The As are threatening to relocate out of Oakland if the city doesn’t roll over and a give the okay for them to build a new ballpark downtown. And, naturally, they have the full support of MLB for a possible move.
This, of course, is only the first step. Once the stadium location is approved, that same threat will be deployed again and again.
Remember, the Athletics currently own half of the Coliseum site and they’re negotiating with the city to buy the other half. Their plan is, apparently, to redevelop the site into housing and shopping–it’s right across the street from a BART station, so (assuming BART recovers from the COVID-19 transit slump) access is easy from anywhere in the Bay Area. There’s a lot of money to be made off that space.
Don’t be surprised if the As threaten to leave town if Oakland doesn’t sell to them (or a third party they’re confident they can work with). After all, they’re going to need that income to pay for the new ballpark.
Naturally, they’d never threaten to leave town if Oakland doesn’t kick in substantial money toward stadium construction. Significantly more than the ballclub is likely to pay for the Coliseum site.
The threat is as inevitable as it is depressing. We’ve seen it over and over again, every time a team in any sport wants a new home.
But to be fair, what other leverage does a sports team have? Fans will come out to see a losing team almost as readily as they will a winner, so threatening to tank (unofficially, of course, as saying it in so many words would get the team sanctioned by their league) wouldn’t accomplish anything. “Help pay for the new stadium or we’ll stay in the old one,” is no threat at all.
And it’s certainly a stronger threat for Oakland than it was in most of the occasions it’s been trotted out since the Sixties. After all, the Raiders are in Vegas now, and the Warriors are in San Francisco. If Oakland lost the As too, that’s one heck of a lot of tax money vanishing from the civic coffers.
So get ready to hear “we’re exploring our options” over and over and over for the next few years.
Not that I want to bring you down or anything, but let’s talk about how writers get paid.
I mean, I could talk about baseball, but that would be a real bummer. Fans of the Red Sox (15-2) and Mets (13-4) might want to disagree with that assessment, but if I was going to write that piece, I’d certainly point out that nobody’s going to finish the season with 124 wins, much less 143. (Fans of the Reds, Marlins, Royals, White Sox, Rays, and Orioles may, however, take heart in my assurance that nobody’s going to finish the season with a 45-117 record either, to say nothing of 27-135.)
But anyway. Not talking baseball today.
Except…Did you hear about last night’s game between the Twins and Indians? They were playing in Puerto Rico–part of MLB’s outreach program–and the game an extra-inning thriller. Both teams’ pitchers were overwhelming, keeping the game scoreless into the fourteenth inning.
I don’t care what the commissioner thinks. A pitcher’s duel is at least as exciting as a massive slugfest. More so, in some respects. Granted, nobody came close to a no-hitter, but neither team even averaged one hit per inning. Heck, even adding in the four walks doesn’t bring us to 32. Dominant.
In any case, both teams picked up solo home runs in the fourteenth, and both failed to convert scoring opportunities in the fifteenth. The Indians threatened again in the sixteenth, but came up short, allowing the Twins to win on a bases-loaded single.
This game was the perfect argument against that stupid idea of putting free runners on base at the start of extra innings. Would have changed the whole complexion of the game, made it less exciting and almost certainly shorter. Ask those fans in Puerto Rico if they would have wanted the game to end with an exchange of “bunt plus intentional walk plus sacrifice fly” as happened in their World Baseball Classic game against the Netherlands last year?
Sorry, I digress.
Oh, by the way, if high-scoring slugfests are your thing, there was one of those yesterday as well. The As beat the White Sox 12-11 in fourteen innings. That one featured 33 hits and 18 walks. Plenty of base runners, lots of scoring, and an ending that wouldn’t have been nearly as exciting if extra innings started with runners on base. Note that the only run scored in extras was the game winner.
I still say a pitching-dominant game is more thrilling than a bat-heavy one, and the lack of notice of the Oakland/Chicago game outside of those cities supports my opinion. But even so, why would anyone want to ruin a nail-biting conclusion like that?
But, as I was saying–
You know? Maybe baseball’s not so depressing today. I’ll save the discussion of writers’ pay for another day.
Well, okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But honestly, this is the second-worst week of the year. The first, of course, begins the moment the third out is made in the last game of the World Series.
