Friday, February 19, 2010


So Tiger Woods had his say today and it was well done. Does the Fan forgive the guy? Hey, it's his business, not the Fan's. The Fan just wants to know when he'll play again. This little fence mending expedition comes a few weeks after former GM and ESPN analyst, Steve Phillips, talked about his sexual addiction. At the sake of sounding all uneducated and stupid, the Fan's take on all this is heavy on the skepticism.

Look, we all have cravings. In fact, right now the Fan is really craving Kentucky Fried Chicken. But life is full of these cravings. The balancing act is to balance the cravings with the end results. If the Fan eats KFC, he ends up making weird noises on the porcelain fixtures and has many agonizing moments therein. The Fan gets this craving several times a month and gives in to it perhaps once a year. But that one time is enough to educate for the rest of the year. Cravings are something we want. Reality is what we know will/could happen if we give in to those cravings.

There are legitimate addictions. Tobacco is among the worst. But chemical addictions are very real. In those cases, the body is altered and chemical deficiencies scream out to be heard. Yeah, those are cravings, but until help or will is summoned, the price of giving in to those cravings goes unheeded.

The Fan isn't well versed in psychology and those kinds of studies. But the Fan is aware of sexual cravings. Yeah, the Fan is a man and men get cravings. The Fan can't speak about women because he isn't one. But they must get cravings too. But when you are married or in a serious relationship, the cravings are like that KFC thing. Yeah, we know what will happen if it all blows up in our faces. Fortunately, most of us don't give in to them once a year like KFC and hopefully, we find some bliss and aid for our needs from our significant others.

And again, the Fan isn't a sociologist. But it seems that men are wired to crave women (if we have that sexual preference anyway). Studies have shown that our pulse quickens at the sight of a pretty girl. We just can't help ourselves. We also have innate (so they say) desires for conquest that go back to our human roots (or our sinful and carnal side, depending on your belief system). But as rational men (is that an oxymoron?) we make the trade off of putting a "shush" to our cravings and our nature for the convenience of a partner that makes the world a much nicer place to live.

But you put a man in a playground where there are no rules and he will try to satisfy his cravings as many times as possible. If you don't believe the Fan, watch Big Brother. When men have unlimited money, unlimited opportunities and people who will take money to feed our cravings, then that trade off system gets a little harder to deal with. Sexual addiction? No. That's just the same cravings we all have with no rules or restrictions. When you have a lot of money, you secretly think you are gifted above mere mortals and the same rules don't apply. It's very hard not to feel those kinds of "I'm special" thoughts. Tiger Woods said the same thing today.

Therapy? Sure. When a man is in the kind of fix Tiger Woods is in, then you go to therapy or whatever else your mother or offended wife thinks is appropriate. Deep down, do you really think Tiger Woods thinks he has an addiction? No, deep down, he knows that he has manly cravings that ran amok because they could and now that he is busted, he has to revert back to the trade off system. Does Steve Phillips have an addiction? No, that's what he has accepted as part of his punishment for getting caught. After all, he would like to work again.

Personally, sex and love are totally separate issues. But we are so screwed up, we can't separate them without people's feelings being hurt. We are screwed up about this issue you know. So, though the human species isn't really good at the monogamy thing, that's what we have to deal with at present and its trade off system. Those who have means and ability and who come to believe they are above it all, they do what our species is especially good at and that is finding some other warm place to put our warm places and they do so thinking that they are entitled to be above our present system.

Frankly, if we could simply separate the two issues of love and sex, we wouldn't have this problem to begin with. But let the Fan prove his point by asking you one basic question: Haven't you seen a face like Tiger's today somewhere before? Yes you have. Admit it. You've seen that same face when a man is seen walking out of a porn shop (if those places still exist in this world of the Internet) or when a man is caught participating in pregnancy classes with his woman. It's the same face. The face simply says: "Oh my, I've been caught red handed and am in this mess thanks to my cravings."

Addicts? Who knows. The Fan doesn't know everything. But this whole sexual addiction things seems pretty bogus.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rooting for J. J. Hardy

J. J. Hardy hit a wall last year with the Milwaukee Brewers. After two seasons averaging 25 homers per and above league average OPS+, he sank to .229 last year with 11 homers and had the indignity of being sent down to the minors for three weeks. The Brewers all but gave up on him to bring in Alcides Escobar, the supposed next great thing for the Milwaukee Brewers. Escobar batted over .300, but he showed little patience at the plate and had no pop in his bat. The Fan's first thought when the Brewers traded Hardy to the Twins was that the Twins were getting the better shortstop. Heck, he's got to be an upgrade on Nick Punto.

