Saturday, February 28, 2009

The lost revelation from Lonn Trost: you get to pay more NOT to have a seat in the bleachers

Wait. What?

Lost amidst all of the other news about fans being too stupid to read the relocation documentation and price changes for obstructed few bleacher seats, came the revelation that standing room only (known in the biz as SRO) seats will be $20. Trost's entire interview can be downloaded from WFAN's website.

As Neil deMause points out over at Field Of Schemes, this is definitely a sign of things to come in regard to future bleacher prices. The Yankees were all about the PR move of keeping the bleacher seats at their 2008 prices, but when you are paying $8 more ($20) to stand in the same area as $12 seats, something has to give.

While some like Lisa over at Subway Squawkers are enraged by the SRO pricing, I'm not bothered by it. There are some people who like to go to baseball games and roam around to take in the sights and sounds. I mentioned this is previous posts, but I am one of those people. It is definitely nice to have good seats in the stadium, don't get me wrong. However, if you have the choice of sitting on uncomfortable bench seating in the bleachers, or standing up, eating food, drinking beers and meeting new people while enjoying a baseball game in a nearly 2 billion dollar state of the art facility, I'd go with the latter.

The skeptics will say that the Yankees only gave the bleacher creatures and the SROs access to the rest of the stadium to spend money at the gift shops and concessions. While that is probably true, it also serves the purpose of building up an atmosphere in and around the new stadium.

Yankee Stadium has always been a great place to see a baseball game because of the action on the field, but not because of the surrounding area or ballpark atmosphere. That is nothing to be embarrassed about, but in the greatest city in the world, there is no reason for there not to be great food, great surroundings and a fun culture within the entire facility.

I'm not sure of the ticketing strategy for the SRO seats, but I think it would be a benefit to the true fans if they only put them on sale the day of the game at the stadium. It would be nice to have the option of heading up to the stadium early on the day of a sold out game, knowing that the opportunity existed to snag some standing room seats that are exclusively sold on the day of the game. Not sure if this aspect of the SRO seats will come to fruition, but it sure would be nice.

Talk about it in the Stadium Insider Forums! Read the full post, after the jump

Open Source Content vs. Micropayments - and the continuing battle for credibility as a blogger

Yesterday, Dave over at Fangraphs wrote a story about the demise of The Rocky Mountain News, and how it was a sign of changing times. Like the software industry, he wrote, baseball information is becoming more "open source" and will likely be available as free content for years to come. Rob Neyer agreed, Jeff Fletcher? Not so much.

Today, Jake over at Bucco Blog offered another contrarian view, predicting micropayments as the future for baseball content. All of this is a lot to digest, but is definitely interesting reading on a lazy Saturday.

I mention all of this here because something Jake at Bucco Blog mentioned in his story directly affects this blog. Recently, MLB closed access to the MLB online pressbox, a site that used to give any fan access to interesting MLB generated statistics, and more importantly the media guides for all 30 teams. Recently, Stadium Insider broke the story about the support beams obstructing views in many seats down the left field line at the New Yankee Stadium. Upon posting the blog entry, the story took off, even reaching the radio on WFAN New York (they actually credited this humble little weblog on the air). Although writing this blog is a hobby and I opted not to enter the field of journalism, I do have a 4 year degree in journalism from The Pennsylvania State University. For that reason, I felt obliged to have journalistic integrity and give the Yankees the opportunity to respond to the photo and to the claims of obstructed views by a fan who had toured the Stadium.

As I had done before, I tried to access the online pressbox, but it asked me for a username and password. Of course, I didn't have one, but luckily there was a link to register for access. I was obviously naive in my optimism, because within the hour, I received the following message from the MLB Pressbox
Dear Ross

We have evaluated your application and determined that you do not meet the necessary criteria for membership in MLB Pressbox. If you believe that you have been denied access in error please contact us at or call 1-866-800-1275

MLB Pressbox
I quickly responded with the following email, hoping that an actual person was reviewing these requests and would be open to an appeal:
To Whom It May Concern:

Yesterday, I broke a story on about obstructed view seats at the new Yankee Stadium:

I would like to be able to reach the Yankees for comment about this, but I am not able to access the 2009 press guide with Media Relations contacts. I understand that you must be diligent in approving/denying to prevent the general public from having access to things only the media should see. However, I have a blog that has been read by over 10,000 unique people in the past 24 hours. For the sake of journalistic credibility, I want to give the Yankees a chance to give their side of the story.

Your response would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
I felt that it was a well-crafted email and it made perfect sense. While this blog is my hobby, I also am committed to continuing the crusade of respect for blogs by following the same rules any other journalist would follow when breaking a news story. Sadly, I never heard back.

