TIME major league baseball

Jeter Leaves With Hit and 9-5 Win Over Red Sox

Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira
New York Yankees designated hitter Derek Jeter tips his cap to the crowd at Fenway Park during the last baseball game of his career, Sept. 28, 2014, in Boston. Elise Amendola—AP

(BOSTON) — The ball, marked and numbered for the occasion, bounced high off the dirt and down the third-base line, where a rookie who was 4 years-old when Derek Jeter made his major league debut leaped into the air to attempt a bare-handed play.

It went off of his palm and onto the grass, and by that time Jeter was safe at first with hit No. 3,465 — sixth all-time, and the most in franchise history — along with the 1,311th RBI of a career in which he established himself as the New York Yankees’ consummate captain and, for two decades, the face of baseball.

Jeter bid baseball adieu with an RBI single on a chopper, a dugout full of hugs and a final wave to the fans on Sunday, concluding his Hall of Fame career by helping the Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 9-5.

“In an era where few heroes exist, over a 20-year span he represented the sport and himself in an absolutely magnificent way. It’s almost hard to believe,” commissioner Bud Selig said this weekend when he stopped by Fenway for his own farewell tour. “He makes one proud.”

Three days after an emotional farewell in New York, pinstripe-wearing fans filled Fenway Park for Jeter’s finale, chanting for him and the visiting Yankees and standing for each of his at-bats. After a hard line-drive out in the first inning, Jeter delivered his final hit as part of a four-run third inning, then left for a pinch hitter and headed into retirement.

“I’m ready for it now,” Jeter said after the final out. “The plan was two at-bats. I was lucky I got a hit. I guess I hit the right part of the plate.”

Jeter’s departure gave some import to an otherwise meaningless game between the longtime AL East rivals, who missed the playoffs together for the first time in 20 years. The last-place Red Sox — the defending World Series champions — are the first team in baseball history to go from worst to first and back to worst in three consecutive seasons.

Michael Pineda (5-5) earned the victory as the Yankees finished in second place, 12 games behind the division-winning Baltimore Orioles and too far back in the wild-card standings to make the weekend series count. Clay Buchholz (8-11) gave up Ichiro Suzuki’s two-run triple before in the fourth, then entered trivia history as the last pitcher to give up a hit to Jeter.

After a walk and a single and a wild pitch put runners on second and third, Suzuki lined the ball into the Fenway triangle, the deepest part of the ballpark, where it rolled under the 420-foot sign and stopped. Fans moaned that he was not waved home for an inside-the-park homer, but with Ichiro at third it meant that Jeter would be coming to bat with another RBI opportunity.

The 40-year-old shortstop, in the lineup this weekend as the designated hitter, took a strike, took a ball and then fouled one off before bouncing a high chopper to third. Garin Cecchini, 23, tried to make a one-handed play but couldn’t.

All eyes turned to the Jeter, safe at first, waiting to see if that was it. And when Brian McCann came out of the dugout to replace him as a pinch runner, the Captain’s career was over — 46 years to the day after Mickey Mantle ended his on the same field. The final hit raised Jeter’s lifetime batting average to .310.

Jeter pointed at the applauding Red Sox, hugged pitcher Clay Buchholz and then stopped in front of the Yankees dugout to tip his helmet to the crowd. Buchholz waited behind the mound to give the cheers a chance to subside, and then Jeter disappeared into the dugout.

The Yankees scored five more in the top of the seventh inning and Boston put five across in the bottom half, but by that time the ballpark was half-empty.

The fans had gotten what they wanted.

The sun-soaked day began with a 30-minute ceremony in which Jeter was serenaded with “Respect” and presented with some local baubles: Second base emblazoned with his No. 2, a pair of Yankees-themed boots and a check for $22,222.22 to his Turn 2 Foundation. Former Red Sox players from Carl Yastrzemski to Fred Lynn came out to greet him along with captains from the other local teams: Bruins Hall of Famer Bobby Orr, the Celtics’ Paul Pierce and Troy Brown of the Patriots, followed by the entire 2014 Red Sox team.

