Results tagged ‘ Ticket Sales ’
Word hit the Twittersphere just a few short moments ago.
Prepare thyself, for the Asshole cometh.
Okay, it really read “Nationals place Ryan Zimmerman on the 15 day DL and recall outfielder Bryce Harper from AAA”.
But it might as well have read the way I put it.
By now anyone who follows baseball has heard of Bryce Harper.
You’ve heard about his power to all fields, his ability to hit for average, his arm, his discerning eye at the plate and so on, but unfortunately those are not the only things we have discovered about this young man.
The 2010 season’s No. 1 overall pick by the Washington Nationals was at the center of multiple bench-clearing incidents in minor league games last year.
One of these involved Harper and the opposing pitcher exchanging words after Harper took a called third strike. No punches were thrown and nobody was ejected, but it looked like it was about to get real ugly, real fast.
Harper hit a home run prior to the strikeout and seemed amazed the umpire dared to question his knowledge of the strike zone when called out. When the opposing pitcher reminded him where the bench was located at, the fuse was lit and it was “on”.
Later in the season the young phenom hit a towering home run off an opposing pitcher then not only admired his handy work, but was arrogant enough to blow a kiss at the man standing on the mound.
Hardly the actions of a professional let alone someone whom the Nationals would have us believe is “mature beyond his years”.
Should we be surprised by any of this? Hardly. It never was production that worried people about Harper. It was his attitude.
He showed tendencies to yell at opposing players, teammates and umpires, and he was ejected from a game in the Junior College World Series in 2010 after drawing a line in the dirt in the batter’s box to show an umpire that a called strike was outside. It was his second ejection of the season and earned him a two-game suspension, seriously compromising his teams chances in the event.
None of this can really be described as unexpected.
At 16, Las Vegas wunderkind Bryce Harper was on the cover of Sports Illustrated as “Baseball’s Chosen One” .
He left high school after his sophomore year to get his GED so he could play at the junior college level in order to get better competition and a spot as the No. 1 pick of the 2010 Major League Baseball draft.
At the time of MLB draft he was tearing things up at the College of Southern Nevada, Through 47 games, playing catcher, third base and outfield, he had hit (with a wood bat) .410 with 21 homers, 59 RBI and a 1.414 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging.)
Those are numbers only those like Babe Ruth and Ted Williams ever saw people.
But he also had one great, big, gargantuan drawback at the time.
Not only is Harper have the superstar numbers, but he also has the superstar attitude: raging friggin’ asshole. Apparently most major league teams were completely put off by his personality, which is saying something, because it’s an upset when an elite athlete isn’t a raging friggin’ asshole.
(And this is why so many people in baseball love you Derek Jeter.)
There was this from Baseball Prospectus before Harper was drafted:
“It’s impossible to find any talent evaluator who isn’t blown away by Harper’s ability on the field, but it’s equally difficult to find one who doesn’t genuinely dislike the kid.
“One scout called him among the worst amateur players he’s ever seen from a makeup standpoint, with top-of-the-scale arrogance, a disturbingly large sense of entitlement, and on-field behavior that includes taunting opponents.”
“He’s just a bad, bad guy,” one front-office official told Baseball Prospectus. “He’s basically the anti-Joe Mauer.”
I want you to let that sink in. The anti-Joe Mauer.
You don’t hear people described in these ways any more.
You just don’t.
And you certainly don’t hear professional scouts take such strong positions on a player’s make-up. Sure it is part of their job to measure such things the best they can and to froward the information on to their organization in order for it to make the best decision possible, but you just don’t see them go this far out of their way question a player’s make-up as a human being.
Now granted, when you’re this good this early, people are going to look for flaws in your game and makeup that might turn you from prodigy to failure in the blink of an eye. Fair enough.
Baseball Prospectus obviously did just that, and found, physically, there was no reason for Harper not to be the GREATEST FREAKIN’ PLAYER WE’VE EVER SEEN!
OK, that’s a bit of hyperbole, but the worst they could find was that there is a slight chance the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Harper could get too big too early in life, and thus become slow and have little range in the field.
That wasn’t enough of a risk for the Nationals to turn him down. Sadly. Because it damn sure seems like he could stand to be taken down a notch or two.
To be fair to Harper, he has mega-super-duper-asshole-agent Scott Boras as an “adviser,” so he’s been able to learn arrogance at the feet of a master. Also, being the prodigy he is, Harper has had a wide clearance to be as much of a raging friggin’ asshole as he chooses to be.
Most teams let their superstars be any personality they want, at least for about a half decade or so like Boston did with their “oh, that’s just Manny being Manny” bullshit.
