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Monday, August 27, 2018

MLB’s concerning year-over-year attendance dip

I’ll be watching xwoba really closely next year. Early this season I noticed Carpenter and Morales Had xwoba much lower than their woba. I picked up Carpenter hoping for a bounce back but, unfortunately, a rash of injuries forced me waiver him for outfield and pitching replacements. Had I been able to keep him I’d be solidly in first instead of a close second.

Kendrys Morales continues to teach me, to count out the old dogs. Morales is 35, and on May 1, when he looked like he didn’t belong anywhere near the major leagues, I suggested, rather forcefully, that the Toronto Blue Jays cut him and give his plate appearances to Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

The Blue Jays, not surprisingly, declined to take the advice. It was offered with logic behind it, of course – that Guerrero gave them a better chance to contend, that Morales’ contract that continued through the 2019 season already was sunk cost. Over the three months since then, Morales has put up an OPS over .950, and his latest stretch was the coup de grace.

On Sunday, he homered for the seventh consecutive game, tying Barry Bonds, Jim Thome and Kevin Mench – Kevin Mench!? – for the second-longest streak. Three men share the record: Ken Griffey Jr., Don Mattingly and Dale Long – Dale Long!? – each homered in eight straight.

So mea culpa, Kendrys Morales, for the doubt. It doesn’t take away that Vlad Jr. belonged in the big leagues then and belongs there now, but so, it turns out, does Morales. Though even if he ties the record against Baltimore on Monday, his game Tuesday won’t be the most important for a Blue Jay. Because …

Jim Furtado Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:18 AM | 64 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: attendance, xwoba

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   1. RMc Has Bizarre Ideas to Fix Baseball Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:51 AM (#5734098)
Um...what does "xwoba" have to do with this article?
   2. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:59 AM (#5734104)
I assume it’s there to suck the joy from Morales’s accomplishment.
   3. McCoy Posted: August 27, 2018 at 09:13 AM (#5734106)
It's a Passan article so it goes everywhere and is generally about himself and what he has said in the past. He mentions that he said Morales was a sunk cost which once again shows that people have no idea what the phrase sunk cost actually means. I really wish that phrase wasn't introduced to baseball because now people think it makes them sound intelligent when they use it in baseball conversations. Was it Joe Sheehan who first popularized it? I feel like it came out of Baseball Prospectus.


As for the attendance he mentions it but then fails to connect the dots. He points out that Loria was cooking the attendance books and that Jeter is not. Well, if that is true and the numbers he is posting are accurate than a huge chunk of this decline is merely a phantom decline. The Marlins account for a quarter to almost a third of the decline. He then points out to teams tanking and that hurting attendance. Duh, but that doesn't mean baseball has an attendance problem. If I close my restaurant for two months to renovate thus not bringing in any revenue during those two months I don't suddenly have a revenue problem. If after I reopen the restaurant I have low sales or sales that don't cover my costs then I have a revenue problem. These tanking teams absolutely knew that attendance was going to decline. The hope is that they get good soon and attendance and revenue picks up and in the meantime since they are tanking their costs have gone way down.
   4. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 27, 2018 at 10:12 AM (#5734120)
Teams intentionally build smaller stadiums, increase the price of everything associated with them, and then are surprised when attendance drops?

I can't help but think that Rob Manfred's solution to the attendance "crisis" will be another of his non sequiturs like "Ghost Runner on 2nd to Start Extra Innings" tomfoolery.
   5. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: August 27, 2018 at 10:29 AM (#5734126)
Teams intentionally build smaller stadiums, increase the price of everything associated with them, and then are surprised when attendance drops?


Teams keep the data private, of course - but it would be interesting to see what the current and historical revenue per ticket is now compared to 20-30 years ago, even adjusted for inflation. I mean - 25K per game at $75 a head is better than 35K at $50.

Of course, there are proxy costs associated with such a move, too -- and there's something to be said for broader popularity, but I find it HIGHLY unlikely that teams aren't making more money today per game than they were a generation+ ago.

I'm certainly not defending the stratification of MLB clientele - I'm just saying that if non-owners (i.e., "fans") think this is a problem, I think that they're more than likely starting at the wrong end.... bemoaning falling popularity rather than accepting that the owners more than likely had (non-saber) numbers crunchers determining they'd be better off with fewer live attendees if it meant that the attendees they attracted spent more money.

   6. BDC Posted: August 27, 2018 at 10:32 AM (#5734128)
I often wonder too what the ratio of tickets sold (which is what counts officially nowadays) to actual people at the game might be, and whether that ratio has changed over time, or is still changing.
   7. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: August 27, 2018 at 10:35 AM (#5734130)
I often wonder too what the ratio of tickets sold (which is what counts officially nowadays) to actual people at the game might be, and whether that ratio has changed over time, or is still changing.


