Saturday, January 11, 2014

Dunedin Blue Jays probably not moving to West Palm Beach

While I am still setting up shop here and researching for future posts, here is another bit of news that caught my eye.

According to the Palm Beach Post (h/t MetsBlog), the Palm Beach Gardens City Council ordered the end of construction on a new spring training stadium. The proposed stadium would have be a new spring home for the Toronto Blue Jays and Houston Astros and possibly new home for the Dunedin Blue Jays.

From the Palm Beach Post:
The motion by council member Joe Russo in a city hall auditorium packed with 250 people, passed 4-1 with council member David Levy in the minority. Opponents of the stadium location, wearing red shirts, gave Russo a standing ovation.

Had the move happened, it would have spread out both the Grapefruit League and the Florida State League, which are both very Tampa-centric, to the dismay of teams on the east coast who have long travel times. Dunedin is also near the bottom of Florida State attendance, both in total attendees and per game average. A change in location might change that.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

My Vote for the 50 Best Players not in the Baseball Hall of Fame

The baseball world announced today that pitchers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and first baseman Frank Thomas will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer. All three are definitely qualified, with long, accomplished careers.

While the aforementioned will be inducted, baseball still struggles with a long line of candidates who played during the "PED era" of the 1990s and early 2000s - an era marked with high steroid and other performance drug use. Throughout the baseball blogosphere and twittersphere, numerous writers have offered points and counter-points on what the Hall of Fame should do about the issue.

Unfortunately, the Hall of Fame has done nothing, frustrating writers and fans alike.

At the blog Baseball Past and Present, writer Graham Womack came up with a different approach. For the fourth year, he polled his readers to select the 50 best players not in the Hall of Fame. When I offered to be a part of this year's effort, Graham sent me a list of over 500 retired players spanning from the early days of baseball through the Negro Leagues, the Japanese Leagues, to players of the current era. The only caveat is they had to be out of baseball for five years - the same qualification used by the Hall of Fame.

Going through Graham's ballot took me over a week. Although I thought I was knowledgeable about my baseball history, there were numerous names I never heard of. and other baseball history sites were a huge help as I researched every name I didn't know. I took the ballot very seriously.

After compiling over 200 ballots, Graham published the results on his site on Monday. It's a long but great read.

My ballot was quite different than the final results. Here are my picks for the 50 Best Players not in the Baseball Hall of Fame (My Hall choice/final result).
  1. Jeff Bagwell - Yes/Yes
  2. Roger Clemens - Yes/Yes
  3. Barry Bonds - Yes/Yes
  4. Charlie Finley - Yes/Did not make list
  5. Tom Glavine - Yes/Yes
  6. Shoeless Joe Jackson - Yes/Yes
  7. Greg Maddux - Yes/Yes
  8. Minnie Minoso - Yes/Yes
  9. Mike Mussina - Yes/Yes
  10. Buck O'Neill - Yes/Did not make list
  11. Sadaharu Oh - Yes/Did not make list
  12. Tim Raines - Yes/Yes
  13. Pete Rose - Yes/Yes
  14. Frank Thomas - Yes/Yes
  15. Buzz Arlett - Yes/Did not make list
  16. Mike Piazza - Yes/Yes
  17. Tip O'Neill - Yes/Did not make list
  18. Craig Biggio - Yes/Yes
  19. Ollie Carnegie - Yes/Did not make list
  20. Jim Creighton - Yes/Did not make list
  21. Edgar Martinez - Yes/Yes
  22. Oliver Marcelle - Yes/Did not make list
  23. Newt Allen - Yes/Did not make list
  24. Victor Starffin - Yes/Did not make list
  25. Rafael Palmeiro - No/Yes
  26. Sammy Sosa - No/Yes
  27. Mark McGwire - No/Yes
  28. Pete Browning - Yes/Did not make list
  29. Dave Orr - Yes/Did not make list
  30. Charley Keller - No/Did not make list
  31. Gavy Cravath - No/Did not make list
  32. Charley Jones - Yes/Did not make list
  33. Dick Allen - Yes/Yes
  34. Albert Belle - No/Did not make list
  35. Maury Wills - No/Did not make list
  36. Bernie Williams - No/Did not make list
  37. Harry Stovey - Yes/Did not make list
  38. Isao Harimoto - Yes/Did not make list
  39. Smead Jolley - No/Did not make list
  40. Gil Hodges - Yes/Yes
  41. Masaichi Kaneda - Yes/Did not make list
  42. Jim Kaat - No/Yes
  43. Benny Kauff - No/Did not make list
  44. Jeff Kent - No/Yes
  45. Fred McGriff - No/Yes
  46. Ross Barnes - Yes/Did not make list
  47. Dave Concepcion - No/Did not make list
  48. Chuck Foster - Yes/Did not make list
  49. Curt Flood - Yes/Did not make list
  50. Bud Fowler - Yes/Did not make list
  51. Don Mattingly - No/No
  52. Jack Morris - No/No
  53. Alejandro Oms - Yes/Did not make list
  54. Home Run Johnson - Yes/Did not make list

