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All-Star Break

As mentioned below, I will be moving soon to the Midwest. I'll have more opportunity to travel and I plan to take in the Arizona Fall League in early November. Maybe by then there will be a new home run record.

I spend way too much time listening to the sports talk shows on ESPN radio and TV. I hate to bring it up because mentioning it only perpetuates it, but I'm sick of the the overblown discussion about where Bud Selig should be on a particular day. It's unbelievable how animated the talking heads become when Bud's prospective whereabouts are debated.

I would rather just leave the record in the hands of Hank Aaron, but as long as it's inevitable it would be nice if Barroid could get to 756 ASAP and relieve us of this tiresome topic. With football training camps starting up, the talk shows can turn to something more important, such as whether Brady Quinn's pouting will earn him a contract worthy of a top-ten draft pick even though he isn't one.

Actually one baseball topic other than the location of the commissioner has taken over the conversation, whether Tony LaRussa erred by leaving Albert Pujols on the bench for the final out of the All-Star game. Trailing by a run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, LaRussa let Aaron Rowand bat and saved Fat Albert for extra innings, which never came.

Chances are the game was not going to go into extra innings. A single probably would have been enough to score the winning run. Who would you rather have up there, Pujols with his .310 season batting average, or Rowand with his .310 season batting average? Uh, let's rephrase that. Who would you rather have up there, Pujols with his .330 career batting average, or Rowand with his .283 career batting average? Pujols, obviously.

It's a foregone conclusion that LaRussa will end up in the Hall of Fame someday. There's no doubt he has some attributes that make him a success as a manager. But perhaps if he didn't spend so much time trying to prove that he's smarter than everyone else he might have five World Series rings instead of two.

Tom O'Neil
July 12, 2007

Fall of '06
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I didn't make it to the Arizona Fall League this year, so that drops my participation rate to seven times in nine years. If all goes according to plan, I will be moving away from the overpopulated, polluted east coast in 2007. I expect to have more time to take in the AFL in the future, and I do plan to be there next year.

Glen Perkins, 2005 Arizona Fall League

The hot stove league is probably a bit past the halfway point with several huge contracts being signed and a few guys still out there looking for the big score. Here in the Boston area, the current news is that the Red Sox are suddenly having second thoughts about giving $14 million a year for five years to sore-shouldered J.D. Drew.

I saw Drew at the Fall League way back in '98. I think tickets were $5, and for that I saw a bunch of players besides Drew. If the Red Sox follow through on their contract with Drew, they will be paying him $4.78 for each person who comes through the turnstiles at Fenway Park. According to the Sons of Sam Horn web site, as of last month the Red Sox had a 2007 payroll of about $93.2 million, which will be more than $30 for each ticket sold. (The Bosox get not quite 3 million people per year into the park and they are always looking for more nooks and crannies to jam seats into.) Add another $31 million per year for the rights fees and salary for the Japanese pitcher and the $14 million salary for Drew, and the total player cost per ticket is more than $41. And they still don't have a closer!

Maybe there is not an exact correlation between player salaries and ticket prices, but the current owners of the Red Sox have been jacking up payroll and prices ever since they bought the team. I know the Red Sox have sources of revenue besides ticket sales, but I don't think going to Fenway to watch Drew is worth $4.78, not when I also have to pay $6 to Manny Ramirez and $4.35 to Curt Schilling (whether he pitches or not). I don't begrudge the $4.20 to watch the great David Ortiz, but to see Ortiz I also would be forced to fork over $3.18 to the worthless Matt Clement. (By the way, Youkalis and Papelbon were bargains at about 12 cents each per ticket last year and will make the minimum again this year before becoming eligible for arbitration in 2008.)

I have no plans to attend any games at Fenway Park this year. It doesn't have anything to do with whether or not I can afford it, although I'm sure there are a lot of people don't go to Red Sox games for that reason. I just think it's insane to spend $45 or $85 or $312 to see the Red Sox during the regular season. (Yes I know there are some seats for less than $45. They suck. The cheapest decent seat costs $45, but you still have to be careful because not all of the $45 seats are decent.) I'm already paying to see the Red Sox as part of my basic cable package, so why pay extra to see them in person?

Hopefully the 2007 Arizona Fall League prices are still reasonable.

Tom O'Neil
Dec. 23, 2006

Blog Entries
I copied some archival stuff to my blog. The oldest dates back to the first time I went to the Arizona Fall League in 1998. Obviously there's a bit of a gap between '00 and '04, and when I have time I may try to fill in with a few items from that era.
10/28/2006Dumbest Idea Ever - Let's protect Fox's TV schedule (and destroy baseball) by moving the World Series to a neutral site.
10/23/2006Tony the Meddler - Before Tony LaRussa came along, starting pitchers used to pitch into the eighth and ninth inning. No, really.
10/8/2006Watch the Watchers - Fox TV shows seven different crowd shots between each pitch. I'm not the only one who hates it.
6/28/2006Pedro Classic - Pedro's return to Fenway brings back memories of '99.
5/22/2006Twinkies Moving Outdoors - The new Twins stadium drives up local property taxes.
2/27/2006O'Neil Snubbed - Buck O'Neil was snubbed by the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1/11/2006Sutter - Bruce Sutter makes the Hall of Fame.
11/21/2005Never Throw Anything Away - An old photo of White Sox closer Bobby Jenks.
10/26/2005The Longest Day - It's 2 a.m. on the East Coast, the perfect time to stage World Series drama.
10/20/2005Long Climb - The Astros are in the World Series, a far cry from their situation when I saw them in Milwaukee in May.
10/14/2005AFL - Arizona Fall League.
9/3/2005Ballparks - A look at the various ballparks I saw this year.
8/23/2005Half of the Fun - The Mick at the Met, 1968.
8/3/2005Performance Enhancers - Due to the steroids controversy, I have decided that there will be no more Baseball Hall of Fame inductions after 2006.
6/27/2005St, Louis - The zoo, and two games at Busch Stadium
5/23/2005Stubby the Third - Gritty Gutty Stubby Clapp.
4/27/2005Santana - Cy Young shuts down the Royals.
4/13/2005Grapefruit Gallery - I finally got around to posting Grapefruit League 2003 and 2004 photos.
3/8/2005Sox-Yanks - Rematch.
10/28/2004Arizona Fall League - From father to son.
5/28/2000Old Fenway - Another Fenway visit.
9/28/1999Last Call - Pedro's final game of his dominating 1999 regular season.
7/26/1999Induction - Nolan Ryan, George Brett, Rogin Yount and Orlando Cepeda are inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
4/25/1999Wrigley and Fenway - Freezing at Wrigley and seeing Pedro at Fenway on the same weekend in 1999.
3/20/1999Cactus League Wrap - 1999 Spring Training.
11/15/1998What Life is Really About - My first visit to the Arizona Fall League in 1998.

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All photos 1998-2015 by Thomas O'Neil