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But Seriously Folks: The All-Star Game Friday, July 1, 2011

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140 characters simply isn’t enough to contain my animosity for the All-Star game selection, which begins in earnest on Sunday.  Our votes have been cast, and the starting lineup will be announced then.  But at what cost?

Please note that if the All-Star game was truly the popularity contest it once was, I wouldn’t be complaining about any of this.  But in the words of Bud Selig himself, “it matters” now.  And home team advantage in the World Series is nothing to sneeze at.  In the 8 years since it’s “mattered,” the home team (5 of 8 times) has come out on top.

Where’s my beef? It has to do with modern stuffing of the ballot boxes.  This happens to a small degree in the National League, but the clear offenders have to be the persistent Yankees and Red Sox at the top of the ballot every year in the AL.  The winners have yet to be announced of course, but at last count, 7 of 9 starting positions for the American League were Red Sox or Yankees, with a potential of 8 of 9 a clear possiblity thanks to Jacoby Ellsbury knocking on the door for the final outfielder position.

The only non-YankSox player that clearly has a shot is the phenomenal Jose Bautista, but one has to wonder whether a sweep would be possible had he not found a recent penchant for the long ball and Carl Crawford’s supporters had pushed him higher in the voting.

In 1957, The Reds stuffed the ballot box and Commissioner Ford Frick had to step in and name a couple other players so they wouldn’t take over the AL roster.  Nobody big… just Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. And remember that this was back before the All-Star game “mattered.”

The way things have lined up recently, it’s time for Selig to get off his ass and take a stand. Clearly, this is nothing but a popularity contest, but there’s nothing wrong with that if it’s just an exhibition game.  Why we all have to deal with this nonsense because of Selig’s gaffe in 2002 is beyond me.  You want to continue this tradition?  Kill the home field advantage.  Lean on the amazingly popular home run derby, and let it be a straight out popularity contest.  Elect as many Yankees and Red Sox as you want, but don’t pretend that this game “matters.”

Dozen Mariners in World Baseball Classic Tuesday, February 24, 2009

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The World Baseball Classic is now just days away from getting underway and as of this evening, all teams have finally announced their rosters.  12, count ’em 12 Mariners will participate (or are slated to participate) in the Classic.  At a dozen, the M’s come in fourth in number of players participating, falling behind only the Mets (15), Red Sox (14) and Twins (13).

And with 8 teams represented, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Panama, South Africa, and Venezuela are all sure to get a good taste of the Pacific Northwest.  And that last team, Venezuela, may as well tack a compass to the back of their uniforms (although the Tigers also have four on that squad).  With Felix and Silva headlining the pitching staff and Jose Lopez and newcomer Endy Chavez roving the field, there’s no doubt that a good run by Venezuela could mean lots of clutter in the Times‘ sports page.

But, of course, Japan is the defending champion and while Kenji sat out the Classic three years ago (to focus on his new role with the M’s), he’ll likely get a chance this time to catch a few heaters from Dice-K.  Toss team leader Ichiro into the mix and there’s little doubt that Japan could repeat as world champions.

As for the other M’s playing, we have minor leaguers Manuel Campos, Alex Liddi, Greg Halman and Anthony Phillips representing Panama, Italy, the Netherlands and South Africa respectively, not to mention top draft pick Phillippe Aumont as Canada’s likely Ace.  And did I neglect to mention that Beltre will be a part of the star-studded squad from the Dominican?

Let’s just say that this year’s Classic will leave Seattle well represented on the World stage.

Seattle Completely Eliminated Thursday, September 4, 2008

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  Granted, there’s nothing surprising here, especially as the M’s were cut out of the division race officially last Wednesday when they lost to Minnesota, but I thought I’d report that as of the first of this month, after beating the Texas Rangers 12-6, the Mariners were officially eliminated from the Wild Card race as well (thanks to a Red Sox victory).  Not exactly a touching statistic, but it should be noted that their victory came at the end of a four game winning streak, which was a season high this year.  So… um.. I guess that’s something good, then, right?

  And for those of you who were curious about their performance so far both before and after their division elimination, I’m proud to report that the club is 4-2 in both the six games after and prior to last Wednesday’s elimination loss.

Ticket Prices Compared!! Sunday, August 17, 2008

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I’ve been thinking a lot about ticket prices with the M’s packing it in this year (worst season attendance in Safeco history so far) and I wonder just how much of that is due to the exorbitant ticket prices as opposed to the lousy performance…

So, to tally things out, let’s compare our prices for say… my favorite spot a few rows behind (not too close)the dugout on the third base side to the rest of the MLB and see how things square up. Now, to narrow this down, especially with price differentials for certain games and days of the week, I’m not including so-called “premium-priced” games (which were almost always Red Sox or Yankees) and I usually catch a game on a Sunday, so I’m only taking that day’s ticket prices here. Also, these will be “day of game” prices, not season ticket or pre-purchased tickets. Imagine that I arrive, find an available seat and buy it at the gate for whatever each team charges. Here goes, from highest to lowest:

New York Yankees – $380

Los Angeles Dodgers – $130

Boston Red Sox – $90

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – $85

San Francisco Giants – $85

Chicago Cubs – $80

Washington Nationals – $75

Seattle Mariners – $65

Toronto Blue Jays – $65

Atlanta Braves – $60

Arizona Diamondbacks – $60

Texas Rangers – $60

Cleveland Indians – $55

Baltimore Orioles – $55

San Diego Padres – $55

Chicago White Sox – $55

Houston Astros – $50

Oakland Athletics – $50

Philadelphia Phillies – $50

Minnesota Twins – $50

Milwaukee Brewers – $45

Florida Marlins – $43

Tampa Bay Rays – $42

Cincinnatti Reds – $42

Detroit Tigers – $42 (And kudos to the Tigers for the simplest ticket prices)

Kansas City Royals – $37

Pittsburgh Pirates – $27

St. Louis Cardinals – Seats Not Available For Single Game Purchase

New York Mets – Seats Not Available For Single Game Purchase

Colorado Rockies – (Too lazy to figure it out… The site lists $47-$100 without laying out the differences)

Interesting, no?

And now, to get a vague (and I mean VAGUE) idea of which place has the best deal, let’s arrange the teams by last season’s win record!

Boston Red Sox – $90 (96-66), Won Division, Won ALCS, Won Championship

Cleveland Indians – $55 (96-66) Won Division

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – $85 (94-68), Won Division

New York Yankees – $380 (94-68), Won Wild Card

Arizona Diamondbacks – $60 (90-72) Won Division

Colorado Rockies – (Too lazy to figure it out… The site lists $47-$100 without laying out the differences) (90-73), Won Wild Card, Won NLCS

San Diego Padres – $55 (89-74)

Philadelphia Phillies – $50 (89-73) Won Division

Seattle Mariners – $65 (88-74)

Detroit Tigers – $42 (And kudos to the Tigers for the simplest ticket prices) (88-74)

New York Mets – Seats Not Available For Single Game Purchase (88-74)

Chicago Cubs – $80 (85-77), Won Division

Atlanta Braves – $60 (84-78)

Toronto Blue Jays – $65 (83-79)

Milwaukee Brewers – $45 (83-79)

Los Angeles Dodgers – $130 (82-80)

Minnesota Twins – $50 (79-83)

St. Louis Cardinals – Seats Not Available For Single Game Purchase (78-84)

Oakland Athletics – $50 (76-86)

Texas Rangers – $60 (75-87)

Washington Nationals – $75 (73-89)

Houston Astros – $50 (73-89)

Chicago White Sox – $55 (72-90)

Cincinnatti Reds – $42 (72-90)

San Francisco Giants – $85 (71-91)

Florida Marlins – $43 (71-91)

Baltimore Orioles – $55 (69-93)

Kansas City Royals – $37 (69-93)

Pittsburgh Pirates – $27 (68-94)

Tampa Bay Rays – $42 (66-96)

Do different parks offer better amenities than other parks? Yes, of course. Will you find me complaining about prices at Safeco anyway? Yup. But for all those Mariner fans out there who keep complaining and complaining about our team and keep insisting that good fans would stay away from the park to cause ticket prices to drop, I have only one thing to say. You’re a bunch of idiots. You can see on this chart a vague representation of how better teams usually charge more and lousy teams usually charge less, but you’re mixing up cause and effect. Ticket prices are only slightly affected by results. It’s more a matter of how big a fan base is. Need some examples? Check out Baltimore and D.C. (And that’s with them competing AGAINST each other in the same market!) Don’t kid yourself that Washington D.C. and Maryland are hotbeds for upper-class baseball fans. Have you ever been to our nation’s capitol? Not quite Wall Street elite…

And you’re really forgetting about how amazing it is to watch a game at Safeco. You think this is a lousy team? It’s lousy, but it’s only been truly lousy for ONE season. Get over yourself. Suffer through the bad times. You want bad teams? You want pathetic? There was celebrating in the streets in ’91 when the M’s finally broke .500! No, I’m not kidding. I remember it!

And now I’m finished ranting. If anything, I’ve created a chart of how much it would cost to sit in the same seats in 30 different stadiums. Woohoo!