May 22, 2013
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Monday, December 01, 2008
You may have read over the weekend about the back and forth between the Yankees and Mayor Bloomberg's office over luxury suites:
The Bloomberg administration was so intent on obtaining a free luxury suite for its own use at the new Yankee Stadium, newly released e-mail messages show, that the mayor’s aides pushed for a larger suite and free food, and eventually gave the Yankees 250 additional parking spaces in exchange.
You know, the real scandal here isn't about what New York City gave in terms of billboards or parking spaces in exchange for a luxury box. The real scandal is that the city could deliver hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to the wealthiest team in professional sports yet it still had to offer more goodies in order to get the box in the first place.
Even the worst extortionists will pick up their victim's beer tab once in a while.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 4:30am
A New Jersey sports consulting firm conducted a sports "brand loyalty" survey, in which they asked fans to offer some phrases which describe their favorite professional sports teams, among other things. The Cincinnati Business Courier is interested in the results regarding the Reds and Bengals:
Cincinnati sports fans think of the Reds as “professional” and “family-oriented.” They consider the Bengals to be “fun” and “profit-maximizing . . . ”[Reds'] management drew higher marks than the Bengals on an overall grade of ownership and on questions related to each team’s commitment to winning.
Beating out the Cincinnati Bengals in the categories of family-friendliness and commitment to winning is probably not worth a mention in the Christmas letter, but hey, congratulations Reds.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust . . .
Lifelong Red Sox fans can now take their love of the team to the next level — eternity. A Massachusetts funeral home recently took delivery of the first Red Sox casket, which features the team logo on the exterior as well as the inside. The casket is manufactured by Eternal Image of Michigan, which has a licensing agreement with Major League Baseball . . . Biggins says the family that chose the $3,000 Red Sox casket bearing serial number 0001 did not hesitate in picking it for their father.
My condolences to the Varitek family for the loss of their patriarch in that freak fork-in-back accident.
In my first year of law school, the professor for my civil procedure class (i.e. the class in which you learn all of the rules of litigation) spent the whole first day going over baseball rules. The point was to show how the particular rules of a game -- be it baseball or litigation -- dictate not only the rules under which a game is played, but how the players approach and execute the game as well. It was a great lecture. Actually, it was the only great lecture I had in three years of law school. I wish I had taped it.
I'm reminded of that this morning after listening to ESPN's Sal Paolantonio talk about his new book How Football Explains America in an interview on NPR. It's audio only, and you can hear it here. Paolantonio has a lot of points, actually, but one of them is that two simple rule changes in the 1880s -- the invention of the first down and the creation of the quarterback -- helped create the mythology of the game, with that mythology having a lot to do with a general leading his troops in a territory acquisition exercise, which in turn lends itself pretty easily to nationalist mythologizing and all of the attendant rah-rah. Yes, I realize George Carlin observed this first, but that's not important right now.
What is kind of important is that I don't think it's a coincidence that baseball's relatively gentlemanly rules -- in which no one hits each other and each side gets a sporting chance, you know -- sprung up in the antebellum period while football's war of attrition thing came up after 600,000 people died in a bloody civil war. Indeed, if you squint, you can almost see the baseball players in their dress uniforms, lined up in rows, exchanging fire, and then fixing bayonets, while the football players dig trenches and prepare for total war.
(Thanks to reader Sara K -- ShysterBall's Minister of Cultural Studies -- for shooting me the NPR link)
The Cleveland Plain Dealer has a story about how few people ride the light rail line from downtown to the airport each day:
It's cheap, reliable and fast. But the RTA rapid that whisks riders from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport to downtown in 20 minutes -- for $2 -- has an identity problem. Airport employees and those who arrive for conventions love it. Vacation and business travelers generally spurn it in favor of cars or taxis . . . Currently, Cleveland's airport line attracts only about 300 riders a day.
The rapid helped lure the Society of American Baseball Research convention to Cleveland last July. Many of the hundreds who arrived by air took the rapid to their downtown hotel, said Susan Petrone, director of communications for SABR.
I was at SABR, and I remember that Repoz from BTF and I left the hotel at about the same time, me in my car for the 135 mile trip back to Columbus, him to the RTA station to hop the train to the airport. I think I sat down at my desk at work the next morning as the train finally came by to pick him up.
Peter Gammons said something very odd over the weekend:
We know the Yankees can, will and may keep moving up to make it impossible for Sabathia to go anywhere else. We also know that Angels owner Arte Moreno can make it very difficult for anyone to say no; ask Torii Hunter after Moreno put the rush on him at the Del Taco across the street from the ballpark.