Escobar could turn out to be great. But Hardy put up better fielding numbers and for his career has shown himself to have above league average range at short and a higher fielding percentage than league average. Hardy had 15 errors in 2008. Escobar made 6 in 33 games for the Brewers.

Hardy seems like a good guy. Looking at his stats, it appears that after his 26 homer performance in 2007, he started swinging for them in 2008. Though 2008 was a better statistical year for Hardy than 2007, his strikeouts rose from 78 to 93 for pretty much the same number of plate appearances.

The Twins seem like the perfect place to land for Hardy. For one, he'll have no competition for his job at short. Punto was a great fielder, but man, the guy could not hit his weight most of the time. Secondly, the Twins are such a good organization. They stress fundamentals and team play and Hardy should thrive in that situation. The Twins will keep him on an even keel and stay on top of him if he starts swinging from his heels.

With another chance to flourish with a new organization, this writer predicts that Hardy will again hit 25 homers, drive in 80 and put up a solid 110 or better OPS+. If he does that and continues his excellent glove work, the Twins should gain three or four wins over anything they would have gotten from Punto.

The Fan will be rooting for him. The feeling here is that he wasn't treated very well by the Brewers and deserves to show what he can do for a class organization like the Twins.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Building a Brand

Part of every business model is building a brand. Once you have a known brand, it's tough to beat. When working for a tax software company that was very successful, we were always trying to catch up to Intuit because they had the better-known brand, "TurboTax". Words like "Kleenex" and "Q-tips" have become household words which is the grand poobah of brand-building. Several baseball teams have been successful building their brands. It is no mystery that the teams that have great success building their brands have great success on the baseball diamond. They are cause and effect in a chicken or the egg kind of way. Some teams have a long way to go to build their brands. Some of the problems are team names which aren't condusive to brand building. But some teams just don't get it. For the sake of the exercise, here is a businessman's view of MLB teams and a scorecard of their brand building excellence. To show a lack of favoritism that is so obviously there, the teams are listed in alphabetical order.

Arizona Diamondbacks

  • Team Name: A bit long and unwieldy. The Snakes would have been better.
  • Logo: The team has done a nice job of incorporating the snake into their logo. The snake, "D," is especially effective.
  • Attendance: The D-backs (a cool nickname by the way) lost about 300,000 in attendance last year and are off about a million ticket sales since their high of over 3 million in 2002.
  • Analysis: The Diamondbacks have done a good job for being such a new team. Only in existence for twelve years, they have been to the post-season four times including their dramatic World Series win. Their top players are rarely featured in national ads. They seem to have a good market but could do better to promote their brand.
  • Grade: 7 out of 10 which is pretty darn good for a new team.

Atlanta Braves:

  • Team Name: Not particularly politically correct, but too steeped in history to be abandoned.
  • Logo: The logo incorporates the brave hatchet, so that's good (except for the people it offends). The lettering is weak and not particularly effective.
  • Attendance: Their 2.4 million in attendance was off about 300,000 from just a few years ago, but even then, they haven't ever drawn as well as a team in a great market like Atlanta should do. They are always in the middle of the pack in attendance.
  • Analysis: The Braves seemingly have had every advantage. They had a great and flamboyant owner in Ted Turner. They had one of the first national cable television deals. They had consistent success on the field and one of the most beloved managers of all time. They have had star players with marquis names, but just don't seem to draw that well despite of it and as such have had salary issues that have kept them from being competitive in recent years.
  • Grade: 5

Baltimore Orioles

  • Team Name: The name, "Orioles" is an old one rooted into the early reaches of the 20th Century. But it is a passive name and hard to build on.
  • Logo: The team's logo is kind of boring. The scripted name is similar to the font and style of the Braves. It just doesn't grab you.
  • Attendance: The Orioles have averaged between 1.9 and 2.1 million for a long time which is in the middle of the pack. They should have a good market.
  • Analysis: The Orioles have a wonderful ballpark that has become a centerpiece for the team and a rallying point. They also have success in their past. Recent years have presented the idea that the team isn't managed well and that perceived turmoil is never good for marketing. They seem to be on the right road though with a strong new emphasis on developing prospects. That should improve their perception in the marketplace. But they need some success to show the growth.
  • Grade: 5