But this one, the one that began when pitchers and catchers started to report to their teams’ training camps, isn’t far behind.
Why? Because, despite what so many people on the Internet and assorted traditional media would have you believe, baseball is not back.
Yes, those who follow college baseball have a different perspective. Their seasons are already in progress. Those of us who don’t root for a college team have to wait.
The first pre-season game involving a major league team–the Arizona Diamondbacks facing the Arizona State University Sun Devils*–isn’t until Wednesday afternoon.
* Does anyone else find it as amusing as I do how heavily the Diamondbacks have stacked the deck in their own favor? Not only do they have the home field advantage, but ASU can’t even use their whole squad–they’re listed as sending a split squad, i.e. their backup players, even though they don’t have a Pac-12 game that day.
The first game available to those of us outside of Arizona and Florida isn’t until Thursday, when the Minnesota Twins host the University of Minnesota Gophers. It looks like the radio broadcast will be streamed through MLB.com (and, one presumes, the MLB app), but I don’t think the TV broadcast will be available anywhere but in Minnesota.
Friday, we’ll finally get the first games between major league clubs. There are fifteen on the schedule, and some of them will be televised outside of the teams’ respective markets.
It won’t be good baseball. The first exhibition games are always rough. Star players often don’t appear at all, and players never stay in for more than a couple of innings*.
But no matter how sloppy it turns out to be, it’ll still be baseball. In ballparks and on our TVs, radios, and other media consumption devices.
Almost all of the stories we’ll get between now and then, designed to convince us baseball is back, will be nonsense. Nobody cares who’s “in the best shape of his life.” Nobody really cares that Pitcher X, coming off of surgery, took the mound: we expect he did, and as long as he doesn’t re-injure himself, tossing a double-handful of pitches is irrelevant to our view of the world.
In a normal year, the free agent signings would be, by and large, over with by now; this year, for the most part, they’re not happening. Either way, it’s thin gruel to tide us over until Friday.
We’ll get there. As the saying goes, “Hang in there, Baby. Friday’s coming.*”
* I used to own a copy of that poster, back in the dim reaches of history. I’d love to get a new copy, but not at the prices they’re going for on eBay these days.
Not all of the current news is useless. We now know there won’t be a pitch clock in MLB this year–no promises for next year, though.
And, if you’re following the saga of the Athletics’ search for a new stadium, you’ll no doubt be interested to hear BART has definitively ruled out the possibility of building a new stadium near the team’s second choice location. That’s a bit of schadenfreude that’ll keep me entertained until at least Thursday morning.
A bit of weirdness went down at the Oakland Coliseum yesterday.
Over on the East Coast, the Yankees and Red Sox are feuding over sign stealing. At issue is the Red Sox’ admitted use of Apple Watches in the process. (Let’s be clear here: despite what the headlines say, Apple’s technology has nothing to do with the actual theft. Video replay staff have been picking up signs from the TV feeds and using the watches to transmit the catcher’s calls to the dugout. They could just as easily have used cell phones, semaphore, or canine couriers. The whole process would be impossible if MLB had resisted the lure of video replay. Law of Unintended Consequences, anyone? But I digress.)
Apparently baseball teams over here on the West Coast can’t get their hands on Apple Watches. Rather than resorting to Android watches, it seems they’ve fallen back on more primitive technology: the human eye.
Seems that the Angels think the As’ batters are stealing signals by looking at the catcher. The As have not, as far as I can tell, denied the charge. And there’s no reason they should. Players on the field stealing signs has been a perfectly legal element of the game for more than a century.
And there are plenty of logical actions a team can take if they believe their opponent is stealing signs, including switching to an alternate set of signals or changing the sign after the batter looks away. Instead, Angles’ catcher Juan Graterol chose to give the As’ hitters the old hairy eyeball.
A literal example of “an eye for an eye”.
Graterol apparently also told several As to stop looking at him, which worked about as well as it ever does in the back seat of the car. “Mom! Make Mark stop looking at me!”
As you might expect, Graterol’s chastising wasn’t received with good cheer and a spirit of friendly sportsmanship. His words were met with other words. Possibly some that included four letters. The umpire stepped in, ejected As’ third baseman Matt Chapman, and warned both teams to shut up and play baseball. The game went on without Chapman.
