Saturday, August 18, 2007

Game day

Another NFL season has arrived across the country and in Buffalo. And that means one thing -- everyone is walking on eggshells about talking about the experience of going to a game. But there are two basic facts about games that are never mentioned, one of which applies to the whole league, the other just Buffalo, perhaps because the city's hold on an NFL team is a little tenuous.

1. It's an old complaint. How long have exhibition games featured fully priced tickets, as if the games count? Forever? Well, maybe the 1970's or so. Does that make it any better? No. The players and coaches are scared to death of getting someone hurt, so the starters play as little as possible. The only exception is the third preseason game, which is something of a tune-up for more than a half. Otherwise, it's filled with players who soon could be joining you in the stands of NFL games, rather than suiting up. Great value, eh?

At least the Bills designate one preseason game as "Kids Day" and charge $10 a pop for them. Better that than empty seats. Otherwise, you could pay about $72 for a great seat to the game -- a game in which no one remembers the final score after Tuesday.

2. Cars are charged $15 to park at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Ever wonder where that money goes?
Once you get in the gates, you are on your own. There is no one directing traffic. The lines of cars aren't exactly even, which can lead to inefficiency in the form of wasted space.

More important, security isn't exactly everywhere. All right, it's virtually nowhere. The times I went last season, it wasn't exactly an atmosphere for children, unless you like your chlidren to watch people be carried upside down and forced to drink beer out of a keg. Then there's the matter of broken glass was scattered about the grounds by the time I left. I felt lucky the tires were OK by the time I reached the parking lot.

I'm no prude; I don't mind people have a good time and tailgating. But I wonder how many potential customers get lost along the way after going once.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Thanks, Scooter

Here's the nicest thing -- no, make that one of many nice things -- that can be said about Phil Rizzuto:

Even Red Sox fans liked him.

Oh, yes, he bled pinstripes. He played for more than a decade, and then worked as a broadcaster for 40 more. Rizzuto said Yankee Stadium was the only office he ever had.

For those of us too young to remember him as a player, Rizzuto did everything wrong as a broadcaster and it came out right. What also came out was his genuine nice personality.

The Scooter would be embarrassed if he heard all of the praise these last few days. He was the first to say that no one had a longer, happier life. It's tough to argue with him, the huckleberry.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Not a pretty picture

An article from Portfolio magazine, which we all can read by going to, is going to be the talk of the baseball world in the next week or so.

It's about George Steinbrenner, the head of the New York Yankees' organization. Steinbrenner has been a dominant face and voice in baseball since taking over the team about 35 years ago. He's turned the Yankees into a billion-dollar business. But now Steinbrenner is 77, and his health seems to be failing.

Franz Lidz, a former Sports Illustrated writer, starts the article on the Yankees' organizational fate by paying a visit to Steinbrenner in Florida, and the legendary Boss pretty clearly doesn't know much about what's going on around him. He kept repeating himself, and according to the description looked poorly.

There are fair questions about Lidz' technique in getting the story. He was turned down in interview requests by the Yankees, so he tagged along with mutual friend Tom McEwen went over to Steinbrenner's house. It was a bit of an ambush, but Lidz was quite polite in his visit and didn't stay long. I'm not sure if that could be considered a major invasion of privacy.

This might explain Steinbrenner's infrequent appearances in Yankee Stadium and his silence about team issues except through prepared statements. And it also gives the Boss a new role: a subject of sympathy. Red Sox fans just aren't used to that one. But if this article is true, and there's no reason to think it's not, the Steinbrenner Era in Yankee history is coming to a sad conclusion.