Didn't that calculation change recently? As I recall there was a long stretch where the AL announced tickets sold and the NL announced turnstile flips (or vice versa) but within the last 2-3 years the leagues picked one method. In fact it might be this year for the first time as I seem to recall it being viewed as a reason why the Marlins were likely to look like they had an even bigger decline than was forecast (everyone knew they would have a decline, it was just a matter of how much).
   8. McCoy Posted: August 27, 2018 at 10:40 AM (#5734134)
Way back in the day The Sporting News would announce daily gate revenue for teams along with turnstiles but back then you didn't have season ticket holders and much advanced ticket buying so there wouldn't be very much of a discrepancy between tickets sold and turnstiles turned.
   9. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: August 27, 2018 at 10:41 AM (#5734137)
Didn't that calculation change recently? As I recall there was a long stretch where the AL announced tickets sold and the NL announced turnstile flips (or vice versa) but within the last 2-3 years the leagues picked one method. In fact it might be this year for the first time as I seem to recall it being viewed as a reason why the Marlins were likely to look like they had an even bigger decline than was forecast (everyone knew they would have a decline, it was just a matter of how much).


Yeah - plus, there's some variance with individual teams... i.e., this year - the Marlins for example - stopped counting ticket giveaways in their attendance totals this year, only tickets sold.
   10. Stormy JE Posted: August 27, 2018 at 10:47 AM (#5734141)
I'm rooting for Morales to tie the MLB record this evening but, even at DH, posting a 1.5 WAR with barely 30 games to go isn't quite setting the world on fire.
   11. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 27, 2018 at 10:53 AM (#5734145)
As I recall there was a long stretch where the AL announced tickets sold and the NL announced turnstile flips (or vice versa) but within the last 2-3 years the leagues picked one method.

More like 2-3 decades ago. The policy change you're referring to happened when I was a kid. 1990s, maybe 1980s.

But yeah, before then there was a stretch when one league announced tickets sold & the other counted turnstile clicks.
   12. Rally Posted: August 27, 2018 at 10:59 AM (#5734149)
Marlins are down 10,000 per game. Some of that is reporting tricks, but some portion has to be real given their fire sales. Marlins account for one quarter of the leaguewide drop, so no matter how you adjust the Marlins this is something real.
   13. bobm Posted: August 27, 2018 at 11:05 AM (#5734154)
Major League Baseball teams are receiving a lower percentage of their profit from traditional revenue streams than ever before. Even as far back as 2009, according to one of the few leaks of financial documents from a Major League team, the Texas Rangers’ combined revenue from ticket sales, concessions, suites and parking ($67.3 million) was already less than the combined revenue from television/radio deals alone ($68.8 million), despite averaging 27,641 in paid attendance — a middle-of-the-pack 17th out of 30 teams.


Deadspin story on leak

Link

That was $30 generated per ticket sold. (More data at the link would let you split out in-stadium sales from ticket revenue, to which one could apply a no-show factor.)

Speaking of no-shows, a 2005 story from the LA Times stated:

National League teams announced an actual turnstile count through 1992, MLB spokesman Rich Levin said. But the National League and American League have since consolidated business operations, and Major League Baseball defines attendance as "tickets sold," not "tickets used."

"It's because of revenue sharing," Levin said. "That's what we use in our official count." (Teams contribute 34% of the revenue they generate, including most ticket and concession revenue, into a pool to be redistributed among teams that generate the fewest dollars.)

[...]

The Angels' no-show rate last season -- tickets sold but not used -- was 19%, [Tim Mead, the Angels' vice president of communications] said. The three weekend games last month against the New York Yankees -- the most reliable drawing card in baseball -- had no-show rates of 10%, 9% and 14%, he said.

Last year's playoff series against the Boston Red Sox had a no-show rate of 4%, Mead said.

This year's highest no-show rate was 40%, for an April 19 game against the Seattle Mariners, Mead said. The Angels announced attendance of 38,667 that day, meaning the actual attendance was close to 23,000.

[...]

The average major league no-show rate hovers between 18% and 20%, an executive from another National League team said. And, in order to add 1,600 field-level luxury seats this season and still comply with a city permit that limits capacity to 56,000, the Dodgers no longer sell 1,600 reserved-level seats.

If the Dodgers' no-show rate for the July 28 weekday game against Cincinnati matched the highest rate of the Angels, the Dodgers' actual attendance would have been 28,726 -- a half-empty stadium.

The local teams are on pace to set franchise records in tickets sold, the Dodgers at 3.7 million and the Angels at 3.4 million. The teams each won division championships last season and recorded an increase in season-ticket sales this season -- the Angels to a record 28,400 and the Dodgers to 23,000.

The greater the number of season tickets sold, the greater the number of no-shows, Mead and [Dodgers' COO Marty] Greenspun said.

