Since when were “counterfeit tickets” a problem at Yankee Stadium?

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The Yankees have had a long battle with StubHub, the team’s former secondary market reseller. They were mad that StubHub was selling tickets below the cost of the Yankees’ box office, thereby — in the Yankees’ view — undermining box office ticket sales as people waited for cheaper seats to come onto the secondary market.

Shorter version: the Yankees didn’t like that StubHub was doing what it had contracted with the team to do.

Now, I can’t recall any time when the Yankees, faced with this clear market issue brought on by its own ticket prices, actually considered dropping its own prices to lure customers, but that’s neither here nor there. We can’t expect for-profit businesses to understand and adhere to the rules of supply and demand. In such things lie madness!

Anyway, over the winter the Yankees cut ties with StubHub and started a new resale partnership with Ticketmaster, called the Yankees Ticket Exchange. It has price floors and things that the Yankees feel will help them out financially. Good for them.

Except yesterday, in officially announcing the Exchange, Hal Steinbrenner said this:

Hal Steinbrenner, the team’s managing general partner, said the new marketplace would use exclusive bar-code technology to guarantee that tickets were authentic. Steinbrenner also said the new exchange would dovetail with the online accounts that season-ticket holders use.

“It is unfortunate that unscrupulous resellers utilize deceptive practices and tactics and employ unofficial Web sites, all of which give rise to counterfeit tickets,” Steinbrenner said in a statement.

I spent a decent time on the Google machine this morning and I can’t find any reports of “counterfeit tickets” being an issue at Yankee Stadium. I can find lots of team complaints about StubHub. I can find lots of fan complaints about the Yankees’ ticket prices being too damn high. But while I’m sure someone, somewhere, has been taken in by a scammer printing up fake tickets, I can’t find one example of a significant counterfeit Yankees ticket operation. Certainly not one attributable to loose security protocols connected with the Yankees’ deal with StubHub.

All of which makes this sound a lot like politicians who go on about “voter fraud.” It sounds scary and if it’s really happening in any significant way it truly is a bad thing. But in reality it’s not anything approaching a significant problem and the fearmongering about it is a cover for efforts to change election rules in a way that they believe will benefit them.

Same with the Yankees. They’re clearly doing something that is designed to make them more money and which will serve to anger fans who used to like to go to StubHub for el cheapo tickets. Rather than just leave it at that, however, Hal throws up the counterfeit ticket bogeyman to make it seem like what the Yankees are doing is more noble and fan-friendly than it really is.

You’re trying to make more money, Hal. It’s OK that you are. It’s your business. But just admit it, OK? Don’t treat your fans like idiots.

UPDATE: Donald Trump declines Nats offer to throw out the first pitch

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UPDATE: Welp, we wont’ get to see that:

Sad!

8:53 AM: It’s just gossip now, but Politico is hearing that Donald Trump is in talks to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The Nats are not commenting. Neither are the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, who no doubt feel slighted given that the president effectively is a local.

With the caveat that, on Opening Day, tickets are likely to be more expensive and thus you’re likely to have a lot more rich people and friends-of-the-owners in attendance, thereby ensuring a more conservative crowd, I’m struggling to imagine a situation in which Trump strolls on to a baseball field in a large American city and isn’t booed like crazy. He’s polling as low as 36% in some places. He’s not exactly Mr. Popular.

Oh well. I look forward to him three-bouncing one to Matt Wieters and then grabbing his phone and tweeting about how it was the best, most tremendous first pitch in baseball history. Or blaming Hillary Clinton for it in the event he admits that it was a bad pitch.

2017 Preview: Texas Rangers

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Texas Rangers.

The Rangers somehow won the AL West last year despite not being super great at any one aspect of the game. There are stars here — Adrian Beltre, Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and Rougned Odor are all spiffy players — but the Rangers won the division by being greater than the sum of their parts. They scored a decent number of runs despite some bad collective peripheral numbers and they allowed more runs than anyone in the AL except the Twins and Athletics. Yet they had a great record in one-run games and outperformed their pythagorean record by a WHOLE lot. Luck shined brightly on the 2016 Rangers.

It’s hard to expect luck to hold in any instance, but that’s especially the case when there have been some pretty significant changes. Changes like the loss of Carlos Beltran, Ian Desmond and Mitch Moreland. In their place: A full season, the Rangers hope, from Shin-Soo Choo, a converted-to-outfield Jurickson Profar and Mike Napoli. That may wash out OK, especially if Choo is healthy, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see some regression in two of those offensive slots.

Starting pitching is also a big question mark. Cole Hamels at the top is not a problem, obviously, and if Yu Darvish is healthy and durable the Rangers have an outstanding 1-2 punch. Martin Perez in the third spot presents promise, but he’s been exactly average so far in five major league seasons. The back end of the rotation has some real problems. Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross are hurt at the moment and even if healthy, Cashner seems to be a shell of his once-promising self. A.J. Griffin is looking to pitch in his first full season since 2013. If the Rangers are strong contenders all year it’s gonna be on the “Spahn and Sain and two days of rain” model, but I have no idea what rhymes with “Darvish” and that’s sort of a problem.

The bullpen is going to look a lot like it did last year. Sam Dyson will close, but manager Jeff Banister has shown in the past that he’s not a slave to keeping guys in any one role down there. Jeremy Jeffress will likely set up but he’s closed before. Some think Matt Bush or Keone Kela could close. We’ll see Tanner Scheppers and lefty Alex Claudio. Banister has a Manager of the Year Award on his mantle and while that often doesn’t mean anything, it usually suggests that a guy knows how to deal with his pen. Banister will do OK with what he has.

Really, though, the rotation is a concern, as is hoping that a 35-year-old Mike Napoli and a soon-to-be 38-year-old Adrian Beltre can continue to be the types of players who can form the offensive core of a playoff team. There’s talent and a track record here, but there’s a lot of uncertainty. For that reason, I suspect the Rangers will fall back a smidge this year, even if they’re a playoff contender.

Prediction: Second Place, American League West.