Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New Ball Park

Is this really going to happen? There have been so many of these stops-and-starts that maybe the day has come and I am having a hard time believing it. Sampson hugging the mayor -- that looks final, right? But then they say each step in this master plan will need to be approved. Certainly the Orange Bowl would not be my first choice -- from Miami Shores i can get to my seat at Dolphins Stadium faster via I-95, Turnpike, than I can get to a seat in the Orange Bowl. And if they are going to put a soccer stadium where there should be garages, that won't help. Still, the Marlins need a retractable dome, no question about it, and if this is the deal, so be it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Two interesting links

Since we've had some posts about the Hall case for Andre Dawson, here's a roundtable discussion that gives the case both for and against Dawson, Blyleven, and some others.

Here's some interesting commentary on the Mitchell report from the always thought-provoking Sabernomics.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Few comments on the Mitchell report

1. A few years back, I used to get in arguments with a guy about who was the greater pitcher--Clemens or Maddox. I said Maddox, he said Clemens. My case got a lot stronger, when the Mitchell report was released...

2. I didn't read the whole compilation of gossip section of the report, but from what I did read, I've got to wonder what impact that illegal drug use actually had. So much of it seems so scattershot. Use 'em because of a friend of a friend, but don't use the one where you get injected in the belly button, because you don't like that ... Is that really the way steroids work? Take them, without any medical supervision or plan or training or knowledge, and poof, you get better at baseball?
If you're going to use illegal performance enhancing substances, do it right, like Bonds/Anderson apparently did, and like the East Germans used to--use a schedule, keep records, get blood tests, etc.

3. Which brings me to my major question: what impact did the drugs have on the way people played the game. The report doesn't say, and I'm not sure we know. But the report should have addressed that subject. Statistics in baseball can be used in a variety of ways, but a review of the way the game was actually played, and how it changed, during the Steroid Era, would be useful. Mitchell should have gotten together a group of independent statisticians to tell him whatever they could glean from the statistics of the era.

I agree that drugs are bad, and that taking steroids and HGH without a doctors prescription should be illegal. Its OK with me if, after appropriate due process, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are banned from baseball for life, and ineligible for the Hall Its also OK with me if reporters don't vote for them, if they remain eligible. But for baseball to achieve its objective of cleaning itself up and setting the right example for the rest of the society, it seems to me that a little more thought needs to go into the medical science, and a little less into the gossip.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Want a Litlte Good News about Marlins?

Well, if you want to see an interesting exchange, go to "Tigers-Marlins Blockbuster is Win-Win," which has a ton of comments after it. All interesting. Conclusion from our author at "This isn’t a fire sale, it’s a good baseball decision from a team that won the World Series just five years ago."
The comment I posted on the site: "As a fan who goes to 20-plus games a year at the football stadium formerly known as Joe Robbie, I have to say that this trade just makes the team tough to watch in 2008. Last year was pretty bad, with awful defense and pitchers throwing a ton of base on balls.... But as Rick said to Ilsa in Casablanca, "We'll always have Paris." The Marlins can't trade away 1997 and 2003. And how many other teams in the Majors have won two World Series since 1996?"


Parking, which had been $10 a game, is going up to $15 a game ... for the new, improved 2008 Marlins. The Marlins say blame it on Huizenga.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Stadium commmentary

Expos fan (and therefore Loria/Samson hater) John Brattain comments here on Marlins' ownership's negotiating strategy for a new stadium.
Its nice to read something that's not about the Mitchell report.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Black Sox Scandal II

A few weeks ago, after his (well-paid), disastrous finale against the Indians, The Rocket trudged off the mound and virtually all of us knew he was destined for the Hall of Fame. Now, look at this brilliant assessment from Boswell at Wash Post link

An excerpt:
"Now, Roger Clemens joins Barry Bonds in baseball's version of hell. It's a slow burn that lasts a lifetime, then, after death, lingers as long as the game is played and tongues can wag. In baseball, a man's triumphs and his sins are immortal. The pursuit of one often leads to the other. And those misdeeds are seldom as dark as their endless punishment.