The bench warmers who are raging friggin’ assholes, on the other hand, are the ones who get tossed for their bad attitudes.
You might say that perhaps Bryce Harper’s parents should pull him aside and tell him to be a little nicer, and maybe they have.
But I’m sure a parent of any 19-year-old would say it’s an immense chore trying to stop their own child from being a raging friggin’ asshole, much less a child who has Scott Boras in his pocket and was at the top of the Major League Baseball draft.
Whether Harper’s raging friggin’ asshole act fizzles after he gets the big call-up to the show depends pretty much on one thing, and it is applicable even if your child is a raging friggin’ asshole making the superstar move up from 9-year-old basketball to 10-year-old basketball.
How will that attitude play out the first time Harper runs into hard times at the big league level, where the lights shine bright? That could be a hitting slump, a fielding slump, a teammate who is fighting to keep his own place as big dog of the roster, a coach who hates him and so on.
If Harper shows he can adjust and make it through a difficult time without completely melting down, he’ll do well, not only as a player, but also as a person with his teammates and coaches.
If not, then things could “get interesting”.
Some try to argue that one can also ask whether coaches and teammates believe Harper’s raging friggin’ asshole act is, in the end, good for the team. Michael Jordan was no picnic they say, but his teammates learned that if you did what he said, he would make you famous and win you championships.
This one I’m not buying into really.
Baseball isn’t like basketball, or even football, where one incredible player can put a team on his back and carry them to the promised land.
On the off occasion where it has happened it has always been a starting pitcher, a la Orel Hershiser at the end of 1988 and heading into the playoffs that year. While everyone chooses to remember the dramatic Kirk Gibson homerun form that year, it was “The Bulldog” that was absolutely phenomenal.
14 starts, 124.2 Innings Pitched. IP/Start 8.89 (yeah, you read that right), 10 Wins/1 Loss, 1 Save (in the NLCS when he snuck into the bullpen and warmed up on his own), only 73 Hits allowed, 9 Earned Runs yielded, 18 Walks vs 89 K’s and a microscopic ERA of 0.65.
A hitter cannot do that.
They can play a huge role. They can be the leader of a team. But they simply cannot command a game (or even an entire series) like a pitcher can.
If so, Albert Pujols would have 5 or 6 World Series rings so far in his career because THAT guy is not human. (Really Albert? Almost 2000 walks & extra base hits combined in your career and less than 650 K’s in that same period of time?)
Nope, when Harper gets to the pro level, there are going to be people who are well aware of this fact and they will be lining up for the chance to shove his raging friggin’ asshole act back down his throat.
And I for one, hope I get to see it firsthand.
UPDATE: Cole Hamels must have read my mind. In case you missed it, last night Mr. Hamels found himself in the ideal situation to send such a message. Two down, bases empty in the first inning. He did it the right way and didn’t go head hunting, but put one right in the kids ribs. Well, it would have been in the ribs had he not turned as much so it kind of got him in the small of the back. This then led to Nationals GM Mike Rizzo whinin’ & throwing quite the hissy fit.
Billionaire NFL owners and millionaire players insult our common sense as they cut up a 10 billion dollar revenue pie paid for by foreclosed fans.
Squeezing literal blood from a stone, owners have extracted huge TV prepayments, sent layoff notices to staff and invented “personal seat licenses” (the infamous mortgage derivative of sports) this year.
Help me understand: I pay for my seats, I pay shipping and handling and parking and overpriced concessions and logo’d merchandise and, in addition, I have to buy the right to be reamed for a price *larger* than my actual tickets?
Why? To pad the vault before a pending lockout designed to prevent the players from cutting a bigger slice of the pie – despite overwhelming evidence of the premature deaths and shortened life expectancy of players.
Hello, injury… meet insult. Football may be the most obvious right now, but baseball and other pro sports share the vastly inflated economic disparity vs. the fans. Bread and circuses?
Not that the players are underpaid (well, the Pittsburgh Pirates, maybe) – rather, under taxed. Due to tax breaks for new construction, some players in new top condos in NY pay *one fifth* as much tax as a couple in Queens pays. Hello, insult?
We forget that players work half a year, not full-time. And many duck local taxes in the “home” towns of their ballparks through high-priced advisors.
And the owners are rigging the game. Consider this: DirectTV would have actually paid the owners *more* if there were a lockout than if games were played.
Apart from the TV deals and away gate ticket sales the league divides, owners collect from their stadium (gate) receipts for home games, naming rights, sponsorships, luxury suite revenue, concessions and local broadcast rights.
In addition, your own stadium brings in extra money for concerts, events, a pro shop, and $12 hot dogs. And the trend has clearly been for private stadium ownership.