In an effort to minimize no-shows, the Dodgers and Angels now allow season-ticket holders to resell seats on the team website. The teams also use bar codes to scan tickets, and Greenspun said the Dodgers contact customers who use season seats infrequently and offer incentives to attend.

With good reason, said David Carter, a Los Angeles sports business consultant. When fans are no-shows, the team makes money on the sale of the ticket but loses the chance to make more money at the concession and souvenir stands.

"They're not eating any hot dogs or guzzling the $8 beers," Carter said.

Fans spend an average of $16 on food, drinks, merchandise and parking, Mead said. That 40% no-show game in April, then, translated to a loss of about $250,000 in Angel Stadium sales.

The Angels lost roughly $10 million in stadium sales last season, based on the 19% no-show rate and 3.38 million tickets sold. (The Dodgers would have lost slightly more, based on that rate. That figure represents gross revenue, before subtracting salaries, costs and revenue-sharing contributions.)

The Dodgers and Angels also make millions each year by selling advertising, including signs along the outfield wall, space on promotional giveaways such as caps and T-shirts, and commercial time on stadium video boards. The teams pitch potential advertisers on the ability to reach more than 3 million fans, based on announced attendance.

Robert Alvarado, the Angels' director of marketing, said some sponsors pay the team an incentive bonus if attendance exceeds a specified level.


At a 19% no show rate, that "food, drinks, merchandise and parking" number goes down to $13 per ticket sold.
   14. BDC Posted: August 27, 2018 at 11:14 AM (#5734160)
Tickets sold has been the reporting basis for both leagues 1993-present. In 1992 and before, the National League reported turnstile count. Attendance in the NL jumped by almost 8,000 a game in 1993 (it went up only about 1,000 in the AL). A good bit of that jump in the NL was thanks to the Rockies starting play and drawing 55,000 a game to Mile High Stadium, but some of it had to do with the switch to tickets sold.

Sip of Coke and much thanks to bobm for those details!
   15. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 27, 2018 at 11:16 AM (#5734161)
As I recall there was a long stretch where the AL announced tickets sold and the NL announced turnstile flips (or vice versa) but within the last 2-3 years the leagues picked one method.

More like 2-3 decades ago. The policy change you're referring to happened when I was a kid. 1990s, maybe 1980s.

But yeah, before then there was a stretch when one league announced tickets sold & the other counted turnstile clicks.


It has been quite awhile, and FTR it was the AL that counted tickets sold and the NL that counted actual attendance. (EDIT: cokes to bobm and BDC) This was a carryover from when the NL was dominant both on the field and in attendance, and the AL probably felt it needed something to inflate its image.

   16. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2018 at 11:20 AM (#5734163)
$8 beers
Sigh...them's was the days.
   17. BDC Posted: August 27, 2018 at 11:23 AM (#5734164)
The Dodgers and Angels also make millions each year by selling advertising, including signs along the outfield wall, space on promotional giveaways such as caps and T-shirts, and commercial time on stadium video boards. The teams pitch potential advertisers on the ability to reach more than 3 million fans, based on announced attendance


I don't know the exact formulas advertisers figure by, but of course advertising on fixed and rotating signs must be only partially directed to fans who are physically present. Those signs appear pervasively in broadcasts and in highlight videos – particularly in videos. You can watch highlights from 20+ years ago and be reminded to go to Ace Hardware :)
   18. Stormy JE Posted: August 27, 2018 at 11:25 AM (#5734165)
Might some of the downturn be due to the lack of competitiveness from a larger than usual number of franchises? It's more than likely that three teams will finish with over 100 losses and a decent chance the White Sox will be the fourth. And even clubs that will end up with more respectable records, like the Reds and Tigers, were down and out long before Memorial Day.
   19. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 27, 2018 at 11:26 AM (#5734167)
In order to make any real comparison between baseball interest then and now (however you want to define "then"), you'd need to compare five different sets of numbers as a percentage of the population.

1. MLB tickets sold

2. MLB turnstile count

3. Minor league attendance

4. Total number of TV viewers for non-nationally televised games, including out-of-town games viewed on Extra Innings or mlb.tv.

