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Sunday Roundup

Sheldon Ocker's Mailbag. ABJ

I'm not too interested in rehashing the topic from last week, but I at least have to mention this fan's response:


I agree that the public relations dilemma has grown into a stigma that shouldn't be ignored.

Shapiro's approach has been, basically, screw the PR, just win and the fans will come. In general, he obviously is right about this, but is it really absolute? And if not, where is the limit? At what point do you say, maybe all these smart moves really can hurt us in ticket sales?

Maybe Dolan needs to spend a half-million on a clever PR firm that can help him figure out how to get out of this box. Or maybe they just need to find a new, cool nickname for another player -- and then don't trade him.

Jay S. Levin

Dear Jay:

Let me start the ball rolling. How about A-Rod or Rocket? Those aren't taken yet, are they?


Well, it's obvious the Indians have realized that the Cool Nickname Average (heretofore referred to as CNA) is a key factor to getting fans to attend. Just look at the players they've added recently: Juan Valdes, Bubbie Buzachero, Doodle Hicks, Boodle Clark, Ben Francisco, and of course, they wouldn't have traded for plain 'ol Travis Hafner if he didn't have a cool nickname.

Because the Indians, besides the defense they lost, definitely downgraded the CNA, they need to think about coming up with a new cool nickname for Jason Michaels or Paul Byrd to help compensate. I wouldn't doubt if you got hold of Dolan's books, you'd probably find under Expenses a line item called "Nickname Procurement Expense." After all, that's what brings fans to the ballpark.

You can't seriously think these two deals make the Indians better this season. The allure of Jason Michaels is based almost solely on his on-base percentage as a part-time player.

But on-base percentage isn't everything. A better measurement of a hitter's value is how often he gets himself into scoring position (by double, triple, homer, steal).

Michaels doesn't run and doesn't amass many extra-base hits. In the past two years, he has gotten himself to second or beyond only 18 percent of the time he reaches base. Crisp, by contrast, has reached second or farther 34 percent of time, a substantial difference over a 550-at-bat season.

And I return to my original point. If the team faces a backlash from the fans (in the form of withheld support at the gate), it doesn't really matter who's right and who's wrong.


"Sheldon, Buster Olney on Line Two. He wants to break out a new stat...the Getting to Second Base Percentage (GSB%). And he wants to credit you for coming up with it!"

The next question, obviously, is why Ocker failed to mention that Michaels scored a higher percentage of runs than Crisp did last season. Surely it had nothing to do with Michaels getting on base at a higher clip.

Word is that Roger Brown wrote a Sunday column, but I can't substantiate it. Sorry, I know you're disappointed.