As you can see, quite a few differences. I found many Negro League players and olde-time players I thought needed more recognition than they currently receive, so they made it on my list as Hall recommendations. Maybe one day the Hall of Fame will have a batch recognition of names from the past.

I also leaned heavily on international names. I would like to see the Baseball Hall of Fame become a global museum and induct players from the Japanese League, Mexican League, and other foreign organizations. That would not only be good for baseball's international popularity, it would also make Cooperstown a global tourist destination, which is good for business. Although many might say the levels of competition between those leagues and the American Major Leagues were too different, my argument is that not every Negro League player was Major League caliber. There is no doubt Josh Gibson homered against some inferior talent and he is a Hall of Famer. I believe the same standard should be held to Japanese, Mexican, and Cuban League players from generations ago. Those players could not go to the Major Leagues as easily as they can now.

There were also five names I don't think are Hall of Famers that a majority of those polled do think should have a plaque in Cooperstown: Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Fred McGriff, Jeff Kent, and Jim Kaat. Palmeiro and Sosa both tested positive for steroids. In their case, I knocked 25% off their career stats, which made them borderline at best. Do the same for Bonds, Clemens, and several others and they still have great enough stats. Palmeiro and Sosa do not. McGriff, Kent, and Kaat had long and distinguished careers, but I don't believe they were great enough.

Finally, you are probably wondering why there are 54 names when I was only instructed to pick 50. That's because I can't keep track very well and confused myself on the print out and wrote the same number next to two different names four times. But on the online form I only voted for 50.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tampa Yankees probably not moving to Ocala

I didn't want to get into too much news just yet as this site hasn't been on its feet for very long, but this is kinda important. According to the Citrus County Chronicle, the Tampa Yankees will probably not be moving to Ocala, Florida after the 2016 season. In October of 2013, the City of Ocala and the Tampa Yankees had revealed a plan to move the team an hour north and build a new stadium off Interstate 75.

The Chronicle states opposition grew for the project, which would have meant building not only a stadium, but access roads, ramps, and other construction.
At a work session held at the Ocala Livestock Pavilion, an overwhelming number of speakers were in favor of the project, with members of the business community and Chamber and Economic Partnership leading the way.

However, at almost all the subsequent County Commission meetings, the feelings tilted the other way, with the majority of speakers talking against the project.

Looks like the Yankees are staying in Tampa and Ocala Yearlings of 1940-1941 will remain Ocala's only representation in the annals of Minor League Baseball.

Sample Daily Attendance Post

Here is a sample post of what I intend on tracking daily for each team in the Tampa Bay area.
  • Team Home Game #:
  • Attendance:
  • Starting Pitcher:
  • Opponent's Starting Pitcher:
  • Avg Attendance to Date:
  • Avg Attendance vs Opponent:
  • Avg Attendance per day of the week:
  • Avg Attendance for Starting Pitcher:
  • Promotions (if any):
  • Other Factors (traffic accidents, conflicting events, etc):


Welcome to Tampa Bay Baseball Market!