Jeter’s parents made the trip for his final series, along with thousands of New Yorkers who clogged the MassPike on their way to the game. Fans in Jeter’s No. 2 pinstripes milled unharassed inside the ballpark — a scene unimaginable a decade ago — mixing with Bostonians showing their esteem for a player who relished the rivalry as much as they do.

“JETUH,” said one T-shirt in Red Sox colors and his name translated into the local dialect.

And on the back: “WICKED RE2PECT.”

TIME Baseball

The Captain Says Goodbye to Yankee Stadium

The Yankees legend rose to the moment, ending the game with a dramatic walk-off hit.

TIME major league baseball

Baseball’s Derek Jeter Problem

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees
Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees smiles prior to a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium on September 22, 2014. Mike Stobe—Getty Images

What will happen when the sport's most recognized and admired player leaves the game?

The New York Yankees have a Derek Jeter problem. Sure, the endless pomp surrounding Jeter’s retirement has kept a lot of people watching a team that won’t make the playoffs. But during his long goodbye, Jeter simply hasn’t produced. Entering Wednesday’s game, Jeter was hitting .255 – a full 55 points below his career average. His .615 on-base percentage (OPS) is the second-lowest of his career, ahead of only his .542 clip during last year’s injury induced abbreviated 17-game campaign. Jeter has hit a home run in 0.6% of his plate appearances; excluding his brief call-up in 1995, when he did not hit a home run in his 51 plate appearances, Jeter’s prior low was a 1.3% home run percentage in 1997. So in this category, it has been his weakest year, by two. He has drawn a walk in 5.6% of his plate appearances, another career low.

Outside the batter’s box, Jeter’s struggles as a shortstop have long been documented. And they’ve continued this season. According to the analytics, he’s below-average at his position.

In the public’s imagination, Jeter — who will play his last home game as a Yankee on Thursday night — is one of the greatest clutch hitters of all-time. But on Tuesday night, with the Yankees barely hanging on to the mathematical miracle they would have needed to make the post-season, Mighty Jeter struck out, with the tying run was on first, to end the game. It was a fitting summation of the season.

The Derek Jeter problem extends to all of baseball. Despite his shaky last-season performance, Jeter is still the most familiar, marketable, beloved player in the game. And right now, the sport has no one to replace him.

That love was on full display a few Sundays ago, during Derek Jeter Day at Yankee Stadium. Three-plus hours before the start of New York’s game against the Kansas City Royals – which the Yanks lost 2-0 – dozens of Yankees fans milled about. Joe Talnagi, 21, was asked what he was going to do during all this pre-game down time. “Probably cry,” said Talnagi, a college student from New Jersey. “Number 2” patches graced bottles of wine resting on the locker room chairs of all his Yankee teammates, the Yankee uniforms, and the flags atop the stadium. They were painted onto the field, along the first- and third-base lines. Jeter’s former teammate Jorge Posada showed up, and called Jeter the greatest Yankee of all-time. Michael Jordan was the surprise guest, and said Jeter is an “idol to me.”

Jeter’s fans, teammates, and buddies aren’t the only ones who idolize him. According to Q Scores Company, among active athletes recognized by more than half the U.S. population, Jeter owns the second-highest “Q score” – a general favorability rating – trailing only Peyton Manning. The bad news: no other baseball player ranks in the top 15. “Baseball players aren’t even on the national radar for the general population,” says Henry Schafer, an executive vice president at Q Scores. “They’re just not out there like players from other sports.”

Baseball has become a more regionalized game, a series of thriving fiefdoms with little national cultural connection. Thanks to lucrative local television deals, stable attendance, and smart digital investments by Major League Baseball Advanced Media, the game’s overall revenues have grown. The sport is in fine economic health. But fans are getting older. The game is getting slower and slower, which hurts its appeal among younger viewers. Rarely is a regular season game appointment television. There’s just too much competition. A quarter century ago, NBC offered a “Game of the Week” on Saturdays. Now, the network offers Premier League soccer, a hipper product, on its cable channels. European soccer over baseball once seemed like a ridiculous proposition. Not anymore.

How did Jeter, who played 20 seasons in New York, won five World Series rings and has 3,461 hits–sixth-best of all time–break through? “Being able to accomplish all that, for that long a period of time, in a major market is highly unusual,” says Schafer. “The Yankees are both loved and hated across the country, but what’s surprising is he rises above it. He’s a likeable individual, and he’s respected.”

For 20 years, no personal scandal has interrupted the Jeter narrative: he’s a winner, a leader, a guy who plays the game “the right way.” During the Jeter ceremony, if any fans played a “right way” drinking game during the dozens of between-inning personalized messages that former teammates, opponents, New York sports legends like Joe Namath and random big names like Kenny Chesney and Matt Lauer delivered on the video board, they were sloshed before the seventh-inning stretch.

“He’s pretty much the face of baseball,” says Schafer. “There’s going to be a big void. It’s going to be like when the NBA was trying to find the next Michael Jordan. Baseball is going to have a very tough time finding the next Derek Jeter.” On Schafer’s list, there is one other active baseball player that more than half of the general population recognizes.

It’s A-Rod.

MONEY Sports

Marketing Jeter’s Farewell Season, by the Numbers

New York Yankees batter Derek Jeter follows through on his swing
Ray Stubblebine—Reuters

Derek Jeter, by far the most respected and marketable baseball star in the modern era, is retiring this season. To commemorate the end of the Captain's historic career, fans have been asked to open their wallets early and often.

No matter how widely Derek Jeter is beloved in the sports world, many have questioned the relentless marketing of this, his final season, including a few critics even in the New York City media. “It’s such bad taste,” former New York Jets quarterback and current sports radio personality Boomer Esiason said in early September, referring to the “cheese-ball move” of rolling out new products and endlessly merchandising Jeter’s farewell season. “It kind of goes against everything Derek Jeter has been.”

Nonetheless, the sales have rolled on throughout the season and have picked up pace as the end nears. Here are some numbers that show how #2 has undeniably been #1 in terms of marketing and merchandising during his final season in pinstripes:

2 Number of epic tribute commercials released by long-time Jeter sponsors (Nike, Gatorade) this season commemorating his goodbye.

29 Number of different styles of Jeter baseball hats listed for sale at the Major League Baseball site.

$8.95, $260 Lowest get-in prices listed of late at StubHub for Orioles-Yankees tickets on, respectively, Wednesday, September 24, and Thursday, September 25. The latter is the last regular season home game, and therefore Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium. According to the ticket resale aggregation site TiqIQ.com, the average price paid on the secondary market for the game on the 25th has been in the neighborhood of $650 to $750.

$50, $210 Lowest get-in prices listed of late at StubHub for the Yankees-Red Sox tickets on, respectively, Saturday, September 27, and Sunday, September 28. The latter is the final game of the regular season, and therefore Jeter’s final game, and it’s being played at Fenway Park. The average price on the secondary market for a seat to the final game has been around $550, according to TiqIQ.

50-50 How the vote broke down among fans weighing in at a Yankees blog as to whether it was a good or bad idea for the Yankees to wear a Jeter commemorative patch on their jerseys—an extremely rare way to honor a still-active player.

$149 Starting price for tickets to a Jeter Q&A session on Monday, September 22, at the Millennium Hotel in Manhattan. Steiner Sports, the event host, has advertising a package with a Mezzanine Level seat and a Derek Jeter Commemorative Final Season Bat for $299. VIP packages, which include lunch, a signed baseball, and premium seating, go as high as $2,999.

296 Number of Jeter products available for sale at the sports apparel site fanatics.com. The site reports that Jeter sales lately are up 2,700% compared with the same period a year ago, and that Jeter merchandise has been purchased this season in all 50 states and 30+ countries. Among the top sellers lately is a commemorative Jeter fitted Yankees hat retailing for $36.95.

