Friday, July 31, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Scan the Times archived articles below and you’ll see that in 1993 and 1994 the Tampa Sports Authority and Hillsborough County were willing partners with the Yankees to get together for some good old fashioned publically financed stadium building. I don’t question that any of the three people that read this don’t already know this, but it is worth revisiting. The situation isn’t transparent to the casual observer. I wouldn’t fault someone for assuming that a small stadium, with a field bearing George Steinbrenner’s name, would have been 100% financed by the richest team in baseball. But of course, it is not.
I guess I feel this all matter because the County decided to get in bed with another franchise, while our own community was in the midst of trying to land a team of its own. To me, the decision was made in 1994 that Tampa was not in the business of housing a Tampa Bay baseball team. End of discussion.
How would it look if the City of St Petersburg redeveloped Al Land Stadium into a practice facility for the Carolina Panthers, erected road signs directing traffic to “Panthers Stadium” so fans could go watch practice? That’s basically what Hillsborough’s partnership with the Yankees is akin to.
Monday, July 27, 2009
I don't recall ever seeing Steve backtrack like this. There are different levels of "coming out with it" and I couldn't foresee this as a possibility". More likely responses would have included (read the following in a Spurrier voice):
- "Well, Tim Tebow is a fine football player, but he does lots of good things besides throw the football, and figured well....Jevon Snead can certainly throw it pretty good, so I'll put him as my first team quarterback"
- "I just figured Tim Tebow would get all the votes, and I thought Snead deserved some attention"
- "My assistant fills those things out and I guess he thinks Snead deserved to be a first teamer".
I wouldn't have bet any amount of money that the response would be a shame filled speech that included phrases such as
- "I didn't sleep worth a damn last night"
- "I'm embarrassed"
- "I apologize"
- "I went to Commissioner Slive and changed my vote, so no he's unanimous"
Seriously, this isn't the 2001 and prior Steve Spurrier. What gives? He's never caved to this type of scrutiny before, so why do it now for something so stupid?
I think the best possible explanation is that he's concerned about how people perceive him in Florida. When Steve left for the Redskins he was the face of Florida football, for all of time. Before last season, I don't think anyone would have said any differently. But Urban and Timmy have certainly moved up on that list pretty fast and maybe Steve felt that by not genuflecting at the alter of Tim Tebow it would paint him in a somewhat jealous light (which isn't good). Who knows?
I think Steve has always been proud of his accomplishments, and has enjoyed being the figurehead of the program so to speak. He probably has some regrets about leaving, and is disappointed in how things went when Bernie Machen asked him for a resume when Jeremy Foley was interviewing candidates to replace Zooker. He obviously is glad for the success of the program, but in the last few years it has come at the expense of his own success, so there has to be some conflicting emotions there. He put himself in that position though.
It's just strange to see him behaving like this.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Yankees vs. Tigers
Red Sox vs. Angels
Dodgers vs. Cardinals
Rockies/Giants vs. Phillies
In the NL I'm read to annoint the Phillies East Division Champs. The Marlins are in second, and that team doesn't resemble a playoff team in the slightest. If someone wants to crown a division champ this early, the Dodgers are as close as you could come to being a sure thing. The Wild Card race and the Central race are both closely contested (credit to St. Louis for pulling the trigger on the Matt Holliday trade).
As far as I'm concerned the whole AL is up for grabs. The only certainty is that either the Yankees, Red Sox, or Rays will win the AL East. The Wild Card is very much up for grabs, the Central is a three team race (Tigers, Twins, White Sox), and the A's are the only team in the west that I'm willing to count out.
Friday, July 24, 2009
The amount of praise being heaped on the Gators this summer is something that I don't recall seeing.
- In the Atlanta-Journal Constitution Tony Barnhart is saying that if the loftiest goals are attained this year that Tim Tebow should be considered the greatest college player ever.
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel is calling Urban Meyer the second coming of Bear Bryant
- In what is supposed to be considered an anonymous ballot, the southern media felt the need to smoke out the person who didn't vote Tim Tebow first team All SEC, and it was The Head Ball Coach.
- 9-14 in the month of April
- 14-16 in one run games
- 3-4 against the Orioles
- 2-6 against the White Sox
- 3-5 against the Indians (including a 4 game sweep in Cleveland)
- 4-6 against Oakland
On the flip side the Rays were 13-5 in interleague play, and are 6-0 against the Royals. So it isn't that they aren't capable of beating weaker opponents. Perhaps the upcoming 9 game homestand against the Yankees, Royals, and Red Sox are what they need.
