Good morning and Happy Thursday, readers! This is my inaugural installment in the new-world WWW at the site. Ben and I will be keeping Jacob’s Thursday slot warm for the time being, and I’m looking forward to sharing some thoughts with you here on occasion in a format that’s a little different for me. Everyone has their own unique spin on our approach to the morning post, and I’ll be no different. Sit back, relax, grab a cup of coffee, and I’ll take you through a few happenings in the sporting world.
Let’s begin with yesterday’s news about Bill Simmons’s 3-week suspension from ESPN for comments made on his podcast regarding Roger Goodell and his approach to the recent myriad of issues “The Shield” has encountered1 Here’s an excerpt of what Simmons said:
“I really hope somebody calls me or emails me and says I’m in trouble for anything I say about Roger Goodell,” he said. “Because if one person says that to me, I’m going public. You leave me alone. The commissioner’s a liar and I get to talk about that on my podcast.”
Bill Simmons is a frequent discussion topic on Twitter, especially after comments like this. Some people think he’s a higher being’s handpicked gift to sportswriting. Others think he’s a no-talent hack. Me? Well, I’m not a fan of Bill Simmons. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t enjoyed articles that he’s written or opinions that he’s had. Overall though, the way I consume sports is much more about analysis, strategy, and insight. I realize a big part of the sports audience (including a good chunk of you fine folks) crave the entertainment element in your sports journalism. Otherwise, how do you explain Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith, and Simmons being employed by the four-letter network? Simmons was downright laughable on his NBA Countdown appearances as an “analyst”, and some of that may have been due to being miscast in that role.
All of my feelings about how much Simmons knows about the current game of basketball, however, is irrelevant to Simmons’ comments that got him suspended. Simmons, especially in the podcast medium, should be able to openly criticize Goodell for the way he’s handled the Ray Rice situation among others recently. ESPN is in the wrong here for suspending him, in my opinion. Then again, isn’t Simmons getting exactly what he wants? He plays the rebel card at the four-letter network, playing by his own rules, daring the suits to slap him on the wrist. He then fortifies the bonds with his diehards, gains the favor of some on the fence, and even people like me that don’t particularly care for him are at least talking about him.
On Tuesday night, I attended my 17th and likely final Cleveland Indians game of the season. That’s way up from the 4-6 I would see in a typical summer living in Columbus for the past eight years. With some rotten luck, I watched the Indians play to a 8-9 record with yours truly in the building despite a 46-32 clip at home. I saw plenty of bad, including Axford’s blown save of Kluber’s 13 K effort in April, ZacMac’s eight-run second inning vs. Oakland in May, and Shaw blowing a lead in the eighth inning on July 31. I watched three extra-inning losses of 11, 12, and 14 innings. I also saw plenty of good, including walkoff wins from Mike Aviles and Zach Walters, the battle for the Cy Young between Klubot and King Felix, and Nick Swisher hit a go-ahead homer against the Yankees that nearly conked me on the head in the right field seats.
So, I went to 17 games, and it felt like a lot (not too many, but enough even for a guy who watches this team every night). The problem, of course, is that the Tribe plays 81 per summer in downtown Cleveland, and there’s other people who think exactly like me. Worse yet for the Indians’ ownership, there’s far more casual fans than I that are content with going just a few times per year. I bought a Discount Drug Mart 20-ticket pack to go with three of my friends to five different games. Other than that, I went ala carte with my tickets, purchasing day of the game more often than not or having a friend or colleague hand me tickets which had already been purchased. What’s the benefit for me locking into a 20-game season ticket package? A 40-game package? With good seats available every single night and minimal planning needed, I’m personally willing to pay a little more to take the day-of-game hit in exchange for flexibility (meaning, if I had a long day at work, or I’m sick, or there’s something else going on, I’m not eating tickets for dinner).
Check out this article, the first in a series from Jim A at Cleveland Wins!, which asks some tough questions and demands some answers from the Dolans. Even if you don’t agree with everything Jim says (and I don’t), he brings up several points that need to be talked about if we can hope to come to an understanding regarding Cleveland baseball fan behavior.
The Indians need to fix their ticketing strategy on several fronts, and I don’t pretend to have the answers. But, I will say that I would take a two-tiered approach to this. First, I break down the barriers to get people to walk up and purchase tickets day of game. You need to have $8-10 options available on day of game instead of $14 and up. Get more people in the ballpark, and you’ll make the money back lost on the ticket with concessions and merchandise sales. Second, I find a way to reward season-ticket holders and those who purchase ticket blocks in advance. Give them something palpable that the walk-ups don’t get. I’m not sure if it’s more concession money loaded on the ticket or private events with players or prize raffles, but I know there’s ways to pack more butts into the sea of forest green seats on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. Cleveland may have some harsh realities to face about baseball, economics, ownership trust, and on-field performance, but that doesn’t mean progress can’t be made.