$410 Asking price for one of Jeter’s game socks (used, of course, and highly collectible).

$500 Minimum bid for one of four special pairs of Derek Jeter Jordan cleats being auctioned off to benefit Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation. At last check, bids were well over $2,000, with roughly four weeks to go before the auctions close.

$695 to $795 Range of prices for a Captains Series Celebrating Derek Jeter watch from Movado, which went on sale in recent weeks.

$12,500 Price paid by a collector for a home run ball hit by Jeter in August at a Toronto Blue Jays home game. The Blue Jays put the ball up for sale immediately after the game. “A collector from Tennessee offered $8,000, I said $15,000, we met in between,” a Blue Jays staffer explained. It’s the highest price ever commanded for a piece of baseball memorabilia sold by the team.

$50,000 Highest price Jeter item listed recently at Steiner Sports. It’s a game-used road grey jersey and pants worn by the Captain this past August, in a matchup against the Baltimore Orioles. On the cheap end of the spectrum are unsigned 6″ x 10″ photos of Jeter from 2009 and wrist bands commemorating his 3,000th hit that can be had for under $4.

$19 Million+ Amount in grants awarded by Derek Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation since the nonprofit was launched in 1996.

$24 Million Estimated earnings by Derek Jeter for 2014, according to Forbes, including roughly $15 million in salary and $9 million in endorsements.

TIME major league baseball

MLB Upholds First Team Protest in 28 Years in Giants Versus Cubs Game

Chicago Cubs ground crew members struggle to get the tarp on the field as rain falls during the fifth inning of the Chicago Cubs game against the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field on August 19, 2014 in Chicago.
Chicago Cubs ground crew members struggle to get the tarp on the field as rain falls during the fifth inning of the Chicago Cubs game against the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field on August 19, 2014 in Chicago. Brian Kersey—Getty Images

The Cubs can't even tarp a field, it seems

After protesting that the Chicago Cubs didn’t tarp the field properly in a 2-0 rain-inducing loss Tuesday night, the San Francisco Giants were allowed by Major League Baseball Wednesday night to finish the game Thursday. The heavy fifteen minutes of rain had stopped the game after four and a half innings, and the Cubs were declared the winners only after a 4 hour and 34 minute delay.

It was the first time in 28 years that Major League Baseball upheld a team’s protest, USA Today reports.

The Giants had asked the MLB to forfeit the game, but the League decided that the groundskeepers had worked “diligently” enough to reschedule it. The League’s investigation found that the Cubs failed “to properly wrap and spool the tarp after its last use,” rendering the ground crew unable to complete the job.

The teams had looked into suspending the game on Tuesday, but since the tarp was manual and not mechanical in nature, the officials had to call the game or wait until the field became playable, according to ESPN.

You can find the MLB’s entire ruling here.

TIME Baseball

10 Not-to-Miss Moments From the MLB All-Star Game

Derek Jeter went 2-for-2 in his 14th and final All-Star Game performance and the American League defeated the National League 5-3

Fans gathered at Target Field in Minneapolis Tuesday night, to watch the American League face off against the National League in the All-Star Game. Here are 10 of the best moments from–and Derek Jeter’s last appearance at–the annual celebration of baseball’s finest.

MONEY Careers

What You Can Learn From Derek Jeter’s Perfect Exit

140715_EM_JETER
ZUMA Press—Alamy

Whether you’re the Yankees' all-time leader in hits, games played, and stolen bases, or just a regular employee, leaving a long-term employer on the best terms can pay off handsomely. 

Updated on Sept. 25, 2014

When shortstop Derek Jeter plays his final home game at Yankee stadium tonight (weather permitting), you can bet the crowds will roar and the 20-year Yankee veteran will modestly acknowledge the fans, take his stance in the batter’s box, and get on with the job at hand. You can also bet that Jeter, who announced his retirement from active play at the start of the season, can parlay that adulation into a very lucrative post-baseball second act.

