Just say no to any neutral site World Series games

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Ken Rosenthal has a good column up today about how baseball’s future is so bright it’s gotta wear shades. Business is booming and looks as though it will continue to boom.  Technology that allows fans to get even more immersed in the game is leading the way to the future, and how the time is now ripe for baseball to build on it.

He only has one misstep — and he admits that it’s a problematic idea — and that’s talking up Scott Boras’ idea of a big World Series Weekend event in which baseball basically stages a party around the kickoff of the World Series in which awards are given out, other fan events are held and — in most constructions of the idea — at least one or two World Series games are played. All at a neutral site.

Which, in my mind, makes the idea a deal breaker.  Neutral site scenarios — most of which are launched when the weather gets nippy in late October — are just awful.  And not just on the grounds of tradition and unfairness to whichever team is losing home games.

As the NFL has taught us, if you have a neutral site event, the certainty of time and place of that event will invite — hell, demand — corporate underwriting. Contest winners, rights partners, advertising partners, and junket junkies will gobble up all the tickets, freezing out season ticket holders for contending teams and/or sending them to stratospheric prices on the secondary market.  The only thing keeping that from happening now — at least en masse — is that no one knows where the games will be until three or four days before they begin. Schedule Game 1 and Game 2 of next year’s World Series for San Diego tomorrow, and you can bet that all of the hotel rooms will be booked by the end of the month.

I don’t care how much money it makes or how much it grows the game (or how much those who stand to make all that money argue that it will grow the game). Baseball should not, under any circumstances, seek to emulate the Super Bowl.  That game has become a giant, overhyped-corpse of an event and I don’t want baseball to have any part in that kind of thing. Under such a scenario, Kirk Gibson hits his homer in the 1988 World Series where? Miami?

I agree that making the awards into an event of some kind would be a good thing. And the All-Star Game could use some help, I think.  But let’s leave the games that count alone.  They’re fine just the way they are.

Dustin Pedroia leaves game with a sprained left wrist

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Bad news for the Red Sox today. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia was involved in a collision at first base with Jose Abreu of the White Sox. Pedroia stayed in the game at the time but was replaced by Josh Rutledge in the second.

The injury: sprained left wrist. Which, no, is not good, but there was some initial concern that he may have aggravated the knee which has been bothering him of late. They’ll no doubt provide an update after the game. As of now, the Sox lead the Sox 1-0 in the bottom of the third.

 

Brad Ausmus is not a fan of the Tigers’ schedule

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Everyone in baseball has a tough schedule. The season is a grind. Some teams, however, due to weather and happenstance, have stretches which are a tougher grind than others. The Tigers are in one of those right now.

Detroit played the Astros on Thursday night, and lost in a three-hour and thirty minute contest. It was a getaway day, er, night, and they didn’t get to Chicago to face the White Sox until the wee wee hours of the morning on Friday. Waiting for them: a double header which was to start at 4pm. The first game of it was rained out, though, so they woke up after a short “night’s sleep for nothing. Then the nightcap was delayed over an hour, giving them another late bedtime. On Saturday it was another double header, so it was another early wakeup and another long day at the park. And, of course, another day game on Sunday, before a flight to Kansas City.

This stretch has made Brad Ausmus grumpy. Here he was after Friday night’s late finish:

“Give some credit to the White Sox pitchers, give some credit to the schedule we have. We’ll try to get about 5 hours of sleep and come back tomorrow and play two more.”

He was particularly miffed at the scheduling of two doubleheaders in a row:

“You can’t control the weather but I think it would have been prudent to play the second game tomorrow in August,” he said. “That would have made a lot more sense to me.”

Ausmus did note, however, that it’s not the White Sox’ job to make a schedule that is convenient for their division rivals.

You can look at this in a few different ways. One one level, Ausmus is understandably upset about a particularly arduous stretch of games. On another level he’s probably trying to protect his players, who have looked flat, by changing the subject from their play to the schedule. On a different level, you could say that he’s making excuses for a team that is underachieving. And, of course, those three things are not mutually exclusive.

The thing is, though, that the Tigers have lost seven of ten, are five out of first place, four games under .500 and could conceivably leave their series with the Royals this week in dead last in the Central. Ultimately, extenuating circumstances like the weather and an unfortunate schedule don’t save a manager whose talented and highly-paid team struggles like the Tigers have. If they don’t turn it around soon, Ausmus could be hitting the bricks and the Tigers could be fixing to sell off and rebuild.