Boston Red Sox

  • Team Name: The name is so old that you don't think about how passive it is. But it is a passive team name at the very least.
  • Logo: The Red Sox logo of two hanging red socks is boring as heck and needs a fresh new update. It really is staid and corny. The word, "Hackneyed" seems to come to mind.
  • Attendance: The Red Sox have done a great job of filling their ballpark. Fenway is utilized to its fullest as a symbol of the team. The new seats on the "Green Monster" are fabulous.
  • Analysis: "Red Sox Nation" has become as big a phenomenon as the "America's Team" of the Dallas Cowboys. They have done a super job of building this brand. They use their history and their great old ballpark really well. NESN adds to the success and is a solid cable brand. Say "Green Monster" to just about anyone in the country and you'll know exactly what they are talking about. While it is evident the team has done much to pull even (and even ahead) of the Yankees on success and smarts, they still project a bit of the second best attitude particularly expressed last year when the Yankees signed Teixeira. That needs to stop.
  • Grade: 9 out of 10. It would be a 10 except for the dull old logo and the "evil Yankee empire" rantings.

Chicago Cubs

  • Team Name: Kind of cuddly, eh? The football team is the bears, a much more aggressive name. But "Cubs" is lovable, which isn't necessarily always a good thing. But at least it has some heft of history.
  • Logo: The Cubs logo, with a circle and the, "C" surrounding the rest of the name is well done. The colors are a bit pastel and add to the cuddly affect.
  • Attendance: The Cubs' ability to draw fans has never been a problem. Wrigley Field is the National League version of Fenway with lots of history and charm.
  • Analysis: The Cubs are the perennial underdogs who have been particularly good the few years. But whereas, those other underdogs, the Red Sox, are perceived as smart and sharp, the Cubs seem dumb by comparison. They don't have players that you can wrap your anthem around like in the past either. With this market and this fan base, they should be way more successful than they are. Despite being one of the first to televise nationally, they just don't seem to get over the top.
  • Grade: 6 out of 10

Chicago White Sox

  • Team Name: You can't mess with tradition here. The name goes back to the beginning of the American League like the Red Sox. And though the name is weird when you think about it and passive, it is what it is because of history. Pale Hose is a cool nickname.
  • Logo: The White Sox logo is really well done if a bit old fashioned. But even being old fashioned, it is classic.
  • Attendance: The White Sox have never drawn as well as their cross-town rivals, the Cubs. They are always in the middle of the pack which is a shame considering the team is in the second best market in the majors. That tells this Fan that they haven't done a great job of brand-building. When you think of the team, it seems working class or drab. Add to that their GM's maverick nature and the same for its manager and you just get a blue collar feel about the team.
  • Analysis: Appealing to blue collar values is not necessarily a bad thing, but that may not be the best way to sell tickets to those upscale enough to buy them. The team has always seemed second to the city to the Cubs and that is as much a result of marketing as anything else. Everything is black and white with the White Sox and it desperately needs some color.
  • Grade: 5 out of 10

The Cincinnati Reds

  • Team Name: The Reds are one of the oldest teams in baseball and the name is a hold over of the original names of Red Stockings and Redlegs. For those new to baseball, the name could be confusing. Communists? Just red? But it has too much history to change.
  • Logo: The Reds have one of the coolest and crispest logos in baseball. It's unmistakable and perfect.
  • Attendance: The Reds play in one of the smallest markets in baseball and yet do better than some teams with bigger markets. But their market does keep the attendance down to levels that hurt the product on the field.
  • Analysis: The Reds haven't had success for a while and it's been a while since the "Big Red Machine" (one of the coolest nicknames ever) roared. It seems the team does the best it can with what it has but would benefit greatly from success on the field to spur more interest.
  • Grade: 7 out of 10

Cleveland Indians

  • Team Name: Problematic because of the PC thing. But at least it's not passive.
  • Logo: The team logo is horribly and terribly offensive. The team seems to hold on to in for tradition, but some traditions should be done away with. This is one of them. It is pigheaded to hold onto such an offensive symbol for their brand.
  • Attendance: The team's attendance has shrunk for several years in a row. Times are hard, but the Indians aren't maximizing their market. They have a great ball park (the old one was a definite downer). The Indians seem to have the same PR problem that Cleveland itself has. The team has to do something to turn the perception around and they haven't done that.
  • Analysis: The Indians do not build their brand particularly well. For one thing, the team name and logo are hard to sell. The logo has got to go. The branding of the Indians needs to overcome its perception.
  • Grade: 4 out of 10.

