Sometimes Dynamic is Far From Dynamic

There are many dynamic things about the game of baseball.

There is the dynamic between a pitcher hurling a ball towards a batter close enough to look tempting to hit but not too close to end up over the wall for a home run.

There is the dynamic of the outfielder timing his jump just right to rob the opposing batter of an extra base hit.

There is the dynamic of a manager trying to decide when to apply an infield shift or make a pitching change based on certain factors or match ups.

There is even the dynamic in the stands of trying to decide how soon is too soon to start the wave and whether it really is wise to eat those chilli cheese fries that look so good but always end with you in pain.

There is also a recent trend of calling things dynamic when in reality they are anything but.

The Houston Astros recently announced plans to adjust their home ticket price in relation to home popular the team coming to town is. Photo R. Anderson

The Houston Astros recently announced plans to adjust their home ticket price in relation to how popular the team coming to town is.
Photo R. Anderson

The Houston Astros recently announced plans to join this group of dynamic blunders when they announced that this season will include dynamic pricing for all seats at all of the games.

The team tried a small roll out of dynamic pricing in certain sections of the ballpark last season with some seats costing more on some days than others.

In the simplest form, dynamic pricing is a way for teams to charge more for games that people want to see.

The formula has been used by teams for years whenever the Yankees and Red Sox would come to town since it was felt that there was a higher demand for those tickets and in turn more money could be charged.

The Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs have some of the largest fan bases in the nation. So, the dynamic pricing says that those fans will flock to see their team and pay more in the process regardless of where they are playing.  Some teams go even further to cater to their out of town fans.

For years teams have charged more when the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees come to town.

Teams have charged more when the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees come to town for several years now.Several times during the game it was unclear whether the Red Sox or the Astros were the home team.

This pampering to out of town fans was put on display two years ago at Minute Maid Park when the Red Sox came to town.

I am not talking about fans cheering loudly for both sides.  I am referring to the public address system seeming to cater to the out of towners by playing various songs that were very specific to what would be played at Fenway Park.

What’s next? Will they erect a miniature Green Monster now that the Red Sox will be visiting more frequently since the Astros have moved to the American League?

There are several reasons why I find dynamic pricing offensive. As a fan who has definitely watched his share of really bad Astros games I am offended that the so called primo games could be priced out of some people’s budgets.

The Astros are set to stuff their piggy bank with dynamic pricing this season that will make certain games more valueble than others based solely on who the visiting team is and what day of the week the game falls on. Photo R. Anderson

The Astros are set to stuff their piggy bank with dynamic pricing this season that will make certain games more valuable than others based solely on who the visiting team is and what day of the week the game falls on.
Photo R. Anderson

And why should every Friday and Saturday game cost more than a Tuesday game just because of the day of the week it falls on?

Dynamics were already in place with the supply and demand factors and economics of baseball.

For years certain teams have drawn better than others and of course games on the weekend will be more packed than those dreaded Tuesday night contests. So, in that way the dynamics are already set.  But charging more for the games that more people want to go to just screams of basic greed.

Plus, with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, and little advertised plans to change that anytime soon, it is highly unlikely that the extra revenue received will go towards salary.

Most likely the move to dynamic pricing is an admission that the team is going to lose a lot of games this year and attendance is going to suffer.

With most experts predicting the third consecutive 100 plus loss season for the Astros there is not too much winning to cheer for.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are bound to be one of the teams that bring the lowest ticket price as part of the new dynamic approach being rolled out.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are bound to be one of the teams that bring the lowest ticket price as part of the new dynamic approach being rolled out as they and others do not carry the same fan base or prestige of the Yankees and Red Sox.

When I first heard about the ticket plan my first thought was to not give the Astros a single cent of my money next year in protest. Now, in the grand scheme of things the several hundred dollars I spend at the ballpark is small potatoes and will probably not be missed by the team.  But, if there are hundreds, or thousands of people who feel the same way I do then it is bound to hit the team in the pocket.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go see about getting my tickets to the Sugarland Skeeters. Something tells me they are going to be very popular this season with the disgruntled fans leaving the Astros behind.

Copyright 2013 R Anderson

It’s Not My First Rodeo

While ballparks across Florida and Arizona are coming to life with the sounds of Spring Training baseball, there is another tradition of the season that has arrived a little closer to my Texas home.