That’s what a job well done and a well-honed exit strategy from a long-term position can do for you too.

Whether you’re on the verge of retirement or are simply leaving a company you’ve been with for a while to take a new position, here are three lessons from the future Hall-of-Famer’s actions in his final season that you can take to the bank.

Get early buy-in from management. Jeter gave Yankee manager Joe Girardi, general manager Brian Cashman, and owners Hal and Hank Steinbrenner more than six months’ notice about his plan to end his playing career at the close of the current season. That’s allowed them plenty of time to plan for his replacement at shortstop.

Show your bosses the same courtesy. Notify your manager a good three to six months in advance if you’re retiring and a month to six weeks ahead of time vs. the standard two weeks if you’re leaving for a new job so they have enough lead time to fill your position. That’s especially important if you’re in a critical, revenue-generating role or are a highly skilled employee who may be difficult to replace. Help identify other staffers or professionals outside the company who might be good candidates, and offer to train them before you go, or at least to write a detailed memo that will help the person fill your shoes.

Your reward: If you’re retiring, you never know when you might want to earn a little extra cash by doing some consulting work or might want or need to return to part-time work. Your behavior helps ensure your former employer will want you back in some capacity. And if you’re simply moving on, you can count on a glowing reference if and when you need one in the future.

Mentor younger players. They don’t call Jeter the Captain for nothing. Since late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner appointed him team leader in 2003, Jeter has taken his job as a role model seriously, consistently mentoring younger players and youth off the field through his Turn 2 Foundation.

Share your knowledge as generously with younger colleagues at work, especially those who toil in a similar capacity albeit at a more junior level. Offer some inside tips that only someone who’s been around for a while would know, and make yourself available for questions and as a sounding board. Be especially generous in passing along your know-how to the person who’s taking your place. Those junior staffers will be the bosses one day, possibly sooner than you think. Good for them to remember you fondly if they’re in a position to hire you someday.

Show fans your appreciation. Jeter is notoriously not on board with hoopla over his career accomplishments, and his farewell tour has been subdued compared with that of fellow Yankee Core Four member Mariano Rivera last year. Yet Jeter has graciously accepted the gifts and gratitude shown him as he plays at various ballparks for the last time and tips his cap to the fans, just as they tip theirs to him.

Remember to show your gratitude to those who helped your career along as well. If you had a mentor at work, let him or her know how much you appreciated the help and mention a particular lesson or words of wisdom that were especially useful (the specificity makes your gratitude seem more genuine). Let colleagues who you particularly admire know and, again, try to identify a specific accomplishment or skill that you believe sets them apart. Bring in bagels or doughnuts for the staff one morning near the end of your run or buy a round of drinks. Think of it as a form of networking that may one day help you professionally.

This kind of classy behavior may not earn you a standing ovation on your way out the door, let alone an emotionally resonant and star-studded tribute videos sponsored by Nike and Gatorade. But it can’t hurt in the good karma department — and is very likely to pay off in hard currency after you hang up your spikes.

More in Careers:
These Two Key Moves Will Help You Land Your Dream Second Career
How to Find Happiness in Your Second Career—And Earn Money Too
Your Career Is Your Biggest Asset. Here Are Five Ways to Protect It

 

TIME Baseball

A Major League Pitcher Wore a Protective Cap for the First Time

But his team lost

San Diego Padres relief pitcher Alex Torres became the first Major League Baseball pitcher to wear a protective cap over the weekend.

The league approved the bulky-looking headgear meant to protect against the impact of line drives to the head, and Torres ignored the jeers of his teammates as he made history during a Saturday evening game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“It could save our lives, if someone hits a ball to your head,” Torres told MLB.com. “I get it for free so, I’m just gonna use it to see how it feels.”

Torres entered the game in the 8th inning, giving up one run, one hit and two walks while also striking out two before the Padres lost 4-2. He said he didn’t think the new cap impacted his pitching.

