Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too expensive.

A warm summer day at the ballpark has always held a soft spot in the heart of sports fans in America. Maybe that is a vision from back in the innocent ‘hey days’ of Major League Baseball circa 1955 when tickets were $3 and soda cost a nickel, because when you think about going to the ballpark today, you start to see why attendance is down and baseball’s position at the top of the sports mountain is fading fast. The combination of the excruciatingly long game time (can anyone spend 5 hours watching a Red Sox – Yankees game and then tack on travel time, in this day and age?), coupled with the outrageous (ludacrous maybe? is there another word we could use here?) costs kind of takes any remnants of joy out of going to a ballgame for the average fan.

Ginny Searle at Deadspin makes a pretty compelling – damning even – arguement about the fundamental issues underlying the experience at your typical Major League Baseball stadium. Let’s start with this doozy from the Washington Nationals :

Joining in the American tradition of impeding ease of access to public spaces through feckless security theater, the Nats announced that backpacks will no longer be allowed in the stadium. “The bag policy was created for the safety of all our guests,” explained the team in a statement, ignoring the fact that there is scant evidence that such security measures actually make anyone safer….The Nationals [then] waited more than a month after announcing the ban to reveal that they had partnered with D.C-based startup Binbox to “make 500 medium- and large-sized storage lockers available” in which to store bags that won’t be allowed in the stadium.

So you can’t bring back packs into the stadium but feel free to fork over some money at an hourly rate to store it in a bin outside the stadium for the 5-6 hour, super important Nationals – Rays game. Do you hear that sucking sound because that is the sound of money leaving your pocket. Later on, she does a great job of illustrating what it would now cost a family of four to attend a typical baseball game.

Let’s imagine a family of four trying to go to a baseball game a few years from now. Opening Day, 2021: four tickets cost $132 on average in 2019, so let’s say this family paid $150 per ticket. Kids have little legs, so they will need to park close: add another $50. After struggling to bring up their e-tickets on a single phone at the gate (the team recently phased out all paper tickets), our family will be informed their backpack is a no-go, and they’ll have to spend $20 to rent a Binbox. Finally, after making it into the stadium, it’s time to buy food. Hot dogs and peanuts for four, plus beer and sodas for two each will likely crest $40, and that’s assuming the parents are okay with cans of cheap frat-party beer. (For a pour of the local microbrew, it will be more like $15 each. We’ll say the conscientious parents share one.) Our imagined family had better have their credit card, too, or else they’ll need to load their cash onto a gift card before buying anything in the stadium. Maybe they will be lucky enough to have access to the State Farm-Geico Rewards Club, which the e-ticketing app will remind them of along with directions to the team store. After meandering through the State Farm-Geico Rewards Club so as not to feel like they have missed out on any perks available to them, the parents limit their children to the choice of one $25 stunt food to split. When our family returns to their seats with their Mac and Cheese Pizza Nachos just after missing a home run, they will have already spent a small fortune. If they decide not to attend another game for the rest of the season, it’s unlikely that pace of play will be a determining factor.

From what she itemized above, that’s roughly $800. For one day. At the ballpark. Let’s say it takes 45 minutes each way to get to and from the park. Let’s say the game is 3.5 hours long (average). That’s 5 hours. If they are lucky and it does not go extra innings, or if there are not 5 pitching changes in the riveting 6th inning when the batters take 6 pitches each, or if it is not a shit show getting out of the parking lot along with 50,000 of your best friends. Curious when was the last time parents had a good time taking kids somewhere for 5+ hours that was not named Disneyworld?

I used to *love* baseball. Today, I like baseball. And there is one thing I know for damn sure when I go to a baseball park: I refuse to pay $10 for a plastic cup of 3 day old Bud Light (and $6 for a Nathans Hot Dog), when I can go to a local liquor store and buy a six pack for that same price and still have $$ left over for a hot dog.

Stanley Kubrick. Photographer.

Leonard Bernstein lounging

Before Stanley Kubrick was Stanley Kubrick he was a photographer for Look Magazine in NYC. The Museum of the City of NY has posted about 42 pages of Kubrick’s photos from his five year stint at the magazine and you can clearly see the beginnings of what will become a most legendary film career.

