People want their “fear the beard” posters at AT&T Park

3 Comments

CNBC’s Darren Rovell has a great story about newspaper vendors for the San Jose Mercury News selling cheer cards with stuff like “fear the beard” printed on them outside of AT&T Park. Which, unfortunately for the Mercury News, wasn’t the plan. The plan was for the cheer cards to be stuffed inside of newspapers, and have fans buy the papers.  There’s some good detail in Rovell’s story about how the vendors were hustling, but this is the most interesting paragraph in the thing:

But it also has to be an indictment on the state of the newspaper business. Papers aren’t worth what they once were, so smart papers do things like The Mercury News did — do something creative that will get some attention. But even that couldn’t sell papers.

The newspapers are trying to sell customers a bundle of goods. The people only want one, narrow thing (in this case a “fear the beard” card).  The market, such as it is, figured out what the people wanted and rewarded those who were specializing.  It’s as if there’s a lesson to be learned here.

Well, a lesson that would apply more broadly without what was almost certainly fraud by the vendors, but there you are.

Mariners claim Kaleb Cowart off waivers from Angels

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Mariners announced that the club claimed Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Angels. Interestingly, the Mariners list Cowart as both an outfielder and a right-handed pitcher. Cowart has never pitched professionally, but the Mariners will try him as a two-way player next season, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Cowart was a highly regarded pitcher in high school.

Cowart, 26, has played all over the field, spending most of his time at third base and second base, but also logging a handful of innings at first base, shortstop, and left field.  He hasn’t hit much at all, owning a career .177/.241/.293 triple-slash line across 380 plate appearances in the big leagues. It makes sense to try another angle.

Shohei Ohtani, of course, is helping to popularize the rebirth of the two-way player. In his first year in the majors after having played in Japan for five years, Ohtani won the AL Rookie of the Year Award by posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances along with a 3.31 ERA over 10 starts. Don’t expect Cowart to hit those lofty numbers, but additional versatility could prolong his life in the majors.