Make no mistake, the Rays aren't putting on a 2008 performance, but remember last year we actually won the division. A wild card will suffice. The Red Sox are currently crapping the bed. Outisde of Jason Bay, Kevin Youkilis, and Dustin Pedroia their lineup isn't that scary. Pitching-wise, Dice-K has been terrible, Brad Penny still hasn't regained his 2007 form, and Time Wakefield is what he always is. Lester and Becket are their two best starters by far and this season we've managed a combined 3-2 record against those guys. It was this time of year last year when the Yankees took a nose dive, and the Sox appear to be doing just that.
The frustrating thing wasn't the 27 outs from yesterday, it was the whole four game series. We lose game 1 by a run (a game that David Price gives up a 3 run homer to Konerko), we pull off a miracle in game two in the bottom of the 9th (first ninth inning comeback all year), Game 3 falls apart in the 7th with 2 outs and nobody on, and then to top it off perfect game #18 happens to us yesterday afternoon. All in all, the Rays should be happy to be getting out of Chicago. I think they need to take 2 of 3 from the Blue Jays this weekend. The Blue Jays are 6-14 in their last twenty games.
Jon texted me something along the lines of "nice catch" after the Kapler near-homer in the 9th. I had no idea what was happening, so of course I reply "Did we win". Good job by me being on top of things. Perfect games are fun, but not when it happens to your team. The nice thing about baseball is that when your team loses, 24 hours later it's old news, except when your team loses in a perfect game.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
This shows the results of the ABC Committee research.
I also found this interesting thread which includes some old Cincinnati Enquirer articles that discuss the options the Reds had available when they were looking to replace Riverfront Stadium. There are some excellent points made on the pros and cons of a neighborhood stadium vs. a waterfront stadium.
Some graphics depicting the Broadway Commons site.
The guy who did this Broadway Commons concept also developed something called Armour Field in Chicago. Jon you probably know something about this. It looks like the Polo Grounds in a way with short distances down the line and a huge center field which Yankee Stadium also had before the renovation in the mid 70s. Speaking of Yankee stadium, it amazing how close those two parks were to one another
Old picture of baseball played at the Orange Bowl
James Shields was good for 6 2/3 inning last night. He consistently retired the first batter each inning. He was getting ahead of hitters. In typical James Shields fashion he did give up a home run, and a few other batters came close, but after recording the second out in the bottom of the 7th with nobody on things came unraveled. The next batter drew a walk on a perfect 3-2 pitch that home plate umpire Laz Diaz called a ball. I've never heard Dwayne Staats so upset in all my years watching Rays broadcasts. That would have been the end of the inning, but one thing lead to another and the Rays lose. Yes, BJ could have avoided any damage had he not misread the Alexei Ramirez line drive, but it really didn't have to come down to that. The karma train went in reverse last night after the good fortune from the night before.
We're now 2-4 against the White Sox this year, and 3-5 against the Indians. I don't understand how that is possible when you consider how we've done against the Red Sox and Yankees. This afternoon we get Kazmir vs. Buehrle in an afternoon game
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
A guy who blogs about the Oakland A's stadium quest posted about the Rays recently.
I got home from work at 10 pm on Monday. I watched half an inning and went to bed. I saw Balfour pitch himself out of a 1st and 3rd with nobody out jam. I know Jon and I have joked in the past that he's a poor man's Rob Dibble, but you can't deny that the guy guys amped when he pitches against the White Sox. Too bad we lost that game, because he came through in that spot.
I don't know about anyone else, but I'm pretty freaking excited about Jeff Niemann this year. The back end of the rotation really came down to deciding between 2 of 4 guys (Sonny, Jackson, Price, and Niemann). I still think the Rays did the right thing. Price had options, so he was sent down. Niemann was out of options, and as a former first round pick you have to give him a shot. We needed depth in the system in the way of right handed OFers, and Jackson seemed to be able to fetch more in a deal than Sonny. I have no problem with how things worked out. RaysIndex.com is even suggesting that Matt Joyce's presence makes it more likely that the Rays would move Crawford so that they could keep Pena, because affordable power at first base is non existent. That is a discussion for another time. Back to the original point; Niemann had another huge outing last night and it is awesome to see him continue to improve. Maddon commented that he has our three best starts all year.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
If the Marlins represent the modern day benchmark for baseball facilities in Florida, it seems much more cost effective to look into a glass wall option than pay for a roof that will be closed 90% of the time. The only other difference is the playing surface, and I think we can all agree that the modern day turf is a huge upgrade from what used to be installed in stadiums. Many NFL teams (Bengals, and Ravens come to mind) even use this despite playing outdoors.
