We don’t get ticket stubs anymore


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)

The Yankees were booed last night. Did they deserve it?

Masahiro Tanaka

The boos came raining down from the Yankee Stadium faithful last night. They started when Brett Gardner grounded out in the eighth inning. More came later. A lot of it was, no doubt, based on Gardner’s disappointing performance late in the season. A lot of it was because, around that time, it seemed like the Yankees had zero shot whatsoever to mount a comeback. Which, in fact, they didn’t. A lot of it was pent-up frustration, I assume, from a late season skid which saw the Yankees lose their lead in the AL East and wind up in the Wild Card Game in the first place.

Anyone who buys a ticket has a right to boo. Especially when they buy a ticket as expensive as Yankees tickets are. It’s obviously understandable to be disappointed when your team loses. Especially when your team is eliminated like the Yankees were. And last night’s game was particularly deflating, with that 3-0 Astros lead feeling more like 10-0 given how things were going.

But isn’t booing something more than a mere manifestation of disappointment? Isn’t a step beyond? Booing isn’t saying “I’m sad.” It’s saying “you suck!” It’s not saying “I’m disappointed,” it’s saying “you should be ashamed of yourselves!” And with all respect to Yankees fans, the 2015 Yankees have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

This was a club expected to miss the playoffs, full stop. Maybe some people allowed for an if-everything-breaks-right flight of fancy, but hardly anyone expected them to play meaningful games late in the year, let alone a playoff game. They were too old. Too injured. There weren’t enough young reinforcements to fill the gaps. Some even went so far as to claim that they were about to spend years in the wilderness.

But then A-Rod broke out of the gate strong. And Michael Pineda had a really nice first couple of months. And Mark Teixeira put up numbers that wouldn’t have been out of place for him several years ago. The bullpen did what it was supposed to do and more, Masahiro Tanaka held together somehow and, eventually, a couple of young players like Greg Bird and Luis Severino came in to reinforce things. The not-going-anywhere Yankees were contenders. And they led the division for a good while. Of course they stumbled late. And of course they lost last night, but by just about any reasonable measure, this was a good team — better than expected — and, unlike a lot of Yankees teams in the past, was pretty darn enjoyable to watch.

Then the boos. I just can’t see how this Yankees team deserved that.

I realize a lot of people in the media have duped a lot of people into thinking that a team with a high payroll is supposed to be dominant. And I realize George Steinbrenner duped a whole lot of people into thinking that anything less than a World Series championship for the New York Yankees is failure. But that’s rhetoric and branding, not reason. In the real world where baseball players play baseball games World Series titles are rare, even for the Yankees. At the end of the season all but one of 30 teams are either at home for the playoffs or went home after suffering a gut-wrenching playoff loss. The Yankees are the most dominant franchise in the history of American professional sports yet they still have finished their year without a title over 75% of the time.

With that as a given, fans are left to judge their team’s performance based on its talent, its health, its heart, its entertainment value and the strength of the opposition which ultimately vanquished it. The Yankees weren’t nearly as talented as many, yet made the playoffs anyway. They were a walking hospital ward, let limped on. They never quit and never got pulled down into the sort of muck a lot of New York teams find themselves in when things start to go sideways. And, ultimately, they were simply beat by a better team. By any reasonable measure the 2015 Yankees were a good story, a successful enterprise, a resilient bunch and no small amount of fun.

It’s OK to be sad that it ended as it did. But that doesn’t deserve to be booed. Not by a long shot.

Collin McHugh will start Game 1 of the ALDS for the Astros

Collin McHugh Astros
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After using ace left-hander Dallas Keuchel to get past the Yankees in the Wild Card game the Astros will turn to right-hander Collin McHugh in Game 1 of the ALDS versus the Royals.

McHugh had an up-and-down year, posting a 3.89 ERA compared to his 2.73 mark last season, but thanks to good teammate support he had a 19-7 record and his 171/53 K/BB ratio in 204 innings was solid. He was particularly good down the stretch, posting a 2.89 ERA and 69/20 K/BB ratio in 72 innings after August 1.

McHugh will match up against Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura in Game 1. Houston hasn’t named a starter for Game 2 yet, while Kansas City is going with Johnny Cueto. And then the Game 3 matchup figures to be Dallas Keuchel versus Edinson Volquez.