BOB:  Replay Debate and an Attendance Overview

Umpires cry foul over instant replay

It looks like instant replay in baseball isn’t a forgone conclusion after all. The umpires’ governing board recently voted to boycott a conference call with management about instant replay because they feel their concerns aren’t being addressed. In the meantime, the conference call that was slated for today has been canceled.

One of the umpires’ gripes is that a lot of the replay equipment is being set up away from the field, which would limit the number of umpires who are allowed to review the replay monitors. Another complaint is that the umpires contend they must go through an umpire supervisor before overturning a play. MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred has said the umpires’ claims are baseless and that there was always an agreement for just the crew chief to have access to the replay cameras for review. Another big concern is just the delays that instant replay can cause, especially when you take into account that in some stadiums, the umpires will actually have to leave the field for their review.

Oriole Park quickest to 50 million

Oriole Park at Camden Yards welcomed its 50 millionth fan yesterday as the home team took on the Boston Red Sox. This marks the quickest a ballpark has reached the 50 million mark, and in the 17 years since the ballpark opened, only the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees have sold more tickets.

This isn’t the only milestone that the Orioles are going to reach. It’s expected that on their current home stand, the Orioles will reach the 100 million attendance mark since the franchise moved to Baltimore.

Waterfront Park’s future face lift

Waterfront Park, the home of the Trenton Thunder, announced $2 million worth of upgrades over the next two years. The New York Yankees’ Double-A affiliate will get a new video board, a new picnic area and a new front office, and some of the bench seating will be replaced with individual seats. For now, it’s not clear which improvements will happen for 2009 and which for 2010, but the county has said the projects are still in the bidding process.

Padres owner moves offices to Texas

San Diego Padres owner John Moores has relocated both his business office and his personal residence to Texas after his wife Becky filed for divorce back in January. To my knowledge, this is a unique situation and it puts both the team and the league in a bit of lurch. Because California is a community property state, Becky is entitled to 50 percent of everything, and the Moores’ biggest asset is the team. In the meantime, the two are busy fighting over who gets to sit in the owner’s boxes while the team sits in limbo. The team can’t even be sold without the consent of both parties; it’s unclear as to who will walk away with the team in the end.

Attendance so far

With about a month and half left to play, several teams are coming up on attendance milestones. The New York Yankees are well on their way to another 4 million season, and it looks like the New York Mets, in their final season at Shea Stadium, could become the fourth team in baseball to eclipse the 4 million mark. The other two teams to do it are the Colorado Rockies and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Eight teams have a shot at averaging over 40,000 tickets sold a game, which is two more than in 2006. The team on the cusp are the Detroit Tigers and while their season has definitely been a disappointment, they sold a ton of tickets in advance so they’re well on their way to setting another attendance record and they could be that eighth team at 40,000 per game.

The Florida Marlins may be in the mix for the National League East title, but that’s not going to stop them from their third-straight season at the bottom of the attendance chart. It’s not too surprising because when the Marlins won the World Series in 2003, they were third from the bottom in attendance. Still, if their current average holds, they’ll be the only team in baseball that averages fewer than 20,000 tickets sold per game. The surprising Tampa Bay Rays are also near the bottom again as well and they sit at 26th.

The Red Sox are currently the king of the road, and that would mark the second-straight season they led the league in road attendance. The Mets lead the National League in road attendance, but it could be a close finish because the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs are right behind them.

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