Ticket

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)

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: