A nice move by the MLB Network

Leave a comment

The MLB Network is going to name three production studios after Ernie Harwell, Mel Allen and Vin Scully.  A classy move by the network that, one hopes anyway, will provide some inspiration for all who work there.  Maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part, but I’d like to think broadcasters who see these luminaries’ names on the door each day will try harder and work smarter than they otherwise would.

And even if the inspiration doesn’t work, maybe having their names on the studios will inspire some cosmic justice.  Sadly, someday Harwell and Scully will join Mel Allen in broadcater Valhalla, and who’s to say their ghosts won’t drop a stage light on someone who goes on and on about how someone needs to give “110%?”

Not that they need to stop with Harwell, Allen and Scully.  There has to be a lounge there, so how about naming it after Harry and Skip Caray?  How about naming that visitor’s office way down at the end of the hall for Bob Uecker?  The possibilities are endless. 

And it doesn’t just have to be great announcers like those guys.  After all, it’s a big building, and I’m sure someone can find some rooms to name after Joe Morgan, John Sterling, Rick Sutcliffe and Steve Phillips . . .

The Yankees attendance and revenue is down, but it makes sense

Getty Images
Leave a comment

There’s a long article in the New York Times today noting that the Yankees attendance is down and that, based on financial figures released as part of their stadium bond disclosures, ticket and suite revenues through last season have fallen by $166 million since the end of 2009.

There is a lot of talk in the article about the exciting young team the Yankees have put together and how much they’ve won so far in the early going. And there is a lot of talk about marketing and demographics — Hal Steinbrenner talks about baseball’s “millennial problem” — but the story of the Yankees’ box office issues, such as they are, is pretty straightforward.

All teams suffer attendance and revenue decline when they play poorly. While the Yankees have not been bad for a long, long time, that’s a somewhat relative thing. They Yankees have sold themselves and sold their fans on the idea that nothing short of a championship is acceptable, so missing the playoffs for three of the past four years is bad for them. Fans don’t want to go see a bad team, be it Yankees fans, Rays fans, Royals fans or whoever.

Despite the recent lack of success, the Yankees have still, perversely, continued to price their tickets, concessions, parking and everything else as though they’re the only game in town. When demand falls and prices remain super high, fewer people are buying your product. Even if you’re the New York Yankees.

The Yankees are good this year. What’s more, they’re good in that exciting way that only young promising players bursting out onto the scene can deliver. It’s a wonderful thing for marketing and stuff, but even under the best of circumstances, ticket sales tend to lag on field success, often by as much as a year. Go back and look at World Series winning teams — especially the surprise winners — and you’ll see that it’s the year after on-field success when the real attendance bumps happen. I expect, if the Yankees continue to play well, their gate will get really nice by the end of the summer, but I suspect we’ll also see a more dramatic bump next year.

Taken all together, this is a dog-bites-man story. The Yankees are not some transcendent institution, immune from market forces. They’re just one of 30 Major League Baseball teams competing against other entertainments for a finite amount of the public’s money and attention. Nothin’ to see here.

David Price had a rocky rehab start last night

Getty Images
3 Comments

Red Sox starter David Price has been rehabbing a left elbow injury since early March. Last night he made his latest rehab outing for Triple-A Pawtucket. It didn’t go well.

Price allowed six runs — three earned — on seven hits in three and two-thirds innings, requiring 89 pitches to do it. His velocity was good, but otherwise it was a night to forget. This was supposed to be Price’s last rehab start before returning to the Sox’ big league rotation, but one wonders if he’s ready for it.

Price didn’t talk to the media after the game, but Pawtucket’s manager said he was “upbeat” and “felt good.” For his part, John Farrell, upon hearing about the outing, said this:

“There’s no announcement at this point. We’ve got to sit with him and talk about what’s best for him, best for us as we move forward.”

The Sox could really use Price back in the rotation given their injury problems, but rushing him back if he’s not ready is certainly not ideal.

Stay tuned.