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Monday, March 30, 2009
Death. Taxes. Bud Selig putting a committee together to solve a sticky problem he doesn't want to deal with:
After meeting with ownership and management of the Oakland Athletics in Phoenix, Arizona on Saturday, Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced today that he has appointed a committee to thoroughly analyze all of the ballpark proposals that have been made to date, the current situation in Oakland, and the prospects for obtaining a ballpark in any of the communities located in Oakland's territory . . .
Of course limiting of the analysis to the "communities located in Oakland's territory," by definition leaves out San Jose which, while not really having a plan either, has at least some rumblings of one and an argument for viability. Otherwise there's nothing. If Bud's track record means anything, it means that this committee will come up with a report that forecasts the doom of the Athletics franchise, most likely alluding to their potential contraction if a stadium isn't built. More importnatly, the report will serve as a bludgeon for any pro-ballpark group to weild as they make their case to give Lew Wolff a new home. "It's not Wolff asking for a handout," they'll say. "This is about the very viability of the A's! It's right here in this independent report!" This is what he did with the famous "Blue Ribbon Panel on Baseball Economics"
Which is well and good. It's Bud's league and he can appoint whatever commission he wants to appoint. Everyone should remember, however, that the product of this committee will not be some objective, scientific report. It will be an advocacy document, and it should be treated like one.
If you saw a headline that read "Cubs legend visits devoted fan," who would you think the article referred to? Ernie Banks would be my first guess, though if I were in a good mood I'd probably accept Ron Santo, Billy Williams, or Ryne Sandberg. Heck, if it was a local Chicago paper and the "devoted fan" were a sick kid or something, I'd also grant you Mark Grace, Sammy Sosa or someone like that. Legends? Other than Banks not really, but we'll let it pass if it's for a good cause.
But no matter how good the cause is, Milt Pappas doesn't seem to qualify:
Gewerth, now a 91-year-old patient at Manor Care in Palos Heights, had a dream fulfilled yesterday when he met and talked baseball with former Cubs pitcher and Beecher resident Milt Pappas as part of the nursing home's Hearts Desire program, which grants wishes to dying residents.
Kudos to Pappas for making a dying baseball fan's day and everything, but man, I can't help but think that someone at the Southtown Star needs to recalibrate their adjective use.
AOL's FanHouse started out as Jamie Mottram's fresh-air response to MSM blather. Since its relaunch back in January, however, there is a lot more MSM there than there used to be:
FanHouse.com, the recently-launched sports site from AOL’s MediaGlow publishing unit, announced six major additions to its growing roster of professional journalists. Joining FanHouse’s writing staff are Greg Couch, sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times; Matt Steinmetz, Golden State Warriors analyst for Comcast Sports Net and former Contra Costa Times NBA writer; Dan Graziano, former national baseball writer for the Newark Star-Ledger; Ed Price, former baseball and Yankees writer for the Newark Star-Ledger; and Jeff Fletcher, former baseball writer for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Also joining the FanHouse editorial team is Sunny Wu, former senior editor at MSNBC.com and Page 1 editor for ESPN.com . . .
I'm not saying that this means that blather won out -- outside of Mariotti, this is a fairly unobjectionable group of writers -- but the enterprise is certainly a very different one now than it set out to be only a couple of years ago.
Following up on deMause's note about empty seats in Shea, Bob Raissman wonders how a less-than-capacity crowd at Yankee Stadium is going to look to the viewers at home:
Ticket talk triggered a memory from long ago - Sept. 22, 1966. The Yankees would finish in 10th place that season and on that day, 413 fans squeezed their way into Yankee Stadium, which at the time had a seating capacity of 65,000. The legendary Red Barber was at the WPIX-TV microphone. He instructed the director of the telecast to have PIX's cameras pan the empty Stadium. "I don't know what the paid attendance is today, but whatever it is, it is the smallest crowd in the history of Yankee Stadium," Barber reported. "And this crowd is the story, not the game."
Personally, I hope that YES tries to go all Pravda with this should it come to pass. We're in an age now where that kind of propaganda is impossible to pull off and YES messing with the images or the Yankees messing with the official attendance figures would provide a fabulous opportunity for the elevnty-jillion Yankees' bloggers out there to make them look silly. If there are shenanigans, we'll know about as soon as it happens.
All of this presupposes, of course, that the Yankees will have trouble filling the house. And while there are signs out there that such is the case, I can't help but think that the tickets will ultimately be sold and used. Now, whether they're sold at the prices for which the Yankees have been offering them is another thing altogether, but I don't foresee tons of empty seats in the joint.
DiMaggio. Mantle. Murcer. Henderson. Williams. Damon. Gardner:
“We’re going to start with Gardy in center,” Girardi said. “Both of them played great. Melky had a tough year last year, but he came into camp and was ready to go and played well. Gardy finished up strong and had a great camp.”
I see no basis for concluding that Brett Gardner is going to be able to replicate or even come close to this spring training numbers over the course of a full season. Not that Melky would either. What will the Yankees do when they realize that they're getting nothin' from these guys? I know it may not be ideal, but I can't help but think we're going to see a lot of Nick Swisher in center this year.
Every year, lawmakers, chambers of commerce and municipalities in Florida and Arizona go on about just how much of an economic impact spring training has on local economies. On the basis of that impact, they argue for the use of public dollars to construct or improve spring training facilities, and towns practically go to war with one another to lure or secure teams. The basis for this are numbers provided by The Cactus League Association and The Florida Sports Foundation, which claim that spring training brings economic benefits to local economies of $310 million and $450 million, respectively. National Review's Charles Fountain notes, however, that these are dubious claims:
But are these numbers real?
It's nice to have numbers to work with. Numbers are useless, however, when those who provide them have stacked the deck in their favor.
(thanks to Pete Toms for the link)
Neil deMause is pretty much awesome. His Field of Schemes book and blog have served as one of the primary inspirations for my criticism of public subsidies for professional sports, and rarely a day goes by when he doesn't have something worth thinking about. Among the most interesting things from the past few days: based on the spam the Mets ticket office is sending out, there's a decent chance that there will be empty seats in Citi Field on opening day.
My guess: if there's even a remote chance of that, vans will be standing by to deliver free tickets to elementary and middle schools all over Queens, ensuring that the people will fill the place on opening day, even if the seats don't generate any income. After opening day? All bets are off.
Things to read as you realize that, in optimizing and synchronizing the iPod, your wife has somehow managed to delete 11 Bob Dylan albums yet somehow kept "Street Legal" on there:
Don't get me wrong: "The Groom's Still Waiting at the Altar" is a fine damn song. I'm just saying that it's cold comfort when you realize that you're going to have to re-rip "Bringing it All Back Home" and everything else this evening.