Friday, August 23, 2013

Good Hitting Beats Good Pitching and Vice Versa

    Since old farts get in for free on Thursdays, my friend RF and I went to the Thursday afternoon game against the Dodgers. We were given seats in Section 6, Row 10 -- just beyond first base in right field, not as good as the behind-the-plate freebies Orlando and I got the last Thursday we went to, but hey, the price was right and the tickets were not bad.
    And we got to see a Major League team, with an all-star pitcher (Kershaw) and an all-star of the future, Puig. Their 6-0 hammering of AA Marlins was a bit numbing, and so RF and I spent considerable time arguing about baseball.
    He insists I'm wrong in claiming that it was Yogi Berra came up with "Good hitting beats good pitching, and vice versa."  His smartphone search was inconclusive.
    French also expressed amazement when I said that the free seniors tickets deal might cease after this year. He said that the Marlins make money on the luxury tax before a single fan walks in the gate, so that there's no need for them to charge for tickets. I think of this as the newspaper theory: The more you give your product away, to "news partners" and on the web, the more prosperous your business with be.
    We also wondered if there is another current Major League park that has never had a sell-out. Marlins opening day last year had a crowd of 36,601 -- their highest attendance ever, according to The park is listed as having 36,742 seats, with another 1,000 standing room (Budweiser sign). Both of us have tried various web searches and haven't had an answer whether there's another current park that has never sold out.
    The crowd Thursday was listed officially at 25,609, which must have included a ton of people who bought tickets and didn't show up, because attendance was far smaller than the 27,000 at Monday's Dodger's game. I wonder: Are we old farts included in the "paid" attendance?
    The good news: The hot dog guy across the street from the Clevelander was back, with his $3 sausage and $1 water, saving us a bunch of money. He wasn't there Monday, not sure why.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Feel Good Night, Kind of

    Last week, a Marlins rep called me up and noted that I had bought tickets online to a recent game. Marlins wanted to thank me by inviting me and up to three friends to be the team's guests at an upcoming game. "Just let me know," he said.  I said I had been pissed off at the ownership and he said he understood my feelings and the team really wanted our continued support.
    On Monday, with a matchup of ML Cuban super rookies, Fernandez versus Puig, I emailed him early in the morning and followed up with a phone call that I wanted tickets for Monday's game.  No response. Reminds me of how Bill Clinton described George W.'s attitude at one point: "I feel your pain, I'm just not going to do anything about it."
    UPDATE: Later on Tuesday, rep sent me an email saying he was off on Monday and apologized for not responding in timely fashion. He said the offer still stood for later games. And in fact, I can't bitch about paying money to see such a matchup.
    What happened was my buddy RF and I sprung for $11 seats in far right field. We slipped into much better seats in section 26 in left field.
    And what a game for a decent crowd of 27,000. Fernandez was terrific. Marlins bats got hot, with Stanton hitting one of his scorching line-drive homers. RF was buoyed to remark that this team could be a contender next year, but the elation of a 6-2 victory wasn't enough for me to agree with him.
    To be a contender, this team needs a catcher and third baseman definitely. The slick-fielding shortstop could be an 8 hitter on a strong team (Mark Belanger of the Orioles came to RF's mind), but do we really have a competitive players at first and second?  And what about centerfield? Ozuna, maybe? Lot of holes to fill.
    And the feel-good victory was dulled by a report in this morning's Herald that Loria petulantly refused to allow the promotion of a hot hitting AAA infielder because the kid had said something against Loria's hand-picked hitting coach.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mike Lowell Bobblehead

