Each year just before Opening Day, Team Marketing Report (TMR) releases the “Fan Cost Index” (FCI). According to TMR, the FCI “tracks the cost of attendance for a family of four.” This year, TMR says this hypothetical family’s day at the ballpark would cost an average of $155.52. The price would range from $108.83 in Montreal to $263.09 in Boston.
If this sounds high, you’re right. TMR defines the FCI to include two average-priced adult tickets and two average-priced children’s tickets–but also two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four regular hot dogs, two programs, two of the least expensive adult-sized adjustable caps, and parking for one car. In short, while it might reflect how much a family that decides on the spur of the moment to go to their one game of the season might spend, it far overstates the cost for most fans, who can easily eat before the game, sit in the cheap seats and skip the souvenir caps.
Washington, D.C. officials have unveiled a plan to provide the Expos with a $340-million, baseball-only stadium entirely at the expense of taxpayers. That D.C. so gleefully welcomed MLB to the public trough and that the Expos will eventually land within the Beltway is about as surprising as when Detective O’McBrubakerohannally, who just mentioned to his partner and to regular viewers of “Badge of Dignity” that he’s two weeks from his pension, takes a fatal bullet on that routine summons-service detail.
I got a lot of e-mail on Wednesday about Rob Neyer’s excellent article on the history of the slider. Rob did a fine job describing the history and even the mechanics, but at the end, he discusses the “general thinking” that the slider is significantly harder on the arm than other pitches. According to Dr. Glenn Fleisig and the research team at ASMI, this isn’t so. Their research on the kinetics of various pitches shows that the slider does not significantly alter the kinetic forces on the arm as compared to a fastball. It is “harder” on the arm than a curveball, but the real danger comes when, as Rob says, the slider (or the close variants cut fastball and slurve) is thrown with a wrist snap. Science shows that it’s not the pitches that are hurting our pitchers, it’s how they throw them.
I have a hard time thinking of someone who went to batting left-handed exclusively and thrived. Some guys, notably Mariano Duncan, have given up batting left-handed and had success. I think re-adjusting to breaking balls, as well as trying to pick up new arm slots, would doom most efforts to failure. Valentin was so bad against lefties that I can’t blame him for trying, though. At worst, he’s the same should-be-platooned guy he’s long been. The Sox’s bigger problem is that neither Harris nor Valentin is capable of a .330 OBP, and if you have two guys like that batting 1-2, you’re screwed. All of this, of course, is Frank Thomas’ fault.
The Dodgers offense has finally come around, thanks in no small part to Adrian Beltre. The Twins have suffered through a rash of injuries, yet still refuse to bring up Justin Morneau. And the Giants can’t seem to win, even with Barry Bonds doing his best impression of Superman. All this and much more news from Los Angeles, Minnesota, and San Francisco in your Wednesday edition of Prospectus Triple Play.