Last night, while messing around with my new favorite social networking tool TweetDeck, I came across the Twitter account for MLBlogs. I shared the above story with whoever was manning the twitter for obvious reasons - he was in charge of the blogs for MLB. Below is the correspondence:

mlblogs: sorry -- i write articles for and run MLBlogs. I am not sure I can be much helpful [sic] to you on that front.

You can help get media relations people in MLB to recognize blogs as legit news sources and not just disregard us!

Sorry I'm on a soapbox tonight - I just figured being that you run MLBlogs, you would understand my frustration!

mlblogs: not exactly on same page with you, some could be credentialed in future, but most bloggers by far lack journalism education that's necessary

mlblogs: i go into this all the time, you should start an MLBlog and join my community blog where I have JBlog School and counsel bloggers on such.

mlblogs: j-law, j-ethics, newspaper reporting - many crucial elements required to have writers interviewing sources with responsible journalism

mlblogs: a blog does not necessarily equal a journalism education/background that typically is going to lead to credentialing. just being upfront w u

mlblogs: but it is discussed at industry meetings the last 2 decembers and more and more there will be some kind of development as lines blur.

I hear you - For the record, I have a journalism degree from Penn State University. That being said, I didn't enter the field.

Me: I run my blog as a hobby. However, when I had a story, I wanted to give the Yankees a chance to comment.

Me: I think that discouraging access to the media relations contact #'s to bloggers enhances speculating and misinformation.

mlblogs: [email redacted] may be able to further advise on MLB position on credentialing. I don't know enough about it further. u can use my name

Me: Thanks for the info though, it is very interesting and I'd love to learn more about how MLB is responding to these issues.

Me: Sorry to get you off topic. I don't ever want credentials, I just wanted to be responsible and get both sides of a story.

mlblogs: my focus is on building the best blogging community for people to have an outlet for their baseball posting, and it includes authors/others
I apologize for the choppy nature of that conversation - each message back and forth had to be under 140 characters. Ah, the trials and tribulations of Twitter. There is some interesting information there. Obviously I came out of nowhere with a larger social issue than is typically communicated via a service limiting correspondence to 140 characters. Therefore, I am not immediately going to brand MLBlogs part of the "old guard," trying to hold blogs down. However, I was a bit disappointed that he immediately questioned my journalistic background,simply because I write for a blog. This falls in line with the obvious MLB policy, since I was declined access to the MLB online pressbox.

The bottom line here? There appears to be some confusion between "access" and "information." The MLB believes they are protecting the integrity of journalism by preventing access to their media relations contacts. I believe I am protecting the integrity of journalism on my blog by seeking information from the media relations contacts. It seems like both sides are after the same result, but have completely different ideas on how to achieve that result.

I don't ever want credentials, I just don't want to be treated as a second-class citizen because I write for a blog. One thing is for sure, the mainstream media vs. blogosphere battle is not going away any time soon.

Talk about it in the Stadium Insider Forums! Read the full post, after the jump

Pre-sale date set for Yankees 2009 single game tickets

According to inside information, Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees' season ticket holders will get their shot at 2009 New York Yankee single game tickets on March 17, 2009. One would assume that New York Yankee ticket plan holders will have a pre-sale prior to that date, and the on sale for the general public will be shortly after that date.

The COO of the Evil Empire, Lonn Trost mentioned that single game tickets would be on sale on or around March 15, 2009. It is not surprising that the general on sale date is likely to be later - Lonn Trost typically speaks in half-truths.

When dates are confirmed, Stadium Insider will be the first to let everyone know.

Talk about it in the Stadium Insider Forums! Read the full post, after the jump

Preview of the opening day lineup today in Tampa?

On the heels of record television ratings for the 2009 Spring Training home opener on Thursday, the YES Network jumps right back on the horse with a matinee matchup between the Twins and the Yankees at 1:15 PM today.

As a treat for the sold out crowd at Steinbrenner Field and the large weekend viewership at home on YES, the Yankees have decided to break out the big guns. Courtesy of Yankee beat reporter Bryan Hoch:
Johnny Damon LF
Derek Jeter SS
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Jorge Posada DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Jose Molina C
Melky Cabrera CF

Joba Chamberlain RHP
Aside from Melky getting the nod over Gardner, there is a VERY good chance you are looking at the lineup and starting pitcher for the April 16 home opener in the Bronx. Obviously, the Yankees would prefer to have Jorge catching the home opener with Molina on the bench and Matsui at DH, but there are no guarantees that Posada's shoulder will be ready or that Matsui's knee will be good to go. My preference would be to bat Swisher ahead of Cano in this lineup, but that change would be unlikely to create any tangible difference in runs scored over the course of a season.