From the stands–yes, I was there–it was an odd moment. We couldn’t hear what anyone said, of course, so we didn’t know why Chapman was tossed–or why Graterol wasn’t. Usually when only one player is ejected, it’s because he’s said something to the umpire, but we didn’t see any sign of that. Chapman kept jawing at Graterol, yes, but even on replays, I don’t see him saying anything to the umpire.
The crowd, unsurprisingly biased in Oakland’s favor, called for Graterol to be hit by a pitch on his later trips to the plate, but fortunately for common sense, the As’ pitchers declined to retaliate. It might have been justified under those “unwritten rules” we’ve talked about before–might–but putting a runner on base in a game you’re leading by only a run or two would be nearly as stupid as complaining about sign stealing.
I don’t expect anything to come of yesterday’s contretemps. The Angels and As don’t play again this season. Graterol and Chapman have a collective total of 100 major league ballgames under their belts; I’m sure some of the older players will take them aside and give them the “You coulda handled that better” speech.
But if a bunch of As’ players find Apple Watches in their Christmas stockings, we can safely assume they didn’t come from Santa.
A little bit of follow-up on last week’s trip to the Oakland Coliseum. Non-believers and heretics, indulge me on this one, because it’s not really a baseball post, okay?
First, and just to get it out of the way, the Mariners’ possession of a playoff spot lasted two days. By Friday, they were half a game out, and today, after losing five straight games, they’re two and a half back, behind the Angels, Twins, Royals, and Orioles. With forty-two games left, they’re not out of it–there’s that hope thing again–but it sure ain’t looking good.
Second, I sent a polite email to the As pointing out the incorrect information they had given me, and, I presume, everyone else who bought tickets online. (If you’ve already forgotten last Thursday’s post, they sent an email announcing that the parking lots would open at two, when they didn’t actually open until four.) I didn’t expect much; a bedbug letter at most. But to date–a week later–I’ve received absolutely nothing. Not even an acknowledgment they’ve received the note, much less an empty promise to look into my concern.
This is not the behavior of a company that cares about its customers. One might think that with MLB blocking the As from leaving town, the team’s ownership might want to hang onto the fans they have. Apparently one would be wrong–perhaps since the Warriors and Raiders are fleeing Oakland, the As think they’ll have an automatic monopoly on sports fans. Here’s a hint guys: it doesn’t work that way.
But that brings us to the third item.
On Friday, I got an email from “Oakland Arena Events” sent on behalf* of “our good friends at the Oakland Athletics”. The email asked me to take a survey about my opinion on their new “ballpark efforts”. Okay. I may be a Mariners fan, but I live in the As’ territory and if they ever get the new stadium built, I’ll go to games there, so I might as well let them know what I think.
* I guess that explains why I haven’t heard from the As. They clearly don’t do email. Maybe I should have Instagrammed them or something. What are the cool kids using these days?
San Francisco Chronicle Sports Columnist Scott Ostler got the same survey. Today’s Chron has his take on it. It’s well worth the read, but for those of you in a hurry, the bottom line is that he thinks the survey is pointless. Fans don’t care, he says, about the stadium and its amenities. All they care about is whether there’s a competitive team playing there.
He’s right. But he missed the point about the survey.
See, when you go to the survey online, the first ten pages ask demographic questions. Some of it’s relevant. It makes sense for the team to ask respondents whether they live in Oakland and how many games they’ve attended this season. However, if the survey is really about where to put the new stadium, the As have no need to know how much money I make, how old I am, or what color my skin is. And there was nothing on any of the pages suggesting that the questions were optional.
Actually, I misspoke. The previous paragraph should have said “at least the first ten pages”. I stopped at page ten.
If the team was really interested in people’s opinion about the stadium, they would have asked those questions first. And, had they done that and put the demographic questions at the end, clearly marked as “optional” I would have been fine with it.
But the way they laid out the question makes it clear that the information they can use to target future marketing pitches is what’s really important to them.
I sent another email, this one to Oracle Arena Events, asking them to share it with their good friends. In that email, I expressed my displeasure at receiving a marketing survey thinly disguised as a request for my opinion.
I’ve gotten no response to that email either.
The current ownership’s approach to communication makes it clear that they have little or no interest in their fans as fans; their interest begins and ends at our wallets.
So here’s my opinion about the As’ new ballpark, if it ever happens: enjoy it. I won’t be going to any games there. Nor will I buy tickets for games at the Coliseum while the As are there.
Unless the team’s owners make it clear that they have some interest in baseball beyond how much money they can extract from fans’ pockets.
It wouldn’t take much. As Scott Ostler suggests, making a visible effort to field a better-than-AAA quality team would be a good start.
Or just reply to customer complaints–even if it’s with a bedbug letter.
I wouldn’t have thought I’d have reason to be thankful to Chevrolet.
Sunday night, I happened to notice that not only was Chevy paying for parking at Tuesday’s Mariners/Athletics game, but they were also partially subsidizing tickets in one section of normally-cheap seats. So, in theory, one could attend the game and pay only the cost of an abnormally-cheap seat: $5.
I decided to go.
That five dollar ticket wound up costing $10.25 by the time all the various fees were added, but considering that parking alone is normally $20, I was still well ahead.
The expedition didn’t start well. On Monday I got an email from the As informing me that the parking lots would open at 2:00, and they expected the lots to be filled to capacity. So I left earlier than I normally would have for a 7:00 game, figuring to watch batting practice, and generally groove on the experience. When I arrived at 3:15–and, for the record, there were a half-dozen cars lined up when I got there–the gates were locked and the guard was adamant that they wouldn’t open “until sixteen hundred”. He liked that phrase, and repeated it several times during our brief conversation.
Once they finally let us all into the parking lot, we had another wait because the gates to the stadium didn’t open until 4:30. And yes, we had to go through metal detectors. Empty pockets, let them search our bags; at least we got to keep our shoes on. The new normal.
Finally inside, I made my way to the food truck plaza. Back in February I expressed some concern about traffic flow in and out of the plaza. I didn’t have any trouble, but the only entrance I found was through a narrow hallway where ushers and food service workers were gathered and clocking in. I can’t imagine that the hallway clogs with pedestrians closer to game time.
Once you make it out to the plaza, though, it’s quite nice.
I don’t know if I was too early or if plans have changed, but the promised “eight to 16” trucks were actually five. But they all looked good. I eventually settled on a catfish po’boy from Southern Comfort Kitchen.
Very tasty, though a bit more vegetation would have been nice. Catfish needs roughage.
In retrospect, I’m very glad I didn’t go to the regular food stands. Wednesday, Sports Illustrated released their health ratings of MLB stadium food sellers. They only got data for 28 of the 30 ballparks, but the Coliseum’s food stands ranked 27th. (Note to Jackie: Camden Yards ranked 26th. Bring your own dinner!)
I knew my seat wasn’t going to be the greatest, but it turned out to be worse than I feared.
Okay, not quite that bad. Here’s another look with enough zoom to more accurately represent how it was with the naked eye:
Not so bad as all that, you might think. The problem is that I’m somewhat acrophobic. Every time I leaned forward, I saw this:
I didn’t even make it all the way through batting practice. Fifteen minutes after I sat down, my arm was aching from the death-grip I had on my chair. Since there didn’t seem to be any chance of installing a seat belt, I admitted defeat and paid to upgrade to a seat on the lower level.
That red asterisk marks my original seat as seen from my upgraded spot.
On the bright side, they only charged me the difference in price and didn’t add any new service charges or handling fees.
I’m going to digress here. I know, what a surprise, right? The rise of electronic and print-at-home tickets is robbing us of emotionally-valuable souvenirs. Would you really want something like this as a keepsake?
Too big to keep pristine, flimsy printer paper, three different barcodes, and an advertisement. Not the stuff of which memories are made, not when compared to the real thing, printed on cardboard, crisp and shiny.
It screams “Baseball!” where the first example could be a ticket for anything.
Okay, digression over. Surrendering the cheap seat was the low point of the evening. I was the only person in the entire section in my original seat; downstairs I was sitting right behind a group of four Mariners fans taking a mini-vacation. In front of them was a family of five from the Netherlands taking a decidedly non-mini vacation. They were rooting for the As, but the kids, all under ten, were so happy to be at the ballpark that I forgave their sin. It was the last day of a tour around California, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada and the parents were obviously tired. But they stayed for the entire game–and, I can’t help but point out, the kids stayed awake and involved the whole time. Better than all too many adults in these benighted times.
