Monday, June 28, 2004
First, my apologizes for not posting very often of late. I have been in Boston and Tampa then computer issues yesterday delayed Monday’s post until today (If anyone has a media PC/direct cable television feed, please add a comment on your machine - thanks). Over the weekend, I was unable to watch any Sox games but I did catch a D-Rays-Marlins game while in Tampa area.
We ordered our tickets from Ticket “I got you by the balls” Master because we read in the morning paper that the Rays did not have enough ticket windows open last night to accommodate all of the walk sales. Some fans did not get into the park until the sixth inning. Isn’t amazing what winning will do for ticket sales.
It cost us about an extra $3 per ticket. They went on to sell nearly 75,000 tickets over the three game weekend series. The city is starting to get into the Rays like the Lighting. Once thought of as a possible contraction candidate by the uneducated mass media, the Rays are now the talk of the Tampa sports scene within striking distance of the 300 pound gorilla and our Sox.
It was a decent drive from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino to St. Pete. The Trop is not as bad of a stadium as many suggest. It certainly does not deserve a score of 56 according to ESPN.com Page2 last year where the Trop’s rank was 28th out of 30 MLB parks. Now, it ranks 29th with the opening of Citizens in Philly. It is terrible to look at from the outside – the slanted roof is ugly and no one has a reasonable explanation for it. Parking was tough that night, but $20 gets you in the permit only parking across of the main entrance. On the positive side, beer was relatively cheap, the centerfield buffet/bar provides a great view of the game, and the cigar bar is unique. I had no major compliant. Overall, an average place to see a game.
On the other hand, last year I visited PNC Park in Pittsburgh. It likely deserved the number one ranking from Page2. It is just a beautiful park. If the area around PNC was cleaned up a little more with a few more kicking bars, there would be no debate about the best MLB stadium. Wait a minute, PNC needs one more thing - a competitive team to play there 81 times a year. A winning team draws fans and increases revenues - not new parks. The Pirates are averaging the lowest home attendance at 19,175 fans per game in the best stadium. Pittsburgh is a sports town too. The Steelers do not have a problem selling tickets. The Pirates are like getting socks on Christmas morning in a PS2 box.
Even the orphan Expos that play in a horrible stadium, packed in 56,700 over three games, an average of 18,900, after trading for Bartolo Colon in 2001. The Expos had a chance, made a bold move and the supposedly non-existent Expos’ fans flocked to the worst park.
Of course, a publicly financed stadium will improve a club’s bottom line. And if the owner decides to put that money back into the club wisely, it should help in the standings. But a publicly financed stadium is not the cure all that Buddy Boy wants communities to believe. Nothing helps a baseball team’s balance sheet more than a winning games. One can only sell shit in a fancy wrapper so often.
Question on the State of the Sox
Epstein said the biggest frustration of the season was "we had scored more runs than the Yankees and allowed fewer runs than the Yankees. What's frustrating is our inefficiency. Right now we're just not finding ways to win games. We're 5-8 in one-run games and that's gotta change. A lot of that falls on our defense and base running. We have to get better, and I think they will."
Are the Sox making their own misfortune with poor glove work and base running or is it just plain bad luck causing the poor record in one-run games that will likely even itself out over the remainder of the season?