Why I don’t go to major league baseball games

American-League-2010-First-Half-Average-Ticket-Prices1-600x298My wife will tell you that it’s not so much that I love baseball as much as it is part of my DNA. The soundtrack in my car from late March to late October because is whatever baseball game I can find on the radio. On May 20th, 21st and 22nd The Chicago Cubs – a team I have loved since growing up in Chicago – will play The Boston Red Sox – a team I have loved since I was 9 when we moved to Providence, RI, and I decided that it wasn’t cheating on your 1st team if the 2nd team was in a different league – will be playing each other at Fenway Park.

Here’s how much I am devoted to the two:

  • I am still upset that Ernie Banks never got to play in the World Series.
  • When someone asks how long I’ve lived in Boston I reply, “Since the spring after the ‘86 [World] Series.”

Until 2004, I reveled in loving the two most ill-fated teams in baseball. While that had its charms, I am quite content that only one of my beloveds is a constant reminder of the fickleness of probability.

Because of all this and knowing full-well that tickets were absurdly expensive, I went to see if maybe I could afford one in some far-distant bleacher seat with nearly totally obscured view of the field. The least expensive price for just such a seat: $99.

Out of curiosity, I went to see the cost least expensive ticket I could find for any game Red Sox at Fenway. So I looked at the cost for tickets to a Wednesday day game vs. The San Diego Padres, a team that will be lucky if it finishes above Baja this year. $46 for a seat in that weird little triangle in the center field bleachers.

Meanwhile, 45 minutes away in Pawtucket, RI, the best seats in the house for the Sox AAA farm team go for $11. For the AA team in Portland, ME: $9. For the single A Lowell Spinners $10. For the independent league Brockton Rox: $15 and that includes waiter service. If you want basically the same seats and are willing to get your own damn snacks: $9.50.

brockton-rox-main-logo1I’ll see you in Brockton. Bill Buckner, whom I have truly always admired, is managing and I’m pretty sure he’ll give me an autograph for no extra charge.

It’s that time of year

2008: On The Occasion Of The Impending Centennial Of The Cubs’ Futility

Tinkers to Evers to what’s the chance
a hundred seasons could come and go
so fast you wouldn’t celebrate even one

Next year isn’t a mantra
it’s an elegy for wasted time,
wasted efforts, wasted hopes
and, for all those losses,
nothing is really lost
no one died from
heartbreak, no child went
hungry because Ernie Banks
never got his pennant

Instead we grew up
with hopes stunted
or getting ever larger
believing tomorrow will always
hold what today never can

Still going down to that damn
old park because we take defeat
as our due and know the team’s
reach never exceeds our grasp

Their wish – like our dreams – is
not of brazen prizes and spoiling
success but noon on a July day
when the breeze off the lake
might be just a little bit cooler

Three Fingers Brown, someone
asked you once if you could
have pitched better with all five fingers
I’ll never know, you said
So, what’s it like
to win it all?

(Originally published in Elysian Fields Quarterly in 2006)

3Fingers

Godzilla is official spokesmonster for Cup Noodles in Brazil

If you need to wordlessly convey the idea of Japanese fast food to the Portuguese speaking people of Brazil who better to work with than Sensei Gojira himself? He even brought along some of his other rubber-suited movies stars (although I was sorry to see neither Mothra nor The Smog Monster included in the series). Message here: Monsters prefer to nom on people who eat Cup Noodles – which spells doom for graduate students everywhere.cup_noodles_monster_2 [Via: I Believe in Advertising]

Meanwhile in other movie-monster related advertising: A new campaign by The Chiba Lotte Marines seems to be positioning the team as the imperiled maidens of those movies. Given that the Marines are currently four games below .500 and seven games out of first place this is taking truth-in-advertising very seriously.

 chiba_lotte_6

(Via PinkTentacle)

Japanese baseball fans blame Col. Sanders for losing streak

1n 1985, fans of the Hanshin Tigers baseball team tossed a statue of the Colonel into the Dotonbori River in Osaka when the team won their first Central League pennant in 21 years. (Fans saw a resemblance between the Colonel and the team’s bearded American slugger, Randy Bass.)

The team went on to win the national championship, the Japan Series, that year but has never done so again, prompting some to suggest that the Colonel’s disappearance put a curse on them.

The truth about this curse will be resolved this season as a diver checking for unexploded bombs from WWII found the Colonel’s top half on Tuesday, minus his hands and glasses but still sporting his trademark string tie and grin. The bottom half was recovered today.

"It’s only a statue, but I felt as if I was rescuing someone," a worker told reporters after the lower half was found.

randy bass col_sanders

Silly Japanese baseball fans! Statues don’t cause curses. Goats do!