Colorado Rockies

  • Team Name: Perfect for where they are. Denver Rockies wouldn't have had the same impact. Coors Field builds into the brand too.
  • Logo: One of the best in baseball. Modern, crisp, unmistakable.
  • Attendance: The Rockies have a problem. They were drawing consistently drawing over $3 million their first nine seasons but dropped off dramatically. The last two seasons have been better though and raised up to 2.6 million.
  • Analysis: The Rockies are perfectly branded and located in a really nice location. But they need to build up their brand that translates to the kind of attendance it had in the past.
  • Grade: 8 out of 10.

Detroit Tigers

  • Team Name: Perfect. Aggressive.
  • Logo: When the Fan was a kid, the "D" seemed very cool and the Fan used to practice duplicating it to perfection. Now it seems old and dated.
  • Attendance: Detroit has been devastated by the recession. As such, their attendance fell off by nearly 600,000. But that figure was still higher than just ten years ago. The Tigers do a great job with their brand locally and have loyal fans as a result.
  • Analysis: There is a perception that Detroit is old fashioned and their logo is old fashioned. Start there. They have to weather out the recession and continue to be a force in their neighborhood, which they are.
  • Grade: 8 out of 10

Florida Marlins

  • Team Name: Good. It represents the area very well.
  • Logo: Beautiful. The logo is one of the finest and really well done.
  • Attendance: Ugh. Consistently last in its league. The Marlins drew 3 million their first year of existence and it's been all downhill since then. They only drew 1.3 million the year they won the World Series.
  • Analysis: The Marlins have the feel of cheap. Watching their telecasts has a decided amateur feel to it. Contrast this with the Tampa Bay Rays who have a first class telecast and the Marlins look sick in comparison. There is cheap and there is professional and inexpensive. They have to upgrade their approach. They also play in the shadow of the Dolphins. Even their ballpark is named after the football team (it also doesn't help that the name has changed four times). It just doesn't seem that this team is branded correctly or marketed correctly.
  • Grade: 2 out of 10

Houston Astros

  • Team Name: Too reminiscent of cartoon dogs. Seems dated.
  • Logo: The logo is really well done and is stylish. Not fond of the color scheme, but the execution is great.
  • Attendance: The Astros never drew well until the last eleven years. The new ballpark helped but the growth predated that by two years. That shows great local branding and marketing. Though attendance has fallen off some in the last two years, it's still quite good for a team that hasn't been competitive.
  • Analysis: The Enron thing certainly didn't help, did it? But that is getting long in the memory now. The biggest problem facing the Astros is that their front office has the same reputation problem the Orioles face. Their system is pretty bare. They have to turn around their operations so they can show its hard-earned fans that it is a successful organization.
  • Grade: 7 out of 10 (down from 9 a few years ago)

Kansas City Royals

  • Team Name: Meaningless to the average person. Even "Monarchs" would be better. Just doesn't do anything for the brand.
  • Logo: The logo is attractive, but it seems like something you'd see on a soda bottle.
  • Attendance: The Royals used to average around 2.2 million per season but have been way down from that for a dozen years now. They had a nice little increase last year though thanks to beautiful upgrades to Kaufman Stadium and the promotion of such.
  • Analysis: The Royals, who get little help from their name or logo have fallen as a brand thanks to a long stretch of anguishing ineptness. Even now, their moves cause heads to scratch. It's hard to build a brand when fans perceive the decision making to be moronic. They are loyal fans though and the uptick in attendance shows that the marketing folks are making lemonade out of lemons.
  • Grade: 6 out of 10

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

  • Team Name: You have to ask? The name and the fight over cities is a joke. It's awkward and untenable.
  • Logo: The Eiffel Tower-like "A" with its halo is a classic. Great logo.
  • Attendance: The Angels have really built their fan base. After several down years, the team now draws consistently over 3 million fans a year.
  • Analysis: They have a progressive owner and a smartly run organization and despite the pettiness of the whole name thing, have really done a great job building the Angels brand.
  • Grade: 9 out of 10

