Just listen to the excuses. It was a day game. It was too hot out (90 degrees and humid). The Marlins play in a football stadium that is terrible for baseball. They're fading out of the playoff race. They would get more fans out -- maybe even like 3,000 -- if they got a new ballpark. (Even the U.S. economy going into a nosedive won't stop politicians who want to build big shiny things, and all off the pro-stadium pols in Miami did get re-elected.)
All of that is true, of course, but excuses are like what the common anatomical comparison for Jeffrey Loria and David Samson, the Marlins owners. There's some poetic irony that has to be pointed out.
When Loria/Samson (and Claude Brochu) was chasing away whatever portion of the Montreal Expos' fanbase that hadn't been killed off by Quebec politics and a 65-cent Canadian dollar, no one wanted to hear about any extenuating circumstances. Small crowds at the Big Owe (did you hear the Habs might play a game there?) were proof that Canadians Didn't Get It.
It's long past time to still be bitter about what happened to the Expos. It bears pointing out how it's a different story when it's in an American city. The Marlins, whom Loria/Samson got in a sweetheart deal, have games where the number of bodies in the stands doesn't crack four digits.
This summer, there has scarcely been a day that goes by when you don't read about the Washington Nationals having poor attendance (13th in the NL, despite a $600 million ballpark) or dismal ratings for local radio and TV broadcasts (although those are not the most rock-solid metrics). Four years on, the Nationals will finish with a worse record than the Expos did in their final season, 2004. (They were mathematically eliminated yesterday.)
The saddest part is you won't hear a peep out of anyone in Canada. Someone should point out that Loria, Samson, Bud Selig and MLB wanted to solve their problem in Quebec, and created problems in Washington, D.C., and South Florida. It's hard to see what basis there is to believe either locale will ever yield a team that's in the top half of MLB teams in revenues. That won't stop them from working harder than they ever did for Montreal, which once had a five-year run where it was in the top third in the NL in attendance. Washington, D.C., will get second chance after second chance. Miami, Fla., will get a new ballpark.
The MLB mafia is getting their just desserts, served to them in luxury boxes.
(Link via ShysterBall.)
- It's a little funny that baseball finally just got instant replay when it was talked about as far back as 1985. (That link is to a Bob Uecker appearance on The Tonight Show when Johnny was still in his prime and wasn't marking time for heir apparent
Jay LenoDavid Letterman.
- No no-hitter for CC Sabathia, but you knew that already.
- Thank god the comedy trope that "Pedro Alvarez is Spanish for J.D. Drew" is passe.
Drew, as far as a lot of people are concerned, came into the majors with two strikes against him because he wouldn't go to the team who drafted him. He's been a brilliant, if brittle, player at times. It doesn't matter one bit with people since he made such a bad first impression when he wouldn't go to the team who drafted him.
Judging by the reactionary press Alvarez is getting in Scott Boras' spitting match with the Pittsburgh Pirates over whether Alvarez' contract is valid (shame on MLB for not having a drop-dead cutoff to get first-rounders signed and giving Boras an opening), he's going to have the mark of Cain on him. Some people, illogical and ignorant as it is, never forgot that Eric Lindros refused to go where he was told to go by the NHL, either.
- Attending a game at the new Nationals Park in Washington is an underwhelming experience. People could be just as bored and disappointed in Montreal, you know.
- Paul Godfrey calling the first-place Rays an "aberration" makes you wonder if he keeps J.P. Ricciardi around as a cover for his own ignorance. The statheads knew as far back as the winter of '06-07 that Tampa Bay was going to be good
- A.J. Burnett as a Red Sock or a Yankee, which would be worse? By the way, there's talk, it's just talk, that the Jays could be the new home for Hideki Matsui. A left-handed hitting, gimp-kneed 35-year-old who "mix(es) torrid spells with periods of pointlessness" (Baseball Prospectus 2008, pg. 341) and can only play left field ... that's the perfect formula for how to retard Adam Lind and Travis Snider's development.
- The Triple-A dominoes are falling. The Syracuse Chiefs have told the Jays "it's not us, it's you," while the Buffalo Bisons are no longer with Cleveland. The Buffalo Blue Jays? It's probably going to happen.
- A little more concrete info on Chad Beck, the right-hander picked up in exchange for the Eck Factor: "A scout who saw him recently said he never really had a feel for a change-up or a split, but the scout liked his arm, liked the command of his fastball, liked the movement on his fastball.
"From what I was told earlier in the year, he had only just begun to tinker with a split, a pitch that the organization thought might work for him given his arm angle.
"He's done well as both a starter and a reliever, but it sounds like people seem to see him in the bullpen down the road."