BOB:  Olympics and Parks

Baseball back in the Olympics

The 2008 Summer Olympics sported baseball for the last time. The World Baseball Classic was devised to at least temporarily replace the Olympics, and despite the WBC’s success, there’s still an effort to get baseball back into the Olympics. One man in particular, Harvey Schiller, has made it sort of a mission. The president of the International Baseball Federation, Schiller runs a risk-mitigation company and to say he has some wide-ranging experiences is an understatement. Greg Bishop at The New York Times profiles the man himself. It’s an interesting read just to see all of the interesting things the guys has done throughout his life.

Raw deal in New York

The new Yankee Stadium is open, and it seems like the big story is the short right field porch. What you don’t hear too much about is the aftermath of the stadium’s construction. A few parks were plowed over to accommodate the Yankees, and despite assurances that these parks would be replaced, the developments are slow going. Among the victims of the displacement are the All Hallows, a Bronx Catholic school team that’s been forced to play “home” games an hour away. At a recent home game, not a single All Hollows parent made it out to the game.

One issue is just the rising cost of the replacement parks. A report in January put the cost to replace two parks at $195 million, which was almost double the $116 million estimate that was provided for back in 2005. In the meantime, the All Hollows have been forced to buy two buses with a third on the way at a price tag of $100,000 to help the team travel back and forth from the school to the park.

Mud Hens break single-game record

The Toledo Mud Hens, the Detroit Tigers Triple-A affiliate, set a new single-game attendance record last week when they opened up their ballpark, Fifth Third Field. It also helped that they played their cross state rivals, the Columbus Clippers and 13,100 made it out to the park. This broke the previous record which was set on last year’s opening day when 12,750 were in attendance.

Newspaper struggles thin BBWA’s ranks

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America lost 65 writers this season, which is five times the usual decline. Most of this is attributable to newspapers either going under or doing their best to manage costs through either layoffs or cuts. A few newspapers have gone to sharing baseball content, and several suburban newspapers have cut back on their baseball coverage. The Dodgers were highlighted in the column, and they’ve gone from having 10-12 beat writers in the 1990s to two papers and right now.

Nationals Park, year two

Even those teams that got their stadiums done before the credit crisis are having their problems. Case number one is Nationals Park. When the whole stadium plan was thrown together, there were grandiose ideas to have this nice commercial, residential and retail sprawl. Instead, fans come down to the ballpark now and pass abandoned buildings and holes in the ground because developments never got off the ground.

The hope is that once the economy turns, things will start to move but as always, we’ll see. It’ll also be interesting to see how much more the city sweetens the pot to get things moving.

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