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.

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?

In a time of worry and woe, at least we still have The Mets.

It is reassuring to know that no matter what happens in the world, The New York Mets are working hard to cheer me up. For the second straight year they have committed one of the most impressive chokes EVER. This year they managed not only to lose the division but also blow the wildcard race — ALL IN ONE WEEKEND!

Please forgive my evil chortle over this but you have to understand that The Mets were on the winning end of two of the biggest heartbreaks of my sporting life: The collapse of the ’69 Cubs and the ’86 Red Sox.

Why is this man smiling?

Why is this man smiling?

Although I am the son of two Mets fans (former Dodger/Giants fans who refuse to let their allegiance head west when their teams did) this is in no way a knock at either parent. (Although in the winter of ’86 my mother did make a point of wearing her Mets jacket way more than might have been supported by the weather. My father at least had the grace to say, “If the Mets are so good how come God had to give them the Series?”) Nope I just hate the Mets. It would seem to me that the time is perfect for someone to write a sequel to Jimmy Breslin’s wonderful book on the ’62 Mets, Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game? That team at least had the charm of being really really bad. (And wouldn’t that be the perfect title for a book about the Fed?)

On an intellectual if not aesthetic level I am sorry to see the end of Shea Stadium. As Breslin put it:

And now it hits you. Now you realize, for the first time, what this is all about. All of it, all of the workers risking their lives, and all of the huge payrolls and all of the political wrangling. There is a reason for it all:

They are building a brand new stadium for Marvin Thronberry.

Thank you to the Mets for giving me cheer on a gray day when the news continues to be supremely unnerving.

As to the playoffs, here is my prediction: Angels vs. Cubs in the series. What happens then is anyone’s guess.

Caskets for someone who is a Trekkie to the death

“To boldly be buried as no one has been buried before…”

Eternal Image is a company that seems devoted to helping people get rid of excess cash when they die. When I last checked in, the maker of “brand-name funerary objects” had lines of urns and caskets with Major League Baseball logos and symbols from the Vatican Library. But, as the saying goes, that’s not all …

trek1For the millions of fans on our planet and beyond, our new line of Star Trek urns, caskets, monuments and vaults will be an important discovery indeed. After ten movies and five television series, phrases like “Live long and prosper,” “Resistance is futile” and “Space: the final frontier” have become part of our global vocabulary.

trekcasketThe urn, right, “will feature a bold design reminiscent of the 24th century styling of the United Federation of Planets and Starfleet.” The casket “as been inspired by the popular ‘Photon Torpedo’ design seen in STAR TREK II: The Wrath of Kahn.” (BTW, as someone who has wept through that particular movie more times than he would care to admit, I can tell you that it’s spelled Khan.)

If tacky Trekkie isn’t your way to go, then check out the equal-but-differently tacky line of Precious Moments™ funerary objects. Death, be not un-cute…

Best line from Eternal Image’s mission statement: “We combine the power of brand-names with 21st century materials and composites that won’t rot.” How much more can you ask from a company?

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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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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.

Dr. Freud, call for you on line 1.

"It takes a big man to swing a pink bat in a major league game." — Howard Smith, senior vice president for licensing for Major League Baseball.

Major League Baseball granted special permission for players to use baby pink bats on Mother's Day as part of a weeklong program to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Next best quote: "The thought of these big macho men, swinging pink bats to help women with breast cancer … what a novel idea," said Louisville Slugger president John Hillerich.

Dr. FREUD, STAT!

(To see a totally safe for work picture of said bats, go here.)