In the third installment of this series, I review the ticket options for fans in MLB’s smallest but most geographically dispersed division, the AL West.
If you’ve read the first two installments (Part I, Part II), you know the drill. To simulate the average fan’s experience, I pick a mid-week game, then shop for tickets on MLB.com a few weeks in advance. (I made an exception for Anaheim, choosing their next available mid-week series–since their next two mid-week visitors are the Yankees and Red Sox, I thought the earlier date would still be more representative.)
First I shop for my imaginary family of four, whose ideal combination of price and view is usually behind the plate and towards the front of the upper deck. Then I pretend that my imaginary family just won the lottery, shopping instead for the best available block of four seats (as determined by MLB’s ticket computer) anywhere in the ballpark. The seats available for the family of four serve as a rough proxy for the club’s season-ticket and advance sales. Then I play Stranger Visiting Town, looking for a single seat. My expense-account alter ego shops for the best seat available through MLB.com, while his starving-student counterpart heads right for the cheapest seats in the park.
Next, I scan the club Web sites for promotions that could reduce the cost of my hypothetical fans’ attendance, as well as unusual promotions and giveaway items. Finally, I write a snappy summary and prepare to start the process all over again with another division.
One of the most striking discoveries of much of the statistical research done in baseball over the last 20 years is that outs are more valuable than bases. This breakthrough means that stolen bases are only good when the stolen base percentage is above a certain break-even point. Furthermore, it means that “sacrifices” are an extremely bad idea if you’re trying to score runs, which we’d like to assume everyone is trying to do–even that team in Los Angeles.
I was at Safeco Field on Tuesday, watching a fast-moving game that was on pace to wrap up 3-2 Mariners in about two and a half hours, and ended up with one of the longest, craziest games I’ve ever attended.
I scored this game. I’ve been working on an article about scoring and finding a good card to match your style, and thought I’d finally settled on one. This game, of course, became the torture-test for a scorecard:
One big issue I didn’t address when I wrote about the wrong-headedness of the earned run rule last month is the idea that, while the rule may have outlived its usefulness today, it was necessary and meaningful in the error-filled early days of baseball. An old friend, Steve Thornton, put the argument well in a recent letter:
Your article on UERA, and the follow-up piece in Mailbag, are interesting. While I agree with you that the current system hasn’t made a lot of sense for the past 50 years or so, I think you’re missing, or glossing over, the history of the earned run.