Baseball Playoff Observations

In watching the first two games of the ALCS in Yankee Stadium, I saw way more empty seats than I am used to seeing there for big games. In the regular season, it is commonplace for there to be empty seats in the “lower bowl” where prices are astronomical; I understand that the pricing structure for seats in Yankee Stadium assures that there will be empty seats for many games. Nonetheless, the Yankees averaged 43,733 fans per game this year in a stadium that seats 50,271; that means that on an average night, they played to 87% of capacity. When I looked at those first two games of the ALCS – and particularly Game 2 –, it sure looked to me as if the place was less than 87% full.

That is the kind of lukewarm/apathetic fan support that I would have expected in places such as Atlanta, Miami and/or Tampa; but that is not what I expected to see in NYC. So, was that kind of attendance an indication that NYC fans have been “stretched to the limit” when it comes to forking over humongous prices for admissions/parking/concessions/etc.? Or, more ominously for Yankees’ brass, was it an indication that Yankees’ fandom might be trending toward the passé? If the ALCS goes back to NY, I would expect to see an “SRO-crowd” at the game and nothing less.

Two more thoughts from the ALCS – and the ALDS – games:

    1. Exactly when did Raul Ibaňez morph into Roy Hobbs and can we expect him to take out the lights on top of Yankee Stadium in Game 7 of the ALCS if the series gets that far?

    2. Here is a discussion topic that will keep baseball fans warm and engaged over the entirety of the winter:

      Which call was worse?

        A. The “infield fly rule” call made in the Cardinals/Braves series

        B. The missed tag at second base in the Yankees/Tigers series.

Now that the possibility of an Oakland/San Francisco World Series has gone away, Scott Ostler can rest more easily. Here is an item he had in the SF Chronicle while both teams were still alive in the playoffs:

“I don’t believe in omens, but if we wind up with a Bay Bridge World Series, I hope the L.A. Times does not send writer Bill Shaikin”

A man in the Detroit area has alleged that Lions’ DT, Ndamukong Suh, sideswiped his car and left the scene of the accident. When the man followed Suh to the Lions’ training/practice facility, there was a verbal confrontation between the two leading the man to call the police. This matter is under investigation. Since this matter does not seem to involve impaired driving or the brandishing of a firearm, why is it interesting?

Ndamukong Suh has been with the Lions for less than three seasons; and if these allegations prove to be true, this would be the third “traffic-related incident” he has been involved with. Two years ago, he was involved in an accident and at least one of the passengers in his car at the time of the accident is suing Suh with regard to what happened in that circumstance and injuries incurred. Then a few months after that, Suh was cited for going 91 mph in a 55 mph zone and for failure to have proof of insurance with him in the vehicle.

Even if all of the negative assertions here regarding Suh are completely true, they still do not register a “ten” on the scale of anti-social behavior. Nonetheless, the Lions as an organization that has Suh on the books for $40M guaranteed, might find reason to be concerned about the long-term viability of their asset. About 20 years ago, the Eagles had a really good young defensive tackle named Jerome Brown who seemed to be addicted to fast cars. At age 27, Brown lost control of one of his cars and hit a utility pole killing himself and a nephew who was in the car at the same time.

On the NHL labor front, the league has made an offer to the players for a 50/50 split of hockey-related revenue as a way to resolve the current lockout. The union is studying the proposal and will respond once they “run the numbers”. At issue in this impasse has been the percentage split of hockey-related revenues as well as the definition of what money counts in that pool to be split. The league proposal calls for no change in the definition of hockey-related revenue in a new CBA.

According to reports, there are a few things in the proposal that might not be exactly what the union might have wanted. Free agency would happen when a player turns 28 with 8 years in the league under the new deal instead of 26 as in the current deal. Contract lengths would be limited to 5 years in the new CBA.

The league says it wants to play a full 82-game schedule this year but needs to get that cooking by 2 November. More than likely, this is the beginning of serious negotiation on the issues that caused the owners to lock the players out in the first place. Pretty much everything that has happened before this was posturing and preening; if the players come back with a serious counterproposal – and you can bet the ranch that they will not take the deal on the table as presented – there might be hope to get play 82 games this year. However, time’s a wastin…

One of the previous proposals from the players called for the league to implement revenue sharing that would send at least $150M annually to 6 teams that are “financially precarious”. Those teams reportedly are:

    Carolina
    Columbus
    Florida
    Nashville
    NY Islanders
    Phoenix.

If the league does not like the idea of revenue sharing at that level, then maybe they should open their minds to the thought of moving at least some of those teams to venues where they might have a fighting chance of competing without subsidies. Please note that with the exception of the Islanders – the third team and the poor relative in a large market – the other five are Sun Belt teams in small markets and/or markets with no youth hockey infrastructure or history.

Finally, here is a chilling perspective for ESPN from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:

“For those who didn’t think anything could get lower TV ratings than a WNBA Finals, I bring you a WNBA Finals between the Indiana Fever and Minnesota Lynx!”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

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Comments

  • Ed  On October 17, 2012 at 1:10 am

    It should be noted under the recently expired deal, the Islanders were ineligible for revenue sharing because they were in amarket with over 2.5M households…

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On October 17, 2012 at 9:12 am

      Ed:

      The Islanders are a strange franchise. 30 years ago they were a dominant team and drew plenty of fans. Today, they are an afterthought and struggle financially in a huge metropolitan market. I do not live in the NY area so I do not know why they have gone from one level to the other, but it seems to me that the Islanders are a franchise that would do better financially in a different venue.

  • Doug  On October 18, 2012 at 6:41 am

    Two thoughts: Revenue sharing works remarkably well in the NFL. One could say it is key to the leagues success.

    As for the infield fly call, I think the correct call was made. I did not at first, but part of that reaction was my particular love of the Braves. Check the video and you will see the shortstop drift under the ball and prepare for the catch. At this time the ump on the 3rd base line signals the FCR. While his arm is in the air, the shortstop gives way to the left fielder, who fails to make the catch. This looks pretty routine. A lot of short fly balls like this one are caught by shortstops every season.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On October 18, 2012 at 7:14 am

      Doug:

      Welcome back. Have not heard from you in a while…

      I agree completely that revenue sharing has worked brilliantly in the NFL and that it is an important ingredient of the league’s success. I agree that revenue sharing in other sports – like the NHL – should be expanded even if those other sports do not adopt the same model that the NFL has.

      The “infield fly call” is a debatable call; however, it stirred up a major amount of controversy. The missed tag at second base is clearly a wrong call; it too has stirred up a major amount of controversy. I thought that juxtaposing them might be interesting.

      • Doug  On October 19, 2012 at 5:46 am

        I took an extended vacation on my boat. I will be here more frequently in the coming months.

        • The Sports Curmudgeon  On October 23, 2012 at 9:47 am

          Doug:

          Glad to have you back on board…

  • Ed  On October 19, 2012 at 2:55 am

    The Isles will draw if they win. If they do not, they won’t. In the 70s, they were a novelty. Start of the 80s, a team that won 4 straight Cups. New kid in town draws. Winner draws. Stop doing that…. they stopped drawing. They would be better off elsewhere. They have always been, and will always be, at best the second team in the area. If the Devils are good, the third. The NYC media cominate – TV, newspapers, etc. What little they give hockey is all Rangers. In KC or Seattle, they will be the only game in town.

    One huge difference between the NFL and NHL – the TV deals. The NFL gets most of their money thru national contracts, the NHL thru local TV and gate. NFL money goes to the league office, where it is cut up. The individual teams never had it. Getting money for the Isles from the Rangers box office 25 miles away, bit harder.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On October 23, 2012 at 9:46 am

      Ed:

      I agree that coming up with a real and effective means of revenue sharing in the NHL will be difficult. Interestingly to me, it is the union telling management what management needs to do with their aggregate revenues in this negotiation and then acting surprised when management tells them that is none of the union’s business.

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