9 September 2006
Fewer wins, more fans

On New Year's Day, I issued a batch of predictions. For the Oklahoma Redhawks of the Pacific Coast League, I projected the following:

Record: 81-63 (first in PCL American/Southern)
Attendance: 490,000 (average 6,800; 6th in PCL)

Actual results:

Record: 74-70 (second in PCL American/Southern)
Attendance: 526,932 (average 7,421; 6th in PCL)

Considering the fact that the 'Hawks got off to a 9-18 start, 74-70 doesn't sound all that bad, and nobody came close to Round Rock this season anyway. (The Express finished at 85-59, 11 games in front.)

Still, the 8-ball is a tad cloudier than I'd prefer.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:28 PM)
12 November 2006
We built this Citi

The Baseball Crank is okay with "CitiField" as the name for the Mets' new digs:

You get a new stadium, you get a new name. Let's have none of this "New Shea"/"Old Shea" nonsense. Shea Stadium is a place with its own identity and its own place in the history of the game and the hearts of Mets fans. You tear it down to build a new stadium, you get a new name.

Which the Chicago White Sox should have done with the "new" Comiskey, now the stirringly unresonant "U. S. Cellular Field." Not that there's anything particularly wrong with corporate names:

I don't, in principle, have a problem with corporate stadium names (ballparks have been named after companies, egomaniacal owners, or some combination of the two — see "Wrigley Field" and "Turner Field" for examples — as long as there have been ballparks). $20 million a year can make the Mets more competitive, and that is a good thing.

So long as the name stays put, anyway:

[W]ere I negotiating a stadium deal, I would add in a substantial premium and an escape clause for renaming rights. That's my big issue with naming stadiums after banks and phone companies, as well as new and unstable companies (see: "Enron Field"). But the First National City Bank of New York has been known as "City Bank" or Citibank for decades, and given its size and brand equity, should be for the forseeable future.

Southwestern Bell SBC AT&T Bricktown Ballpark please note.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:46 PM)
19 November 2006
Downright inCitious

Last week I said something about the Mets' new park, to be called CitiField.

Well, technically it isn't. It's two separate words: Citi Field.

For some reason, this called to mind an early episode of Futurama in which the Planet Express crew warn the Mayor of New New York that a giant ball of spaceborne garbage (sent into orbit from the old New York 948 years before) is heading straight for the city.

The building where the Mayor has his office has a sign that looks something like this:

Citihall

Yes, I do miss that show. Why do you ask?

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:47 PM)
3 April 2007
Certification in PCL

By some probably-not-all-that-coincidental coincidence, the first RedHawks home game of the season is scheduled for the same night (Friday the 13th, yet) as the last Hornets home game in Oklahoma City. I have to figure that this took some doing, since the 'Hawks are on the road for their first eight — four at Memphis, four at Nashville — before coming home and playing four more against the Redbirds. I may have to stay home with a blanket over my head. On the upside, Bobby Jones is back as manager, which can't be bad.

New ticket prices, if there are new ticket prices, haven't been posted yet: last year, general admission was six bucks, field boxes ran $11, and club level was a mere $15.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:46 PM)
22 April 2007
I hear one of the Twins was an only child

Oh, woe is San Diego:

It's the only team in major league baseball — the only team in any of North America's four major professional sports — with a Hispanic surname.

At a time when baseball celebrates itself as a model of ethnic diversity and internationalism — more than 30 percent of major leaguers are Hispanic, including many of its superstars — the Padres' 25-man roster includes only two Latino players.

You think that's a shame? Not one of the San Francisco Giants is over six-foot-five. Talk about unrepresentative.

(Via John Rosenberg.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:00 AM)
20 May 2007
18 July 2007
Take a swing at it

Regular readers will recall that I have been a registered Democrat for thirty-five years, and while I have had substantial differences with some of the party's stated goals recently, it has never quite occurred to me to bolt for the door.

But this analysis of the Designated Hitter rule [link to PDF file] makes me wonder:

[W]e find that self-identified Democratic Party members are more likely to support the DH rule than are either independents or Republicans; the odds ratio of 1.90 suggests that, on average, Democrats are 90 percent more likely to support the rule than are independents.

And why is this?

Social–psychological studies of political conservatism note that one of the central principles of that philosophy is reverence for tradition and a corresponding resistance to change. Conversely, those on the political left are typically more accepting — even welcoming — of change, particularly when those changes can be shown (or are believed) to yield tangible benefits. This line of reasoning suggests that those on the political right will be less likely to favor the DH rule, while those on the left will be more likely to support it.

