Yasiel Puig

Some Braves players think the All-Star voting process is unfair

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Only one Braves player made the All-Star team and that was because the manager put him on there. As far as fan voting goes? They didn’t do so good.

Dave O’Brien of the AJC talked to a bunch of them yesterday and many voiced their displeasure at fan voting. Both in the main selection process and the “Final Vote” which is putting Freddie Freeman against Yasiel Puig. And they think the media — specifically ESPN — has an agenda to get more media-friendly players selected. Guys like Yasiel Puig.

Tim Hudson pretty much covers it all:

“I think it’s B.S. … I mean, it’s pretty obvious what players certain media outlets want to have plugged in. It’s pretty obvious. You have young, exciting players – and they are that. I’m not saying they don’t deserve to have the opportunity to be in there, but these guys that are competing with them to get these last couple of spots, they’re just as deserving. It’s not fair. The whole fan vote thing, I think is obnoxious. I mean, the starting players in the All-Star game are determined by fans who can plug any players they want in there, and it determines home-field advantage for the World Series. The World Series!

“It’s not fair. At all.”

Seriously, Tim. Tell me if you think it’s fair.

He has a point (which he goes on to explain in greater detail) about how, if the World Series hinges on the All-Star game, there shouldn’t be a fan vote. Problem is, I’m willing to bet $100 that if a Braves player was the media sensation du jour a la Puig — let’s say a pre-injury Evan Gattis — Hudson wouldn’t be complaining too much.

It’s a flawed process, yes, but most of the complaining you hear about it is just tribalism and homerism. Our guy deserves it, theirs doesn’t. If the fans vote for us it’s an honor, if they vote for the other guys it’s illegitimate. Here it’s the Braves doing it. I’ve seen other teams do it every year since I’ve been paying attention.

It stinks that the All-Star Game decides home field advantage. But really, it’s just for fun. I’d rather see some hyped kid like Puig in it over someone else, frankly, because Puig is interesting and the game doesn’t matter otherwise. And if I’m Hudson, I’d be quietly pleased that my teammates were getting three days off to relax and get healthy.

It’s spring training for groundskeepers too

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Or, I should say, it’s spring training for whatever automated timer thingie turns the sprinklers on and off.

This was the scene at Goodyear on Saturday as the Indians and Reds played in the bottom of the eighth in their spring training opener. Reds manager Bryan Price says that this was probably the second or third time this has happened in the middle of a game there.

Maybe investigate manually operating that bad boy? Just a suggestion!

The Chicago Cubs: Spring training games, regular season prices

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Craig Calcaterra
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MESA, AZ — I’ve been covering spring training for eight years, and in just those eight years a lot has changed in the Cactus and Grapefruit League experiences. The parks are bigger and fancier and the vibe is far more akin to a regular season major league one than the intimate and laid back atmosphere most people think of when they picture February and March baseball.

Just imagine, however, how much has changed if you’ve been coming to Florida or Arizona for a really long time.

“When we first started coming, you could bring your own beer in,” says Don Harper, a lifelong Cubs fan from Kennewick, Washington who spends his winters in Arizona. “You couldn’t bring a cooler, but you could bring a case of beer and a bag of ice and you just set it down in between you and you just put the ice on it and keep it cold.”

I asked Don if the beer vendors complained.

“They didn’t sell beer,” he said.

That was three decades and two ballparks ago. They certainly sell beer at the Cubs’ gleaming new facility, Sloan Park. Cups of the stuff cost more than a couple of cases did back when Don first started coming to spring training.

The price of beer is not the only thing that has changed, of course. The price of tickets is not what it used to be either. Don told me that when he started coming to Cubs spring training games tickets ran about seven dollars. If that. It’s a bit pricer now. Face value for a single lawn ticket, where you’ll be sitting on a blanker on the outfield berm — can be as high as $47 depending on the day of the week and the opponent. Infield box seats run as high as $85.

The thing is, though, you’re not getting face value seats for Cubs spring training games. Half of the home games sold out within a week of tickets going on sale in January. Since then just about every other game has sold out or soon will. That will force you to get tickets on the secondary market. According to TickPick, the average — average! — Cubs spring training ticket on the secondary market is $106.30. For a single ticket. It’s easily the highest price for spring training tickets in all of baseball, and is $26 higher than secondary market tickets for the next highest team, the Red Sox:

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That may be shocking or even appalling to some, but as the automatic sellouts at Sloan Park and those high secondary market prices suggest, there are at least 15,000 people or so for each Cubs home game who don’t seem to mind. Supply meet demand meet the defending World Series champions.

I spoke with two younger Cubs fans, Corey Hayden and Eleanor Meloul, who traveled here from Salt Lake City. On Sunday they lucked out and got a couple of lawn seats for $28. On Saturday, however, they paid $100 a piece on StubHub to get some seats just beyond third base. I asked them if there is some price point that would keep them from coming.

“There isn’t one,” Hayden said. “I paid $4,500 for a World Series ticket, so . . .”

Don Harper wouldn’t do that, but he doesn’t really mind the higher prices he’s paying for his spring tickets. Of course, he’s a longtime season ticket holder so he gets access to the face value seats. I asked him whether his spring training habit would end if those prices got jacked up higher, as the market would seem to bear, or if he had to resort to the secondary market.

Don paused and sighed, suggesting it was a tough question. As he considered it, I put a hard number on it, asking him if he’d still go if he had to pay $50 per ticket. “Yeah, probably,” he said. “$75?” I asked. He paused again.

“As long as I got enough money.”

Don is a diehard who, one senses, will always find a way to make it work. Corey spent a wad of cash on that once-in-a-lifetime World Series ticket, but he and Eleanor seem content to bargain hunt for the most part and splurge strategically. If you’re a Cubs fan — and if you’re not rich — that’s what you’ll have to do. The ticket it just too hot.