It is rodeo time and all throughout town the sights, smells and sounds of barbecue, bucking broncos and music abound as the annual salute to all things country and western rolls into town.

Rodeo time has come to Houston and everyone is getting into the spirit. Photo R. Anderson

Rodeo time has come to Houston and everyone is getting into the spirit.
Photo R. Anderson

For several weeks the days and nights will be filled with livestock auctions, skills competitions and nightly concerts. As part of this rodeo bonanza television ads for everything from trucks to mattresses focus on stampedes, herds and other buzz words of the season.

Another tradition of the season is the unexplainable need of the local television reporters to dress up in rodeo gear while they are covering the various activities. Some of the reporters look the part, but most of them definitely look like they are all hat and no cattle.

I have always said that you either are something, or you are not. So the dressing up as a cow poke, when you are a obvious city slicker, really is not fooling anybody. Still, I am sure when rodeo rolls around next year there will still be the pretenders that dust off those once a year duds or go to the Western wear store to get something new.

In the decade plus that I have lived here I have yet to attend a rodeo. When people ask me if I am going to the rodeo, and I reply that I am not, often times it is like I have stomped their balloon animal into tiny little pieces.

It is not that I am anti rodeo per se, I just don’t feel the need to battle the crowds to see the events and concerts. Plus, growing up I was not really exposed to the cow and horse events where it became something that I am drawn to.

Don’t get me wrong, I have much respect for the rodeo performers and I know that they each have spent years honing their craft on horse and bull. I can also respect the people who raise livestock for the various judging.

Countless hours and sleepless nights go into any effort to become the best at anything. While there are always the exceptions and phenoms that seem to have everything come easy to them, for the rest of us we get where we are through hard work and practice.

The same can be said for the baseball players kicking up dirt on those various Spring Training ballparks. Each of them has spent years honing their skills and making countless sacrifices to reach the pinnacle of their field.

Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Ben Zobrist was a popular target of hecklers at Rangers Ballpark at Arlington. Photo R. Anderson

Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Ben Zobrist was a popular target of hecklers at Rangers Ballpark at Arlington.
Photo R. Anderson

While not working with temperamental bulls or raising sheep with the best looking wool, they have nonetheless paid their dues and earned their place in the spotlight.

This is why I have never understood the activity of heckling players when someone attends a sporting event.

Even if someone does not necessarily like the other team or certain players it seems like one could respect the amount of time and effort they took to get there without the need to resort to name calling and other tactics.

To be clear, I am not talking about the “little league” heckling about “belly itchers” which is started as a way to focus wandering minds in the dugout and create team chemistry.

I am talking about the heckling that amounts to personal attacks and other areas that seem to go beyond the line of good taste. And yes the players can usually tune out the stands but there have been a few times when I was sitting in the outfield that I could see a physical reaction from the player who was the target of the heckling.

Proponents of heckling, when confronted on the issue, will usually quote the First Amendment or say that buying the ticket gives them the right to shout down at the players. While I am a huge believer in freedom of speech  and the First Amendment I also believe that the freedom of speech comes with responsibility and does not protect all speech.

Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, Texas is the only ballpark where the bullpens are surrounded on all sides by the fans giving hecklers prime access. Photo R. Anderson

Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, Texas is the only ballpark where the bullpens are surrounded on all sides by the fans giving hecklers prime access.
Photo R. Anderson

The level of heckling I have seen at ballparks varies and some regions definitely tend to raise it to an art form more than others. Still, whenever I am around heckling I cringe.  I especially find it unsettling when the heckling is multi generational.  When one heckles in front of their children they are basically ensuring that the trend continues for another generation.

There are so many better traditions of baseball to pass along to one’s children than heckling. There is teaching them how to keep score or explaining the various rules of the game etc.

While I hold little hope that ballparks will ever become heckle free zones I do hope that the amount of heckling will be minimized. Maybe baseball could set up sound proof heckle zones where people could heckle to their hearts content without the rest of the fans being exposed to it.

Now if you’ll excuse me I am suddenly feeling the need to find a savings stampede. After all, like rodeo time they won’t be here for long.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

Every Time I Think I’m Out of it They Pull Me Back In

Let me start off by saying I love winter. I love the chill in the air. I love the wintery smells. I love seeing my breath when I exhale.  I love feeling chilled to the bone and warming up with a hot cider or cocoa. I also enjoy those rare occasions when I get to play in the snow.

