Mar
17

An unnecessary Spring circus

By in Rants. · Comments (30) ·

In about 12 hours, the Yankees and Red Sox will square off for their first and only meeting of the Spring Training season. With Andy Pettitte making his first start since elbow problems prevented him from getting even with the Rays throwing last week and Bartolo Colon hoping to win a spot on a team suddenly a bit short on starting pitchers, the game has plenty of drama for the two teams involved.

But as this is New York and Boston, it also has the added bonus of being a media circus. Reporters will descend on Tampa tomorrow afternoon and wax philosophical about this meeting as though it’s a harbinger of things to come this season. They’ll expound on the storied rivalry between the Yankees and the Red Sox, mentioning the Sox’s two World Series wins over the last four seasons as some sign of dominance in the rivalry. They’ll talk about this as though it’s the be-all and end-all of Spring Training games.

And you know what? I’m sick of it. Spring Training, as we’ve tried to point over the last few weeks, isn’t about winning or losing. It’s not about fine-tuned rivalries or spring stats. It’s about rediscovering baseball and tinkering with pitches. It’s about getting a feel for the strike zone and timing a swing on a fastball. It’s about learning new ways to get hitters out, and it’s about finding new ways to close that hole in a swing.

For four weeks, the baseball season can survive without the Yankees and the Red Sox squaring off, and for four weeks, these two teams can make their ways through Spring Training without the added bonus of an over-hyped game. Both teams would still sell out every single Spring Training game they play with or without facing off against each other.

Sure, I’ll enjoy the game tomorrow afternoon, and maybe I’m being a bit too sensitive. But when all is said and done, Spring Training doesn’t count, but everyone covering this circus sometimes thinks it does.

Categories : Rants
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Mar
16

Baseball can save your life

By in News. · Comments (3) ·

Yesterday afternoon, in Midtown Manhattan, a crane took a disastrous fall into some nearby buildings, crushing a Brownstone and destroying a restaurant. While four people died, the death toll could have been higher had it not been for a Yankees Spring Training game.

Manny Fernandez, writing in The Times, has more:

Fubar, the bar that was destroyed by the crane, was not open at the time. It opens at 4 p.m., and the owner, John P. LaGreco, said he had been on his way there early Saturday afternoon but had gotten wrapped up in the Yankees preseason game.

Jorge Posada had just driven in a run, the Yankees were down 2-1 in the fourth inning and the bases were loaded. He stayed in his apartment, blocks from the bar, to see what would happen. Then a neighbor, a bartender at Fubar, knocked on his door and told him what had happened. Mr. LaGreco’s heart raced. “If I wasn’t watching the game,” he said, “I would’ve been killed.”

John P. LaGreco will never again believe that Spring Training does not count.

Categories : News
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The Yanks face off against the Indians today in Tampa. Hopefully, midges won’t attack the field.

On the mound, the Yanks’ ace Chien-Ming Wang hopes for another solid start while the Indians are countering with C.C. Sabathia. If this sounds familiar, well, just think back to October. And think ahead to 2009 because I fully expect the Yanks to put on the full-court press for Sabathia come the off-season.

The game is on YES and MLB.tv. You an follow along here via Gameday. As the lineups show, the Yanks are going with something of a mixed squad today.

Cabrera CF
Lane LF
Ensberg DH
Rodriguez 3B
Giambi 1B
Duncan RF
Cano 2B
Betemit SS
Molina C

Pitchers
Wang
Rasner
Patterson
Britton
Ramirez

Categories : Game Threads
Comments (45)
  • Hank spars with another team
    By

    While Hank Steinbrenner and Jonathan Papelbon engage in their shouting contest, Hank is taking on another opponent too. This time, he’s after the entire Tampa Bay Rays organization. As the feud between the two teams simmers, Hank urged the Rays to get back at the Yanks in another fashion.

    “I don’t want these teams in general to forget who subsidizes a lot of them, and it’s the Yankees, the Red Sox, Dodgers, Mets,” he said. “I would prefer if teams want to target the Yankees that they at least start giving some of that revenue sharing and luxury tax money back. From an owner’s point of view, that’s my point.” While he probably shouldn’t be saying this, the man has something of a point.
    · (13) ·

Jonathan Papelbon should probably keep his mouth shut.

After Hank Steinbrenner criticized Red Sox Nation in The Times’ Play magazine a few weeks ago, Papelbon railed into Hank. “I don’t know if he’s trying to stir things up or not,” the Bosox closer said. “I sure as hell don’t care, because he sure as hell hasn’t stepped on a baseball field. He needs to just stick to pencil-pushing, I guess.”

Hank fired back in a Post article.

“Being insulted by Papelbon is like being attacked by a mouse,” Steinbrenner said. “John Henry and I traded a couple of jabs good-naturedly. So now, all of a sudden, this player, this 20-something kid who really doesn’t know his way in the world, comes out with a personal insult. There’s no excuse for that.”

I have a feeling that if you were to ask the Red Sox their thoughts on this, they’d probably tell Papelbon to stay out of this. Let the big boys argue; you play the game on the field.

Categories : News
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The Yankees and Rays — new BFFs — face off against each other in the televised afternoon game. It’s on YES and MLB.tv. The Yanks and Tigers play this afternoon as well, but the game is not televised. Melky Cabrera says he wasn’t involved in the fight and plans to appeal his suspension.

Meanwhile, the lineups. Discuss away.

