Thursday, October 30, 2008

Stop the "neutral site" chatter now!

My message for those out there pounding their chests in defense of a neutral site World Series: STOP IT NOW.

Yes, the 2009 season, if the WS lasts until Game 7, will end on November 6th, the latest ever. Yes, if it includes a northern team not in a dome, the elements will play a huge role. But you know what? Tough. Stuff happens.

Former Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog wants the following:

Herzog suggested that baseball already should have built a grass-field, retractable-roof stadium in a neutral Central time zone city, such as Nashville, Tenn., which could have plenty of land for such a venture.

Herzog would have the whole World Series played at this venue, which ideally would seat 75,000 or 80,000 people, with an off day after Game 4.

You could call it World Series Week," he said.

With all the respect due to a man of Herzog's stature within the game, I can't stress how much I oppose this idea. I understand how it works for football (one game, early February dates, etc.) but it can't work for baseball.

It's not just taking the game from the local fans, it's the essential stealing of money from the local economies that participate in the game. Remember, it IS about the money, stupid. Why reward a neutral site city, one that doesn't have its own team and little chance of landing one?

We can cry about the fans who won't get to go see the games in person, but we all know that most of the tickets are snapped up by the corporates or are priced out of reach for mere mortals. Besides, the games start so damn late that the kids aren't there anyways. But the real reason this can't (and won't) happen is CASH.

The City of Philadelphia boosted their budget by an estimated $20million from this playoff run alone. Think they would willingly let that money flow to Nashville? Me either.
Up to $20 million could be poured into Philadelphia’s economy as a result of the Philadelphia Phillies advancing to the National League Championship Series, which begins Thursday at Citizens Bank Park.

An extended post-season run by the Phillies could generate more than $17 million in direct spending from visiting fans, media, sponsors and Major League Baseball partners, according to estimates from the city Commerce Department and the Philadelphia Sports Congress, a division of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau. The city could bring in up to another $3 million in direct revenues if the Phillies go the World Series through various taxes, such as the amusement, sales, parking and hotel room tax.

I think that figure might be light given the whopping figures I spoke about some time ago. Remember, this is the economic loss to NYC. Do you really think the Yanks, the Mayor, Governor, Senators, and other politicos would LET the Yanks play anywhere else but their new billion dollar masterpiece?
The report conducted by NYU adjunct professor John Tepper Marlin shows that if the Yankees snag at least a wild-card berth, a first-round appearance could fill the coffers of bars, restaurants and other businesses across the city with $26 million.

An appearance in the American League hampionship Series could potentially bring in another $54 million, according to Marlin's calculations.

Reaching the World Series would add another $61 million to the pot, he said.
That's some big loot, kids. No way, Nashville. No way.

So, what do we have to do to "fix" this? In short: nothing major.
  • Stop the over-reaction. Weather happens.
  • To be precise, what we need Bud to do is work with his network partners to wrest control of the start times and build in some flexibility. If rain is in the forecast, start the game earlier. It would be a hardship for the fans going to the game but that's the chance we have to take.
  • Games do not have to start at 8:37pm EST when both teams are East Coast-based. Start the games at 7:05pm just like in the regular season. That puts the game end around 11pm, much more reasonable than the midnight (or later) trajectories we've been on.
  • If the teams are on different coasts, then the later start could be in play to be fair to those West Coasters. But when the game is in the West, the start time should be 4:05pm LOCAL time, or 7:05 Eastern (assuming the team is in the East; adjust for Midwest as needed).
  • Lastly: Stop the All-Star Game winner determines Home Field Advantage. That gimmick sucks.


mikel said...

I hadn't read anything about the neutral site idea, but I agree with you that it would be madness!

That's not to say that I don't think Selig will consider it - he has a record of atrocious decision making up to and including the decision to throw pitch one on Monday night (everyone knew that it was going to storm - the line he's trying to pass that the forecasts were better is BS).

Dimitrios said...

The only bit missing is what tax payer is going to get taking to the cleaners to pay for this 80K seat arena in order to watch baseball.

If they cared about games played into November then what they should do is go back to East and West conferences, get rid of the wild card, and go back to how baseball world series teams were determined in the past.

Steve said...

I was listening to some national ESPN show the other day(I forget who exactly) and one of the hosts idea's to keep the WS from starting near Valentine's Day was that once or twice a month every team have a scheduled doubleheader. Sounds kinda nutty at first but it also makes some sense.

mkd said...

The season has got to be shorter. Drop it back to 154 (or even 148) regular season games and stop the baseball in Novemeber madness.

I live on the West Coast so I'm pretty happy with the civilized 5:30pm start times (game starts right when I get home and is over before I need to go to bed- awesome!). It makes up for being the only time zone on earth forced to watch the Olympics on tape delay.