Craig Calcaterra

Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria leans against a golf cart as he watches his team during spring training baseball practice, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Associated Press

The Marlins close off a prime autograph spot at their spring training facility

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Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post reports that the Marlins have erected a new fence at their spring training facility closing off access to an area where fans have traditionally gathered to get autographs from Marlins players.

It’s outside of the player entrance to the clubhouse. Before, fans could gather on the sidewalk and reach through a gate to hand players balls or cards or things to sign. Now they can’t get to the sidewalk because of a new fence. And even if they can get to that fence, it’s covered by a mesh screen which blocks anyone from reaching through the gates. Capozzi has a picture of the foreboding looking barrier in his article.

As Capozzi reports, a Marlins spokesman said it was about safety, but that’s implausible. Rather, a source tells him, it’s because players complained about autograph-seekers who were particularly interested in big stars like Ichiro and Giancarlo Stanton. The addition of Barry Bonds to the coaching staff, he says, finally inspired the Marlins to act.

The article notes that the complaint was about autograph brokers, not kids. I understand how those guys can annoy people. their game is fairly transparent if you’ve seen them in action. They’re older guys, usually, with giant backpacks full of baseballs and binders full of baseball cards they obviously plan to sell. Players like signing for kids. They hate signing for these guys. I can’t really blame them.

That said, it’s kids and common fans who are, again, being pushed farther and farther away. Following on the heels of Yankees’ COO Lonn Trost’s unfortunate comments yesterday and the increasing way the rich and privileged are favored at the ballpark over ordinary fans, it’s the latest datapoint which bolsters my belief that baseball is losing connection with people — almost exclusively the non-rich — in important ways. I mean, in the very same article we learn this:

The ballpark has gotten rid of the popular grass berm in right field where fans could pay $15 to $20 to sit on the grass. It has been replaced with a 136-seat capacity Bullpen Club section, where tickets range from $52 to $60.

Last night, inspired by these kinds of stories I wrote a longish thing over at my personal site about how, in many important ways, we’re seeing the end of equality in civil society and how the same thing is happening in baseball. It’s a shame, and it’s something about which Major League Baseball should be very concerned.

Yankees COO Lonn Trost gives a snobby and elitist explanation for new ticket policies

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Associated Press
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Yesterday we talked about the Yankees’ new ticket policy which is aimed at knocking out Stubhub and keeping the secondary ticket market for the team. Today Yankees’ Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost was asked about that policy and said something pretty eyebrow-raising.

After first giving the largely silly explanation that the ticket plan was to combat fraud, as well as to offer some counterfactual argument about how Stubhub could, if it wanted to, offer mobile tickets which adhere to the policy (they can’t because the Yankees won’t let them) he talked about the . . . difficulties that can be encountered when one buys below-face-value tickets from Stubhub:

“The problem below market at a certain point is that if you buy a ticket in a very premium location and pay a substantial amount of money. It’s not that we don’t want that fan to sell it, but that fan is sitting there having paid a substantial amount of money for a ticket and [another] fan picks it up for a buck-and-a-half and sits there, and it’s frustrating to the purchaser of the full amount . . . And quite frankly, the fan may be someone who has never sat in a premium location. So that’s a frustration to our existing fan base.”

Oh really? Question, Mr. Trost: how often do you know how much the person next to you paid for their seat? And, more significantly, what about a person who doesn’t sit in premium locations might “frustrate” your rich season ticket holders who do?

I have a few ideas of what he is implying. None of them are anything but ugly.

Colby Rasmus is ready to eat some gummy bears. Really, that’s what he said.

Colby Rasmus
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Colby Rasmus is sort of turning into Hunter Pence south. Maybe there’s something in the Houston water? I dunno, either way he’s kind of morphing into that weird off-the-wall ballplayer, the likes of which every team should have. But maybe only one.

He showed up for camp yesterday. As Evan Drellich’s story at the Chronicle notes, Rasmus is an intense dude who has gotten something of a cult following among Astros fans. Mostly from good play, but from this sort of thing too, I imagine:

“My eyes, what I’m seeing right now is, I’m seeing red,” he said. “I’m ready to go out there and beat some folks, win some ballgames, chest-bump with these guys, and eat some gummy bears. You know what I’m saying?”

No, Colby, we really don’t. But enjoy those gummy bears. As many Hairbos as $15.8 million will buy.