When owners saw the market trend move from individual fans to corporate buyers a few years back, they raised prices, expanded luxury boxes, and brought in arugula (the aromatic salad green). Let companies treat clients and vendors from their subscription, right? And serve wine and brie, right? Never mind that the crowd sounds different and TV shots are filled with empty seats, right?
Wrong. As the economic bubble burst, companies can’t afford overpriced seats and those that still might are *embarassed* to be seen as spending frivolously. The warning signs are visible during many baseball telecasts. The dot.com bubble burst. Then the housing bubble. Then the mortgage derivative bubble. Then the Madoff bubble (can you say Wilpon?). Then the jobs bubble. Soon the public pension bubble. And state budgets. Is DoubleBubble next?
New Rule: Team owners want a hefty percent of everything? Ok, you guys get the pain too.
1) Since each concussion costs 2 years lifespan, here’s the fair way: Team owners must experience exactly the same concussion in their luxury boxes that any player sustains on the field. Use automated hydraulic helmets or retired players with ball-peen hammers to invoke the “neuron-for-a-neuron” clause of the new collective bargaining agreement. Have owners and players share the same health plan (like maybe senators and citizens should?).
2) Since PSL’s are basically a real estate transaction, shouldn’t owners pay a tax like we do? Like a developer selling condo units. Sales and capital gain per every PSL. 40,000 seats @$10k PSL per = $400 million revenue… what’s the fair local tax on that? 25% = $100 million.
In the last few years, most people have seen their pensions and long-term benefits disappear – most corporate workers large and small, as well as teachers, firemen, policemen in the public sector – the promises were unrealistic and impossible to sustain.
Players may be “entertainers” and push for whatever contracts the market will bear. But the money eventually comes from or is passed on to the public – a broke public, mind you – and a market that can’t bear it anymore.
At what point is economic disparity so extreme that stadiums are empty or, even better, they will look like the streets of Cairo?
Can you say Twitter?
John W. Henry, the hedge fund manager and noted egomaniac who owns the Boston Red Sox, has just bought the sixth biggest soccer team in the entire world: Liverpool Football Club.
Around England, the news comes as a shock and a relief. Valued at $822 million dollars but saddled with debt from current American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, Liverpool currently languishes at the bottom of the English Premier League. Fans and board members both say they hope the sale will help reinvigorate the club.
But if Henry’s English adventure is anything like his brief stint in South Florida, Liverpool fans are in for a rude awakening.
Henry bought the Florida Marlins from Wayne Huizenga in January of 1999, but sold the team only three years later to current owner Jeff Loria for $158.5 million. Henry then used the money to buy the Boston Red Sox, after failing to convince the taxpayers of south Florida to pay for a new stadium (which would have increased the clubs value several fold no doubt).
While “Red Sox Nation” has seen a resurgence in recent years under his ownership, one should be weary of giving much of the credit to Henry. There are plenty of places to lavish praise on the Red Sox organization, but the ownership isn’t one of them in my humble opinion.
The best thing Henry ever did was to hire the wunderkind we have all come to know and love/hate Theo Epstein. While Epstein has had his moments that make you scratch your head at times, he (and his partner in crime Larry Lucchino, Red Sox CEO/President) has “reinvented” the Red Sox organization from top to bottom, changing their focus and methodology on a profound level.
Now, I know this is a subject of heated debate amongst Red Sox fans or even baseball fans in general.
One merely needs to bring this kind of thing up and out come the lists of “Theo’s Greatest Hits”.
We hear about how great a move it was bringing in David Ortiz for peanuts, though we now know his Red Sox reinvention was as much of a pharmaceutically enhanced one as any, fans rave about the defensive acquisitions of Orlando Cabrera & Doug Mientkiewicz in 2004 and people yammer on and on about the “curse ending Curt Schilling deal” (even though those of us that remember how it ACTUALLY went down know it was a successful trade by default).
On the flip side we get Theo’s detractors coming out of the woodwork to point out the Matt Clement and Edgar Renteria free agent contracts that turned out to be busts (John Lackey’s recent deal might be added to this list and Dice K’s SHOULD be added to it), his love for the risks he takes on injured stars trying to earn their way back to the big bucks and a very perplexing trade or two (Cla Meredith & Josh Bard for Doug Mirabelli ring any bells?).
The reality is that while all of those things should be discussed/debated when assessing the Red Sox transformation from lovable loser to perennial power under Epstein’s leadership, they are a small part of a much bigger picture.
From the very top of the franchise to its lowest tiers Theo Epstein and Larry Lucchino changed the way the Red Sox approached things. They became a team based on two simple concepts. Have the pitching and defense that refuse to give away cheap & easy runs to an opponent and an offense that doesn’t throw away at bats.