Zero Mostel looking sullen
Advertising painters on 42nd Street @ NYPL
Boys talking to a Mom.

Kubrick took some really interesting photos including many of Rocky Marciano, Dwight D. Eisenhower, many around Columbia University, and many ‘slice of NYC life’ photos. The collection is a really nice window into how NYC life was like back in the 1940s.

h/t: Vintage Everyday, DeMilked, Museum of City of NY – Kubrick collection

The Week In Tweets

Truck Eating Bridge

There is a bridge down in Durham, NC whose formal name is the Norfolk Southern-Gregson Avenue Bridge. But for many in the area, it is called the “Can Opener Bridge” or the “Truck Eating Bridge”. The reason for this is that the bridge is really low, measuring 11’ 8” clearance because there are train tracks above it, so it can’t be raised, and a sewer only 4’ below grade, so the road can’t be dug out or lowered. And because of this, we have a situation. An enterprising person back in 2009 decided to hook up video cameras at the intersection to document the, on average, once a month accident that occours when a novice truck driver is not paying attention and plows right into the overpass, thus turning their truck into a sardene can. I don’t care if I’m late to the party on this. This is just fantastic stuff.

This is a video of a moving truck that gets completely destroyed trying to go under the bridge:

This is a compilation of multiple accidents at the bridge

This is complete internet gold. I could watch this all day.

The full YouTube Channel is YoVo68 and you can see a full detail of the bridge and the videos at 11foot8.com

The Week In Tweets

Adnan Syed Denied Second Trial

Back in 2014, the podcast Serial became an internet sensation as it broke down with great discipline and specificity the case, trial, and subsequent conviction of Adnan Syed for the murder of his girlfriend Hae Min Lee.

The publicity and the serious, legitimate questions raised about Syed’s conviction and trial as a result of the podcast was so great that Syed’s case was re-opened and eventually he was granted the right to a new trial by the state of Maryland.

Well, that didn’t last long.

But on Friday, Maryland’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, ruled in a 4-to-3 decisionthat while Mr. Syed’s defense lawyer had been “deficient” in not calling a potential alibi witness to testify during the trial 19 years ago, ultimately Mr. Syed was not “prejudiced” by that deficiency.

NY Times

I am not a lawyer, and my only exposure to this case was from the Serial podcast, however it would seem to me that if the defendant’s legal representation was referred to as “deficient” by the State of Maryland’s Court, then that would be grounds for a new trial. If key witnesses that were able to verify and legitimize critical facts and timelines in this case, then those people need to be heard.

I honestly don’t know, and don’t have a strong opinion about, whether Syed is innocent or guilty. What I do know is that there were enough questions raised by the Serial podcast that brings to light way too many leaps of faith that were taken in the original trial and conviction of Syed. As we have seen so many times over the years, corruption, prejudice, and hidden agendas can sometimes win the day within the Legal and Court System and you do do have to wonder if there is an over-zealous DA trying to keep the wraps on a very high profile case that would possibly expose a lot of dirty laundry in the state legal system of Maryland.

The Book of Kells. Digitized.

From my ancestral homeland, the Book of Kells is now digitized for your browsing pleasure (link may take a sec to load up – big, robust images) courtesy of the Trinity College online collection

The ancient masterpiece is a stunning example of Hiberno-Saxon style, thought to have been composed on the Scottish island of Iona in 806, then transferred to the monastery of Kells in County Meath after a Viking raid (a story told in the marvelous animated film The Secret of Kells). Consisting mainly of copies of the four gospels, as well as indexes called canon tables, the manuscript is believed to have been made primarily for display, not reading aloud, which is why “the images are elaborate and detailed while the text is carelessly copied with entire words missing or long passages being repeated.

I was over in Dublin last April and absolutely fell in love with Ireland and Dublin. Through a mix up, I unfortunately did not see the Book of Kells in person at Trinity College Dublin. So I guess that just means I need to go back to Dublin to see them for real.