Shoeless Joe Jackson, an illiterate outfielder who hit like a demon in the 1919 World Series, but neglected to blow the whistle on his crooked teammates, died with his good name as black as their Sox. Pete Rose, who bet on his team, but never against it, finally confessed. It could be good for his soul, and buys him dinner at my house any night, but may never get him into Cooperstown. Now, they have company: two giants of our time, just as humbled, though no less tarnished."

A minor comment on the Mitchell Report

The first thing I looked for was how Mitchell handled HGH.
On page 9 of the report, he  does say that the studies indicate that HGH does not increase muscle strength in healthy subjects, and that athletes who have tried it have found the same thing.
Why then does the report seem to continue to refer to it as a performance enhancing drug? If they are really concerned with the impact of the drug scandals on kids, as Mitchell says they are, why aren't they making a really big deal about this? Shouldn't their message be that HGH is not a PED, that there's no upside, only downside? 
For the rest, I've been listening to the ESPN talking heads, and therefore don't really have too much insight.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The impact of Miggy and D-Train in Motown

According to The Hardball Times (link), the Tigers set single-day season ticket sales records twice last week, immediately after The Trade--more than doubling the former mark on Wednesday, and then breaking that mark on Thursday. 
Consider the Tiger's  in light of the Marlins whining:
1. Downtown Detroit is not exactly an attractive place to drive to in your car to at night. In fact, it makes the neighborhood around the OB look like Grosse Pointe 
2. There is a large casino pretty close ( I would think less than a mile, although I've never walked it) to the Tiger's stadium. So, it's not like there's no local direct competition for entertainment dollars.
3. In 2003, the Tigers average attendance was 17,100 per game. That was in the new stadium.  In 2007, the Marlins attendance was 16,900 per game.  When the Tigers hired Dombrowski and started investing in players, they got better on the field, and sure enough, their attendance began to improve--in 2007, their attendance was 37,000+ per game. They didn't get a new stadium, they got a better team. 

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's a good thing Lebatard can write

Dan LeBatard has a truly weird view of economics. In this morning's Miami Herald, he wrote a column defending the Marlins ownership, saying in so many words that they shouldn't spend any money unless people start coming to the games.

Now, use the same logic for any other form of popular entertainment: if you're as movie producer, you shouldn't start work on that movie until after you've sold enough tickets to assure that you will make money. If you're a popular musician, don't agree to do a concert until enough tickets have been sold to assure that you will.

Of course, there is another fundamental flaw in his logic: most of the revenue that any professional football, baseball or basketball team generates comes from sources other than live attendance at the event. It comes from TV, radio, and now (in the case of baseball) advanced media like XM radio or subscriptions to The Marlins are in fact profitable--probably the most profitable franchise in baseball, although that is open to reasonable doubt, because the owners lie about their finances. No one--NO ONE!--claims that the Marlins are losing money or have lost money in the last few years. Nor does anyone claim that they have been investing wisely to build the market for their product.

The Marlins face several very specific marketing problems. 
First, in common everyday language, we use the expression once bitten twice shy. With the trade of Cabrera and Willis, baseball fans in south florida are now (arithmetically speaking) three times bitten, and therefore considerably more than twice shy.

Second, the Marlins bad mouth their home, whine about how they need a new home, and want someone else to pay for it. That is not a pitch likely to entice anyone out to the ball park. Nobody likes a whiner. (Memo to Samson: Dave it's winners, not whiners that everyone loves.)

Third, the Marlins have shown that they are unwilling to build a team that will compete year after year. They put together a winner occasionally, but they break up that team just as people are beginning to get to know it, and the rest of the time they are close to the bottom of the barrel. That's a very good strategy to enhance profitablility (in effect, they make a few marginal additions to the roster when they are competitive, rather than signing players they know are good to long-term, high cost contracts),  but not to enhance the fan base. People figure that they'll get interested again when in a few years when the Marlins are competitive ... 

