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From their own blurb on ESPN: "The Ultimate Standings is the first attempt ever to measure which teams do right by their fans and which put the hurt on their loyal followers." A poll of 34,000 fans led to this unscientific, but fascinating study that rates the Blue Jays as 12th best among MLB teams, according to the following criteria:

BNG (Bang for the Buck): Revenues directly from fans divided by wins in the past three years
FRL (Fan Relations): Ease of access to players, coaches & management
OWN (Ownership): Honesty; loyalty to players and city
AFF (Affordability): Price of tickets, parking and concessions
STD (Stadium Experience): Friendliness of environment; quality of game-day promotions
PLA (Players): Effort on the field; likability off it
CCH (Coach/Manager): Strong on-field leadership
CHA (Championships): Titles already won or expected -- soon

Assigning weights to each category to calculate the final ranking was Dr. I. M. Arbitrary. Actually, they let the fans who responded decide, so the formula is = (BNG x .192) + (FRL x .182) + (OWN x .159) + (AFF x .125) + (STD x .125) + (PLA x .120) + (CCH x .053) + (CHA x .044)

The best franchise in all four major sports leagues? The Green Bay Packers. Three NBA teams made the top five; the Raptors finished ahead of the Blue Jays, with the Maple Leafs in between. What does lend some additional credibility to the results are the individual category rankings -- for example, the Oakland A's led all North American franchises in BNG (Bang for the Buck). The Detroit Red Wings ownership got the highest marks. The Expos seem to play in a lousy stadium, but are the most affordable MLB experience. Baseball doesn't do particularly well relative to the other sports, which is no surprise. So many teams just don't care, and it's hard to imagine a more inept Commissioner.

I feel the same way about the Blue Jays' performance in this poll as I do about every other statistical measurement that underestimates the club: the changes in the last year have been so dramatic, and so positive, there is no way to accurately predict their effects. But I'll try anyway.

BNG (Bang for the Buck): Improving, a lot. More wins expected from a substantially lower payroll.
FRL (Fan Relations): Improving. Ricciardi doesn't seem to keep any secrets; O-Dog is a fan fave
OWN (Ownership): Improving; Ted Rogers lets Paul Godfrey run the show, and PG trusts J.P., as he should
AFF (Affordability): As bad as ever. Sorry, no support here for dynamic pricing and $6.50 beer
STD (Stadium Experience): Still poor. SkyDome isn't so bad; my pet peeve is the deafening PA system
PLA (Players): Improving; exciting kids are taking over, and the worst malcontents are long gone
CCH (Coach/Manager): Improving; no-nonsense Tosca was the perfect antidote to laissez-jouer Uncle Buck
CHA (Championships): Improving; a return to the playoffs under Ash was impossible, now it's in sight

Six out of eight ain't bad, so my confident prediction is that the Jays are on the way up, with a bullet. If you click on any team name in the Ultimate Standings, you get a brief synopsis. Typical of the rest of the world's apparent indifference to what has been going on here in the last year, whoever wrote the Jays entry says "expectations are even lower in 2003" and offers this explanation:

Blame the once state-of-the-art, now artless SkyDome (hotel rooms with field views are so last century) and a vanilla team that finished 25-and-a-half games out.

They are wrong about the rooms (I was in one for the first time last year; absolutely awesome) and they are even farther off the mark about the flavour; Stewart-Catalanotto-Hinske-Delgado-Phelps-Wells-Woodward-Myers-Hudson is anything but vanilla, and will prove too spicy for a lot of pitchers.

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_Justin B. - Tuesday, January 21 2003 @ 07:52 PM EST (#98588) #
This thread seems as good as any, so here goes. I'm heading to Toronto this summer for the first time (for the July series with the Yankees, woohoo!) and was looking for any local insight; places to see and all that fun stuff. Thanks in advance!
Coach - Tuesday, January 21 2003 @ 08:55 PM EST (#98589) #
Justin, you're a young guy, right? I'm guessing you don't want to do Black Creek Pioneer Village and the Royal Ontario Museum. Check out NOW Magazine online -- here is a link to their Best of 2002 (Hotspots) and they're the most comprehensive source every week for concert listings, clubs, etc.; whatever you're into, you'll find it, especially in the classifieds. The Docks is a fun place in the summer: enormous bar, driving range, drive-in movies, a one-stop night on the town. To have a few laughs and wave to the folks back home, contact the Mike Bullard show for free tickets to a taping. They want you there about 5:30 in the afternoon, for a 7:00 show. Ontario Place can be fun; the Molson Amphitheatre is a great summer concert venue.

Since we're only 90 minutes from Niagara Falls, you should try to fit that in. Great scenery and a sleazy tourist-trap downtown strip; what more could you want? Depending on who you're travelling with, and your budget, a night at the SkyDome Hotel (about $300; divides better by four than by two) is highly recommended. You won't even need game tickets, and with an in-room fridge and a telephone, will save $5.00 per bottle on beer and about $25 on a pizza. You want the fourth floor, in either corner, arriving on a game night. Reserve early. Craig B's office is another must-see, though it's very difficult to get a reservation; if you can't get in there, it's within walking distance of the Hockey Hall of Fame -- an excellent alternative. You will run out of time and money before things to do.
_Justin B. - Tuesday, January 21 2003 @ 09:17 PM EST (#98590) #
Thanks Coach, I appreciate it. I haven't been past Edmonton westwardly, so I'm a little in the dark about Toronto. We looked into staying at the Skydome hotel, but apparently they're all booked for the Yankee series. I was disappointed, but staying at the Westin doesn't sound like the end of the world.