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Team Name: A holdover from their Brooklyn days, the name is sort of nonsensical, but at least it denotes action.
  • Logo: The baseball shooting through the well drawn Dodgers name is simple and classy and instantly recognizable.
  • Attendance: The Dodgers are a consistent behemoth in drawing fans always finishing first or near the top in their league.
  • Analysis: The Dodgers have a great brand. The "true blue Dodger blue" has been developed over a long time. People like Tommy Lasorda (despite there being some bluster and fraud behind his image) has been kept around to continue that branding. The messy divorce of the owners leaves a little bit of a PR black eye. But the brand is probably strong enough to overcome it. The hiring of Joe Torre was genius for the brand.
  • Grade: 10 out of 10.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • Team Name: Who wouldn't love brewers? It's such a homiletic sort of name that it makes one smile. Even the Brew Crew nickname is great.
  • Logo: The Brewers' logo is awful. It's clunky and bulky and there is nothing to like about it.
  • Attendance: After years of mediocre attendance, the Brewers have gone over 3 million two years in a row.
  • Analysis: The Brewers have done a great job of building their brand and making going to a Brewers game a great thing to do. Their market does not seem to be that big and yet they have maximized it to great affect. Those sausage races are perfect for their brand. Too bad about that logo though.
  • Grade: 9 out of 10.

Minnesota Twins

  • Team Name: Doesn't do anything for the brand. Named for the twin city situation of Minneapolis and St. Paul, the name may have seemed logical but is too juvenile to be of any use.
  • Logo: Despite the weakness of the Twins' name, the logo is fantastic and really clean and well done.
  • Attendance: The Twins are consistently in the middle of the pack when it comes to attendance.
  • Analysis: The attendance is certainly an improvement over decades past. But they have flattened out for several years which says that the brand has leveled off and in need of some thought and work. The Metrodome, so hated by the rest of baseball was a real source of rally for the fans. It will be interesting to see what happens in the new park. The Mauer situation will also affect the brand either positively or negatively.
  • Grade: 7 out of 10

New York Mets

  • Team Name: Terrible. What the heck is a Met (yeah, yeah, short of metropolitan)? Just a terrible name to hang a brand on.
  • Logo: Despite the name, the logo is one of the five best in baseball. It's really cool.
  • Attendance: The Mets' attendance seems to be more up and down related to their record than many other teams.
  • Analysis: The Mets certainly seem mismanaged at the moment. The ups and downs of the attendance seem to indicate a fan base not strongly tied to the brand. The Mets are to the Yankees what the White Sox are to the Cubs and they need to do better.
  • Grade: 5 out of 10

New York Yankees

  • Team Name: As American as apple pie.
  • Logo: As classic as it gets
  • Attendance: over 4 million in recent years. Wow.
  • Analysis: Everyone hates the Yankees' success. But nobody has ever built a stronger brand in sports. Ever. Steinbrenner was a genius.
  • Grade: 10 well duh.

Oakland Athletics

  • Team Name. Good but problematic at the same time. Do you type out the whole name or shorten it to the, "A's?"
  • Logo: Classy. Well done.
  • Attendance: Terrible. The A's have made it clear to their market that they can't be supported in Oakland.
  • Analysis: The above is a self-fulfilling prophesy. If your fan base is constantly hearing that Oakland isn't the best place for the A's, would you get excited about your team? And the problem with all of that is that the A's draw much better than they did in the Charlie Finley era when they won all those World Series. MUCH BETTER. But instead of building on that, they tear it down by saying they can't make a go of it in Oakland. It's a terrible anti-branding campaign.
  • Grade: 3 out of 10.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • Team Name: It's another one of those names that has been around for twelve decades and is too steeped in history to complain about. But it is kind of a silly name.
  • Logo: The Phillies' logo is lazy and boring. Very.
  • Attendance: Attendance has exploded with the advent of Citizen's Bank Park and with the recent success of the Phillies on the field.
  • Analysis: The organization had lost some luster, but they are back in a big way. They have done a tremendous job of building their brand and instilling excitement in their market.
  • Grade: 9 out of 10.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • Team Name: Perfect. Pirates are scrappy, resourceful, dangerous. Great team name.
  • Logo: The Pirates have by far the worst logo in baseball. The single yellow P is just brutal and does nothing for the brand.
  • Attendance: The Pirates had a one year spike when PNC park opened, but one year was all it was.
  • Analysis: Let's face it, the Pirates have been awful for a long, long time. They have been inept as an organization. And unlike the Cubs who were the loveable losers, the Pirates have had success in the past and their lack of it has lost its fanbase. If you go to their team site, the slogan is, "Pride, Passion, Pirates." That would be great once you saw those things lead to some success. But it just sounds empty now. The Pirates are doing a good job of reaching out to the community and to the young kids in the schools, so that's a plus.
  • Grade: 3