Not that the game started well for the Mariners. The As scored three in the first, and by the end of the fifth inning they were leading 6-2. Adding insult to injury, the As’ final run came on a homerun, after which everyone in our section of the stadium was awarded a coupon for a free pizza. Or at least something resembling pizza.
(Pardon the added text. I wouldn’t want anyone to be tempted to try to scam a freebie from Round Table by printing a copy. Or at least not without doing some work to clean it up first.)
In fairness, my objections to Round Table have more to do with their advertising slogan than their food. The latter is unobjectionable at worst. The former–“The last honest pizza”–is offensive at best.
Then the evening improved. The kids from the Netherlands made it onto the big scoreboard screen, much to their delight. And the Mariners stopped giving up runs and started scoring them. It was 6-4 after six innings, 6-5 after seven, and tied at six after eight. No scoring in the ninth, so we even got extra baseball before the Mariners won it in the tenth thanks to a two-out homerun. Can’t write it any better than that.
Earlier in the evening, around the time the As were taking that 3-0 lead, Kansas City and Tampa Bay were losing their games. So Wednesday morning the Wild Card standings looked rather interesting, and not just from the perspective of a Mariners fan.
Mind you, with the Mariners winning again Wednesday and both the Rays and Royals* losing again, the standings are even more pleasant now, but that’s beside the point.
* In case you weren’t watching the Royals lose to the Cardinals last night, it took a cat to give the Cards the victory:
I trust you all–at least those of you in the US–had a pleasant Presidents’ Day holiday. I did, though I’ll admit that I accomplished the feat by completely insulating myself from any information about the current possessor of that office.
It wasn’t easy, but I did it. I skipped a large chunk of the front section of the newspaper, stayed off Facebook and Twitter, and left the TV and radio off. The result was quite relaxing: exactly what a holiday is supposed to accomplish.
Look, no matter how you feel about the current administration, following what’s going on in the world today is stressful. And nobody can run at full throttle all the time–that way lies burnout. So take a day off here and there. Unplug, tune out, and drop off the radar.
One newspaper article I did read was (no surprise) in the sports section. It seems the Oakland As have finally realized that the food choices at the Coliseum are offal. Pardon me. Despite the occasional flow of raw sewage through the stands and dugouts, the correct word is actually “awful”.
So they’ve spent something on the order of $1.7 million upgrading the “West Side Club”–now the “Shibe Park Tavern”*–and the food stands. It’s now possible for food to be prepared at the stands instead of in kitchens buried deep in the bowels of the stadium. Since we all know what else lies deep in the Coliseum’s bowels, this is unquestionably a change for the better.
* The changes at the Club/Tavern don’t have much to do with food, apparently. They’re largely to commemorate the Athletics’ glory days in Philadelphia with memorabilia, photos, and 24 beers on tap.
But the bigger change is that the plaza between the Coliseum and Oracle Arena will now host “eight to 16 gourmet food trucks”. And yes, there will be vegetarian and gluten-free choices. There will also be bocce ball courts and a “big video board”.
While I applaud the As for finding a way to bring higher quality (and, one hopes, safer) food to the fans, I can’t help but think that promoting bocce ball is a misstep. Why would I pay the outrageous price to go to a baseball game and then spend my time playing bocce ball and watching the game on TV?
To be fair, the As’ ticket prices aren’t as bad as many other clubs. Depending on the day of the week, the opponent, and the seat location, single game tickets can be as cheap as $14. But still. I’d be willing to bet that few bars offering big screen TVs and bocce ball courts have cover charges higher than the price of a baseball game.
I also worry a bit about crowd flow. The lines for beer and hot dogs on the stadium concourse are bad enough. If the food truck lines bottleneck through a single set of doors, the lines could easily get so slow that getting your gluten-free barbequed tofu wrap and GutBuster Pepperoni Pizza Burger* would take several innings. And, since the plaza is outside the stadium, they’re going to need to figure out how to handle re-admissions. With poor organization you might go out for your food before the third inning and not make it back until after the seventh inning stretch.