5. Total number of TV viewers for various Games of the Week, All-Star and postseason games

You could also count the number of Little League, high school and college teams over the years, plus the number of amateur teams, if you want to take participation as a measurement of popularity. Unlike the spectator angle, that's one area where I'm pretty sure baseball today would come up way short of what it was before TV came along and people weren't so wedded to their air conditioned houses.
   20. McCoy Posted: August 27, 2018 at 11:27 AM (#5734168)
The Angels and other teams didn't lose revenue because of no shows. They gained revenue by selling a product that wouldn't have been sold without advanced ticket purchasing. They are now attempting to maximize revenue by allowing customers to resell their tickets more easily as opposed to trying to outlaw them from doing that and that is because they have reached a saturation point in terms of tickets sold. Back when they were selling 20,000 tickets a night you didn't want your customer to resell their ticket. You wanted someone else to come up to your box office and purchase another ticket. That is no longer possible as pretty much all of the premium tickets have been nabbed and a good chunk of the mediocre ones as well for a lot of teams.
   21. DL from MN Posted: August 27, 2018 at 11:35 AM (#5734171)
The cost of participation in youth sports is significantly higher than when I was a kid. I know all of our discretionary entertainment dollars are going to our kids' activities and I will attend 45-50 of my daughters' games but not any professional games this summer.
   22. stig-tossled, hornswoggled gef the typing mongoose Posted: August 27, 2018 at 12:20 PM (#5734200)
The cost of participation in youth sports is significantly higher than when I was a kid. I know all of our discretionary entertainment dollars are going to our kids' activities and I will attend 45-50 of my daughters' games but not any professional games this summer.


Looking way back, I guess no money was required from families (other than the cost of gloves &, if worn, cleats &, I suppose, bats for those kids who had their own, as I did; the team had a fairly well-stocked bat bag, IIRC) to play little league when I was a kid. I wonder if that's still the case; given how small & poor my hometown is, I wouldn't be surprised at all.

Around opening day each season we all got hauled around town in our uniforms in the backs of pickups to beg people for money door-to-door for the league. Every now & then I see kids doing the same at busy intersections for school & maybe also non-school teams.

   23. bunyon Posted: August 27, 2018 at 12:39 PM (#5734212)
I can't help but think that Rob Manfred's solution to the attendance "crisis" will be another of his non sequiturs like "Ghost Runner on 2nd to Start Extra Innings" tomfoolery.

Ghost upper deck.
   24. Swoboda is freedom Posted: August 27, 2018 at 01:07 PM (#5734222)
The cost of participation in youth sports is significantly higher than when I was a kid. I know all of our discretionary entertainment dollars are going to our kids' activities and I will attend 45-50 of my daughters' games but not any professional games this summer.

The cost in terms of time and money is staggering. Travel teams suck up both. I played a lot of sports when I was younger, but it was either informally, or during the season, which was pretty short.

A lot fewer kids are now not participating in the sports. Possibly because of the cost.
   25. Rally Posted: August 27, 2018 at 01:36 PM (#5734245)
Might some of the downturn be due to the lack of competitiveness from a larger than usual number of franchises? It's more than likely that three teams will finish with over 100 losses and a decent chance the White Sox will be the fourth.


Nobody showed up for the AL Central besides the Indians. With the Twins it looks like they tried to compete but just had a down year. For the others it was over before it started. On a per game basis:

CWS -2104
DET -6175
KCR -6645
   26. SandyRiver Posted: August 27, 2018 at 02:03 PM (#5734264)
the Texas Rangers’ combined revenue from ticket sales, concessions, suites and parking ($67.3 million) was already less than the combined revenue from television/radio deals alone ($68.8 million), despite averaging 27,641 in paid attendance — a middle-of-the-pack 17th out of 30 teams.

Of course, this is a recency issue. 60 years ago only a few teams could dream of drawing that high an average. Depending on how many twin-bills a team played (almost all single-admission back then), 27,641/game works out to around 1.8-1.9 million. IIRC, in 1958 only the Yankees and defending champion Braves drew that many. More people in the country today, and more distractions.
   27. Tin Angel Posted: August 27, 2018 at 05:01 PM (#5734401)
Looking way back, I guess no money was required from families (other than the cost of gloves &, if worn, cleats &, I suppose, bats for those kids who had their own, as I did; the team had a fairly well-stocked bat bag, IIRC) to play little league when I was a kid. I wonder if that's still the case; given how small & poor my hometown is, I wouldn't be surprised at all.


Same with me. It was a glove and cleats (which I would use for years), and my insistence on batting gloves matching whatever my favorite player at the time was wearing. The coach just drove all of us in his station wagon. I don't even want to imagine how much more difficult it is now.
   28. Damon Rutherford Posted: August 27, 2018 at 05:22 PM (#5734425)
Around here, there are both low-cost ("recreation") and high-cost ("travel") options for sports. However, if you stay with the low-cost option, your chances of making the high school team are slim.

Thus any one with any interest in playing sports at the high school level chooses the travel option.

I have "friends" these days, but primarily through my kids' sports, and then I only see those "friends" when our sports' schedules match up. We are all busy running kids around for soccer, basketball, baseball, swimming, running, football, etc.

So, yes, my time and money are spent on youth sports. Haven't been to a professional sporting event on my own dime in ages.
   29. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2018 at 05:43 PM (#5734436)
I have "friends" these days, but primarily through my kids' sports, and then I only see those "friends" when our sports' schedules match up. We are all busy running kids around for soccer, basketball, baseball, swimming, running, football, etc.

