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Splinters: A Battle, a bunch of charts and a bust


James Mirtle has done it again: Giving yet another hint of the unending depths of his blackmail vault, Mirtle has coaxed the three(ish)-team blog Battle of California to move its commentary and cartoon loveliness to SBN. Hard to describe BoC: It makes about as much sense as a shark, a duck and a member of some inbred royal lineage gathering over a beer. Yet it works.

(Btw, some BoC regulars seemed reluctant to "register" to comment at the SBN version. Rest assured that all the one-step SBN registration process does is give you easy comment and FanPost access to every SBN blog, while providing you dashboard reader tools to quickly see what you haven't read yet. Oh, and it deters trolls. I honestly wouldn't be here nor pimp it if I hadn't thought, "Man, now this is how fan interaction is supposed to work.")

Charts Galore!: Speaking of Mirtle, he's been running a cool series tracking the countries, provinces and states of origin of NHL players over time. Interesting stuff. Massachusetts representation, for example, is declining. I'd say it's time to institute a Long Island territorial rights rule like the Habs had in Quebec (Higgins, come on down!), but Habs Eyes on the Prize explains how that was largely an anti-Habs myth.

The Bust: So the economy is bad. So bad that even some NHL owners, in all their insulated bubble-ness, have suddenly realized that "No, really, it's REALLY bad!" thanks to ambassadors from the real world visiting the Board of Governors meeting.

I know economics doesn't work this way, but I have this fantasy where, instead of the economy causing teams to teeter on collapse and keeping people from affording NHL hockey, maybe they just knock the price of tickets down to a half-way reasonable level, and strapping young athletes make, say, a modest $2 million to play this game instead of $6 or $7, and then you still get thousands of people at your games, making for an atmosphere worth catching.

I know it's crazy, but so is raising ticket prices beyond the rate of inflation year after year after year like it's a divine right. Wrong sport, but I was stunned to read this in SBN blog Bleed Cubbie Blue's interview with a Chicago Cubs exec (my italics):

[For] our [14] marquee games, a big portion of our house, these tickets get traded at big markups to the face value. And listen, it’s the way people in some ways underwrite their season ticket purchases. They trade their White Sox tickets for four times face value and that’s fine. So we did increase our prices for those games. But if you left that out our ticket price increases are six percent for next year which is still an increase, and I know some people wish there wasn’t one. But we think it is modest in comparison with what we’ve done in the past and allows us to achieve some payroll increases that are going to allow us to fix a couple of places in the roster...

A "modest" 6% increase, excluding marquee games! Rock on, pro sports: you're my hero. You make me want to just drop you and read more books -- and that is a unique social achievement indeed.

The lower bowls at NHL rinks have already become largely soulless, often empty realms of suited excess. It's going to be particularly infuriating when they're empty because Spencer Arse-Kiss's boss cut his schmoozing expense account.