According to the most recent MLB attendance numbers, the Tampa Bay Rays drew 1,510,300 people to Tropicana Field in 2013. Over the past six years, their attendance numbers have been as follows (according to
  • 2013: 1,510,300 (15th of 15)
  • 2012: 1,559,681 (14th of 14)
  • 2011: 1,529,188 (13th of 14)
  • 2010: 1,864,999 (9th of 14)
  • 2009: 1,874,962 (11th of 14)
  • 2008: 1,811,986 (12th of 14th)

For many pundits in and out of baseball, these numbers are unacceptable. They say the Rays don’t draw. Few even go as far as saying the Rays should be moved. When saying this, they usually cite attendance at other stadiums as comparison.

Here is the big problem with that line of thinking:

That’s the wrong comparison.

Very few fans choose to attend one Major League ballpark over another. This occurs only in metropolitan areas with more than one team (NY, LA, Chicago). So to compare attendance between teams by looking only at total attendance is a foolhardy venture.

In baseball terms, looking only at nationwide attendance numbers is like pitching wins, it only tells a small part of the story. Similar to the positive win-loss record of a pitcher whose team scores 10 runs a game, a team in a large market is usually going to outdraw a team in a smaller market, regardless of win-loss record, stadium amenities, traffic, generational loyalty to the team, or even location of the stadium in the city. It would be more shocking if the large market team was outdrawn by the small market team, just as it would be surprising the pitcher had a losing record with such great run support or a pitcher with no run support has a positive win-loss record.

Assuming out-of-town attendees are a negligible percentage of total attendance, we must assume most Major League baseball attendees originate from the local metropolitan area. Hence we have to examine the metro area as the primary source of attendance.

Let’s start with the most optimistic of scenarios. If everyone in the area went to every game, the team would obviously have nothing but sell-outs. Most people would not be able to get in as there are far less seats in any stadium than there are people living in any metro area with Major League Baseball.

So the Rays don’t need every member of the Tampa Bay area to attend every game. But what they do need is for enough people in the area to attend every game, filling every seat every game. For the Rays, that would be 2,511,000 total seats for the 2.8 million metro area population multiplied by 81 home games.

31,000 x 81 = 2,511,000 (total seats to be filled in a season)

2,800,000 x 81 = 226,800,000 (total possible local attendees)

Dividing total seats by total possible attendees, the Rays need 1.1% of the population to go to games to ensure 100% seat occupancy.

Last year, the Rays drew 1.5 million over 81 games. Divided by the total possible attendees, only .66% of the total amount of fans required actually attended games.

Continuing the analogy to more common baseball writing topics, if profit is wins (the goal of ownership) then revenue is runs scored (more is better, but you need to overcome the opposite stat – expenses/runs allowed) , and attendance would be the equivalent of a batter’s strikeout percentage. It is possible for a batter to be successful with a high percentage of strikeouts, but until a batter has a K% with an “acceptable” range as deemed by the public, pundits and fans will have theories abound on how the batter can make better contact.

Likewise, every fan, pundit, and media member has a favorite theory on why the percentage of fans attending Rays games is so low.

Pick your favorite:

• Tropicana Field stinks
• The location of Tropicana Field stinks
• Traffic in St. Petersburg stinks
• Traffic in Tampa stinks
• The high cost going stinks
• The economy stinks
• There are other things to do that don’t stink

By the end of 2014, this site will explore as many of these theories as possible. It will also look at the three Minor League teams in the area from the same perspective. While the Clearwater Threshers are among the top leaders in Florida State League attendance, the Dunedin Blue Jays and Tampa Yankees are not, and Dunedin usually ranks close to the bottom.

We’ll look at all that. It will be fun.