Who thinks this is feasible?
Saturday, July 18, 2009
- Game ticket revenue
- Local radio and television deal
- Revenue sharing
- Royalties from merchandising
(As it relates to the stadium issue, there is an expense side that would change if the Rays moved (lease expense), but any new facility would probably represent an increase in that expense.)
When you really look at these revenue streams the only one that a new stadium would significantly impact would be the first. Ticket revenue is their largest source of revenue (maybe second largest but we don't know what the Rays get in revenue sharing from the league) , but as the Tampa Tribune is noting, a new facility isn't giving the Rays a huge leap in premium seating to gouge their wealthier constituents, and the total capacity would be less than Tropicana Field. So what gives?
Exact Bob Howsam Quote from "Baseball in Cincinnati: From Wooden Fences to Astroturf"
Remember, his words not mine
Also, I fought hard to get permission for artificial turf covering the whole field of play - except of course for the sliding areas around the bases. At that time, although there were artificial turf stadiums, they all had dirt infields as with the natural grass fields. At first I was given permission to have such a field for only a year. Then I won approval to keep it and now several fields are made that way.
There are really only a few things you have to do well in order to have a successful franchise. Some of them have to do with the stadium itself: a design that will involve the fan in the game as fully as possible. Then there is the look of the place and its condition. It should be clean and attractive. If you expect people to spend three or four hours there, they should feel as comfortable as in their own homes. But since the stadium is also a setting, the field of play should be as attractive as a well set stage.
So the artificial turf comes in for a number of reasons. It always looks good. It doesn't need cutting and trimming and watering. It is a pleasing color allowing a contrast with the white of the ball, a contrast that allows the eye to follow the ball wherever it goes against the turf.
Most important, turf allows the game to be played the way it was meant to be played. Why should we...work so hard to get a perfect dirt and grass infield? We can come much closer with the artificial turf. Therefore chance has less to do with the outcome. Home teams can't tamper with the surface and give themselves an unfair advantage. The fast bounces on the carpet , coupled with good arms in the outfield, make for close plays on base runners: excitement. And of course this is what the fans love.
Back to the Rays..
All the little pieces of evidence when taken as a whole are ridiculous. We've got an ownership group saying that Tropicana Field isn't a good enough facility. Yet, when you look at the revenue streams the area that an owner would want in a new stadium to exploit their rich fans, the Rays already have that (luxury suites). Then you have this ABC Committee saying we need a closed roof to make things comfortable. It is silly to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a retractable roof when ultimately the roof will always be closed when people are inside. We already have that. Then you read this quote from a dude in the 60s talking about how awesome artificial turf is....it is enough to make your head explode. Lastly, a new expensive stadium will equal higher rent expense for the Rays. None of this adds up
You can sort of understand the new stadium in cases like the Brewers replacing County Stadium. That facility didn't allow ownership to financially rape their fans. But I don't see how Tropicana Field handcuffs Sternberg from pillaging the passive fan who isn't just there to watch a game.
A new stadium will increase the value of Stu's investment in the Rays partnership exponentially. That is the reason the Rays want this to happen. All these other factors are a smokescreen.
Ethan Skolnick of the Sun-Sentinel wrote an article today about the Marlins new stadium. Most of it is Marlin specific, but the facts he gives about attendance in new stadiums applies to our situation too. Take those comments, and then figure that after year 2 or 3 when the new car smell wears off, the team will be right back to where we are now in terms of attendance. Weekend draws have been great this year too! Because the team is good. This stadium thing is ridiculous. If they move away from downtown, and the move isn't to the Carillon area, then the Rays have risked alienated half of their fan base for very little to gain
Thursday, July 16, 2009
The Gainesville Sun is running a "Top 25 Players in the SEC" feature.
Natural Light is running television ads now.
When I was searching for the Natty Light add I came across this ad from the past featuring Mickey Mantle.
Total estimated cost of the new Marlins stadium is now up to $2.4 billion over 40 years.