So, yes, my time and money are spent on youth sports. Haven't been to a professional sporting event on my own dime in ages.
I probably shouldn't have kids, because this seems profoundly sad/distressing to me.
   30. Batman Posted: August 27, 2018 at 05:47 PM (#5734442)
Getting kicked out of a Little League game for being too drunk seems a lot sadder than when it happens at Dodger Stadium, even if it happens when the Dodgers are on the road.
   31. stig-tossled, hornswoggled gef the typing mongoose Posted: August 27, 2018 at 05:59 PM (#5734449)
Same with me. It was a glove and cleats (which I would use for years), and my insistence on batting gloves matching whatever my favorite player at the time was wearing. The coach just drove all of us in his station wagon. I don't even want to imagine how much more difficult it is now.


I lived 3 blocks away from the ball field, which was awfully handy, though I also remember at least a few practices out by the high school football field, on the other side of town. Mom would've driven me to those.

Speaking of whom, going on 50 years later I salute her for coming up with the cash, not that it could've been much (we were pretty broke), for cleats, bats (a size 31 Pete Rose &, later, a size 30 Roberto Clemente) & gloves (first was a Rawlings or Spalding Rico Petrocelli; after it wore out, its replacement lacked a signature). Thanks, mom.
   32. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2018 at 06:00 PM (#5734451)
Getting kicked out of a Little League game for being too drunk seems a lot sadder than when it happens at Dodger Stadium
Indeed. And someone should check the kid's birth certificate.
   33. stevegamer Posted: August 27, 2018 at 06:01 PM (#5734452)
I probably shouldn't have kids, because this seems profoundly sad/distressing to me.


If you don't have kids, you will still get to see your friends who don't live really near you that also don't have kids. Once they have kids, things change massively, and it may get down to once or twice a year, barring shared hobbies. Of course if your kids run in the same circles for activities, that will increase.

   34. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2018 at 06:08 PM (#5734457)
Once they have kids, things change massively, and it may get down to once or twice a year, barring shared hobbies.
Oh, I'm *well* aware. Almost all of my friends have fallen into the Kid Vortex. Combine that with the Suburbs Vortex, and it's inescapable, apparently, even for the ones who live 5 minutes away from grandparents.* It baffles me, the notion that people have to (or want to) cut themselves off completely from everything in their lives from before having kids.

*Is it just my friends, or are all parents way more paranoid about their kids than our parents were? It's like the idea of a non-family babysitter is just unthinkable these days.
   35. SoSH U at work Posted: August 27, 2018 at 06:14 PM (#5734460)
*Is it just my friends, or are all parents way more paranoid about their kids than our parents were?


No, but it's been moving consistently in that direction for a very long time.

   36. McCoy Posted: August 27, 2018 at 06:15 PM (#5734462)
People are way more paranoid to the point that some places actually had to create laws that said it is legal to let your kids do things without you constantly watching them.

In GA, I think, a mother got the cops called on her because she let her 8 year old walk the dog around the block and when the cops did nothing about it the neighbor called social services on the mother.
   37. Rennie's Tenet Posted: August 27, 2018 at 06:20 PM (#5734464)
I have "friends" these days, but primarily through my kids' sports, and then I only see those "friends" when our sports' schedules match up.


I have a German Shepherd with an active social life. About half the people I see monthly or more often, I know only by first name. Nearly all the rest are known as something like "Duster's mom."
   38. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2018 at 06:21 PM (#5734465)
I have a German Shepherd with an active social life. About half the people I see monthly or more often, I know only by first name.
Better than knowing them only by ass smell, though.
   39. Batman Posted: August 27, 2018 at 06:27 PM (#5734468)
Better than knowing them only by ass smell, though.
Knowing your neighbors by ass smell is a relic of a bygone era, like milkmen, paper boys, and segregation.
   40. JAHV Posted: August 27, 2018 at 06:36 PM (#5734472)
Is it just my friends, or are all parents way more paranoid about their kids than our parents were? It's like the idea of a non-family babysitter is just unthinkable these days.


Not that it necessarily makes the answer to your first question "no," but I can tell you that free babysitting is fairly important for me and my wife to have a night out. Having to hire a babysitter roughly doubles the cost of date night. When you have grandparents that enjoy being around their grandchildren, it's a win on every level.

As to the first question, though, yes, a vast majority of parents (including us) are more paranoid than the previous generation. We try to buck the trend, but we're still more controlling than our folks were. We get side-eyed by other parents for letting our kids walk to the park by themselves (three boys, ages 8 - 12). When I was 8, I was definitely walking or riding my bike to the park and no one would have batted an eyelash. If they had, playing over-the-line would have been awfully tough by myself.
   41. bfan Posted: August 27, 2018 at 06:39 PM (#5734473)
No, but it's been moving consistently in that direction for a very long time.


