Monday, February 22, 2016

400% Better than Football

About a week back yet another football zombie asked me why I watch baseball which he characterized as "a dying sport." It was an off the cuff comment by someone who really hasn't paid attention to how much baseball has grown over the last decade or two and has probably never even been to a ballpark - much less a game. Still, it set me to thinking. I know that baseball stomps football year in and year out as far as attendance; I just didn't know how much. So, I decided to look and provide myself, and the six whole people reading this blog, a general breakdown.

First, let's look at minor league attendance. I couldn't where someone added them all up, but the last ten years through 2014 were all over 41,000,000 for affiliated teams. Here's the actual attendance per each affiliated team for 2015 so you can add them up if you want. I'm just going to be lazy and assume a nice, round 40,000,000. On top of that there were at least 6,000,000 fans who attended unaffiliated leagues. So minor leagues had at least 46,000,000 attendees last year.

Second, let's look at MLB attendance. As I add these numbers up, I get an attendance in the Majors of approximately 73,000,000.

So, the total attendance for all of professional baseball is somewhere above 119,000,000.

Now, let's look at the NFL. As I add these numbers up, I get an attendance at NFL games of up to about 17,000,000.

Of course, you also have to add in college numbers if you are talking about football fans. Of course, football at colleges may be slowly starting to crumble (It's sad when the best spin you can put out is that at least this year you lost fewer attendees than you have been), but for the foreseeable future it will retain large numbers. Division I, Football Bowl Subdivision had attendance of up to about 6,000,000. I'm going to assume that all the rest of college  football (Div. I FCS thru Div. III) gets 6,000,000 too (almost assuredly wildly overestimating). Altogether, that puts college football at 12,000,000.

So, the total attendance for all football is somewhere below 29,000,000.

Doing the math, that means 90,000,000 more fans went to baseball games than football games last year. If I do the math right, baseball attendance was 400% that of football.

Of course, a large part of this is the number of games each year that baseball has as opposed to football. However, baseball has also been more nimble, adapting to better to times and circumstances.  The affiliated minor leagues have boomed and to a certain extent the independent leagues have as well; the Frontier League just keeps chugging along and new leagues keep trying to form to fill gaps. It doesn't hurt that minor league ball has a positive impact on local economies (unlike almost any major league team of any kind).

As well, baseball adapted to the internet quicker as a useful resource for fans (as well as an income generator). MLB.tv was a brilliant way of keeping fans connected to their major league teams and allowing them to follow the sport generally. MiLB.tv accomplishes much the same for affiliated minor league teams. In the independent leagues you are less likely to see video, however audio seems to be working its way in (the Frontier League's California Winter League broadcast its games over the internet).

On the other hand, football, fattened by TV contracts sat on what it had and has started to falter. While baseball makes a huge effort to make its fans and players connect, parents don't want their kids to play football or adopt football players as their role models. College TV viewership isn't living up to expectations. Their are signs of a weakening market for the pros as well - note that Monday night football could no longer survive on a regular channel and had to move to ESPN as far back as 2005. The NFL has not shown a deft hand at dealing with this, doing things such as setting a Thursday night game every week on the generally unwatched NFL cable channel. CBS put this year's superbowl on the internet, but you wonder how much they had to pay to do it and if it might have been the reason their TV viewership, while huge, wasn't as high as last year's.

All-in-all. football is still the TV megasaurus, but one wonders if its fan base isn't a lot weaker than baseball's overall. True fans go to the games. Any idiot can hit a button on her remote.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Reds Minor League Logos: 2-1-2

The Reds have had some really cool logos in their minor league affiliates in the past. In my mind, probably the best among these were the Mudcats and prior to that the Lookouts (for 20 years).  Both of those were cool because they were unique and even fit with "C" theme for Cincinnati. So, I started looking at the current logos to see which are good and which aren't. And here is how they rank:

The Good:

Dayton Dragons


 A+

The Dragon logo might be a little too much for an MLB team, but it is perfect for them.  Perhaps the best logo in the minor league which goes along with perhaps the best run minor league park.
A

The secondary / hat logo is also well above average. It's not overstated or silly and you know exactly what you are looking at when you look at it.





Billings Mustangs


 A

 This is the old-fashioned circle type logo done well.


 B

This is a solid logo with a clever mixing of the "M" with horseshoes.


 B-

Everybody seems to have to have a kiddie logo nowadays. Would I prefer this trend didn't exist? Of course. However, this may be the best it gets. It's not too childish and at least it doesn't look like a Hannah-Barbara cartoon.