Maybe hardcore Angels fans knew this one already, but I'm a bit shocked that taking someone to Del Taco constitutes "putting the rush" on a guy. I can just see the negotiation now: "What's it gonna take, Torii? A Macho Taco? A Triple Del? You name it, because I'm not leaving this restaurant without your name on the contract!"
This raises an additional question: Did Hunter drive a hard bargain to get there, or was Moreno just starting with Del Taco while standing ready to move up to Carl's Jr. or In-N-Out Burger if negotiations broke down?
Joking aside, if Moreno is going to rely on fast food purchases to lure Sabathia, he may very well be topping the Yankees' $140MM offer after all.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 10:23am
The deadline to offer arbitration is midnight tonight. There are lots of stories floating around today about whether so-and-so will be offered arbitration. Many of them conclude with some variation of "worse case scenario, Player X accepts, and Club Y has the services of a good player at a manageable price without the risk or pressure of a long term deal."
Given the economic environment in which we find ourselves, and given how many scare-stories have been written forecasting doom for the freee agent market, I have this feeling that way more free agents will accept arbitration than is usually the case.
Which may not be a bad thing. After all, if Player X accepts, and Club Y has the services of a good player at a manageable price without the risk or pressure of a long term deal.
UPDATE: Pinto beat me to it by more than three hours.
One of the things longtime readers know about me is that I tend to tread lightly on the stories that tend to otherwise generate the most media heat. I'll write a post about the post-season awards, and I'll occasionally weigh in on whatever issue is monopolizing the headlines on a given day, but I'm just as likely to give it all a miss to talk about other stuff.
Case in point: last year's rage-fest over Jim Rice's Hall of Fame candidacy. If blogs were written on paper, we would have had no forests after everyone got done spewing both good sense and nonsense over all of that last winter. For the record, no, I don't personally consider Jim Rice a Hall of Famer. Also for the record, no, I will not lose an ounce of sleep if and when he finally makes it in. That's because even though he's not up to my standards, the Hall of Fame is filled with guys who aren't either, so there's no sense in me getting all worked up about it now. On a day to day basis my mood is simply not impacted all that much by who is or who isn't in the Hall of Fame, and even the day the vote totals are announced is just another day to me.
With that out of the way, I will offer a basic opinion about this year's ballot, and then retire to a place where no one tries to quantify how "feared" a given player was:
• Harold Baines : No
• Jay Bell: No
• Bert Blyleven: Yes, and almost as much ink has been spilled about him as Rice
• David Cone: No
• Andre Dawson: No, though I liked him a lot.
• Ron Gant: No, but Hrbek still shoved him off first base.
• Mark Grace: No
• Rickey Henderson: Yes, yes, yes
• Tommy John: No
• Don Mattingly: No
• Mark McGwire: Yes, because if you blackball him, you set the precedent for a lot of highly subjective and unseemly blackballing
• Jack Morris: No, because if you take away one World Series start, he's pretty much Dave Steib.
• Dale Murphy: No, though as a Braves fan it pains me to admit it.
• Jesse Orosco: No
• Dave Parker: No, but anyone who votes for Rice should have to explain why they wouldn't vote for Parker.
• Dan Plesac: No
• Tim Raines: Yes, but I think he's a much closer call than a lot of statheads think, and he could use a Rice-like political campaign on his side.
• Jim Rice: No
• Lee Smith: No
• Alan Trammell: Yes. It's not his fault that he was Ripken's contemporary and first came eligible when everyone was Nomar/A-Rod/Jeter crazy.
• Greg Vaughn: No
• Mo Vaughn: Not even if you combined him with Greg Vaughn
• Matt Williams: No, but he does make my Bald Guys Before 30 Hall of Fame
That's pretty much all I have to say about that. Stories like this, however, are exactly why I asked THT to give me a comments section, so by all means, fire away.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 2:58pm
That's what ESPN is reporting anyway:
Pitcher Mike Hampton has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Houston Astros pending a physical exam, two baseball sources told ESPN.com. The contract will pay Hampton a base salary of about $2 million plus incentives, the source said . . .
I am a Braves fan who doesn't hold anything personal against Mike Hampton, but I would have bet my children that he's been with Atlanta for at least the last 67 years.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Apparently the guys who stand around the water cooler at work and brag about their sexual conquests are really sabermetricians.