The catch-phrase is no longer "helicopter parents" (hovering around and dropping in, well past the need to do so); it is "bulldozer parents" (knocking down every hardship and impediment their child might face). It is real and it is getting worse, and it serves no one well, in the long run.
   42. QLE Posted: August 27, 2018 at 06:55 PM (#5734479)
It is real and it is getting worse, and it serves no one well, in the long run.


As those of us with ties to higher education can testify to the hard way- there are quite a few problems present in the profession that I believe to be directly rooted in that form of parenting, and they don't serve either the profession or civil society well.....
   43. Colin Posted: August 27, 2018 at 07:30 PM (#5734491)
*Is it just my friends, or are all parents way more paranoid about their kids than our parents were? It's like the idea of a non-family babysitter is just unthinkable these days.


Probably varies by location somewhat, but having local kids babysit here is pretty commonplace.

But yes, parent are, in general, more paranoid these days than were their own parents. Which makes little sense, because by most measures the US these days is safer than it was when today's parents were kids. Parenting also is more intense in other ways, though, as good colleges are more competitive and expensive than ever, so parents feel they have to drive their kids hard to prep for college. Which, in turn reduces kids' discretionary choices and freedom.
   44. The Duke Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:45 PM (#5734529)
People only have one or two kids now. So they are more concerned. If you have a gaggle of kids, you just can’t be that controlling.

I played all day every day in the summer away from my house with an occasional drop in for chocolate chip cookies. My parents were thrilled. Most everyone was like that. The movie Stand By Me was a lot like my childhood with a note urban take.

Now kids just play video games
   45. Howie Menckel Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:54 PM (#5734533)
I'm "only" 57, but my parents were born 96 and 100 years ago. their parents were immigrants, while they grew up here in The Great Depression.

the whole "I'm bored!" mantra of kids didn't become a thing until I was an adult.

if one (of the five) of us had gone to either parent with that one, they would have been bewildered.

what does a parent, after all, have to do with the quality of play options for a child?

very good point about the relative number of kids. back on the farm, a reason to have so many was that they couldn't possibly all "make it" - and the farm chores needed to get done. remarkable that my mother and her six siblings all reached age 70 (and the majority cleared 85). my father got to 92 - and he said often that it was "not nature's way."

I wouldn't trade places - and with any luck, these kids will wind up feeling the same way.
   46. Sunday silence Posted: August 27, 2018 at 09:23 PM (#5734550)
Aside from Kevin Mench it's odd to see Mattingly's name on that list. I remember when he played but I didnt watch him much at all. I didnt think he was much of a power hitter. was he very streaky?
   47. Tin Angel Posted: August 27, 2018 at 09:27 PM (#5734553)
I didnt think he was much of a power hitter. was he very streaky?


Not sure how streaky, but he is tied for the record for most consecutive games with a home run (8).
   48. BDC Posted: August 27, 2018 at 09:32 PM (#5734561)
Mattingly hit 96 home runs in the three years 1985-87 (the streak came in '87). He was definitely a contact hitter, which helps any kind of hitting streak (he had batting streaks of 19, 20, and 24 games in those years).
   49. McCoy Posted: August 27, 2018 at 09:43 PM (#5734565)
I grew up in the 80's with only another sister as a sibling and my parents never had any idea where I was or what I was doing. I'd occasionally come hope with a scrape, bruise, or potential frostbite but there was never any attempt to have supervised playtime. We walked to the bus stop unsupervised and we waited for the bus unsupervised from first grade on. My parents would hire the neighborhood kids to babysit us on the few occasions they went out. Got to see my first naked woman because of my babysitter so that was fun.

One time when I was about 15 or so I rode my shvtty huffy to the mall because I wanted to pickup the add on disk to Earl Weaver Baseball II from Egghead software. It basically involved me riding my bike 5 miles down two 6 lane routes that were extremely busy. When my parents found out I did that their answer for it was to buy me a better bike.
   50. PreservedFish Posted: August 27, 2018 at 11:09 PM (#5734592)
I like to play devil's advocate in these parenting conversations because I think that - like with baseball and music and everything else - people just blithely assume that they way they used to do it was superior to the way they do it today. It's extra funny on this site because Primates are hyper-aware of this tendency when it comes to baseball stuff.

Notwithstanding certain ugly modern subcultures, as far as I can tell every generation in recent US history has been more empathetic than the previous one. It's common to complain that parents should helicopter less today because violence and crime are down, but the fact that violence and crime are down is probably not some unrelated trend. War has become more and more reviled. Abuse has become less and less acceptable. Maybe all this increasingly fussy and involved parenting is mostly a good thing?

What are we afraid of when the participation trophy generation is running things? That they're gonna let China push us around or something?

I realize that there's an American dream of raising millions of rugged individualistic John Wayne types. But to be honest I'd rather raise millions of little Scandinavians that want a society where people trust each other, and like to share.