San Diego Padres

  • Team Name: The worst in baseball. Priests? Umm...yeah. This team is dying for a name change
  • Logo: The Padres have a really good logo. Well done considering the name it has to promote.
  • Attendance: The Padres lost 500,000 in attendance. That's major oofage there. It was the first time the Padres have had less than 2 million in Petco Park (another lousy name).
  • Analysis: The Padres have gotten lost after the Kroc years. They have fallen hard on the field, in the payroll and in the stands. Their brand is slipping badly and they desperately need direction and at least a finger in the dike.
  • Grade: 2

San Francisco Giants

  • Team Name: The Giants name is as old as baseball and has always been perfect. What kind of man is more impressive than a giant?
  • Logo: The Giants logo is classy and professional but a little on the boring side.
  • Attendance: The Giants have lost a bit of their attendance. During the Bonds' wonder years, they beat the Dodgers for three straight years which was unheard of. Though down, if you would have asked a Giants' owner of twenty years ago if he would be please with 2.8 million in attendance and that owner would have felt it was Christmas.
  • Analysis: The Giants are in a bit of a crossroad. They have lost their biggest draw in Bonds but have gained Lincecum. However, 70 homers is a bit more thrilling than a one-hitter. Even so, AT&T Park (formerly PacBell, formerly 3Com) is a wonder and is a wonderful place to see a baseball game. McCovey Cove is brilliant. Everything about that park is brilliant and really rescued the brand. And the Giants have made the most of it. It remains unclear what will happen in the post-Bonds years.
  • Grade: 9

Seattle Mariners

  • Team Name: It's different. It evokes romantic adventure. Not aggressive, but not bad.
  • Logo: The logo is attractive but the lettering of the team name is too small thus rendering it ineffective.
  • Attendance: The Mariners are about a million ticket sales less than the early days of Safeco Field.
  • Analysis: You have to give the Mariners credit. They saw that what direction they were in wasn't working and they have been aggressive in turning the ship around, to use a bad pun. Bringing Griffey back for a swan song was brilliant and their aggressive off season coupled with positive moves last year in the dugout and front office has strengthened the resolve and the brand.
  • Grade: 8

St. Louis Cardinals

  • Team Name: About the same as the Orioles, but at least the Cardinal is all one color so you can say, "Redbirds" which is a cool nickname.
  • Logo: The team logo is great. Classic and timeless.
  • Attendance: The Cardinals have been extraordinary at the box office for twelve straight years. Like it or not, it started with McGwire.
  • Analysis: The Cardinals have really maximized their market. They have had continuity with LaRussa, bonafide superstars in McGwire to Pujols and plenty of post season appearances. Regardless, the Cardinals make the most of their market and stay on top of their brand.
  • Grade: 10

Tampa Bay Rays

  • Team Name: Very cool. And, "Bay Rays" is so darn fun to say. Thank goodness they took the Devil out of the name.
  • Logo: The Rays' logo is good. It would have been better if the outline of the diamond behind the script wasn't so dark. Being as dark as it is makes it too busy.
  • Attendance: They have increased attendance by 500,000 from three years ago, but that only has lifted them from dead last to third from last.
  • Analysis: The interesting question for the Rays is whether they have a market that can be maximized. They run a first class organization. Their telecasts are top notch and almost better than the big networks. They have put successful teams on the field. Perhaps the test will be if they continue to succeed on the field and whether that translates to a viable brand in Tampa.
  • Grade: 8 out of 10. Would be higher if the end results were higher.