BadCentury01

GO PHILLIES, or why I hate (most) Rays fans

I actually dislike Rays fans more than any other team’s supporters. Not the team (I really do think the better team won). Not even the fans who were there last year or the ones who were there in August when the Rays were still only getting 15K in the stands. Them I respect. But most of those people last night hadn’t lived and died with their team. Yankees fans, Mets fans (OY!) them I have no problem with. Hate the Red Sox all you want. As long as you have suffered along for your team, I understand. But I hate these we’re-winning-so-now-I’m-a-fan types. I believe — based on nothing — that they’re the ones who start riots after winning a championship.

Figured the Rays were going to win it. Glad the sox got it to 7 games. Now I can root for the Phillies. So what are ratings going to be like for this Series? Has Fox started figuring out how much it is going to have to give back to advertisers? Will Obama’s commercial before the (theoretical) game 6 outdraw the series?

Headline of the Day: “Japan’s baseball stadiums urged to drop octopus”

Won’t the octopi get hurt?

TOKYO (AFP) – Animal rights activists on Tuesday urged Japanese baseball stadiums to give up their usual fare of hot dogs and fried octopus balls and go vegetarian to fight global warming. Japan’s baseball commissioners announced as the season opened last week that the national pastime would take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in particular by speeding up games. But People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said it would be more effective for concession stands to serve exclusively vegetarian fare.

When will PETA start speaking up on behalf of the endangered Tofu?

I would like to commend the Japanese baseball league for making game lengths an environmental issue. I hope MLB follows suit. Anything to speed the games up.

9:29 AM — Manny puts Sox ahead 6-4 in the 10th. They should play more games with a 13 hour time difference. I like watching baseball over breakfast.

CWAnd speaking of Japan & cephalapods: Got to watch the Japanese movie Calamari Wrestler last weekend. BRILLIANT! Plot: A dying pro-wrestler is cured by monks. Only drawback: cure turns him into a squid. He resumes his life as a pro-wrestler. Also resumes his relationship with his girlfriend. There are so many hysterical scenes it is hard to pick a favorite but I especially loved the one where the happy couple are skipping down the street hand-in-tentacle. It has special effects on a par with early Dr. Who and a truly wonderful campy humor. The Times quote on the box sums it up perfectly: “A cross between The Muppets and Godzilla.” Which is also a great idea for the next Muppets movie.

The funniest real professional baseball team names EVER.

These names are all from the book Professional Baseball Franchises by Peter Filichia, which lists all the baseball franchises that ever existed in the US, Canada & Mexico through 1993 (someone really needs to update it). To be included on this list the team name had to be unique, truly & honestly linked to the locality and/or just so weird and funny that I laughed out loud when I read it. A special salute to Terre Haute & Omaha — two towns that clearly have a sense of humor. Huzzah!

Minot ND Why-Nots
Walla Walla Walla Wallans
Holland MI Wooden Shoes
McAlester OK Sighs
(What the hell was their mascot?)
Omaha: Omahogs & Omahosses
Cooleemee NC Cools
Kalamazoo Kazoos
Terre Haute: Tots, Terre-irs, Huts
Amarillo Dillas
Arkansas Travelers
Cap de la Madeleine Madcaps
Oakland Commuters
Freeport NC Comeons

Click here to see my earlier post for a longer list of awesome and real baseball team names.

Never mind the Yankees and the Red Sox, these are THE BEST BASEBALL RIVALRIES THAT EVER SHOULD HAVE BEEN AND ALMOST ALL NEVER WERE:

Temple TX Surgeons
Kirksville MO Osteopaths

Lebanon PA Pretzel Eaters
Freeport IL & Reading PA Pretzels

Ducks x3
Green Bay Duck Wallopers

Providence Clamdiggers
Norfolk VA Clams
Pawtucket Clam Eaters

Mason City IA Claydiggers
St. John (Canada) Clay Eaters

(Eating weird things seems to be something of a theme, there’s also the Fort Dodge IA Gypsumeaters and the Sterling IL Rag Chewers)

Cleveland Molly Maguires
Coal Barons x4

Hermosillo MX Orange Pickers
Beeville TX Orange Growers

Crisfield MO Crabbers
Gulfport Crabs

Battle Creek Custers
Fort Wayne Kekiongas
(Kekionga was the capital of the Miami indian tribe that nearly destroyed the nascent US Army in 1791. But you knew that already, right?)