The hat, which looks a bit like a stylized T-ball helmet, was designed by IsloBox and approved by the league in January. The hat is designed with padded sides to absorb the impact of a ball to the head. Torres said he decided to wear the hat after seeing Tampa Bay Rays’ pitcher Alex Cobb get hit in head during a game last year. At the time, Torres played for the Rays. On Sunday, Cobb told Fox Sports he thought his former teammate’s decision to wear the hat was admirable.

”He’s wearing the MLB one? That’s cool. That’s cool,” Cobb said. “It was out there for somebody to be the first person to do it.”

MONEY deals

Cheap Seats! 10 Best Deals for Pro Baseball Fans This Summer

Philadelphia Phillies mascot shooting a Hatfield Hot Dog into the stands
The Philadelphia Phillies mascot the Phillie Phanatic shoots a Hatfield Hot Dog into the stands at Citizens Bank Park. Brian Garfinkel—Getty Images

With the kids getting out of school, it's time to take the family out to the ballgame. Ideally without breaking the bank.

It costs a family of four an average of $212 to attend a Major League Baseball game, and that doesn’t include premium seating or a single $25 corn dog. But with 81 home games apiece, a team can’t expect fans to happily pack the house and empty their wallets for every outing. To fill the seats, baseball franchises push a wide range of promotions and discounts on tickets and concessions, to sell fans and families on the idea that they can enjoy America’s pastime in person without spending an arm and a leg. With summer officially arriving this weekend, here’s a top 10 list of great pro baseball deals.

$1 Hot Dogs
Fans can feel free to arrive at Minute Maid Park hungry on Thursdays when the Houston Astros are playing in town: That’s when hot dogs are $1 apiece. Many other clubs, including the Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies, and Washington Nationals, also host a few $1 hot dog nights this season. They’re especially good deals compared to the prices faced by New York Mets fans, who pay $6.25 for a hot dog.

$4 Beers
The Cleveland Indians are repeating a 4-3-2-1 concessions pricing deal launched last season, in which 12-oz. domestic (non-craft) beers always cost $4, hot dogs are $3, soda refills go for $2, and, on 13 promotional nights, hot dogs are $1. The Arizona Diamondbacks also sell $4 beers for all home games, more than $2 less than the average in Major League Baseball, and nearly half the price of a beer at Boston’s Fenway Park ($7.75). And the D-Backs special is 14 ounces rather than the usual 12.

$5 Yankees Tickets
During select few games in 2014, a promotion with MasterCard brings New York Yankees seats in the Bleachers, Grandstand, or Terrace levels down to only $5 a pop. Only if you buy with a MasterCard, as you might imagine. If the $5 seats are sold out, another group of games features half-price seats for fans making the purchase with a MasterCard.

$6 Student Tickets
Students ages 18 and under or with valid ID can take advantage of a Washington Nationals discount that makes upper outfield seats just $7. The Baltimore Orioles student ticket deal is even better: $6 seats for Friday home games. (Upper Reserve tickets on Tuesdays are always $9 in Baltimore, as well, and there’s no requirement to be a student.) Plenty of other teams have student discounts—even in New York, where admission to the Mets “Student Rush” games starts at $10 for students (plus a $2 order fee).

$6.10 Saturday Seats
One of the cheapest ticket deals available for all fans, the Kansas City Royals offer tickets starting at just $6.10 on special “610 Saturdays” this season. To score, fans must listen to the local station 610 Sports Radio, get a coupon code, and purchase online before the limited number of tickets is sold out.

$27 All You Can Eat
If you’re going to blow a decent amount of cash at the ballpark, you at least shouldn’t be going home hungry. That’s the pitch behind the many “all you can eat” promotions offered around Major League Baseball. The $30 Astros deal scores you a Mezzanine level ticket and unlimited hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, peanuts, and soda. The Royals host a similar promo for $40 per person. Cheapest of all, the Miami Marlins’ all-you-can-eat special starts at $27, which includes a ticket for certain Saturday games, as well as all the usual concessions you can stomach.