Texas Rangers

  • Team Name: Perfect for their market. Absolutely perfect because of the romance and history of the rangers in Texas
  • Logo: Really well done. Similar concept to the Mariners but executed 100% better.
  • Attendance: The Rangers have lost a third of their fan base since its height in 1998.
  • Analysis: The Rangers have really muddled along for many years. They haven't captivated their market for at least a dozen years. A new ownership group that features home town hero, Nolan Ryan should continue his growing role the past two years which has been a smart move and has nudged their attendance up the last two years. Hopefully they will build some momentum.
  • Grade: 6 out of 10 up until now.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • Team Name: Same as Orioles and Cardinals. Not a great team name.
  • Logo: The logo is good. It shows forward motion and is effective.
  • Attendance: Wow has this team gone downhill in fanbase. Starting in 1987, they led the league in attendance for seven out of eight years, topping out over 4 million seats sold. They have lost half of that fanbase since.
  • Analysis: Whatever they were doing right in the late 80s and early 90s, they are doing all wrong now. They have not sustained their brand and bringing back Cito Gaston was more a misfire of harkening back to those days than it was a shrewd baseball move. The team has no traction and little identity. With a new GM and a renewed emphasis on home grown talent, perhaps they could turn it around.
  • Grade: 2

Washington Nationals

  • Team Name: Terrible. Of all the names to come up with, this one was not effective at all.
  • Logo: Their logo is kind of cool though. Well done.
  • Attendance: Much better than they ever did in Montreal, but still not great.
  • Analysis: The team is so new to Washington and they have performed so badly on the field that they haven't had a chance to develop any identity or fanbase. The team does seem headed in the right direction though and will be in need of time to build up a team and its fanbase accordingly.
  • Grade: Not fair to give it one yet.

Monday, February 15, 2010

President's Day All Star Team

Since it is President's Day here in the United States, a holiday that means that the government and the banks are closed, but most everyone else is still working, it might be fun to come up with an all President All Star Team. Come up with your own if you can think of those that were missed.

  • DH - Joe Carter
  • LP - Whitey Ford
  • RP - Grover Cleveland Alexander
  • C - Terry Kennedy
  • 1B - Benjamin ("Ben") Harrison Taylor - Negro League player/manager in the Hall of Fame
  • 2B - Jack Roosevelt Robinson - Jackie Robinson!
  • SS - Derrel McKinley Harrelson - You'd know him as Bud Harrelson
  • 3B - Travis Jackson
  • OF - Otis Nixon or Willie Wilson
  • OF - George Washington Case - three time All Star in the 40s
  • OF - Joseph Jefferson Jackson - Shoeless Joe!
** Update: Hey! This guy had the same idea. Except he probably did it better. How could the Fan forget Gary Carter?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Will B. J. Upton Ever Blossom?

This post is a result of the news today that B. J. Upton lost his arbitration hearing with the Tampa Bay Rays. He will receive $3 million for playing in 2010 instead of the $3.3 million he was asking for. Perhaps for baseball players, $300,000 doesn't seem like much. But if you prorate that over 52 weeks in a year, that's $5769 a week more he could have made. There were no reports on how Upton took the defeat, but if he is sensible, he shouldn't be upset. He didn't exactly have a banner year.

Which brings up the question of whether Upton will ever be the kind of player that everyone thought he was going to be. Upton will turn 26 during the 2010 season, so he is still young and is entering into his prime years as a player. Upton certainly gave us all a peak of what he could be when he put up the following line in his first full season in 2007: .300/.386/.508. He also hit 24 homers that year and drove in 82. He hasn't come close to those numbers since.

In 2008, Upton's line sank to: .273/.383/.401. He did walk 97 times, which was good. But his power shriveled. Last year was even worse: .241/.313/.373. And hidden in his final stats is the fact that he was abominable on the road. Upton only had one good month last year and that was June. The rest of the year (except for a little surge in Sept/Oct.) was awful.

So what is the answer? The Fan has a feeling that he had better produce this coming year or the Bay Rays will find someone else. Upton does have two things going for him that are not dependent on his hitting. He again stole over 40 bases and he again played above league average center field. But those are little consolation for a team that committed to him with the second overall pick of the 2002 draft.

There were reports that part of Upton's struggles resulted from a weak shoulder that was operated on between the 2008 and 2009 seasons. A bad shoulder could certainly curtail some of his ability. But you would have to assume that he is now a year removed from that situation and should be entering 2010 at full strength.

Upton has always looked like an exceptional talent. He's always had great bat speed. He knows how to take a walk. He's fast. He is athletic. Now he just needs to pull it all together. Time is running out if he ever hopes to became the sensational baseball player that everyone assumed he would become.