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.

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

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.)

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Stephen Baker is smart and I am dumb

Friday I haughtily derided Mr. Baker (a reporter for BusinessWeek) for wondering IF Royce Clayton had been paid for discussing the Taco Bell promotion in the World Series:

Yeah, if that was a coincidence then pass the tiara because I’m Princess Marie of Roumania.

Well, I wear a size 7 and 7/8 tiara. Quoth the Globe:

It’s Clayton who seems the big loser here – shilling for Taco Bell without getting a dime.

Mr. Baker took a skeptical view of things and was right. I took the cynical view and was wrong. That’s pretty much always the case.

BTW, I’m writing this during the 2nd inning of game 4 and I can say without cynicism or any chance of being wrong that there’s no way my prediction of the Rockies in 6 can come true.

fighting whitiesWhatever the outcome of tonight’s duel it’s been a good day for the area’s sports teams. The New England Cheaters demolished Washington 52-7. I loathe the Washington football team with a passion and love to see them humiliated. This isn’t that enjoyable type of sport hatred like I feel for the Yankees. This is an actual feeling of moral disgust. That there is a team with that nickname never ceases to appall me. I am not sure how any reasonable news outlet justifies printing the team’s name. The only thing that could have made today’s victory better is if the Sox Jacoby Ellsbury, who is of Navajo descent, could have helped. Well at least he got to beat Cleveland and it’s mascot.

Dumb question of the day: Is Taco Bell playing players to shill during the game?

Only possible answer: Yes.

I’m just hoping that BusinessWeek’s Stephen Baker didn’t write the headline for this blog post. He’s smarter than that. (Of course he didn’t predict the Rockies in 6, so look who’s talking.)

tacohell2But what got me was that Royce Clayton, the Red Sox player wearing a Fox mike, “happened” to go up to the guy who stole the base and tell him about the promotion, and what his stolen base meant. This left me wondering if this back-up shortstop is being paid by Fox to promote Taco Bell, and if the Red Sox and Major League Baseball are on board with that.

Yeah, if that was a coincidence then pass the tiara because I’m Princess Marie of Roumania. The only thing more painful than the Clayton-Ellsbury moment was the “interview” with the COO for Taco Bell. Dude, get a spokesman. And some dental work.

Kudos to Baker for including this …

And they must not have liked it when commentator Tim McCarver welcomed us back to the game by saying, “From shilling to Schilling.”

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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.

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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?

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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!

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The TRUE dying Cub fan’s last request

cub urnNothing quite goes together like baseball and fiery incineration, I say. That would explain the licensing agreement just signed between Major League Baseball and Eternal Image Inc., a company which produces caskets and urns. Now that’s co-branding. The scary thing is I know they’ll sell. While I wouldn’t expect there to be a lot of requests for stuff with the Devil Rays’ logo on it (although that may turn out to be a hit with the Satanists), I know more than a few people likely to want those for a lot of other teams. Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals … the list does go on. Cubs fans probably won’t be so interested though, they’ve already spent one eternity waiting to see their team rise again.*

However, there are far worse things than being buried in MLB copyrighted logos and colors. Eternal Image also a licensing agreements with Hallmark’s nauseating Precious Moments line. It would be like being buried in a Kewpie Doll. Still, that might be preferable to wearing Yankee pin stripes until the Second Coming or the heat death of the universe or whatever else you believe in. Eternal Image also has deals with the American Kennel Club and The Vatican Library Collection.

*FWIW, Mrs. Collateral Damage and I would like to invite you to a party we’ve been planning. It’s for sometime in the summer of 2008 and will be marking the centennial of the Cubs last winning the World Series. The exact date has yet to be determined because it will be on whatever day the Cubs are mathematically eliminated from play-off contention. While there are many who rightfully think we could hold the game on opening day, Mrs. CD is a stickler for accuracy and so we will wait until a little later in the season. This of course pre-supposes the Cubs will manage to not win (or even appear in) the Series in the next two years. A risk I’m willing to take.

Isn’t being a Red Sox fan enough of a gamble?

Major League Baseball, which has banned Pete Rose from the hall of fame for gambling, has no problems encouraging it in others. Thus we have the new game from the Massachusetts State Lottery called The Red Sox Instant Ticket. The state is hoping the sight of the Red Sox logo will be enough to forget everything you ever learned about math and drop $5 for the scratch ticket. Y'know, no one has ever lost money betting against the intelligence of your average Sox fan, said this average Sox fan.

Bostonist reports that Bay Staters "spend an average of $681 per person yearly on lottery games, ahead of every other state by some $250." Coincidentally, $681 is also what it costs a family of four to attend a Red Sox game. While there are some money prizes, the grand prize is lifetime season tickets. The losers get DVDs of the Bucky "Bleepin" Dent game.

This is indeed the first time that MLB has let a team logo be used for gambling. I hope they start to co-brand with some of the other vices as well. Here's to Cubs Crack, coming soon to a street corner near you.