Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Collapse and Recovery
2006-09-08 02:33
by Mark T.R. Donohue

My laptop crashed quite dramatically two days ago. I have been working around the clock on getting it fixed. I'm not quite there yet (it won't recognize the battery, for some reason) but I did finally manage to get the DVD player working again. Now that I can watch a baseball game AND a "Buffy" DVD at the same time again, my life is a whole lot nearer to being restored to balance.

One of the things I did today was go through and recreate my obsessively organized and detailed set of links for every MLB team. Of course, the season is almost over and the chance I'll be needing to check in on what the local papers are saying about the Mariners between now and next preseason (when inevitably site redesigns will force me to go through the whole process again) is pretty slim. That doesn't matter. I am bound and determined to make things as they were. I was working pretty rapidly so I didn't give every site the thorough reading that I might normally do before writing one of my little "around the league" posts, but I did learn a couple of things.

Investor confidence in the Tigers is at a season low. Everywhere you look, the seeds of doubt are sown. This despite the fact that neither the White Sox nor the Twins, both of whom would have to raise their level of play substantially in order to disqualify Detroit from the playoffs, seem particularly interested in doing so. The attitude has gone from "they can't be bad, they've won all of these games" to "they've won all of these games, but they're still bad" in what seems like the blink of an eye. I guess that's not really true. The Tigers haven't been playing well for quite some time now, but the more public and sudden demise of the Red Sox distracted a lot of attention. As far as I myself am concerned, the combination of the (meaningful) end of the Rockies' season and the beginning of English Premier League play has quite reduced the amount of time I spend every day contemplating baseball. At the moment, I am just watching A's games, so that when the playoffs begin, I will be familiar enough with their roster to give the impression that I have been following them all season. They used to be my favorite team, you know. I never imagined when I moved to Colorado that I would become so immersed in the quagmire that is the Rockies franchise to neglect the exponentially more successful Oakland club, but there you have it. My one present comment on the Athletics: I deeply regret not paying the extra money the jersey place near Comiskey Park demanded for the additional letters and manpower that would have gone into customizing a "DUCHSCHERER" shirt. I went with Bobby Crosby instead. Bad move on my part.

It's been written before, but it is so unfair that the Marlins franchise has had so many great moments in front of a fanbase that mostly doesn't want it and a series of owners who have been eager to move it or get rid of it. The Rockies have the beautiful stadium, the attendance records, and nothing to show for it. Who is at fault? Florida has had better front office guys, and they've had better luck. It's no more complicated than that. In the wake of Anibel Sanchez's no-hitter, a lot of national writers have reflected on the Florida team's unique history taking the general tone that well, despite everything, they're going to move anyway. I don't think so. I have learned in my years as a baseball fan that it's completely impossible to underestimate the intelligence of the game's owners both as individuals and as a group. Have they learned anything from the salt-the-fields campaign in Montreal, a city where there once was (and still should be) a huge audience for pro baseball?

No, they haven't learned anything. If anything they know less than ever. But if you're a businessperson in Las Vegas, Portland, or San Juan you have to be looking at the situation in Washington with ever-increasing horror. The owners moved the Expos to Washington some three or four years after they'd stopped being a viable operation in Canada. Then, despite the fact that there was obviously no other place for the team to go besides D.C., they dragged their feet on every possible issue, from TV coverage to stadium construction to selecting new owners. Their strategy seemed to be to wear down the local investors and politicians by simply being as annoying and intractable as humanly possible. Amazingly, it seems to have worked, in large part. As an object lesson, though, the whole absurd farce of a transition has to have made some sort of impression on all those who might be fool enough to want to bring Major League Baseball to their own hometowns. It can't possibly be worth the trouble. And who's to say you're not just going to end up with a new version of the Royals? Or the Nationals themselves, for that matter, who despite a miraculously successful inaugural season have a farm system utterly strip-mined from years of underfunding and mismanagement in Montreal and compromised revenue streams thanks to all of the concessions given to Orioles owner Peter Angelos. If you're a potential sports owner and you've got half a head for figures (which if you're wealthy enough to a potential sports owner, you most likely do), you have to be looking at the precedent set by the ExpoNationals and thinking, "It's just not worth it." The same goes for the political figures and taxpayers of cities considering luring in existing owners. Is it worth the headache? Maybe better off to see if the IHL or Major League Lacrosse is interested.

One Rockies note. Colorado is 8-20 in one-run games since April. That's not very good. It doesn't mean a lot. If they had a record in the close ones that more closely reflected their overall winning percentage, they still wouldn't be a playoff contender, but sometimes these things are signs of surprising impending leaps in performance. If the Rockies get a little better and a little luckier in 2007, they could win ten or eleven more games. Unless the National League changes course abruptly for next season, that would be a pretty nice place to be.

2006-09-08 07:43:20
1.   Ali Nagib
Actually, it's the AHL now, cause the IHL folded 5 years ago. Several of the teams moved to the AHL, including the Wolves, which is probably the source of the confusion.

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