Should be a fun one to watch. Don't forget to check out the Stadium Insider Spring Training '09 broadcast schedule for SOPCAST/TV Ants links for the games, and for the upcoming games that you will be able to watch or listen to.

Talk about it in the Stadium Insider Forums! Read the full post, after the jump

Friday, February 27, 2009

Fun with PECOTA comparables: The Yankees 2009 staff is chock full of Roger Clemens in his prime

While reading through my copy of Baseball Prospectus 2009, something jumped off the pages about the comparables for the Yankees' pitching staff - Roger Clemens was omnipresent. For those of you not familiar with the projection systems, the following is how Baseball Prospectus defines comparables:
Comparable Players are the backbone of a player's PECOTA. Only the twenty best comparables are listed here, but as many as 100 players may be used in the generation of his forecast if they are sufficiently comparable.

PECOTA compares each player against a database of roughly 20,000 major league batter seasons since World War II. In addition, it also draws upon a database of roughly 15,000 translated minor league seasons (1997-2006) for players that spent most of their previous season in the minor leagues. (When minor league comparables are used, they appear in ALL CAPS). PECOTA considers four broad categories of attributes in determining a player's comparability
PECOTA essentially tracks a pitcher's career path and tries to predict the future largely based on past results. It is widely accepted that PECOTA is at the top of the totem pole when it comes to projections systems, and the system is known as "deadly accurate."

For that reason, I got pretty excited when I saw that various prime seasons of Roger Clemens' presumably pre-steroid years were among the top three comparables for CC Sabathia, A.J Burnett and Joba Chamberlain. Lets get a sneak preview of their comps (paid content from Baseball Prospectus' website):


Rank Pitcher Year Score Trend Rank Pitcher Year Score Trend
1 Don Drysdale 1965 37 11 Mark Gubicza 1991 25
2 Steve Carlton 1973 31 12 Fergie Jenkins 1971 24
3 Roger Clemens 1991 30 13 Len Barker 1984 24
4 Frank Viola 1989 30 14 Chris Short 1966 23
5 Rick Reuschel 1978 28 15 Larry Dierker 1975 21
6 Jim Kaat 1967 28 16 John Smoltz 1996 21
7 Andy Benes 1996 28 17 Jose Rijo 1994 21
8 Roy Halladay 2006 27 18 Bert Blyleven 1980 20
9 Sam McDowell 1971 27 19 Greg Swindell 1993 20
10 Aaron Harang 2007 27 20 Brandon Webb 2008 19


Rank Pitcher Year Score Trend Rank Pitcher Year Score Trend
1 Jack Morris 1987 50 11 Todd Stottlemyre 1997 34
2 Mike Scott 1987 46 12 Earl Wilson 1967 33
3 Roger Clemens 1995 41 13 Mike Krukow 1984 33
4 Joe Dobson 1949 39 14 Kevin Millwood 2007 33
5 Chris Carpenter 2007 39 15 Bob Gibson 1968 32
6 Vic Raschi 1951 38 16 Darren Dreifort 2004 32
7 Kevin Gross 1993 37 17 Jim Clancy 1988 32
8 Gaylord Perry 1971 36 18 Pedro Astacio 2002 32
9 Bruce Hurst 1990 36 19 Dave Stewart 1989 31
10 Curt Schilling 1999 35 20 Bert Blyleven 1983 31


Rank Pitcher Year Score Trend Rank Pitcher Year Score Trend
1 Roger Clemens 1986 50 11 Johnny Antonelli 1954 26
2 Aaron Sele 1994 43 12 Steve Carlton 1968 25
3 Don Newcombe 1950 41 13 Billy Loes 1953 24
4 Bill Singer 1968 35 14 Bill Gullickson 1982 24
5 Dave Righetti 1982 32 15 Joey Jay 1959 22
6 Erv Palica 1951 31 16 Burt Hooton 1973 22
7 Jose Rijo 1989 30 17 Andy Messersmith 1969 22
8 Jonathan Broxton 2008 30 18 Dick Ruthven 1975 22
9 Jim Maloney 1964 27 19 Vida Blue 1973 21
10 Rick Reuschel 1973 27 20 Dennis Bennett 1963 21
(all of the links in the above charts bring you back to where you can peruse the glossary in case you aren't familiar with the terminology)

Those charts are filled with some pretty impressive comps including a wide range of Roger Clemens' historic career. These are obviously just computer projections and all of the work is done on the field. That being said, the Yankees are in a position to have a pretty dominant pitching staff in 2009 if everyone stays healthy. PECOTA predicts especially good things for A.J Burnett, although I still think he will be a disappointment. One thing is for sure - PECOTA loves a pitcher with high strikeout rates and hates a guy like Chien Ming Wang who relies on balls in play.

Talk about it in the Stadium Insider Forums! Read the full post, after the jump
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