Reinforcing our change-based rationale for the right's opposition to the DH rule is its effect (actual or perceived) on the culture of the game. Opponents of the DH often make the claim that the practice seems to condone a lack of personal responsibility from the very players who play a pivotal (if not the pivotal) role in the game — pitchers and sluggers. One of the bedrock Judeo-Christian values woven through American history and society, they argue, is the notion that individuals take responsibility for their own actions and fulfill their obligations to community and country. By allowing pitchers to avoid hitting, and some batters to avoid fielding, the DH rule is suggestive of a larger-scale decline in the culture of personal responsibility in America over the past several decades. To the extent that political conservatives are more likely than liberals to be receptive to this line of reasoning (cf. Feldman and Zaller 1922), it reinforces our expectation that it is political conservatives — including individuals who identify with the Republican party — who most strongly oppose the rule.

And what are these "tangible results"?

In nearly all circumstances, teams substitute pitchers — who, lacking the motivation to practice batting, are often notoriously poor hitters — with individuals who excel at the plate but who may be lacking in defensive skills. This means that, since 1973, teams in the American League have sent roughly 12.5 percent more true hitters to the plate (Freeman 2004, 94).

I must point out here that it's not how many hitters you have: it's how many runs you score.

Still, if ever I decide to become a one-issue voter, this is the issue.

(Via Rodger Payne at The Duck of Minerva.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:43 PM)
8 August 2007
The definitive word, I think

On the subject of Barry Bonds' 756th, from the man who first hit 755:

[Hank] Aaron ... said all along he had no interest in being there whenever and wherever his record was broken. He was true to his word, but he did offer a taped message of congratulations that played on the stadium's video board during a 10-minute, in-game tribute.

"It is a great accomplishment which required skill, longevity and determination," he said.

"Throughout the past century, the home run has held a special place in baseball and I have been privileged to hold this record for 33 of those years. I move over now and offer my best wishes to Barry and his family on this historic achievement. My hope today, as it was on that April evening in 1974, is that the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dreams."

I like that.

(Seen at Outside the Beltway.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:51 PM)
23 August 2007
Tell me this isn't a football score

Rangers 30, Orioles 3. Two things I feel compelled to note:

  • The Orioles actually led 3-0 after three innings.

  • Travis Metcalf, who hit a grand slam in the 8th (the Rangers' 17th through 20th runs), had been called up from the Triple-A Oklahoma RedHawks that very day.

And I appreciate Rangers manager Ron Washington's explanation for how it happened:

"Tonight there were some balls thrown across the plate and we put them in play."

Says it all.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:35 AM)
6 September 2007
Still on the line

The old Wichita Aeros never made much headway in the American Association, and when they moved to Buffalo in the middle 1980s to become the Bison, a name which seems at least slightly redundant, scarcely anyone mourned. A new Texas League club, the Pilots, later the Wranglers, was assembled, but they're moving to Springdale, Arkansas for next season.

There's a contest to pick the name for the new new team — you can participate here if you're so inclined — but Wichita Eagle sportswriter Bob Lutz has a better idea.

Were it up to me, and be glad it isn't, I'd christen them the Wichita Linemen.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:29 PM)
1 November 2007
But mostly, they're friendly

The Casper Rockies, Rookie League affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, have decided that the merchandising take would be better with a more distinctive name, and will play next season as the Casper Ghosts.

Team owner Kevin Haughian says the change will help create an identity for the team beyond just being a Colorado farm club:

The Casper Rockies brand never really took off, unfortunately. If folks wanted to buy merchandise they were going to buy Colorado merchandise, not Casper. The appeal was limited to our die-hard fans in town. We think with the new name, the new look, the new logo, that it's not only going to be popular here in Casper, but nationally and internationally.

There is precedent: the former Albuquerque Dukes, taking a lead from The Simpsons, are now the Isotopes.

I'm wondering if Wendy, the Good Little Witch, will show up as a, you should pardon the expression, batgirl.

(Via McGehee.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:53 PM)
25 April 2008
Is it in you?

At Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field, it better be:

Two signs on the doors leading from the visitors' clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field to the first-base dugout read, "NO BOTTLED WATER ON THE BENCH."

What's this? Athletes can't drink water? Even in the humid Chicago summers?

Nope. There are contracts involved:

Gatorade is Major League Baseball's "official sports drink." So instructions were sent that no player could be seen drinking anything but Gatorade in the dugout. Not even Aquafina, which is the "official water" of MLB. Not even bottles of water with the labels removed.

Next step: Brawndo. After all, it's got electrolytes!

(Via Mark Hemingway.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:03 AM)
4 May 2008
Clearly this is nuts

It's hard to add anything to this:

The Sioux Falls Canaries and Dakota Provisions are teaming up this summer to bring Fowl Balls to concession stands at the Birdcage. The venture makes Sioux Falls Stadium the first sports venue in the country to offer their fans a chance to enjoy turkey testicles.

Fat chance, say I. Says Rocket Jones:

The local poultry processor has some 32,000 extra Tom-bits left over at the end of each day, and someone became a marketing legend by convincing folks who should know better that nothing says baseball quite like a piping hot basket of Fowl Balls.

It would take an awful lot of Cracker Jack® and brewskis to wash that down.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:03 PM)
The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

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