Vs. Tampa Bay
Gardner CF
Jeter SS
Abreu RF
Rodriguez 3B
Matsui LF
Posada C
Duncan 1B
Betemit 2B
Porter RF

Pitching
Kennedy
Rivera
Igawa
Traber

Vs. Detroit – Gameday should be here once the game starts.
Damon LF
Cabrera CF
Cano 2B
Giambi DH
Molina C
Ensberg 3B
Lane RF
Ransom 1B
Gonzalez SS

Pitching
Chamberlain
Farnsworth
Bruney
Ohlendorf
Veras
Strickland

Categories : Game Threads
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A contextless table of Yankee ticket prices by year has elicited a small reaction from a few bloggers. WasWatching tossed up a brief post on the subject and iYankees noted the cost of going to the game.

The AP presented in the information in a way that suggests that Yankee ticket prices have, by and large, gone up for over forty consecutive seasons now. The tickets for field boxes were $3.50 in 1967 and now cost $250. Except for consecutive years in which the prices were held steady, then, the cost to attend games has been on the rise since the days of Lyndon Johnson, right?

Well, note quite. Take a look at this chart with a third column I added using inflation data. A graph put together by Tommy follows the table.

Year Ticket Price 2008 Dollars
1967 $3.50 $22.18
1968 $4.00 $24.33
1969 $4.00 $23.07
1970 $4.00 $21.82
1971 $4.00 $20.91
1972 $4.00 $20.26
1973 $4.00 $19.07
1974 $4.00 $17.18
1975 $5.00 $19.67
1976 $5.50 $20.46
1977 $6.00 $20.96
1978 $6.50 $21.10
1979 $7.00 $20.41
1980 $7.50 $19.27
1981 $7.50 $17.47
1982 $8.50 $18.65
1983 $9.00 $19.13
1984 $9.00 $18.34
1985 $9.75 $19.18
1986 $9.75 $18.83
1987 $10.00 $18.63
1988 $11.00 $19.68
1989 $12.00 $20.49
1990 $12.00 $19.44
1991 $12.50 $19.43
1992 $14.50 $21.88
1993 $16.00 $23.44
1994 $17.00 $24.28
1995 $25.00 $34.73
1996 $25.00 $33.73
1997 $35.00 $46.16
1998 $45.00 $58.44
1999 $50.00 $65.53
2000 $55.00 $67.61
2001 $62.00 $74.11
2002 $62.00 $72.96
2003 $72.00 $82.84
2004 $80.00 $89.65
2005 $90.00 $97.55
2006 $110.00 $115.51
2007 $150.00 $153.15
2008 $250.00 $250.00

ticketpriceslog.PNG

A funny thing happens on the way to 2008. It now appears as though ticket prices for the Yankees remained steady, in 2008 dollars, for nearly thirty seasons. In 1967, it cost $3.50 to purchase a Yankee field box seat. That’s $22.18 in 2008 dollars. Twenty four years later, in 1994, it cost $17 to purchase the same ticket or $24.28 in 2008 dollars. In 1994, $3.50 from 1967 would get you $15.53. Ticket prices, in other words, were tracking inflation.

The spike — and we seem to still be in the middle of it — occurred following the 1994 season when ticket prices went through the roof. All of a sudden, the Yankees were good, the Yankees were popular, and the Yankees were very, very expensive. In 14 years, Yankee ticket prices have increased by a factor of 10 from a 2008 value of $24.28 in 1994 to $250 in 2008. That’s crazy.

Meanwhile, some bloggers and fans always ask why, and for that, we turn to the market. The Yankees are selling tickets at a face value of $250 per, and they’re selling out the stadium. Tickets for premium games sell on StubHub for well over that value. The market, in other words, can afford it, and the Yankees are just trying to capture their revenues.

If you can sell out a stadium at $150 a ticket and at $250 a ticket, what owner wouldn’t charge the higher amount? The fans, of course, are the ones who lose out, and it times like these when we remember that baseball is a business. It’s all about the bottom line.

Categories : Analysis
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Via a press release:

Shelley Duncan of the Yankees has been suspended for three games and fined an undisclosed amount for his violent and reckless actions, which incited the bench-clearing incident. Unless appealed, Duncan’s suspension is scheduled to begin on Monday, March 31st, when the Yankees host the Toronto Blue Jays in their first game of the 2008 Championship Season.

Jonny Gomes of the Rays has been suspended for two games and fined an undisclosed amount for his violent actions, which escalated the bench-clearing incident. Unless appealed, the suspension of Gomes is scheduled to begin on Monday, March 31st, when the Rays play at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore in their first game of the 2008 Championship Season.

Melky Cabrera of the Yankees has been suspended for three games and fined an undisclosed amount for his violent and aggressive actions during the incident. Unless appealed, Cabrera’s suspension is scheduled to begin on Monday, March 31st.

So Jonny Gomes gets two games for sprinting in from right field and escalating the incident while Duncan and Melky get three. That seems wrong to me.

In related news, Shelley Duncan says he will continue his aggressive play even while the Yankee veterans have asked him to tone it down. This could become an issue over the course of the season, and it will test Joe Girardi‘s abilities to keep his players in line.

Speculation is that the Yanks will go with an outfield of Matsui in left and Damon in center with Giambi DHing on Opening Day. I have a feeling the Yanks may figure out a way to work Brett Gardner into that lineup instead, but we’ll see. Melky, have you ever heard of Wally Pipp? Careful out there with those punches.

Categories : News
Comments (20)