The Average:

Daytona Tortugas


C+

What can I say about the Tortugas? Several quips come to mind. 1) I know you were desperate for a new logo when you went from the Cubs hegemony to a Reds team, but you didn't have to choose the first one that came to mind. 2) Turtle in Spanish is still Turtle.  3) Hey, it's Tippy! If I draw him do I get a free drawing course?  4) The Durham Bulls did it first and better.

It's a generic, not so good, not so bad logo. It's a little Hannah-Barbara-ish, but if I lived in Florida and went to games I'd probably buy a hat. I'm not going to order one to wear here in Virginia.


The Bad:

Louisville Bats


B+

The old bat logo was a solid logo that was cool. The secondary L logo they used wasn't and the color scheme was definitely dated, but . . .

B

They downgraded pretty hard. The shift to red and blue as team colors is fairly generic. However, the best logo out of the whole batch is the one to the right and it's a step down.  The dual bats is okay, but the crude drawing isn't all that impressive. I guess it's supposed to look old-timesy, but it just doesn't get there.

D-

The animated bats look like every evil animated character that Hannah-Barbara ever drew. These are the "kid friendly" logos and I would be worried that they would scare my kids. Not quite an absolute fail, but close.


D-

 Ditto above








C-

And then there's the girl's softball team uniform cursive name. 'nuff said.

Look, Louisville probably needs a new logo/mascot. They could adopt an older, traditional Kentucky mascot with a new spin: Colonels. I'd suggest not using the old plantation owner type of logo, but instead actually take the military rank. A colonel in the military wears an eagle as rank insignia. It would also work better with the red, white, and blue color scheme (I know it's technically red and blue, but white will always be in there as well).


Pensacola Blue Wahoos


F
There's really no way to white wash this one. That symbol to the left is the primary hat logo. The colors are muddled and the logo is so bad you can't tell what it is until you are standing two feet from the guy wearing the hat. Even then, the first time I saw it I had to stare for a bit to figure it out.  Beyond that, there's nothing impressive, attractive, or inspiring about this monstrocity.


D-
The best thing that can be said about this is that it's not as bad as the primary hat logo. The color scheme is still really bad and the fish is atrocious.
C
It's better than the two above, but the hook bent into a "P" still doesn't lend itself to easy recognition on a hat.






If the Louisville team probably needs a new logo/mascot then the Pensacola team is desperate for one. New colors. New mascot. New everything. I'm sure they paid somebody to create this ugly icomprehensibleness. They should get their money back. It looks like someone got stuck back in the days when purple was still considered a good color for a logo and then had a mandate from an owner who is a fanatic fisherman to include fishing in the logo. Definitely one of the very worst logos in all of baseballdom.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

43 Parks in a Year: April and May:
Where I went Last Year

April

Greenville, SC (The Drive): Field built to mirror Fenway. The Drive's poor pitcher did a good job but his fielder's weren't up to snuff yet and he got knocked out when they let a number of balls drop.

Hickory, NC (Crawdads): Like the concept of the mascot, but they didn't do it very well on the logo.

Charlotte, NC (Knights): Again like the concept of the mascot, but not way they were using it. The day I was there it was extremely hot so my outfield seating only lasted a couple innings before I walked back under the shade on the first base side and stood at a table and chatted with other people doing the same thing for the rest of the game.

Kannapolis, NC (Intimidators): A race car with "3" on it parked out front. If you are a baseball fan and NASCAR fan this might be the place for you (and, you might be a redneck). Personally, their "K" logo is my favorite from the last year. It wasn't the most well done. In fact, it is the most in-your-face, love-it-or-leave-it, openly bad logo I saw all year and I love it. This logo alone guarantees that the Kannapolis team will sell me at least one hat or jersey every year.

Cincinnati, Oh (Reds): Really good seats in the "scout" area which would have been awesome if it had just been a little bit warmer. Section had its own concourse and servers that came to your seat. I got body-checked by a rabid Cubs fan who was chasing an uncatchable foul ball. As well, the seat I was sitting in broke, but they had it fixed in about a blink of an eye.

May

Florence, Ky (Freedom): The first independent league baseball game I've ever been to (Frontier League). Their entire field is astroturf. We had really good seats immediately behind the dugout on the first base side, but it had rained and the drains were clogged. Consequently, there was a 6-10" puddle right where our feet were supposed to go. A couple kids came over and worked like madmen until they cleared the clog and after everything drained off we had a great experience.

