Deep thought: Could replay delays lead to faster games?

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I know that sounds counterintuitive — and it may be dumb wishful thinking — but I just read a Matt Williams quote about replay that makes me wonder if some delays-in-play brought on by replay may, in the long term, lead to faster game play.  Here’s what Williams said:

Williams said another issue would be if managers tried to stall while other team officials monitored the play to determine whether the play was worthy of instant replay. The rules say a manager must react in a timely manner, meaning before the pitcher and catcher are set to face the next batter, if he wants to officially review a call.

“There’s some cagey managers in this game,” Williams said with a sheepish grin.

I doubt managers will obviously stall. That’s because there are so many existing, accepted ways for players to stall. The pitcher and catcher will know when there was a controversial play on defense. They can fart around, visit and do all sorts of things like they already do to stall a bit. If it’s a play the offense may want reviewed the batter has a whole host of fidgets and glove-adjustments and oh, I need a new bat things to buy time.

They do this all the time now and it’s what has led to such long games these days. And we let them do it because, however annoying, it’s not truly affecting the game. But when they do it to mess with a replay review, people will probably take notice. And the only way to crack down on that is to crack down on the behavior itself — the fidgeting and farting around — and how do you craft new rules or make a point of stricter enforcement regarding such things in the replay context without regulating the behavior overall?

Maybe someone stepping out of the box too much or pitchers pacing behind the mound and wiping their brow too often will mess with replay enough to where baseball actually cracks down on it. And maybe the behavior is reduced overall as a result.

Or, like I said, maybe I’m just engaging in wishful thinking here.

The Yankees attendance and revenue is down, but it makes sense

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There’s a long article in the New York Times today noting that the Yankees attendance is down and that, based on financial figures released as part of their stadium bond disclosures, ticket and suite revenues through last season have fallen by $166 million since the end of 2009.

There is a lot of talk in the article about the exciting young team the Yankees have put together and how much they’ve won so far in the early going. And there is a lot of talk about marketing and demographics — Hal Steinbrenner talks about baseball’s “millennial problem” — but the story of the Yankees’ box office issues, such as they are, is pretty straightforward.

All teams suffer attendance and revenue decline when they play poorly. While the Yankees have not been bad for a long, long time, that’s a somewhat relative thing. They Yankees have sold themselves and sold their fans on the idea that nothing short of a championship is acceptable, so missing the playoffs for three of the past four years is bad for them. Fans don’t want to go see a bad team, be it Yankees fans, Rays fans, Royals fans or whoever.

Despite the recent lack of success, the Yankees have still, perversely, continued to price their tickets, concessions, parking and everything else as though they’re the only game in town. When demand falls and prices remain super high, fewer people are buying your product. Even if you’re the New York Yankees.

The Yankees are good this year. What’s more, they’re good in that exciting way that only young promising players bursting out onto the scene can deliver. It’s a wonderful thing for marketing and stuff, but even under the best of circumstances, ticket sales tend to lag on field success, often by as much as a year. Go back and look at World Series winning teams — especially the surprise winners — and you’ll see that it’s the year after on-field success when the real attendance bumps happen. I expect, if the Yankees continue to play well, their gate will get really nice by the end of the summer, but I suspect we’ll also see a more dramatic bump next year.

Taken all together, this is a dog-bites-man story. The Yankees are not some transcendent institution, immune from market forces. They’re just one of 30 Major League Baseball teams competing against other entertainments for a finite amount of the public’s money and attention. Nothin’ to see here.

David Price had a rocky rehab start last night

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Red Sox starter David Price has been rehabbing a left elbow injury since early March. Last night he made his latest rehab outing for Triple-A Pawtucket. It didn’t go well.

Price allowed six runs — three earned — on seven hits in three and two-thirds innings, requiring 89 pitches to do it. His velocity was good, but otherwise it was a night to forget. This was supposed to be Price’s last rehab start before returning to the Sox’ big league rotation, but one wonders if he’s ready for it.

Price didn’t talk to the media after the game, but Pawtucket’s manager said he was “upbeat” and “felt good.” For his part, John Farrell, upon hearing about the outing, said this:

“There’s no announcement at this point. We’ve got to sit with him and talk about what’s best for him, best for us as we move forward.”

The Sox could really use Price back in the rotation given their injury problems, but rushing him back if he’s not ready is certainly not ideal.

Stay tuned.