I have a book called "Baseball in Cincinnati: From wooden fences to astroturf". It is a collection of articles published over several decades. The book was released in 1988. The article that gets into the period of time when Riverfront Stadium was conceived was particularly fascinating. Bob Howsam was the Reds GM at the time. I can post the actual quotes later when I get home, but the quotes were in stark contrast to the feelings people have now about stadiums.
- Howsam pushed hard for astroturf because he felt it was more pleasing to the eye, and he wanted to ensure that the facility was a nice place to look at. He also said that baseball would be played the way it was meant to be played if they installed astroturf. His words, not mine.
- The elected officials in Cincinnati really wanted a multi purpose facility on the water front. Reds ownership did not want a new stadium, and preferred to stay in Crosley Field. Bill DeWitt owned the team at the time, and the Mayor of Cincinnati Eugene Ruehlmann pleaded with him to sell the team if he wouldn't cooperate with the city. Ruehlmann also wanted the Reds to sign a 40 year lease, something DeWitt did not want (this would have put the Reds in Riverfront stadium until the year 2010.
So in 1966 we have a case where an owner doesn't want a new stadium, and city officials are waiting in line to spend public dollars on a facility that would be torn down 33 years later because it was considered outdated. Thirty years ago teams were moving into larger facilities which provided more tickets to sell, which meant more revenue. Now teams are moving into smaller facilities, with the hope that this will increase demand...and price. Some teams put tarps on their extra seats to achieve this goal. This of course hurts people who want to spend $10-$15 on a ticket at most. If you use Bob Howsam's criteria for a stadium, Tropicana Field fits the bill. But as we know Sternberg says it isn't a sufficient facility. I could accept this argument if the Rays were playing at a stadium without club suites, or premium box seating (Wrigley Field), but Tropicana Field has both of these things. The entire second level is lined with suites, and the first rows just behind home plate are priced at a premium. Premium seating is the only variable in a new facility that would affect the bottom line. So my question is: How much more premium seating would a new facility have? The Marlins just decided to lower the number of premium seats from 60 down to 49. I don't know the exact numbers on Tropicana Field but they appear to have a decent inventory of suites at the stadium.
So if a new stadium will have a roof that is constantly closed, and the increase in luxury boxes doesn't result in a material increase in revenues, are we spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a new building so that we can watch baseball on grass?
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Last night's game wasn't on TV, so all I have is observations of a box score and uniform commentary. You can read a box score, so here's my best Paul Lukas impression.
Last year's St. Pete Pelicans was the best throwback promotion the Rays have done. The St. Pete Saints is OK too I guess, but it doesn't really excite me the way the Pelicans did. I think we could all get on board with a St Pete Cardinals if not for the one big problem. It would basically be our team wearing another MLB team's uniform with one of these on the hat.
Good idea by the Rays, but it is at least ten years too soon. I like how they went with the Rays against the gradient oval on the hat as opposed to the TB hat. I think the Turn Back the Clock promos that teams do are cool for the most part. But in order to make the promotion fun, you have to wait long enough to turn back the clock. There are several rules of thumb you could apply, but in our case we have a player on our current roster who was on the team when these throwbacks were our standard uniform. Also, we still play in the same stadium, and not enough has happened to separate the vibe of that team and the current team. It just doesn't "feel" that long ago.
The Buccaneers are going to wear throwback uniforms during a game this year when they unveil the Ring of Honor at RJS. Good timing on the Bucs part. The time lapse isn't much different than that of the Rays and the unis they wore last night, but it feels longer for the Bucs. All those old Bucs are gone, the team is playing in a new stadium, they won a freaking Super Bowl, and an entire decade has passed since they were considered a last place stalwart. I'm curious to see what they go with. There were several variations to their Orange & White uniform.
- In their first year they actually had orange numbers on the white jerseys.
- This was changed fairly quickly to red numbers, which is how we all remember them.
- In the early 90's the Bucs introduced orange pants, and a Bucco Bruce logo that was larger than the original. Check our Errict Rhett, and compare back the to James Wilder picture from #2.
- Of course they could always go with the Orange Jersey. The orange appeared brighter in later years, but I don't think this was a change made by the Bucs, rather it was a byproduct of a change in by the manufacturer that made the orange appear brighter than before.
If I was in charge of putting this thing together for the Bucs I would opt for the small Bruce logo and orange jersey noted in the Lee Roy Selmon picture above. We shall see. Great timing by the Bucs. They passed up some opportunities in the past (Thanksgiving Day games) when they could have worn these, and the end result was more anticipation for their throwbacks than the Rays had last night. I think the Rays should take a few years off from the throwback promos and use that money to pass out some more bobbleheads at the door.
I'm willing to bet a million dollars they showed the footage of the cotton eye joe guy on the big screen last night. After all the uniforms were the same as the day that footage was shot.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Niemann's second complete game win wasn't as impressive as the first one, but it was still very good. His breaking ball was working well for him, and aside from the 9th inning he stayed out of trouble for the most part.
So we're looking at a second half with Niemann and Price being the 2009 version of Sonny and Edwin last year. Block out Edwin Jackson's performance for the Tigers this year, and you would think the 2009 back part of the rotation would give you more than the 2008 version.
I know Price has had his struggles this year, but it is ridiculous to expect a guy who is basically a rookie starting pitcher to come in and dominate. I heard Duemig talking about how important these innings are to Price's future when I was in St Pete a couple weeks ago. The payoff long term will be huge, and if the rest of the rotation gets it's act together this doesn't have to come at the expense of the team. Check out the number from Sandy Koufax early in his career. When he was 23, as Price is this year, the Dodgers kept running him out there to start games, and the payoff was very big, albeit short lived (I don't wish retirement at the age of 30 on David Price by any means). During Bill Simmons podcast with Jack-O he meandered down the path of saying David Price is better off in the closers role. It's just way too early in his career to be making statements like that. The guy had one career start before this season. I think the Rays are doing the right thing. I know he has had his struggles this year, but outing like he had against Toronto are a clear indicator that he's on the right track. The Rays are really fast tracking him compared to Jeff Niemann. They each got their first call up to the bigs last year, but Niemann is three years older than Price. Both guys are first round picks out of college, both were aces on their respective staffs in college, and both guys had significant mileage on their arms when drafted which seems to be pretty common amongst starting pitchers from the college ranks. I think the Rays definitely did the right thing with Niemann, especially considering what Chicago did with Mark Prior (drafting him in 2001, and starting him 19 times the following season). I just hope that they've given Price the rest he needed after his run at Vandy
One more thing on the game last night; Longoria's timely home run. In the bottom of the 6th, the Rays have CC at 1st and BJ at 3rd with two outs and Longo at the plate. Crawford gets tied up between 1st and 2nd on a pick-off move to first, BJ breaks for home plate and gets thrown out on his attempt to score ending the inning. I immediately text Jon expressing my understanding of the attempt to score because Longoria has been an automatic out since he pulled his hamstring. Normally you wouldn't want guys on the basepaths ending an inning like that with an All Star at the plate. Of course, when Longoria resumes is AB at the bottom of the 7th he promptly hits a solo home run to left field, once again making me look like an idiot. Even in hindsight though I'll take mistakes on the basepaths like that once in a while, because more often than not the results are going in our favor this year. Upton especially has been manufacturing runs on his own lately. Just this week against the Blue Jays he reached base, was aggressive on the base paths and ended up scoring by stealing home. Plus, it is chaotic for opposing pitchers when either or both of those guys are on base. One thing I will say about Crawford, is it seems like he has been getting hung up between bases a lot since his streak of consecutive steals to start the season was snapped. I have no problem with this because he's freaking Carl Crawford, but it's worth pointing out (a very small price to pay I might add).
Friday, July 10, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Through a combination of finishing some projects early, and having others moved back, coupled with the man keeping a close watch over our charge-ability, I found myself taking PTO today with a rare opportunity to take in a weekday afternoon Rays game. It was a dandy of a match up: Halladay vs. Price.
Today Tropicana Field played host to tens of thousands of youth campers from across the bay area. In the past this game amused me because, in stark contrast to most weekday afternoon games, they were heavily attended by kids who were really into the game and who wanted the Rays to win. Rays management generally invited the campers for sub-par games. Times have changed; the campers weren't the only ones interested today.
It dawned on me last night while watching the late innings of the Rays/Blue Jays game that I spend an inordinate amount of time composing e-mails and text messages. Therefore I'm going to try this on for size. Even if it turns out to be a poor alternative to e-mail communication, at the very least I can use it as a means to archive quality e-mails. When I left my first job, I left behind a significant archive of e-mail genius which is basically lost forever. At the very least this can act to prevent that, since as we all know it is likely that any current or future work email archives will be lost for similar reasons as the first, and I'll have something to show for time wasted.