Cincinnati, Ohio (Reds): I got a better seat then everybody else in my group - in the outfield, right on the wall. And then I got to the park and realized the Reds had sold me a lemon. If I actually sat back in my seat a rail entirely blocked my view of the field. Consequently, I had to sit on the front two inches of the chair, leaning forward, for the entire game.

Bowling Green, Ky (Hot Rods): It was a hot, humid Sunday afternoon and it rained up to about 10 minutes before game time. Consequently, this may have been the least attended game I went to all year. It was a good game with the Hot Rods coming back to win in the last inning.

Charleston, WV (the Power): One of my main memories is the rabid fans in a particular section who jeered the opposing team throughout the game. Another is walking on the sidewalk behind the outfield and watching a homerun clear the wall, go over the fence behind the walkway, go over the road behind the stadium and land in a parking lot. The last was leaving the stadium before the fireworks display (go to 3 minor league games and at least 2 will have fireworks). I got turned around a bit and was just driving past the well lit stadium when the stadium lights went out to almost instantly be followed by the seemingly immediate explosion of all sorts of bright fireworks. It's a miracle that I didn't smash my car into a light pole while I was blind.

Salem, Va (Red Sox):  Quite possibly the friendliest fans and staff that I've run into. And boy, did they love singing Sweet Caroline. I think everybody in the park was belting it out at the top of their lungs. I wish that I was close enough to attend regularly.

Lynchburg, Va (Hillcats):  I bought tickets for the section right behind the dugout in the boiling sun and there was almost no one in that section (locals knew to buy tickets behind the plate where there was shade).  Nonetheless, I was given the fifth degree by two separate ushers at two different times. At most stadiums after a couple innings they let the fans sneak forward into the good seats. Not Lynchburg. They guarded those seats like Fort Knox for the entire game.

Chattanooga, Tn (the Lookouts): My main impression when I first saw where the baseball stadium is located was, "OMG, there's no way this short, round body is climbing up all those stairs without having a heart attack or two." Then I saw the escalator. The stadium is on top of a very large hill / small mountain and it's impressive to look at from the outside. And, unless you are young or in really good shape you will want to use the escalator. They also have a pretty cool logo.


Kodak, Tn (The Smokies): Nice park. Nice people. So nice I went there twice (which might also be a result of them being the closest non-Rookie League team. Of course, they are a Cubs affiliate so they have an irrational fan base, but like most cubbie-types they are at least genially irrational. My main memory was of the park is hearing vuvzelas throughout a game and getting peeved because I thought a bunch of kids were being annoying. Then I walked around a bit and realized it was the senior citizens sitting on the seats right up by the concourse who were blowing the dang horns (and they were having a blast with them).

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Smattering of Talent: Reds

At the end of last month, MLB Pipeline published its best prospect at each position lists and its top 100 is up also. What follows are the smattering of Reds prospects who are in it. It starts with how high they are ranked at their position, followed by where they fall in the top 100 and then the number of their ranking in Baseball America's top team prospects.  Thereafter come some pertinent stats and any notes of what little impression I have of the player.


Right Handed Pitcher

7 of 10 (35 in 100) [1] - Robert Stephenson: (2015: AA/AAA) Best 3 pitches - fastball, changeup, curve - era: 3.83

Left Handed Pitcher

7 of 10 (66 in 100) [2] - Cody Reed: (2015: A+/AA - Traded from Royals) Best 2 pitches - fastball, slider - era: 2.41

9 of 10 (69 in 100) [3] - Amir Garrett: (2015: A+) Best 2 pitches - fastball, slider - era: 2.44

Catchers

5 of 10 [4] - Tyler Stephenson: (2015: R - Drafted out of High School)  BA: .268 SLG: .361 OBP: .352 [good first year - probably a several year project]

2nd Base

2 of 10 (71 in 100) [BA lists him as MLB] - Jose Peraza (2015 AAA - Traded from Atlanta to LA and later LA to Cincy) BA: .293 SLG: .378 OBP: .316 [obviously has the skills, but keeps getting blocked out of MLB and it’s happening again since the Reds did not trade their 2nd baseman as they obviously planned to]

Outfield

10 of 10 (34 in 100) [5] - Jesse Winker (2015: AA) BA: .282 SLG: .433 OBP: .390 [apparently had a schizophrenic 2015, doing poorly in the first half and really well in the second]
------------------------------------------------  

Except for Jose Peraza, all of these seem to be mid to long term projects. I feel sorry for Jose, who probably should already filling a roster slot in the MLB, but just can't get somewhere that has an opening. The Reds obviously thought they were going to move Brandon Phillips and got Peraza as the next great thing. And then Phillips decided to stay and Peraza gets to continue to stagnate in AAA.