* Not real products. I think.
Mind you, this is all of theoretical concern to me. For the past several years, I’ve brought food with me to the Coliseum. While many parks have rules against fans carrying food in, the As have resisted that trend, and I don’t see anything on their website suggesting that’s going to change. Though, to be pessimistic, I don’t see anything about the food trucks either, so it’s possible that a rule change is in the works, and the website just hasn’t been updated yet. We’ll see.
It’s been a damned long winter, but signs of spring are everywhere.
I’ve finished my current bag of oatmeal–Bob’s Red Mill Rolled Oats. I don’t insist on the organic variant, but Amazon doesn’t seem to have the inorganic variety–and it’s warm enough I feel no urge to replace it.
The Chron is beginning to run baseball stories that have nothing to do with the As’ attempts to relocate outside of Oakland. According to the latest story, their slogan this year is “Rooted in Oakland”. I’d suggest they reconsider, but since they’ve already filmed commercials using the phrase, it’s probably too late. (To clarify, “root” has several meanings, not all of which convey the sort of message the As probably had in mind. In particular, the Australian slang interpretation makes it a darn good summary of the organization’s attitude towards the team’s fans over the past decade or so.)
And, arguably most importantly, the recent rains have resuscitated our lemon tree. After more than a year of producing next to nothing, it’s suddenly covered in lemons.
Let’s get one thing clear. I know some of you outside the Bay Area are thinking “Whoa, that writing thing must bring in pretty good money if he can afford a house with an attached citrus grove.” Untrue. It’s one tree. And, to be blunt, lemon trees are common around here, only slightly rarer than indoor plumbing. Granted, ours is a little unusual, in that–until the drought took its toll–it produced so many lemons we thought it must be part zucchini. But realty listings don’t even bother mentioning lemons; they’re just assumed.
But I digress.
It’s not exactly the season, but what can you do? When your lemon tree gives you lemons…
So there’s a jug of lemonade in the fridge, made to an exacting, complicated recipe:
Combine one part sugar, two parts lemon juice, and six parts water.
(You can make this at home, even if you don’t have a tree. Do not get packaged lemon juice, especially the kind that comes in a little plastic lemon. The flavor just isn’t there. Buy lemons and squeeze ’em yourself. Better yet, get the kids to squeeze ’em. It’ll keep them out of trouble for a few minutes and give them a sense of accomplishment.)
I know some of you are thinking “Sugar? No, honey!” It’s a valid point. But I’ve never had much luck with honey. It doesn’t dissolve as well as sugar.
And, while I’ve had some tasty honey-based lemonades, IMNSHO the flavor of the honey distracts from the pure lemon-sour/sugar-sweet contrast that’s the soul of the beverage.
Pitchers and catchers begin reporting to Spring Training on Sunday. Have a cold glass of lemonade and enjoy the turning of the season.
A baseball-related Who QAed This Shit? It’s as American as an apple-and-hotdog pie*!
* Bleah! Kids, don’t try this at home.
Allow me to start by filling in the background for those of you who can’t recall the last time you watched a televised baseball game.
Typically, when a relief pitcher comes into the game, the broadcaster will overlay an box on the screen to provide viewers with some background on the pitcher. This is what’s so delightfully referred to as a “value add” because it immeasurably enriches your viewing experience.
But I digress.
Every network has its own version of the overlay with a layout designed to showcase the information they believe their viewers desperately crave. Here, for instance, is what you get on Comcast SportsNet California, broadcast home of the Oakland Athletics:
Pretty straightforward. Name, number, team (in case you’ve forgotten which game you’re watching, I suppose), a handful of basic statistics about his performance so far this year*, and, down at the bottom, a single yellow bullet point.
* Occasionally, especially at the beginning of the season, you’ll get last year’s stats or career numbers.
And it all works well–until it doesn’t, as happened last week in a game between the As and the Yankees:
That’s an interesting bullet point, isn’t it?
Apparently the UI for creating the overlay prefills the data entry field with a helpful reminder. In haste to get the overlay on viewers’ screens, the stats person didn’t supply a bullet point. Oops.