Kalamazoo Celery Champs, Celery Eaters & Celery Pickers
Sanford FL Celeryfeds

El Centro CA Imps
Youngstown OH Gremlins

Omaha Kidnappers
Mansfield OH Kids

Matoon IL Broom Corn Raisers
Charleston IL Broom Corn Cutters

Albuquerque Isotopes
Tri-City (Kennewick, Richland & Pasco WA) Atoms

The ultimate guide to great & real baseball team names

WhoopeeLast week’s action by the Macon Music to hold an Eliot Spitzer Night inspired me to get out one of my all time favorite books (and this will tell you how odd I truly am): Professional Baseball Franchises by Peter Filichia. It is a list of all the baseball franchises that ever existed in the US, Canada & Mexico through 1993 (someone really needs to update it). It lists them by city and — most importantly — by nickname. So I went through the whole damn thing — as well as the most up-to-date lists of currently active teams and found the following team names. All existed, some still do. Sadly the Macon Whoopee does not. They were a minor league HOCKEY team. I have taken the liberty of grouping them into leagues that I thought should exist. Those interested might also want to take a look at this List of Funniest Real Baseball Team Names.

First let me mention that when it comes to baseball –everyone has the Blues. Thirty-two towns and cities have had teams with that name.

THE SELF-ESTEEM LEAGUE

Bridgeport CT Misfits
Lincoln NE Missing Links
LaCross Outcasts
Orphans (17 teams)
Davenport Prodigals
Fall River Adopted Sons
Bluffton IN Dregs
Fremont NE Freaks
Centralia IL Zeros
Bonham TX Boogers

THE MORBIDITY & MORTALITY LEAGUE

Zanesville Flood Sufferers
Memphis FeverGerms
Americus GA Pallbearers
Paris TX Parisites (Extra points for an outstanding pun).
Des Moines IA Undertakers
Rockford IL Wakes
Regina Sask Bonepilers
Hannibal MO & Longview TX Cannibals
Waterloo IA Microbes
Clarksburg WV & Casper WY Ghosts
Springfield OH Reapers

THE BETTER THAN YOU LEAGUE

Anniston AL & Texarkana TX Nobles
Calumet Aristocrats
Paris KY Bourbons
Superior WI Boys
Dunkirk NY Dandies
Quincy IL Debutantes
Ellsworth KS Worthies
Bonham TX Favorites
Hoquiam Perfect Gentlemen
Rochester NY Beay Brummels
Brenham TX Kaisers
(Also Barons x5, Millionaires x8, Moguls x2)

And … because someone has to do the work:

Newark Domestics
Troy NY Washerwomen

THE EDUCATED LEAGUE

Waterbury CT Authors
Stratford ONT Poets
Augusta GA Tygers (Official Team of William Blake)
New Haven Profs
Worcester Riddles
New Haven CT & Sherman TX Students
Durant OK & Fayetville IN Educators
Georgetown TX Pedagogues
Collegians x7

THE MIS-SPELLED LEAGUE

Orem UT Owlz
Knoxville TX Knox Sox (Official team of Dr. Seuss)
Hamilton ONT Kolts
Saginaw MI Krazy Kats (Official team of George Herriman)
Baker Canada Kubs
Keokuk Kernals
Lebanon PA Chix
Granby & Hazlehurst-Baxley Red Socks (someone has to now how to spell)

LEAGUE OF TEAMS YOU DON’T WANT TO UPSET

Shenandoah PA Hungarian Rioters
Salina KS Insurgents
Rockford Indignants
Newburgh NY Cobblestone Throwers
Lynn MA Fighters

More after the jump

Continue reading

Baseball team announces “Eliot Spitzer Night” promotion

MaconMusicThankfully the spirit of Bill Veeck still lives among us. The wonderfully name Macon Music has announced that June 13th will be Eliot Spitzer Night at Luther Williams Field. Much merriment is planned during the game against the Aiken Foxhounds — they really should be the Aiken Backs.

  • The team is giving away a trip to New York and a one-night stay at the Mayflower Hotel.
  • Fan No. 9 into the ballpark will receive a Music prize pack.
  • Anyone with the name Eliot, Spitzer or Kristen, any fan from New York, and/or anyone who has ever resigned a position will receive $1 off admission. No word if these discounts will be cumulative.
  • Wire taps will be placed around the stadium.
  • ATMs in the ballpark will be available for cash withdrawals not to exceed $5,000 per hour.

Adding to the amusement is the fact that minor league ballplayers don’t even make $5K a month, never mind per hour.

FYI: Veeck’s book Veeck As In Wreck and Robert Townsend’s Up The Organization are the best business/marketing books ever written.

