Archive for the ‘MLB’ Category

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado much prefers his position on the field as opposed to being in the stands when it comes to enduring a Major League Baseball game.

Machado was on hand for the All-Star Game in Miami earlier this week as a spectator for the first time in three seasons. While he said he enjoyed cheering on teammate Jonathan Schoop and several other friends, he found the game a touch mundane.

“Yeah, it’s a little boring to watch it,” Machado said, according to Roch Kubatko of MASN. “I don’t know how people go out there and watch games. Now I know why sometimes people don’t come to games.”

Machado isn’t the first MLB superstar to take a shot at the sport.

Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper said prior to last season that he believes baseball is a “tired sport” because players can’t express themselves.

Fortunately for Machado and Harper – along with other players and fans who share their views – MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is looking to speed up the game by trying to eliminate some of its dead time, while also encouraging players to show emotion while playing.

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For the times they are a-changin’.

With the San Francisco Giants in their worst state in over a decade, the club saw its sellout streak end at 530 games Monday at AT&T Park against the Cleveland Indians.

It stands as the longest streak in National League history and ranks second only to the Boston Red Sox (794 straight) for longest in league history, according to Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller.

The announced attendance was 39,538.

The Giants, currently on pace to lose 94 games, ranked third in the league in average home attendance (41,574) prior to Monday’s game. In fact, the Giants haven’t slotted below the top 10 in attendance since 2008.

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MIAMI (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred is willing to wait – to a point – for the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics to get new ballparks.

Tampa Bay and Oakland are the only two major league teams currently seeking new stadiums. The Rays have a lease through 2027 at Tropicana Field, which opened in 1990 and has hosted the Rays since the team started play in 1998.

The A’s have been at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum since moving there from Kansas City for the 1968 season. The park opened in 1966.

”We right or wrongly have been extraordinarily committed to our existing markets and patient with those markets as a result,” Manfred told the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Tuesday. ”I continue to believe that Tampa is a viable major league market. I also believe it may be better than the alternatives that we have out there, and I am hopeful that we get to a resolution. As I’ve said to you before, however, there does come a point in time where we have to accept the reality that the market for whatever set of reasons can’t get to the point that they have a major league quality facility, and I am not going to indefinitely leave a club in a market without a major league quality facility.”

The Rays have been considering sites on both the St. Petersburg and Tampa sides of the bay.

”It really depends on progress, right?” Manfred said. ”At the point in time that it starts to grind to a halt and nothing’s happening – I don’t think we’re there, OK – but at that point in time where everybody’s kind of, you get this look of where are we going next, that’s when you’ve got to start thinking about what your alternatives are.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reported last month the A’s are focusing on three locations. The paper said the team is strongly interested in a 13-acre site near downtown that currently is headquarters of the Peralta Community College District. The Chronicle also said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf favors Howard Terminal, north of Jack London Square, and the team is considering constructing a new ballpark at its current location, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

John Fisher was approved in November as the controlling owner of the Athletics.

”They’ve said they’re going to by the end of the year identify a site in Oakland that’s their preferred site,” Manfred said. ”I think that given the change in the control situation in Oakland that it was prudent for Mr. Fisher to take a year and make a decision as to what site he thinks is the best. That decision is a uniquely local decision. I really don’t believe it is my job to have a preference for those sites. They know their market better.”

Manfred said at a Town Hall on Monday that MLB will delay any plans for expansion until after the A’s and Rays get new ballparks. He mentioned Montreal, Mexico City and Charlotte, North Carolina, as expansion candidates.

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A return to Montreal, a Mexico debut, or a new team in the Carolinas are all potential future scenarios for Major League Baseball, commissioner Rob Manfred said Monday.

Speaking prior to the Home Run Derby in Miami, Manfred remained adamant the the league’s current priority is finding new stadiums for both the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics, but acknowledged he believes MLB could be sustainable in three other cities.

“I know the mayor of Montreal has been very vocal about bringing baseball back to Montreal,” Manfred said, according to Mark Newman of MLB.com. “Charlotte’s a possibility. And I’d like to think that Mexico City or some other place in Mexico would be a possibility.”

MLB hasn’t expanded since 1998 when the league added Tampa Bay and the Arizona Diamondbacks, and hasn’t relocated since the Expos left Montreal for Washington at the conclusion of the 2004 season.

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MIAMI (AP) A Miami Marlins fan walks into a bar, and this is no joke: He wants to watch his team play, but all 10 televisions are tuned to other games in other time zones.

The bar, located near Marlins Park, broadcasts the lack of allegiance for the home team loud and clear.

It’s a common occurrence in South Florida, and where else would such a thing happen? Not Boston or St. Louis or San Francisco or most major league locales.

Tampa Bay? Maybe. Like the Marlins, the Rays are last in their league in attendance and battling the kind of chronic fan apathy that has plagued both franchises since they were founded in the 1990s.

The Marlins are in their 25th season and about to host the All-Star Game when it comes to the state for the first time. But does Major League Baseball belong in Florida?

Perhaps not, given the failure of the Rays and Marlins to develop a robust fan base.

”I don’t know what the disconnect is,” said NL All-Star manager Joe Maddon, who spent nine seasons as Tampa Bay’s manager. ”Spring training has been here for 100 years. You would think this would be a strong area for baseball.”