I'm not trying to excuse the most odious bulldozer parent behavior, of course.
   51. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 27, 2018 at 11:34 PM (#5734602)
Looking way back, I guess no money was required from families (other than the cost of gloves &, if worn, cleats &, I suppose, bats for those kids who had their own, as I did; the team had a fairly well-stocked bat bag, IIRC) to play little league when I was a kid. I wonder if that's still the case; given how small & poor my hometown is, I wouldn't be surprised at all.

Around opening day each season we all got hauled around town in our uniforms in the backs of pickups to beg people for money door-to-door for the league. Every now & then I see kids doing the same at busy intersections for school & maybe also non-school teams.


BITD DC's Little League was the Walter Johnson League, and while we paid for our own gloves, the playground supplied the bats, cleats were optional (most of us just wore sneakers), and a local business would pay for the "uniforms", which consisted of a T-shirt with the league logo on the front and the sponsor's name on the back. Needless to say, there were no specially laid out fields and no fences, and IIRC we used 2 baseballs a game. One advantage was that there wasn't this fetish about "everyone gets to play". The best players started the games and for the most part the best of the best players played the whole game.

And of course we traveled in the coach's station wagon and some other volunteer coach's car. That was usually enough for a team of 11 and 12 year olds.
   52. Howie Menckel Posted: August 27, 2018 at 11:38 PM (#5734603)
I like to play devil's advocate in these parenting conversations because I think that - like with baseball and music and everything else - people just blithely assume that they way they used to do it was superior to the way they do it today.

that has nothing to do what I said above - or what some others have said. I think the blithely guy might be you.

"I wouldn't trade places - and with any luck, these kids will wind up feeling the same way."
   53. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 27, 2018 at 11:41 PM (#5734605)
What are we afraid of when the participation trophy generation is running things? That they're gonna let China push us around or something?

Not really, but what I see a lot of is teenagers being hovered over by their parents via incessant texting and telephoning. In many ways the world is just too damn connected. BITD the idea that we'd be routinely communicating with our parents while we were out doing our own thing would have seemed more than a little bit weird, although of course that kind of helicoptering was also (thank God) technologically impossible.
   54. Howie Menckel Posted: August 27, 2018 at 11:47 PM (#5734606)
I am intrigued by the PGA Tour trend of the last 5 years.

the tradition was, for decades, that you found your game in your 20s - and then peaked in your 30s.

but a 19-year-old from Chile is posting intriguing results, a 21-year-old won recently, and the core of the US Ryder Cup team will have many under age 25.

I don't have a dog in the "participation trophy" hunt, but this is an individual sport - and the 'kids' are not waiting their turn, so to speak. (they don't fear Tiger or Phil, either, but the generation gap is such that they likely just don't fear those around the age of their Dads.)

it's possible that "too much self-esteem granted" is turning into "have lots of self-esteem."

there is something in the water on the Tour, for sure
   55. Tin Angel Posted: August 28, 2018 at 01:56 AM (#5734620)
I'm going to go out on a crazy limb here and say that a few successful professional golfers under the age of 25 might not be the best way to judge an entire generation.
   56. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 28, 2018 at 07:10 AM (#5734633)
I am intrigued by the PGA Tour trend of the last 5 years.

the tradition was, for decades, that you found your game in your 20s - and then peaked in your 30s.

but a 19-year-old from Chile is posting intriguing results, a 21-year-old won recently, and the core of the US Ryder Cup team will have many under age 25.


A sizeable percentage of the best pool pros are now 21 or under, and some as young as 16. Here's what one 19 year old Albanian did to the best overall player in the world recently----ran out an entire 8 game set of 10 ball and never let his opponent get out of his chair even once. It was roughly the equivalent of a golfer shooting 8 straight birdies on an extremely tough course.
   57. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 28, 2018 at 08:26 AM (#5734648)
Might some of the downturn be due to the lack of competitiveness from a larger than usual number of franchises? It's more than likely that three teams will finish with over 100 losses and a decent chance the White Sox will be the fourth. And even clubs that will end up with more respectable records, like the Reds and Tigers, were down and out long before Memorial Day.

Problem with that theory: this is the fifth time in the last six years that MLB has seen an attendance decline. (And the one year it didn't decline? It was up 8 people per game. Not 8%. Eight total people per game). From 2012-17, attendance was done about 900 people game. So 2017 was hardly some high water mark.
   58. McCoy Posted: August 28, 2018 at 08:44 AM (#5734653)
I'm not surprised that young players are becoming the best in their sports/activities. 40 years ago very few kids were able to get out on the course every single day and play and practice. They had other things to do, they had school, they had summer jobs, they had family, their family had financial restraints, so on and so on. But in the last 30 odd years as sports participation has been dropping those that stayed in are spending more and more and devoting more and more resources to it.
   59. McCoy Posted: August 28, 2018 at 09:00 AM (#5734657)

Problem with that theory: this is the fifth time in the last six years that MLB has seen an attendance decline. (And the one year it didn't decline? It was up 8 people per game. Not 8%. Eight total people per game). From 2012-17, attendance was done about 900 people game. So 2017 was hardly some high water mark.