No longer did they look at superficial stats like “Wins” & “Losses” or “Average” & “Runs Batted In”, but rather they turned their focus towards more intuitive statistics like ERA+, OPS and UZR.
Nothing personifies this fact more than the 2002 hiring of Bill James, the noted stat guru, at Epstein’s urging. To this day one can find the “Bill James Bible” tucked securely under the GM’s arm more often than not.
They stopped chasing aging free agents and built around a core of players in their prime (25-29) while stocking their own minor league system with a plethora of young talent that could either fill their ranks or be used to acquire a key piece here or there through a sensible trade.
Granted, the team’s position as a big market club with a sizable payroll allowed them more of a margin for error than some other clubs are accustomed to having but none of that should be allowed to discount the massive organization wide philosophical change the pair engineered, nor the success it has spawned.
So if you are a fan of Liverpool right now you are undoubtedly being beaten over the head with quotes from local politicians and business men about “what a great owner John Henry is going to be” and “how beneficial this arrangement is going to be” for both the fans, the franchise and the city/region.
You are being regaled with stories of how he turned this historic baseball franchise around and how he is going to do the same for you.
To that I most assuredly say…caveat emptor.
Case in point, this from today’s Guradian.co.uk:
This has largely been achieved through high investment, which can specifically be seen in the Red Sox’s payroll. It currently stands at somewhere close to $170m [£107m] a year, which is second only in the Major League to the New York Yankees. Big wages do not necessarily lead to a great team but it certainly shows a commitment to signing and keeping top players, which has been a hallmark of Henry’s time in Boston so far.
Yes their payroll has been one of the highest since he took over the team. But it was almost always one of the highest in the league before he arrived. So this is quite a hollow argument to me, one that is rather disingenuous at the least.
The piece goes on to point out that Henry has had a sensitive ear to fan concerns, especially regarding club tradition:
Along with the money has come a respect of traditions. When Henry took over it appeared certain that Fenway Park, the Red Sox’s stadium, was destined for demolition. It opened in 1912 and by 2002, when the takeover happened, it was truly looking its age. But instead of knocking it down, Henry preserved Fenway Park and renovated it in a way that reflected its original appearance. All Red Sox fans will tell you that they love the aesthetics of the stadium – if anything they prefer it now to how it looked eight years ago.
While this is commendable the piece fails to point out the fact that Henry has increased ticket prices every year he has had the team to offset the lost revenue he would gain from a newer stadium. In fact, until the teams rival New York Yankees opened a new stadium in 2009 that featured high value luxury seating in the neighborhood of $2000 per ticket (driving up average ticket prices) the Red Sox have far and away had the highest priced tickets in MLB under Henry’s tenure.
None of this is to say that Henry’s acquisition of the legendary club is necessarily a bad thing for the city and its fans. I will, however, say that you may want to go into this one with your eyes wide open.
I also, in the interest of full discretion, won’t insult anyone and call myself a devout football fan. I will say that I do follow the sport, albeit from a distance.
I lived in Germany in the early 90′s and consider myself somewhat of a convert, one who went from “yeah, um, screw that candya@# sport” to “you call that a quality first touch?”
I know enough about this wonderful sport to know that it is not as intrinsically tied to statistical measurement as one such as baseball. It just isn’t.
So unless I am missing something and Henry has an ace up his sleeve, some Epstein-like savant who can come in and institute organizational wide changes that will help to revert the team to its winning ways I hope that fans of The Reds will temper their expectations.
One might also want to look at Henry’s brief ownership of baseballs Florida Marlins to get a more informed assessment of the man’s ability to “turn a franchise around”.
Some try to erroneously give him some of the credit for the Marlin’s world series win in 2003, further enhancing his mythos as a sporting success story, but I am sorry, the man had very little say in that matter.
His tenure was so brief, his attention was so devoted to securing a new taxpayer-funded stadium for the club and transactions of his had such little impact on the matter that it is almost laughable to make such an effort. Simply put, the bulk of the talent responsible for the ’03 win was either accrued through trades before he acquired the team or through the draft/trades after he had already sold them.
Once it became obvious that the people of south Florida were not going to foot the bill for a new stadium for the team, which would have undoubtedly driven the value of the team up by hundreds of millions of dollars, Mr. Henry began searching for greener pastures elsewhere.
He got in, he didn’t see a reasonable chance at a profit and he got out. Case closed.
In the end, and no one can truly criticize the man for this so please just consider this for it’s informative value I guess, the man is in it for a profit.
He most certainly has always shown himself to be a follower of the credo “be true to thine own self” in terms of how he handles his ownership of sports franchises.
I see no reason to expect him to change that part of himself anytime soon.