Dec 21, 2005 – LESS IS MORE

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA • ‘If you take away seats, they will come,’ seemed to be the intention when the Oakland A’s announced on this date in 2005 that they will no longer sell seats to the upper deck in McAfee Coliseum (now called Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum).

At a time when ballparks like Wrigley Field and Fenway Park are squeezing more seats into their venues, the A’s are trying to pretend an upper deck of empty seats doesn’t exist. The move reduced the A’s ballpark’s capacity, at the time, to the lowest in the major leagues.

It was another act in the drama playing out in the East Bay over a new place for the A’s to play. Team president Michael Crowley told reporters back in 2005, “Our goal is to create a more intimate ballpark atmosphere and bring our seating capacity in line to what we have proposed for our new venue.”

While the team seems to annually over-achieve on the field the A’s have struck out on a new ballpark deal. But as of December 2016 the A’s have restructured their leadership with the goal of making it happen this time.

Stay tuned.

Contributing sources:
Comcast SportsNet, “Futuristic, Transforming Stadiums offer Intriguing Solutions For Oakland,” by Andy Dolich, December 19, 2016
San Jose Mercury News, December 16, 2013

Comments are welcome

Dec 19, 2003 – BLOW IT UP!

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS • A die-hard Chicago Cubs fan and restaurateur paid in excess of $106,000 on this date in 2003 for a baseball so he could have the pleasure of destroying it.

With all due respect to Cub fans who want to blame Bartman, none of the “fans” around him appeared to have the foresight to clear the way so Alou could catch the ball.

Grant Deporter got custody of the ball Chicago Cubs’ left fielder Moises Alou was trying to catch before Steve Bartman got in the way. Deporter, a managing partner of Harry Caray’s restaurant, had the ball blown to smithereens on the former Cubs announcer’s birthday in February ‘04 as an act of exorcism.

With all due respect to Cub fans who want to blame Bartman, none of the “fans” around him appeared to have the foresight to clear the way so Alou could catch the ball, and help the Cubs get to their first World Series in almost 60 years. Everyone was focused on the souvenir. Bartman just happened to be the closest to it.

Had Alou caught the ball, the Cubs would have been four outs from the World Series. The Florida Marlins would have had two outs in the eighth with a man on second and the Cubs ahead 3-0. Instead, the Marlins had one out and Luis Castillo had new life. He ended up walking, and then the flood gates opened, aided by a botched double play ball to the Cubs’ shortstop.

The Marlins ended up scoring 8 runs beating the Cubs 8-3. The Marlins won again the next night and took the series. For Cub fans, wait till next year, again.

The exorcising of the ball may have worked. It took another 13 years, but, as we all know, the Cubs not only made it to the World Series in 2016, they won it.

Contributing sources:
The Chicago Tribune, October 20, 2003
“Price surpasses even Buckner’s ball,” by Darren Rovell, ESPN, Dec 19, 2003

Comments are welcome:

Dec 12th in baseball history-LEAGUES FLIP OVER DH

1928 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – The designated hitter, that polarizing rule one league loves and the other hates, was initially suggested on this date in 1928, but the tables were most distinctly turned.

NL president John Heydler pushed the idea at the 1928 winter meetings in Chicago because, “the public has tired of the endless shifts in lineups due to the inability of pitchers to hit.”

American League owners got a big laugh from the idea suggested by the president of the National League – yes, the National League! “After laughing themselves sick,” Edward Burns wrote in the next day’s Chicago Daily Tribune, “the magnates went on record as being officially against the idea.” The idea was the designated hitter, the “DH,” although at the time it was referred to as the “Ten-Man Team” rule.

NL president John Heydler pushed the idea at the 1928 winter meetings in Chicago because, “the public has tired of the endless shifts in lineups due to the inability of pitchers to hit.” Heydler went on to tell his fellow owners, “The average pitcher not only is helpless at bat, but when they happen to get to base they are not inclined to run. They want to conserve their energy for pitching purposes.”

How ironic that 45 years later, in 1973, the American League would enact the DH and the National League would want nothing to do with it.

Contributing sources:
“Magnates give Heydler idea a great big laugh,” by Edward Burns, Chicago Daily Tribune, Dec. 13, 1928
“Heydler tells details of ‘Ten Man Team’ idea,” by Irving Vaughan, Chicago Daily Tribune, Dec. 15, 1928

FERNANDO-MANIA

NOVEMBER 11, 1981| LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA  Los Angeles Dodger phenom pitcher Fernando Valenzuela became the first rookie to win the Cy Young award on this date in 1981. The award goes to the best pitcher in either league, as determined by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Valenzuela took Southern California and the entire baseball world by storm that summer of ’81 with his composure (he was just a few days past his 21st birthday), enthusiasm and ability.

He finished the ’81 season 13 – 7, with a 2.48 ERA (earned run average). Valenzuela beat out Tom SeaverSteve Carlton and Nolan Ryan for the award. Valenzuela played 17 years in the major leagues, winning 173 and losing 153.

Contributing Sources:
“Fairy Tale Ending to Fairy Tale season,” by Mike Littwin, Los Angeles Times, November 12, 1981
1981 Post-season awards

a STORY from today in baseball history