We don’t get ticket stubs anymore

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At least not usually. These days you’re way more likely to buy your tickets online and get a paper printout instead of a traditional ticket. Paul Lukas, writing at The New Republic, is not a fan of this development. Partially because actual tickets look cool and, in their own way, are almost like little pieces of art. But also because of what they represent:

So the real cost of digital ticketing isn’t just the loss of nicely designed physical items. It’s also the loss of documentation, the loss of personal totems that serve as touchstones to past experiences. Of course, digital tickets are documented too, since every ticket purchase and turnstile scan ends up on a hard drive or server as more data to be mined. But that’s not the same as having an envelope full of stubs that you can pull out of the drawer whenever you like.

I understand that. As a fellow oldster I kinda miss tickets. Missed even more in this vein: LP album art. Yes, I know vinyl is making a comeback but not in anything approaching volume, and not for acts which might make bad album art, which was almost as fun as good album art.

But unlike Lukas, my missing tickets and things is merely a fleeting aesthetic bummer. I don’t feel like we’re short any means of documenting our experiences these days. Quite to the contrary. Paul has a blog. I do too and anyone can have one if they want one. Plus Facebook and Instagram. Plus Baseball-Reference.com has the box score, attendance and game time temperature of every game played in our lifetimes. If anything we have a surplus of memory-jogging remembrances of games we attend. Maybe you can’t put that in a drawer, but unlike Lukas, most people don’t keep good track of their ticket stubs and other totems. And given the vagaries of memory, the new manner of documentation is way more detailed and way more reliable.

I went to a Braves-Phillies game in Veteran’s Stadium around the Fourth of July in 1989. I remember being in the park and I have a snapshot of my brother, my cousin and me out in the right field stands but I can’t really remember what was going on when we took the picture. I long since lost the ticket stub. But I can go to Baseball-Reference.com and, ah … there it is. I found it because I remember it was a Sunday and John Smoltz pitched, but before I clicked that I had no memory of Lonnie Smith being the offensive hero of the game. My untrustworthy memory probably caused me to block out everything good Lonnie Smith did sometime around October 1991 …

Now think about games you’ve gone to in the past couple of years. You may have checked in at the ballpark on Facebook or Foursquare. If you were so inclined you could have all manner of pictures you captioned in real time. If you’re like me you may have tweeted funny things that happened during the game. You may have a scorebook. Even if you did nothing but sit back, drink beer and watch the game, you still have a comprehensive digital record of it by virtue of the work of online folk and MLB and everyone else keeping track of the game. While you don’t have that satisfying ticket stub any longer, if you wanted to document that game in a manner which helps preserve your memory of it you have more tools at your disposal than you ever did.

Which isn’t to say that old school tickets aren’t cool and that I don’t miss them. It’s just that like autographs and any number of other things, they’re not essential to our memories and experiences. And the things we have which serve their purpose today, however easily mocked as frivolous and disposable, are just as effective in that regard. Maybe even more so.

(via Sullivan)

What happens with all the players the Braves lost yesterday?

Braves
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Yesterday’s unprecedented sanctions leveled on the Atlanta Braves hit them pretty hard, but it also turned a dozen players into free agents. What happens to them now? Who can sign them? When? And for how much?

First off, they get to keep their signing bonuses the Braves gave them. It wasn’t their fault the Braves messed up so it would make no sense for them to have to pay the money back. As for their next team: anyone can, theoretically, sign them. As far as team choice, they are free agents in the most narrow sense of the term.

There are limits, however, because as young, international players, their signings are subject to those caps on each team’s international bonus money which were imposed a few years back. Each team now has a “pool” of finite dollars they can spend on such players and, once that money is spent, teams are severely limited as to what they can offer an international free agent. Each summer the bonus pools are reset and it starts anew.

Which, on the surface, would seem to create a problem for the 12 new free agents, seeing as though a lot of teams have already spent much if not all of their July 2017-18 bonus pools. The good news on that, though, is that Major League Baseball has made a couple of exceptions for these guys:

  • First, the first $200,000 of any of the 12 former Braves players will not be subject to signing pools, so that’s a bit of a break; and
  • Second, even though these players will all likely be signed during the 2017-18 bonus pool period, teams have the option of counting the bonus toward the 2018-19 period. They can’t combine the money from the two periods, but they can, essentially, put off the cost into next year for accounting purposes.

Which certainly opens things up for clubs and gives the players more options as far as places to land go. A club can decide whether or not the guys on the market now look better than the guys they’ve been scouting with an eye toward signing after July 2018 and get a jump on things. Likewise, teams don’t have to decide whether or not to take a run at, say, Shohei Ohtani, burning bonus money now, or instead going after a former Braves player. Ohtani’s money will apply now, the Braves player can be accounted for next year.

The new free agents are eligible to sign during a window that begins on December 5 and ends on Jan. 15. If a player hasn’t signed by then, he can still sign with any club but cannot get a bonus. If a player hasn’t signed anywhere by May 1, 2018, he has the option of re-signing with the Braves, though they can’t pay the guy a bonus either.

Ben Badler of Baseball America has a rundown of the top guys who are now free agents thanks to the Braves’ malfeasance. Kevin Maitan is the big name. The 17-year-old shortstop was considered the top overall international free agent last year, though his first year in the Braves minor league system was less-than-impressive. There are a lot of other promising players too. All of whom now can find new employers.