    I write about this belatedly because my grandson was here for a visit and I didn't have time until he left.
    On Sunday, Aug. 4, he and I went to a Marlins game -- a very special game I told him. (He's 11.) It was a Mike Lowell bobblehead giveaway and the 2003 world champions were going to be honored in a pre-game ceremony. AND it was a Bark at the Park game.
    I really wanted him to have a bobblehead, and I had missed out on bobbleheads in the past. I was thinking that with the special ceremony and everything, there would be long lines early to get into the ball park. Because he was visiting from Denver and being a proud grandpa, I sprang for fancy $18 tickets -- second row, upper deck, right behind home plate, bought in advance online.
    Stupid me. We arrived more than an hour before game time. We walked right in, each with a bobblehead. We could have easily bought outfield tickets and sat behind home plate, my usual plan when Orlando and I go.
    Well, it was great seeing some of the glorious crew of 2003 -- Lowell, Pudge, Jack McKeon. There was such a feel-good time that Loria felt safe to come out and sit in his usual seat behind home plate and no fan dumped Coke on him.
    But here's the thing -- bobblehead, World Series reunion, bark in the park (400 dogs at $10 each), the paid attendance was only 25,077. (I'm assuming the dogs were counted as paid attendees, right?)
    Oh... and the bobblehead. My grandson wanted to see one during the listless 2-0 loss. We opened one up, and it fell out. Both of Lowell's arms cracked and fell off, and the little bat he was supposed to be holding vanished among the peanut shells on the floor.
    Kind of symbolic of this season.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Yet another Fish trade bust

    Last week, when Rob Brantly was relegated to AAA, a buddy said crisply: "Yet another Fish trade bust."
    Brantly, as you recall, was part of the deal that last year sent Anibal to the Tigers, where he has 2.58 ERA in 20 starts this year.
    Perhaps worse from a fan's standpoint is that, by replacing Brantly with a medicore journeyman, Koyle Hill, 34, who's appeared in 313 ML games over nine seasons, there was no mention of Kyle  Skipworth, 23.
    Skipworth, the 6th pick overall in the 2008 draft, was supposed to be the superstar catcher of the future. He's sitting there now at AAA New Orleans -- languishing is more like it. For the year he's batting .179.  He's underperformed expectations all through the minors, though I can't help wondering now if he's in  a funk as he sees all these mediocre players (our starting catcher has been dubbed one of the hitters of the epoch) brought up to the Bigs while Skipworth waits in New Orleans.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Free Game

    The hot-dog guy is back! Well, he says he was never really away. He says he missed one game because of a doctor's appointment. I think it was more than that, but never mind: Across the street from the Clevelander entrance, you can get an excellent Italian sausage for $3, much bigger than a ballpark hot dog that costs twice as much. And cold bottled water is a buck. What a deal.
    So was the price the Marlins charged Orlando and me for the Thursday day game against the Mets. Old farts get in free on Thursdays. We figured we'd be stuck with tickets deep in the outfield and sneak around to better seats along the third base line. But no -- we were given Section 16, Row 21 -- right behind home plate, a great vantage point to watch the Marlins worst starter out-duel All-Star pitcher Matt Harvey for a 3-0 win.
    My contribution to the Marlins bank account: $8 for a rocky road ice cream cup. Orlando bought a Pepsi.
    Today, Doug Hanks has an excellent story in The Herald about sagging attendance at Marlins Park. A lot of fans -- including me -- are bitter about how the owners have flip-flopped on commitments.  I attended 20-plus games last year. This year it'll be more like 10.
    Hanks reports that the decline in Marlins attendance this year is 37 percent -- 10,000 fans a game -- compared to last year. Only Tampa Bay reported a bigger decline of first-versus-second year attendance -- 38 percent.
    In fact, Florida is just a lousy place for baseball attendance. the last-place Marlins are drawing 17,976 this year -- second worst in the league, according to ESPN. Worst is Tampa, at 17,916 -- and Tampa is batting for first place in the super-tough American League East.
    But I'll bet that Tampa fans are probably paying full price for tickets or close to it. I wonder: Did Orlando and I count for official paid attendance of 25,916 on Thursday? Certainly those thousands of camp kids did, probably getting in at a tiny fraction of full ticket price.