People want their “fear the beard” posters at AT&T Park

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CNBC’s Darren Rovell has a great story about newspaper vendors for the San Jose Mercury News selling cheer cards with stuff like “fear the beard” printed on them outside of AT&T Park. Which, unfortunately for the Mercury News, wasn’t the plan. The plan was for the cheer cards to be stuffed inside of newspapers, and have fans buy the papers.  There’s some good detail in Rovell’s story about how the vendors were hustling, but this is the most interesting paragraph in the thing:

But it also has to be an indictment on the state of the newspaper business. Papers aren’t worth what they once were, so smart papers do things like The Mercury News did — do something creative that will get some attention. But even that couldn’t sell papers.

The newspapers are trying to sell customers a bundle of goods. The people only want one, narrow thing (in this case a “fear the beard” card).  The market, such as it is, figured out what the people wanted and rewarded those who were specializing.  It’s as if there’s a lesson to be learned here.

Well, a lesson that would apply more broadly without what was almost certainly fraud by the vendors, but there you are.

Clayton Kershaw struggles with control, walks six Marlins

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.

Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.

The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.