Silly things I’ve heard this morning

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There’s always a bunch of crazy stuff spewed out there when a big deal goes down.  Heck, I spew half of it. Here’s a list of the silly things I’ve heard in the 12 hours since the Cliff Lee deal was announced, both on Twitter and in comments to our various Cliff Lee posts:

“Cliff is just like LeBron James!”

Lots of random Twitter people said this, and Mike and Mike said just as much on their show this morning, talking about him passing up the opportunity to be “the number one guy” elsewhere and to become a cog in Philly.  Which is beyond crazy, of course.  As I mentioned this morning, LeBron’s offense against taste and nature was turning his announcement into a television show, not choosing to go to Miami. More to the point, however, baseball is a fundamentally different sport than basketball. No one can be “The Man” in baseball except Stan Musial, and that’s in nickname only. It’s a team sport. You can be the best ever, and if you don’t have support, you’re going nowhere. Ask Ted Williams. Hell, ask Stan Musial for the entire decade of the 1950s.

“Brian Cashman screwed this up!”

This is one I truly don’t understand. Brian Cashman offered the richest total deal.  If given the chance — which he didn’t seem to have been given — he probably would have and could have matched what the Phillies gave him on a year-to-year basis.  It has become pretty apparent, however, that Lee simply wanted to be in Philadelphia and didn’t want to be in New York. That’s not a crime on Cliff Lee’s part, nor is it malpractice on Brian Cashman’s.  It’s just the way it goes. Even for the Yankees.

The secondary criticism I’ve heard is that “Brian Cashman has no Plan B!”  Which is nuts, because he has had less than a full morning as of this writing to implement a Plan B.  The Yankees may not have gotten their man, but I’m sure they anticipated that to be a possibility and have contingency plans. They may not be as sexy or effective as getting Lee would have been, but if you think that Cashman is sitting in his office panicking right now like commenters on a Yankees message board, you’re crazy.

“Jayson Werth sure must be sorry now!”

If Jayson Werth stayed in Philly, even at a lower-dollar deal than he took from Washington, the Phillies would not be able to have signed Cliff Lee. It might be comforting for smug Phillies fans to look disapprovingly on the man who would dare leave them for more dough, but if he hadn’t, Lee would probably be in pinstripes right now.

“The Phillies are going to win [some number greater than 110] games!”

I think the Phillies will win the division easily.  The rotation, as we’ve noted, will be superb, and possibly historic. I don’t think this team is the 1998 Yankees. They have some big questions on offense now that Werth is gone. Ibanez appears to be a statue. Domonic Brown is untested. Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard may or may not be in decline. If everything breaks right they could be a historic team. But even if everyone plays up to their projections, I can’t see this being some historically good offense.  The best thing I saw was “if the Phillies can trade for Zack Greinke, they might win 140 games!”  That’s less silly for the actual substance of the prediction than it is sad for the manner in which it apes the worst excesses of Yankees and Red Sox fans over the years. C’mon Philly fans! You have your own special brand of crazy that I have come to love! Copying the Yankees covetousness like that is beneath you.

This is huge news. It’s a great signing. I think it locks up the NL East for Philly.  But please, let’s give it 24 hours before we say big bold crazy things about it, OK?

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

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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

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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.