Instead, it’s a strong area for foul-ball collectors, because they face little competition. The Rays have finished last in the majors in attendance every year since 2011, when they were next to last. The Marlins have finished last in the NL 11 of the past 12 seasons.

Many spectators who do show up care more about the visitors – even if that means booing them. Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez heard jeers from Baltimore fans recently as he left the mound after a poor performance at Tampa Bay.

Marlins supporters were badly outnumbered in June against the visiting Cubs and Mets.

”It’s not a great situation,” said Miami manager Don Mattingly, accustomed to a more favorable home atmosphere when he played for the Yankees. ”It would be nice to have a packed house with Marlins fans, so Cub fans or Met fans can’t get tickets. But that’s not the case. What are you going to do?”

Both Florida teams tried changing their name; that didn’t help. It turned out calling them the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Florida Marlins wasn’t the issue.

So what is? Theories might outnumber empty seats.

”There are a bunch of problems,” said Rays first baseman Logan Morrison, who also played for the Marlins.

One issue is the transient nature of the state, which makes it different from markets where fan support goes back generations.

”A lot of people who live in Florida aren’t from Florida,” Morrison said. ”The organizations are relatively new, so you don’t have fans with deep roots. A lot of people who go to games in the Florida markets are fans of other teams.”

Another issue is lack of competitiveness. Florida’s teams have reached the playoffs six times in their 43 combined seasons. The Marlins haven’t been to the postseason since 2003, the longest current drought in the NL.

”I don’t think it’s a market we should give up on just yet,” said South Florida native Mike Lowell, who played for the Marlins’ 2003 World Series champions. ”You need teams to make another playoff run.

”In 2003, that last month was so exciting. It snowballed, and in the postseason we had a unique home-field advantage, because all of a sudden we’re drawing 60,000-plus. It shows that if you build a winner, Miami will rally around it.”

That championship team was soon dismantled in one of the Marlins’ many payroll purges, and support plummeted.

For both the Marlins and Rays, modest payrolls have made it tough to keep popular – and expensive – players. Constant roster turnover has alienated fans, especially in Miami, where unpopular owner Jeffrey Loria’s team is for sale.

The All-Star Game will showcase the Marlins’ 5-year-old ballpark, which received rave reviews but hasn’t helped attendance. The Rays, by contrast, play in 27-year-old Tropicana Field, widely regarded among the worst facilities in professional sports.

Neither ballpark is centrally located in its region, making for long drives at rush hour for many potential spectators.

”There are a lot of Marlins fans,” said Marlins executive Jeff Conine, a former All-Star Game MVP nicknamed Mr. Marlin. ”I get recognized wherever I go. People like the Marlins. They just don’t come to games.”

Most South Floridians don’t watch on TV, either. The Marlins ranked 26th in the majors in ratings last season; the Rays ranked 14th.

When expansion brought teams to Florida, Major League Baseball anticipated success in a state with a rich spring training tradition. But many of the fans who attend those games are gone in the summer.

”Spring training’s a different animal, tied to vacationers and teams that are here in the Grapefruit League,” said Orestes Destrade, a Rays broadcaster who played for the inaugural Marlins team in 1993. ”There’s so much going on in Florida during the baseball season. In Detroit, what are you going to do? Certain northern cities, I’m not dogging them, I’m just saying you don’t have the beaches and nine million things to do. That makes it a problem.”

The Rays’ best hope for a turnaround is a new ballpark in Tampa, across the bay from their current home in St. Petersburg. A vote last year allowed the Rays to start looking at possible sites in Tampa, but the process of relocation will likely be lengthy.

In Miami, antipathy toward Loria keeps many fans away, and the anticipated sale of the team could provide a reboot. But there’s no guarantee new ownership will succeed where three previous Marlins owners failed.

”A little has to be thrown on the fans,” Lowell said. ”You asked for a stadium, and got it. Fans are not coming out as projected or hoped.”

Perhaps all those empty seats are a way of saying Miami’s just not a baseball town – and Florida’s not a baseball state.

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It appears Bryce Harper isn’t fond of the fans in Atlanta and at Citi Field in New York, which could single out the Braves and Mets as destinations the Washington Nationals slugger may avoid when he becomes a free agent after the 2018 season.

On Monday, when asked about his upcoming free agency, Harper made a point of mentioning how rude Braves and Mets fans can be with some poignant remarks.

“Mets fans are kind of rude. Braves fans are kind of rude. Phillies fans … not as bad,” Harper said, according to Randy Miller of NJ.com.

“Those are the (places) you hear the most about family members and things like that where you want to turn around and punch somebody in the mouth because of those reasons.”

Even though the remarks appear to irritate the 2015 National League MVP, he attempts to let the rude comments slide off of him so he can focus on helping the Nationals in their pursuit of a division title.

“You control what you hear and what you don’t hear,” Harper said. “It’s like a little room and you try to put your furniture here. I want this chair here. I want this clock up on the wall. I want to listen to this type of music. So you try to do the best you can to not really listen to it. … I just try lock it in that day as best I can.”

Harper will hit third for the NL at Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Miami after a great first half where he slashed .325/.431/.590 with 20 home runs and 65 RBIs.