These are actually not very unusual problems for a business to have.  Unfortunately, we have every reason to think that the current Marlins ownership is not up to the challenge of solving them. But that is hardly their customers's fault.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

More about Marlins Money

And then there's this, actually written a few days before Tigers trade, by James Lincoln Ray at
An excerpt: "By shedding these stars, Florida was able to cut its payroll down to $14.9 million in 2006, which is less than 20% of the Major League average of $78 million. It was also less than half of the $31 million in revenue sharing dollars the team received that year. So, rather than using the money to retain or attract on-field talent, the owners took it as part of the team's MLB best $43 million profit in 2006."
Then came this: "P.S. -- On December 4, 2007, the Marlins agreed to trade their two highest paid players, Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, to the Detroit Tigers for young prospects, a move that will likely insure that the Marlins will have the lowest payroll and one of the worst franchises in baseball in 2008."

Show Me The Money

Interesting story at link about Marlins payroll and all that revenue sharing they get. An excerpt from Tom Covill PA SportsTicker Staff Writer:

After Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis - who were traded to the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday - clear out their lockers for good at Dolphins Stadium, the Marlins will have no one under contract that made more than $575,000 in 2007.

It seems unlikely that Major League Baseball, which shelled out $323 million in revenue sharing alone in 2006 - with the vast majority of it going to the teams in the bottom of the market scale - has been withholding payments from the Marlins.

In all likelihood the money Florida has received over the past few seasons in revenue sharing and luxury tax exceeds its entire payroll.


Ronnie sez: The most distressing thing about this trade is not that we gave up the final two links to '03 (and two All-Stars to boot) for six minor league players. Honestly, the most painful thing is what this says, in black and white, for the future: Every great player to join the Fish will be traded before his prime. Next up: The great Hanley Ramirez, already the finest young baseball player in the game -- and soon just the best overall. Enjoy his talent while you can.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Damaged goods?

According to ESPN, Andrew Miller is rehabbing a knee. Also, Cameron Maybin has twice lost time in the past year because of shoulder problems--first his right shoulder, and then, more recently, his left.

No wonder the deal hasn't been formally announced. 

Of course, with all the money Loria is saving on payroll, he should be able to afford a decent doc to do the medical reviews. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

First Thoughts on the Trade

From RG, Marlins Ultra-Super Fan: "The blackest day in Marlins history. Miguel and Dontrelle to Detroit for six !!!!!&#$!* prospects. Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god."

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Another Hall Comment

Does Tim Raines deserve to go to the Hall on the first ballot? CNN/SI has an article making the case for his election. Here's the link. I tend to agree, although I suspect that, what with the current drug scandals, voters may be reluctant to vote for someone who had a link to the cocaine scandals of the '80s, even though he apparently cleaned up his act and became a model citizen ....

"Undervalued, Overlooked"

Sadly, once again, Andre Dawson has been overlooked... (See post bel0w for first mention.) This time by an alleged expert in NYT, Dan Rosenheck link
talking about Undervalued and Overlooked for the Hall.... And there is no Andre. No. 25 on the all-time list of total bases.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Best Players of All Time

The hitters who produced the most during their careers should be measured by total bases (singles, doubles, triples and home runs) plus bases on balls. (You should argue that hit batsman should be included, but that would have taken too much work and I don't think it would have altered these figures.) The numbers after the 2007 season:





Barry Bonds*




Hank Aaron




Babe Ruth




Stan Musial




Willie Mays




Carl Yastrzemski




Pete Rose




Ty Cobb




Ted Williams




Ricky Henderson




*Great player who likely cheated.

Williams and Henderson made it into top 10 cuz of walks, passing Eddy Murray and Rafael Palmeiro* who were in top 10 in total bases only.

Special Marlins Note: Andre Dawson didn't walk much, but he's No. 25 all time career in total bases, and the only persons above him who are not in the Hall of Fame are Barry Bonds*, Pete Rose (who did NOT cheat on the field), and Ken Griffey Jr., who's still playing. It's an outrage that Andre isn't in the Hall.

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