Major League Baseball is selling playoff tickets already. What a great scam!

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Major League Baseball is letting you pay them $10-20 — right now — for the right to buy playoff tickets for your team at face value. Beat the scalpers! Beat StubHub! What a deal!

And I guess if you’re a Yankees fan or something it may be a good deal. For one thing the Yankees are likely to make the playoffs. For another thing it’s not likely that a ton of tickets will be available at face value.  A $10-20 markup (depending on which series it is) is less than you’ll get gouged on the secondary market if you’re so inclined.  Unless you’re the sort who camps out on line for tickets, this probably makes sense.

But the Yankees are kind of the exception, are they not?  Some playoff teams will go down to the wire simply to sell out a division series game. Happens every year. Even those who do sell out don’t do so immediately. If you wait a bit for, say, the Rangers to clinch and then act relatively quickly after they do, you’ll almost certainly be able to get face value seats without having to pay Bud Selig his vigorish.

But maybe the best part of this is the fact that MLB is opening up this fantastic opportunity for every single team. Really: check out the order page.  You can, with a couple of clicks, pay Major League Baseball as much as $90* for tickets to see the Pirates in the Division Series, NLCS and World Series! Or the Orioles! Or the Astros!

I’m going to put a little reminder on my calendar, but to make sure I don’t forget, someone remind in September to ask Major League Baseball how much money they made on these playoff ticket licenses for crappy teams.  I bet the number won’t be staggering, but I bet it won’t be zero either.

*The breakdown: $10 for each ticket for the Division Series, $15 for the League Championship Series and
$20 for the World Series with a maximum purchase of two tickets per series per household. So it would cost $90 now
if you wanted to reserve two tickets for one game of all three possible
postseason rounds.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.