It wouldn’t make sense to present this WWW without pointing you all in the direction of the latest ESPN The Magazine article regarding the Indians nickname and Chief Wahoo logo.
You guys have heard my piece on Wahoo both on this site and on Twitter multiple times. I truly am exhausted by the debate and the raw ugliness it brings out on both sides of the discussion. It divides the fan base in yet another way that a small-market team would rather not be split. I remain pro-Wahoo, though admittedly not as strong as I once was. I also am now resigned to the fact that Wahoo becoming a thing of the past in the uniform scheme is an inevitability. I do think it remains to be seen regarding the Indians nickname.
I’ve purchased plenty of Block C gear in the last two years, and I’ve discussed on this site the pros and cons of different name and logo changes. When I go to the ballpark now, it’s probably a 50/50 proposition with regards to me wearing Wahoo on either my shirt or cap, whereas it was a near certainty before. The intent vs. impact argument is well-documented and uttered ad nauseum. I understand, and there are some very fair and valid points made by the anti-Wahoo camp. What it comes down to for me I guess is accepting Wahoo’s fate while at the same time not having to apologize for my current and past fanhood and the fanhood of Clevelanders since 1915 with the nickname and 1928 with the logo. I only hope there is some agreeable compromise that the Indians organization and the American Indian groups against the current organizational approach can make where fans feel like they have some say in the fate of their baseball team’s 100-year history.
Off-topic, non-sports discussion item? Well, Season 16 of Big Brother concluded last night with undercover cop Derrick Levasseur beat Cody Califiore with a 6-3 vote from the houseguest jury of their peers. TD and I are the resident BB fanatics here at WFNY. Personally, I watched the first six or seven seasons before going away to college then picked it back up three seasons ago when watching with my sister.
Derrick played the perfect game, a nearly impossible effort. Not only did he and Cody as a final two deal from Day 2 make it to the finale, but Derrick did not ONCE go up as one of the 55 nominations of the season for eviction. That’s four houseguests per week that were nominated for the first half of the game, eventually shrinking to two per week in the second half of the game. Still, with so many twists and turns in Big Brother between powers of veto, rewind twists, double eviction weeks, and jury member re-entry into the game, Derrick managed to stay one step ahead with his finger constantly on the pulse of the house. It’s an unbelievable position to be in to run the house for an entire season yet make it seem as if you’re only subtly suggesting next actions rather than calling the shots. Derrick did just that, including somehow convincing Cody of their rock-solid final two deal so well that Cody took Derrick with him to the final despite ensuring himself a win by taking the floater, non-competition winner Victoria.
— Big Brother Gossip (@BBGossip) September 25, 2014
If you haven’t watched Big Brother, it works on many different levels. There’s the base layer of entertainment: the verbal confrontations, the showmances, the wise-cracking jokes. Then, there’s the game theory (my favorite part): the strategy of knowing when and how to win competitions, nominate houseguests, stay off the radar, and form alliances over a 90-plus-day period. There’s also the human part of it, getting to see these people interact and have to always “be on” for an entire summer while getting to know their personality traits. The live feeds, which I subscribe to yet didn’t get into quite as much this summer, show the depth of the game in its near entirety, giving you insight into moves that almost happen but do not.
Have a tremendous Thursday, folks, and enjoy the weather this weekend! With all of this links talk, it’s got me in the mood for some golfing on Sunday!
Alright, two more for the road… sometimes it’s fun to feed the trolls, catch them in a trap, and watch them chew off their own leg.
Cleveland fans are so clueless about 2008 CC Sabathia trade, you sent CY YOUNG winner away for an average OF in Michael Brantley. #FAIL
— Ben Maller (@benmaller) July 7, 2013
Sorry to let Charles Barkley know that LeBron James is NEVER going to play for Cleveland again. http://t.co/Nh92x81fTY
— Ben Maller (@benmaller) May 23, 2014
- By the way, if you follow me on Twitter, you already know that I’m a fan of so many corny catchphrases and nicknames that you’d think I went to Nebraska rather than Ohio State. Yet, I always openly chuckle when I hear someone mention “protecting the shield”. [↩]