Family Packs
Virtually every Major League squad runs value-laden promotions aimed at families, with baseball owners hoping that doing so will turn your kids into lifelong fans, or at least fill what otherwise would be empty seats. The offers might be free or half-price tickets for kids with the purchase of a full-price adult ticket, or $1 ice cream for fans ages 13 and under, or a wide range of family packages. Called “family packs” or “fun packs,” they might include, say, four tickets, four hot dogs, and four soft drinks for $59 (the Los Angeles Angels), or four tickets, four hot dogs, four bags of peanuts, and four drinks for $50 (Oakland Athletics).

Dynamic Pricing Deals
After seeing fans flock to secondary market, dynamic-priced ticket sites like StubHub and TiqIQ, many Major League operations have rolled out dynamic pricing systems of their own. Basically, the way they work is that tickets are priced based on supply and demand. The result is that prices can bottom out when a game day is approaching and thousands of seats have yet to sell. Thanks to dynamic pricing, Kansas City Royals tickets have sold for $10 and under this year, and Cincinnati Reds’ tickets have gone as low as $5. And don’t forget about the bargains on the secondary sites themselves, where tickets in the past have sold for the absurd price of 1¢ (before fees are tacked on).

Any Minor League Game, Anywhere
The simplest way to enjoy a pro baseball game without paying a fortune is by skipping the major leagues and heading to the nearest minor league ballpark, where it’s rare to spend more than $20 for a ticket and the concessions of your choice. And the promotions minor league clubs run are true bargains—$1 beer nights, for instance, and family packages with four tickets and four hot dogs for a total of $20. The minor league Louisville Bats, meanwhile, host occasional wine tastings, with sponsor Barefoot Refresh pouring free samples over ice for guests 21 and up. The (Florida) Fort Myers Miracle packs its season with all sorts of gluttonous deals, including “Sink or Swim Saturdays,” when fans 21 and up can pay $12 for a wrist band that grants unlimited domestic beers through the sixth inning.

Totally Free MLB Tickets
With age comes privilege. Seniors ages 55 and up have plenty of “mature” ticket deals at their disposal around the country. For instance, the Yankees offer game-day deals for seniors (and a guest) starting at just $5, while the Nationals’ senior tickets are $7. Seniors in South Florida get the best treatment of all, with fans “55 years young and above” entitled to totally free tickets on Thursday home games for the Miami Marlins. No advanced reservations; just show up on game day within two hour of the first pitch. Considering the Marlins’ popularity (or lack thereof) in Florida, plenty of seats should be available.

TIME

Will Your Baseball Team Make the Playoffs?

Last updated June 25.

As a Phillies fan, I’ve become adept at constructing outlandish scenarios for how the team can pull it together. For the millions of fans who root for struggling baseball teams, it’s this faith in baseball miracles that keeps us hanging on. The chart above is your guide to how often those miracles actually happen.

In mid-May, when the Phils were still dog paddling around a .500 record, I started to wonder how many teams in their same position at that point in the season went on to make the playoffs. Using Retrosheet.org, I pulled the box scores for the 43,404 regular season games that have been played since 1996, the first full season after Major League Baseball went to a three-round playoff system with eight teams.

By the morning of June 8, for example, the Phillies were carrying a 25-35 record. As it happens, 18 teams since 1996 have had that same record after 60 games. Only one of them, the 2005 Houston Astros, made the playoffs. Judging by history, in other words, the 2014 Phillies had only a 6 percent chance of seeing the postseason on June 8. (The list at the bottom of this article has always-current standings based on these odds.)

Of course, every season is different, and to make the postseason a ball club is competing against the other teams in the league, not other teams in history. Flukes and miracles do happen. (Recall that the Padres won the NL West in 2005 with an 82-80 record.) Judging by history, however, teams like the Phillies have virtually no chance whatsoever to turn things around. It’s over long before it’s over.

Methodology

The information used here was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet. Interested parties may contact Retrosheet. The data does not include tie-breaker games played among wild card contenders or the small handful of tie games that have occurred since 1996.

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