With all of that said, winter’s time is fleeting like all seasons. And like all seasons winter does not want to overstay its welcome.

There is a time and a place for winter. March is not that time. Photo R. Anderson

There is a time and a place for winter. March is not that time.
Photo R. Anderson

So, after packing up my winter jackets once and for all, or at least until next winter, I was all set to enjoy spring weather and shorts.

Instead, it appears that Old Man Winter has at least one more trick up his sleeve this weekend for the residents of this side of Texas.

Depending on which forecast model one believes, it will either be at or below freezing for at least a portion of the day Saturday heading into Sunday. Granted it is the portion of the day that I will be asleep, but still reading the forecast and picturing even a light freeze at the start of March was a bit of a shock.

I realize that many people reading this will have little sympathy to my chilly plight and desire to send winter packing and to formally welcome spring. I know much of the country still is fully embraced in winter’s firm grasp.  For those frigid people the warm days of spring are still weeks, if not months away.

When I lived in Maryland I expected that it would be cold in March.  In fact there was even the occasional March snow storm.  And as I have mentioned before it wasn’t until moving to Florida that I was able to wear shorts on my birthday during the first week of March. Still, once I moved to Florida I became accustomed to warmer weather and pretty much was ready for winter to end right after Christmas.

Of course winter does not end right after Christmas. In truth, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac,  Spring begins with the vernal equinox at 7:02 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on March 20, 2013 in the Northern Hemisphere.

So winter is still very much within its seasonal rights to bring one more freeze my way this weekend but that is beyond the point.

What is a beach lover living in Texas to do when the forecast calls for frigid weather that threatens to ruin a blossoming springtime vibe? The answer of course is while it is to cold to go to the beach, it is never to cold for Buffet.  Jimmy Buffet that is.

For those unfamiliar with Jimmy Buffet, he is a singer whose song catalog includes many songs with a tropical as well as nautical vibe.

The music of Jimmy Buffet can turn even the grayest winter day to a tropical island getaway. Photo R. Anderson

The music of Jimmy Buffet can turn even the grayest winter day to a tropical island getaway.
Photo R. Anderson

I was first introduced to the music of Jimmy Buffet by my mom. She would play her Jimmy Buffet albums in the house and usually there was a tape or two played in the car whenever we would travel.

In the years since I have visited many of the once faraway cities along the Gulf of Mexico that were called out in his songs.

I have not yet visited the Banana Republic which is another destination featured in his songs. Although for years I could have sworn he was singing about getting a banana at Publix.  In my defense though, the bananas at Publix are certainly good and one could not be blamed for wanting one.

Bananas and assorted produce aside, the wintery blues seem to fade away when songs of the tropics are played.  Put on a few Jimmy Buffet songs and one is transported to tropical ports of call. It is sort of like a cruise for the mind.

Stuck in a windowless world with cold weather all around and wanting to be somewhere else? No problem, just crank up the Jimmy Buffet music and create and beachfront getaway of your own.  Photo R. Anderson

Stuck in a windowless world with cold weather all around and wanting to be somewhere else? No problem, just crank up the Jimmy Buffet music and create a beachfront getaway of your own.
Photo R. Anderson

So the first thing I did when I heard the wintery weather was afoot, was to make sure that my Jimmy Buffet playlist was up to date on my IPod. Of course it doesn’t hurt to have some visual stimulus as well to melt away those wintery feelings.

For years my work spaces have been a veritable oasis from the storm of the mundane. With seashells, sand, and an overall relaxed vibe they are popular destinations for people needing a little beach time in their work time.

So bring on your worst chilly weather Mr. Winter. I won’t mind as I will be enjoying warm thoughts and trade winds supplied by my ever present desk fan.  I guess in the grand scheme of things the spring weather can wait another week or two to arrive.

That just means summer will be delayed as well, which is not all that bad. Don’t get me started on the perils of triple digit heat and 100 percent humidity.

Now if you’ll excuse me I think this mental tropical paradise could use a cheeseburger.   If you are wondering, yes, I do prefer mine with Heinz 57.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson