This Is Better?

I think the Yankees are smart to try to get more fans into the ballpark, but the changes they are making, detailed here, really don’t impress me.

I mean I love going to the playground with my 3-year old, but it’s not something I want to do at the ballgame. And while I understand these changes are directed at a younger generation than mine, I think they completely miss the reason why people aren’t going to the games.

Start with the most obvious problem with the new stadium, its lack of history. Yes, it is much more comfortable and convenient to get around, but the Yankees lost the magic of the old place. You could once look out at a field that had been the home to some of the greatest players and moments in baseball, that’s been lost. So the Stadium no longer has that draw and if you don’t have that draw, and you don’t have a great team, things get tougher.

Now that would probably matter less if the new place was remotely affordable. I don’t drive to the games, but I understand parking is ridiculous, like $40 or more. Add on a decent ticket in the upper deck is $30 and by the time you eat, a single fan has spent close to $100. For a family of four, a trip to the park could easily total $300 or more. And for $300 you can get a pretty nice HDTV these days which lets you watch all the games.

The other problem, and this is not a Yankee-centric problem, is the game of baseball is not a good fit for the modern attention span. Try having a conversation with someone under 30 and see if they can keep eye contact for the duration. I bet they can’t. And while I pick on younger people, I know plenty of people my age and older who can no longer pay attention to things the way we used to have to. I’m not sure what the solution is, but umpires who enforced the real strike zone and kept batters from leaving the box after every pitch and catcher from meeting on the mound three times an inning would help.

I keep wondering if the era of live sports is drawing to a close. The owners of all the major sports have surrendered control to the TV networks while the stadiums they build are really geared to the ultra-wealthy. To me, this is a short-sighted strategy because the big spenders of tomorrow need to get hooked today, but we will have to see what the future holds. Maybe the jungle gyms will be enough.

Three In The Hall

Congrats to Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez on making the Hall of Fame.

I still don’t get these voters.

Bagwell gets in, but Edgar Martinez and Vlad Guerrero don’t?

Manny gets 25% and Bonds gets 53% while Sosa gets 8%? Remove PEDS from this equation and I would say you have three clear HOFers so why the vote differences?

Schilling loses a bunch of votes for what reason? I get it, the guy is a jackass, but plenty of those are already in the HOF and it just makes the writers look small.

Perhaps transparency will improve this process next year  For now, I am still scratching my head.

 

The Payroll Takes Shape

The Yankees have settled three arbitration cases today so far- Didi ($5.1M), Warren($2.29M)

Long ago, the site MLB Trade Reference pegged those three to almost exactly those numbers. In fact, they missed by a sum of $120,000. In total, they estimated the Yankees to have just about $22M in arbitration awards. With the payroll at about $166M, that puts them right around $188M if they continue to be right.

But, luxury tax thresholds are calculated by the average annual value of contracts, not the actual dollars earned. For example, A-Rod will earn $21M from the Yankees this year to stay home (or $20.5M if he signs with another team for the ML minimum) but his AAV figure is $27.5M.  You also need to figure in the guys who are on the 40-man earning either the major/minor league minimum. And, player benefits count.  Add it all, up and the Yankees are probably around $210M, or $15M over the luxury tax for 2017.

2018 looks a lot better. Right now, the Yankees are probably about $70M under the threshold assuming Tanaka doesn’t opt-out. If he does, that’s another $22M you can add to their space. They will have many of the same guys in arbitration, so they probably will spend at least $30M of that space there. They will also have to retain/replace the following free agents besides Tanaka- Pineda, Sabathia, Holliday, and Clippard. Together those guys are about $53M in AAV.  But, it looks very likely that the Yankees will be able to duck under the threshold in 2018 and therefore reset their potential penalties to the minimum if they go on a free agent binge before the 2019 season.