Now, I’m not suggesting that our unfortunate stats person is responsible for a QA failure. That’s not his or her job.
No, the failure is on some anonymous QA engineer at whatever video software house CSNCA hired to create the overlay code. Either nobody ever tested this scenario, or the bug was prioritized too low.
In all seriousness, however, it’s the software design that’s at fault. The overlay software must* do one of two things:
Prevent the user from pressing the “Display to 29,000 Viewers**” button if the default text is still in the field.
Treat the default text in the same way it handles an empty field.
* I’m using the word in the specification sense. “May” is optional, “must” is not.
** Yes, the As’ TV ratings suck. (That number comes from an article in Forbes last year.)
QA for the Yankees’ YES network, by the way, does the job right:
It’s that time of year when blogger’s thoughts turn to change. Seems like everyone is talking about it. Change for the better, change for the worse. Far be it for me to neglect a tidal wave of interest. But naturally, I have to put my own cynical spin on it.
Herewith, my top five list of things that need to change in 2015, but won’t.
5. BART’s mañana attitude. Not just waiting until the last minute and beyond to negotiate with the unions–really, guys, it’s not too early to start working on the 2017 contract, honest–but in general. Cars are increasingly overcrowded; by the time the new cars with more space are delivered in 2016 and 2017, they’ll be packed just as tight as the old cars are now. And yet, we keep hearing that BART can’t start thinking about increasing capacity until after the cars are delivered.
4. Caltrans’ “It doesn’t need to be tested” attitude. Do I even need to elaborate on this? It’s not just the Bay Bridge: everything we’re hearing suggests that Caltrans needs to make a significant change in its corporate culture. Consider future needs. Don’t take it for granted that construction has been done to standard. Recognize that budgets are not infinitely flexible.
3. Government’s belief that citizens have no right to privacy. Did you notice that the NSA chose Christmas Eve to release a pile of audit reports, hoping that nobody would pay attention? Bloomberg’s report makes it obvious that nobody is exercising any control over the NSA. If there are no processes–or software controls–in place to prevent analysts from conducting surveillance without authorization, it means the organization is relying on self-policing. And if an analyst can accidentally submit a request for surveillance on himself, it’s a pretty good sign that self-policing isn’t working. And yet, the NSA wants more access to record and monitor everything that everyone does. Oh, and let’s not forget the FBI, which continues to claim that North Korea is reponsible for the Sony hack, despite significant evidence that the crackers were Russians, possibly assisted by an employee or ex-employee.
2.5 The increasing militarization of local police. As long as police departments are free to buy new and increasingly lethal toys, no one will be able to make any progress in decreasing the fear and distrust between police and the general public. Drone flights won’t make the public feel safer, and the increased resentment will easily flash over into more threats against the police. And body cameras are not and will never be the answer. They’re too easily forgotten, damaged, misinterpreted, or outright ignored.
2. The endless waffling and squabbling by MLB and the As. Just make a decision, people. Yes, O.co is a literal cesspool, but the As aren’t going to make any effort to improve the situation while the possibility exists that they could skip town. The costs of San Jose’s lawsuit are increasing, and MLB’s anti-trust exemption–already cracked by recent court decisions on the NFL’s blackout rules–is at risk. Regardless of your opinion of the exemption as a whole, having it revoked or struck down would open the door to levels of team movements that haven’t been seen since the 1890s. MLB needs to–ahem–shit or get off the pot before someone yanks the pot out from under them.
1. Phones getting bigger. Remember how bad the RSI epidemic was before we started to figure out how hard on the wrists sitting and typing all day was? I’m increasingly of the opinion that we’re treading the same path here. People are holding larger, heavier phones all the time. Bluetooth headsets aren’t a cure: you still need to hold your phone to play games, watch videos, and read and write all but the simplest e-mails. I fully expect 2015 to be the year of the sprained wrist, as Android phone-makers rush out models to increase their size lead over Apple. 2016 will be even worse when Apple catches up with an iPhone 7 that–projecting the trend–will require a personal crane to lift. Not that all of the blame can be assigned to device manufacturers. Several studies that I just made up indicate that all of the screen protectors, fancy cases, and assorted bling that consumers slather on their phones increase the weight by at least twenty-five percent.