At Dodgers headquarters, this was not a good week for clarity in the information age.
I got an email from MLB yesterday containing some interesting metrics: Home attendance at Dodger Stadium is up 10 percent through Sept. 11, compared to the same point last year. Ratings on Prime Ticket were up 42 percent (through Sept. 9) while merchandise sales (via MLB.com through Sept. 11) were up 50 percent. Only the Orioles, Astros, A’s and Pirates have seen a greater jump in merch sales.
The Dodgers’ average attendance (currently 45,771) is the highest in MLB. They appear headed for the biggest total attendance for any MLB club since the New York Yankees in 2010 (3.77 million) and the best for the Dodgers since 2009.
Which of these numbers surprised team president Stan Kasten the most?
The Dodgers’ average road attendance of 35,622 is the highest in the majors. “It says something about the Dodger brand,” Kasten told me Wednesday.
It probably says something about the Dodgers’ star power and the accompanying media exposure, too. Having Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke on your roster helps win and helps sell tickets. Kasten prefers to credit the brand; that’s a point for debate. So too are the Dodgers’ actual home attendance numbers — it’s been said that those figures are inflated by 5,000 to 15,000 on a given night — but the Dodgers’ league-leading road attendance indicates the average fan believes this is a team worth seeing in person.
Some bullet points for Friday the 13th:
A list of the most popular jersey sales on MLB.com/shop was released today:
1. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
2. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
3. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
4. David Wright, New York Mets
5. Matt Harvey, New York Mets
6. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
7. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
8. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
9. Mike Trout, LA Angels of Anaheim
10. Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers
11. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers
12. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
13. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
14. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
15. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
More on Puig in a bit. Let’s not overlook that Ryu jersey sales rank 11th, only Puig separating Ryu from the buzz-worthy title of “Dodgers rookie sensation.” And that four Dodgers (with the cross-cultural appeal that comes with representing four different ethnic groups) rank among the top 15.
Onto the bullet points:
Dodger Stadium has already made way for motocross racing, rock concerts and Papal masses. Why not a little hockey game?
Adding to today’s announcement that the Kings and Ducks will play each other at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 25 next year, Dodgers president Stan Kasten added his voice to the chorus of excitement Monday.
“I didn’t know they [the NHL] were going to get off New Year’s,” he said, referring to the traditional date for the annual Winter Classic outdoor game. “Now that they’re doing it, what a great thing to have Yankee Stadium and Dodger Stadium. Those are the places you want to have games.”
Dodgers president Stan Kasten returned from the construction zone that is Dodger Stadium with a vision of the future.
“Maybe not by Thursday,” he said, “but by Friday it will get done.”
The media, whose tour of the new-look stadium is still a few days away, aren’t the only ones skeptical of this pronouncement. The renovated clubhouses are supposed to be ready by Thursday, one day before the Dodgers host their first exhibition game against the Angels, and “I’m fully planning on winning several bets I had with a number of our players who doubted us,” Kasten said.
The ambitious project included unforeseen snags and cost overruns that ran the total bill “north” of $100 million, but overall Kasten had an upbeat outlook Saturday.
“We’re happy, proud and a little surprised it did get done,” he said.
If anything should make him nervous it’s Opening Day.
I finally had a chance today to listen to Stan Kasten’s 42-minute, 40-second chat at the SABR Analytics conference last weekend. SABR is the Society for American Baseball Research so, naturally, the interview took a historical bent. The president of the Los Angeles Dodgers talked almost as much about building the 1980s and 1990s Atlanta Braves as he did his current team.
Embedded among Kasten’s words was an important lesson for Dodgers fans (and haters).
The Dodgers are reviving a lost tradition this year: The Old Timer’s Game on June 8 will feature unnamed “Dodgers and Yankees legends.” The tradition was discontinued in 1995 in the midst of declining crowds at Dodger Stadium. Clearly there was some fan interest in seeing the event return, and it will be interesting to see which former players are willing (and able) to suit up for the game.
Next year the Dodgers will revive a unique tradition, the Hollywood Stars game, team president Stan Kasten said Monday.
There were a number of fresh faces on the major-league fields today who migrated from the Dodgers’ minor-league camp.
“That’s kind of been a plan — just talking about integrating” the two sides, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve tried to hit on the back field early in camp. When the pitchers are doing their work, we’ve had guys hitting back there with the minor leaguers. It was only three days this year, so they lockered over here. During those first two camps they were lockering over there. Where you get the minor league guys get exposed to Matt (Kemp) and different guys. I think it’s nice that we’ve got a little bit of a new program where our guys can work out together.
“That’s been the development-side thinking, trying to integrate those guys. I know we’ve got some guys who are going to go over and talk to the kids. We’re all one. … I had to talk about it this morning, what (team president) Stan (Kasten) has talked about is building the system back. I know that when you bring all these guys in that we’ve brought in at once, that’s big, bold splashes right away to kind of get the team on opportunity right away. But you listen to Magic (Johnson) and Stan and these guys, they want to try to win every year. To do that, that side over there has got to get strong, where that’s coming through. We need to keep integrating. The idea of having the clubhouses closer, having them all together. When those guys know it’s not that far away it’s a good thing.”
Mattingly added that the minor-league players aren’t missing out on anything they wouldn’t be doing otherwise by switching sides, as both camps have integrated new training methods this year.
Team president Stan Kasten unveiled the above schematic showing the clubhouse-level renovations at Dodger Stadium. It’s a series of three images. The top image shows the old clubhouse (in blue). The middle shows the expanded area. The bottom image shows the overlay of the new (black outline) atop the old (blue). Kasten didn’t reveal the exact square footage before and after the renovation, but he said the total area will roughly double.
This area of Dodger Stadium is hidden to most fans. For reference’s sake, the blue protrusion extending from the “top” of the clubhouse (top image) is the tunnel leading into the third-base (home) dugout.