As far as dynamic pricing goes, I don't understand why sports teams haven't adopted the airline industry's model of yield management. Once the game begins you can't get any more revenue, so why not try to maximize it on a game-by-game basis? It shouldn't be that difficult to forecast demand, so if you know that the Royals are coming in for a weekday series, why not lower the ticket prices? It doesn't seem rational to have a stagnant pricing scheme the way they have for so long; the incremental variable costs of another fan are negligible, so maximizing revenue should serve to maximize your contribution towards fixed costs, etc. I suppose the main drawback would be the fans' uncertainty about future ticket prices and the negative reaction consumers have to demand-oriented pricing (Coke's ill-fated temperature-based vending machine pricing) and price discrimination (different customers paying different prices). The current system seems suboptimal, but from the team's perspective, dynamic pricing is certainly the way to go.
_Mike H. - Tuesday, January 21 2003 @ 09:42 PM EST (#98591) #
I too will be heading up to Skydome (hopefully) to watch the three game interleague series against the Pirates in June. Luckily, it's the Pirates, so dynamic pricing had no effect.

About affordability, as an American, I think the Blue Jays tickets are insanely cheap, especially compared to similar seats at other parks, Camden Yards for example. Though I suppose it's not that affordible for those north of the border.

As for dynamic pricing on the whole, I think it's a sound idea economicaly, but bad for the fans. It enables clubs to maximize profits, but purely at the expense of the fan. It forces fans to either see less desirable fans or to pony up the extra bucks. Of course, it could be that clubs (including the Jays) may one day reduce ticket prices on those "undesirable" games. But that would depend on whether the ownership wants fans to be able to make the game or put money in their pocket. Sadly, more owners are concerned with the latter than the former.

And SkyDome itself, I've only been in there once, and that was at least 5 years ago. I remember it being HUGE, which is both good and bad. Good in that it's interesting and a wonder in and of itself. Bad that I feel that big doesn't always make it the best place to watch games. But I guess 3 days there will give me plenty of time to see for myself what it is all about.

About lower expectations for 2003, I for one am looking forward to next season and beyond.
Mike D - Tuesday, January 21 2003 @ 10:53 PM EST (#98592) #
Justin B, the problem with airline-style yield management in baseball is the problem of how to make season ticket holders feel like they're receiving value. The Jays, in my opinion, are doing absolutely the right thing by adding creative promotions -- but eliminating 2-for-1 and free-ticket promotions that cheapen the value of an individual ticket.

Season ticket holders formed the financial foundation of the Jays' outstanding run between 1983 and 1993. If you had a system whereby the team would jimmy the prices down as the dates of games advanced, why would anyone purchase season tickets? If I lived in Toronto under that system, I'd select the games in which I was interested, and then hold out until ticket prices dropped. That's not only a huge disincentive to buy season seats, but also a potential accounting/budgeting (and therefore impacting on baseball operations) nightmare as cash flow would be uncertain and dependent on walk-up sales -- very difficult to project.

Coach, I don't mind dynamic pricing because the "premium" games are not so expensive as to dissuade people who want to see a Sunday game in the summer, while the "value" games might entice fans to come to midweek early-season games when they otherwise may not, if they feel they'd be receiving value.

I'll tell you a bad idea: Pull a "Buffalo-Sabres-When-The-Leafs-Come-To-Town" and make people who want to go to "marquee" games buy 10-game flex packs. That's not cool. Speaking of bad ideas, I share Coach's distate for the SkyDome PA system -- not so much its volume, but the attention-deficit sound-effects guy who blasts cheesy noises approximately 15,000 times per game. Do we have to hear a Homer Simpson "woo-hoo" after *every* called strike?
Gitz - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 01:40 AM EST (#98593) #
The Giants have already gone to flex pricing -- so have a few other teams, I believe. You can see the Brewers for (insert high price here) on a cold and foggy Tuesday night, or you can see the Dodgers for (insert somewhat higher price here) on a cold and foggy Saturday afternoon. It's not a bad idea, in theory, but neither was ABC's Cop Rock. Wait, yes it was; I was thinking of the B-52's "Rock Lobster." My bad.

And you can't get a beer for less than $6.50 at PacBell (soon to be SBC Communications?), Safeco, or the Coliseum, either. One of the more obnoxious features the first year at PacBell park was how they ran a stock ticker next to the scores. That says all you need to know about the clientele at SF's games; many true Giant fans are left in the warm, that is to say, their homes. On the other side of the Bay, the A's have dollar Wednesdays, where you can get seats and hot dogs and Cokes for a buck. Beer is still $6.50, though.
_Mick - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 09:44 AM EST (#98594) #
the problem with airline-style yield management ...

... is, well, everything.

American Airlines reported an annual 2002 loss of $3.5 billion this morning. Thank goodness I wasn't eligible for the management stock purchase program before they, um, canceled it entirely.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled baseball show.
_Chuck Van Den C - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 11:56 AM EST (#98595) #
Coach: Stewart-Catalanotto-Hinske-Delgado-Phelps-Wells-Woodward-Myers-Hudson

Under the heading of resurrecting old threads, let me re-iterate my preference for the following lineup rather than the one above, which I do concede will likely be the real one.


This retains the bottom third of the original, but configures the top two thirds in an alterating L-R pattern. The three consecutive L's in the 2-4 slots in the original make the lineup a LOOGY's dream. And the Jays would likely often see two LOOGY's (LOOGIES?) a game.
Coach - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 12:59 PM EST (#98596) #
Chuck, I agree with you on the "best" lineup, because of L-R considerations, great support for Josh, and more AB for Carlos, but there aren't many really bad configurations with this group. I just hope Tosca doesn't decide to use Wells in the 3-hole; he's ideal for a lower RBI spot.

Hey Mick, could American's problem be those $50 international flights they give their employees? That could go the way of the Yankees' dental plan.
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