I'm not sure that is a "problem". From 2004 to 2017 the league averaged about 30,300 fans a game give or take a few hundred a game except in their high water mark years of 2007 and 2008 when they got into the 32's.

Slipping a hundreds or two a year from 2012 would not negate the theory that a larger than usual numbers of teams are actively not competing.

A problem with that theory is of course the Marlins. The Marlins and their more honest tally account for a huge chunk of the difference. Right now the league is down 1400 people a game and the Marlins account for a little over 300 of those people a game. After that you have Toronto accounting for 300 people.

Another problem is that it is hard for tops team to keep increasing their numbers while it is really easy to fall in attendance. A surprise team has a good year or good run and attendance jumps up. They stumble or go back into rebuild and the attendance craters quickly. See Pittsburgh, KC, and Baltimore. Whereas teams like the Red Sox and Cubs are basically at capacity already.
   60. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 28, 2018 at 09:11 AM (#5734663)
But yes, parent are, in general, more paranoid these days than were their own parents. Which makes little sense, because by most measures the US these days is safer than it was when today's parents were kids.

I blame cable news. Back in the old days if a kid was kidnapped or met some terrible fate half the country away, you read about it in the paper the next day or maybe there was a brief mention of it in the 10pm news. Now it's wall-to-wall constant BREAKING NEWS coverage (particularly if the child in peril is a pretty white female) as it's happening along with plenty of time to fill by the anchors to speculate on what might happen or to remind viewers THIS COULD HAPPEN ANYWHERE!!!!!! And local news channels have tended to follow suit the more that program directors have realized BREAKING NEWS = ratings.
   61. stig-tossled, hornswoggled gef the typing mongoose Posted: August 28, 2018 at 10:23 AM (#5734717)
BITD DC's Little League was the Walter Johnson League, and while we paid for our own gloves, the playground supplied the bats, cleats were optional (most of us just wore sneakers), and a local business would pay for the "uniforms", which consisted of a T-shirt with the league logo on the front and the sponsor's name on the back. Needless to say, there were no specially laid out fields and no fences, and IIRC we used 2 baseballs a game. One advantage was that there wasn't this fetish about "everyone gets to play". The best players started the games and for the most part the best of the best players played the whole game.


We wore flannel uniforms, which of course we didn't get to keep, with the sponsor's name on front. We did have a fence of advertising boards, though over the course of 5 years (2 leagues -- first was for kids 7ish-10, second for 11-12) I can recall only a couple of guys who actually cleared it.

Definitely no "everyone gets to play" policy. In 5 seasons I got 53 at-bats, 27 of them in the one season where my good-glove-no-bat self actually hit the damned ball (i.e. when by dint of having a September birthday I was months closer to 11 than just about everybody else). And yet I made 2 all-star teams -- though not in my one good season. One of those, though, was as a late substitute for a kid who'd gone to summer camp or something similar.
   62. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 28, 2018 at 10:35 AM (#5734734)
I realize that there's an American dream of raising millions of rugged individualistic John Wayne types. But to be honest I'd rather raise millions of little Scandinavians that want a society where people trust each other, and like to share.

The problem with that theory is that people are becoming less trusting, not more, and no less selfish than they were before.
   63. DL from MN Posted: August 28, 2018 at 11:53 AM (#5734786)
In 5 seasons I got 53 at-bats


In a week with two tournaments my daughter will top that number. That's about 15 games worth of at-bats.

Talking about cost, the in-house league is $90 and doesn't exist past 6th grade. Travel ball is $750 with fall ball. Club level is $2000 and up.

This does upset me that there are basically no options for low cost team sports as kids enter teen years. Fortunately there are more options for recreation than team sports.
   64. stig-tossled, hornswoggled gef the typing mongoose Posted: August 28, 2018 at 04:27 PM (#5735021)
In a week with two tournaments my daughter will top that number. That's about 15 games worth of at-bats.


At this late date I haven't the vaguest idea of how many games we played in a season, but with only 3 teams it couldn't have been very many. (Maybe 10, plus very truncated playoffs?) On a Facebook page devoted to my hometown, a few weeks back a guy who's a bit older than me posted a clip from the local weekly showing standings & stats from the early '60s, & back then they had a whopping 4 teams & a split season.

Population in the county has declined some 30 percent (& in Stamps more like 40 percent) since I was a kid, so for all I know they're down to 2 teams these days, assuming they still play, period. A few years ago, driving by the old field, I saw a Dixie Youth Baseball sign on the side of the bleachers, but I don't recall it from the last time I was there around New Year's.

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