later to invent a new model.
As of right now, Dodger Stadium is the third oldest stadium in baseball, trailing only Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. Personally, it’s odd for me to type that the third oldest stadium is only 50 years old. As a kid, there were four stadiums much older than that—Wrigley, Fenway, Tiger Stadium, and the eldest of them all, Comiskey Park.
Despite that, Dodger Stadium in many ways outdoes some of those more senior stadiums. Here’s an unlikely fact: Dodger Stadium’s overall official attendance in its history is greater than the overall official attendance of any of those other four places just mentioned. It’s true.
Officially, Dodger Stadium will have its 147,000,000th attendee of a regular season game this Opening Day. Those other places are all under 140,000,000; some well below. Comiskey Park’s 80 years of baseball had less than half Dodger Stadium’s overall total.
(Of course, if you want to go by stereotypes, you could quip that if you adjust by innings seen, Dodger fans fall below Comiskey Park, as LA routers are famous for showing up late and leaving early).
Well, that isn’t quite fair. After all, in the 1980s baseball switched from turnstile clicks to tickets sold when counting official attendance, so many of the Dodger Stadium faithful listed in attendance didn’t actually attend. But that doesn’t explain a two-to-one advantage over Comiskey. Part of it is also era, as the last 20 years of baseball have had far more fans per game than the 1910s-50s (when Comiskey exited but Dodger Stadium didn’t).
Let’s look this up. Below are the top ten stadiums in all-time regular season official attendance (all numbers prior to the 2012 season):
Stadium Attendance Yankee Stadium 151,741,771 Dodger Stadium 146,987,687 Fenway Park 139,452,863 Wrigley Field 135,210,452 Tiger Stadium 104,261,485 Angels Stadium 98,112,726 Shea Stadium 97,336,378 Busch Stadium 90,400,082 Comiskey Park 72,625,477 Veterns Stadium 66,709,435
For the record, I did remember to check stadiums that hosted multiple teams such as Sportsman’s and Connie Mack Stadiums. Overall attendance just wasn’t very high back then, so the places didn’t make the list.
These numbers aren’t perfect as some teams split their seasons in multiple stadiums. The Yankees split 1976 between Shea Stadium and Yankee Stadium, for instance, and the Red Sox actually played in Braves Field a little bit way back when. But Dodger Stadium should end up in second place behind Yankee Stadium regardless of how you adjust it. In 2013, it should move up to be the all-time champion stadium in attendance.
Oh, and in that first game on April 10, 1962, the Dodger lost 6-3 to the Reds. That didn’t prove to be a harbinger of things to come. From 1962-2011, the Dodgers have a 2,272-1,714 record at home. That’s a .570 record, equivalent to a 92-70 season. Yeah, that’s a nice home record.
In 50 years, Dodger Stadium has packed them in like few other places in baseball history. Who knows how many will be counted in attendance there before its time is up.
Aside from that, many other events celebrate either their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that happened X-thousand days ago) today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d prefer to just skim the list.
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