Frontier Airlines makes the best of a bad (World Series) situation

The Denver-based carrier is running ads in the local papers with the slogan: “Now you know why we don’t fly to Boston.”

frontier2“It was a way for us to throw our support behind the Rockies and in a tongue-and-check way say we’ve got their back,” said Joe Hodas, a spokesman for Frontier, which sponsors the team and showed World Series games on seatback televisions during flights. When pressed, Hodas admitted that the airline stopped flying to Logan International Airport in 2002 because of gate constraints, scheduling issues, and high fuel prices, not the Red Sox. 

The Red Sox or, when your brand changes underneath you

“You can’t be lovable if you’re not losers!” — Jon Stewart on the Red Sox, 10/29/07

That is exactly what is going on with Red Sox Nation. The brand identity until three years ago was The Cursed Ones. For a while after that we were The Redeemed Ones (until The White Sox took that mantle). Now, we are The Successful Ones. The first two had significant qualities that really differentiated the brand from everyone else. They also inspired huge amounts of loyalty among consumers.

As the (hated) Yankees can attest success also inspires huge amounts of loyalty, but it’s taking some getting used to here in the Nation. It’s not a bad thing to get used to — but it is different.

sox ballBefore this year, wearing the Red Sox logo generally got you a certain amount of sympathy and even respect in ballparks outside of New York. Other fans recognized you as someone devoted to the sport. Someone who stuck to your team no matter what and — let’s be honest — someone who rooted for a team that always made the other teams look better. It’s easy to sympathize with fans of a team like that — they’re not a threat. This explains why people outside of St. Louis are so fond of Cubs fans. (Outside of the Midwest, most people don’t realize the antipathy between the Cards and the Cubs. A friend once said that a game between those two teams would sell out even if it was held on Christmas Day during a blizzard. That sums it up.)

Now Sox fans — and their seem to be a lot of them everywhere — are going to have to get used to being reviled. So far the team hasn’t employed any True Villains in the sports marketing sense. Sure Schilling is a blowhard, but he blows just as hard against his own team as he does the opposition.

Stephen (Smarter Than Me) Baker, puts it well:

Hey Red Sox fans. Many of us used to love your team. And now that they’re fabulous, they’re a lot less fun. You may find that it’s lonely at the top. I never thought I’d say this, but I may end up pulling next year for those underdog Yankees.

The real problem will be not the team, but the fans. All this winning is stripping Sox fans of the shreds of humility that used to makes us so much easier to tolerate. We are in danger of collectively turning into what New Hampshire residents like to call Massholes.

Oh, how quickly we forget our four score decades of wandering in the wilderness. Well, if that’s the price of success all I can say is WAIT TILL THIS YEAR!

(BTW: Someone pointed out that the Red Sox didn’t become known as the Red Sox until 1908. Last time the Cubs won a World Series? 1908. Coincidence? I think not. So therefor the Cubs won’t win a Series again until the Sox change their name back to the Americans. While the logic is spurious, consider that I have 99 years of evidence to support it.)

add to del.icio.usDigg itStumble It!Add to Blinkslistadd to furladd to ma.gnoliaadd to simpyseed the vineTailRank

Rockies in 6, said the Red Sox fan

soxIf I hadn’t been a Sox fan for the last 36 years I, too, would be rooting for the Rockies. They’re the scrappy, talented underdogs. As my buddy and Spokesmate Tim Susman put it: They’re what the Sox were before the Sox became the Yankees.

Also, the Rockies have frickin’ amazing hitting and far fewer holes when batting than My Team. We’ve got more experienced pitching and some of it is better. Additionally, the Rockies have fate and the fact that they’re too young too know any better on their side.

Go Sox, but I’m expecting the Rockies.

PS: never, ever use fate or destiny as a deciding factor when picking a winner. As a Sox fan I speak with experience on this.

add to del.icio.usDigg itStumble It!Add to Blinkslistadd to furladd to ma.gnoliaadd to simpyseed the vineTailRank

Patriots & Red Sox are ruining my kid

This is so sad. He’s 11 and he thinks this is how it goes — your teams win. All the time. He doesn’t know what’s out there waiting… the heartbreak. C’mon guys, for the sake of my son’s future you’ve got to start losing. Won’t someone think of the children?

add to del.icio.usDigg itStumble It!Add to Blinkslistadd to furladd to ma.gnoliaadd to simpyseed the vineTailRank

Cubs & Red Sox in the playoffs: 2 of 5 seals of the apocalypse approve!

Frankly, I have a better chance of winning the World Series than the Cubs.

seals

The other seals are all waiting for herring.

Or maybe they are two of the four ponies of the apocalypse?

ponies

Never has famine looked so cute.

OK, if they did somehow both make it to the series? Highest. Rated. World. Series. EVER!

add to del.icio.usDigg itStumble It!Add to Blinkslistadd to furladd to ma.gnoliaadd to simpyseed the vineTailRank