July 11, 2002

MLB teams in dire dinero dilemma.: Apparently, there's a couple MLB teams that might not make it to the impending doom that will likely cut short this baseball season. El Commish does not name names, but says one of the teams "will surprise you". Could anything really surprise us anymore when it comes to America's old pastime?

posted by bcb2k2 to baseball at 12:21 AM - 20 comments

Want to know what would surprise me? If Bud Selig (or any of the MLB mouthpieces) were to tell the truth. That would surprise me. They lie. Plain and simple, they lie about almost everything they can. They don't let anyone else see the financial books, so they can say whatever they want about making/losing money. With all the hubbub about accounting and big businesses defrauding, cheating and lying, why does MLB think anyone is going to believe them when they claim financial hardship? This is yet another ham-handed attempt by Selig to garner support for the upcoming labour dispute, and yet another attempt by Selig to badmouth the game of baseball. When was the last time this guy said/did anything that promoted the game of baseball in a positive manner? I generally side with management (family background) when it comes to labour disputes, but this is one case where I fully support the union. Not because I think they're right, but because I think that management is "more wrong" than the union. I can't believe that the owners are letting Selig run the whole show in such a pathetic manner.

posted by grum@work at 01:01 AM on July 11, 2002

Exactly, Grum. No-one believes the cries of poverty. (Other than, say, those of the Expos, and they could easily be saved by moving them to Jarry park.) Every time I hear the owners complain about not making any money, I ask myself: how can you not make money selling baseball to Americans? Seriously. Some of the most successful businessmen (and corporations) in the US suddenly forget about the bottom line as soon as they acquire a team? And even if that is the case, isn't the market supposed to take care of that sort of thing? Selig appears not to understand how his partial release of books makes him look. When taken in context with his assertion that the Red Sox were worth $250 million when they'd just sold for $700 million and the standing $1 million fine for anybody who's seen the real books to talk about them, one wonders what sort of deranged accounting practices they engage in. However, Selig and the rest of the owners have a plan here, and it's conceivable they'll make it work, as long as they stick to their story for long enough. Their objectives are fairly plain: 1. Increase revenue sharing and make the players pay for it. 2. Ensure that every municipality with a club pays for stadia and as much else as possible. In the meantime, they'll try to ensure the current fan dislike of the player salaries is whipped to a frenzy, all the while ignoring the fact that Bud and the other owners he represents are the ones directly responsible for the salaries. A pox on Bud Selig, I say.

posted by alex_reno at 02:24 AM on July 11, 2002

Well, the owners /can't/ control the salaries. They tried that before, and got nailed for collusion. So, as long as you have one George Steinbrenner, they can't (legally) do a damn thing about salaries without the union's assistance. And the union will never, ever do anything useful on salaries.
So...dunno. The owners are a bunch of lying, evil, very, very rich men. But they are on the Side of Good- revenue sharing and a salary cap would make them even richer, but it would also make the game worth watching for those in the proverbial small markets. The players will not. For better or for worse, they're the ones who are destroying the game- even if their motivation is (from a personal perspective) the much better one.

posted by tieguy at 08:05 AM on July 11, 2002

tieguy, that's not true at all. Here's an excercise, open up a spreadsheet, write in all the baseball teams, and then make two columns: "large market," "above .500." You'll find no correlation.

posted by djacobs at 09:10 AM on July 11, 2002

Re Alex's point about baseball stadiums: Sooner or later someone's going to realize even that is a sham. The owners like to say, "We need more money to be a good team, therefore we need a new stadium," but the stadium is worthless if the fans don't go; and they won't go if the teams aren't competitive. In Pittsburgh, attendance at the new ballpark is down 8,000 fans a game from last season. In Milwaukee, attendance at the new ballpark is down 10,000 fans a game from last season. New stadium, old fan news. Why? Because the teams aren't good. Not that the GMs have any relevance in the discussions at hand. How about Cleveland, where the previously sold-out-all-season Jake has had an attendance drop of 7,000 fans a game? How about Baltimore, where the previously sold-out-all-the-time Camden Yards has had an attendance drop of 1,000 fans a game (plus however many they lost the year before)? Oh, yeah--it's because the teams aren't good. All hail the smart local fan who stays away from the field when the team is boring. And don't get me started on Detroit, the "small-market club" owned by the same man whose Detroit hockey club has the NHL's second-highest payroll. I am a huge baseball fan, but the major leagues' incredible myopia extends so far and wide that it's hard to enjoy anymore.

posted by werty at 10:00 AM on July 11, 2002

one of the teams "will surprise you" If it was the Milwaukee Brewers, that would surprise me. But the Brewers are among the most profitable, actually, due to the limited revenue sharing system and the fact that the Brewers pocket that money instead of plowing it back into payroll for better players. If what Bud says is true, it could be the Diamondbacks. I'll be watching to see what team, while in contention for a playoff berth, dumps some salary soon.

posted by msacheson at 10:20 AM on July 11, 2002

Regarding the two teams in question, the Houston Chronicle is reporting that the teams in danger are the Diamondbacks and the Devil Rays. Diamondbacks? Okay, Selig's right about that. I'm surprised.

posted by jerseygirl at 10:22 AM on July 11, 2002

I don't believe any of the poor-me stuff coming out of Selig's mouth either. It's just a negotiating ploy. If baseball owners are losing money, it's because of reverse Enron accounting that hides the real profits being made.

posted by rcade at 10:35 AM on July 11, 2002

As with most baseball fans, I don't believe 98% of what Selig is saying either. However, I do think that baseball does have serious revenue problems, but it's of their own making from (a) overexpanding; and (b) not allowing teams the freedom of movement that we've seen recently in football, hockey and basketball. I mean, how many people realize the the O's were once the St. Louis Browns, and that the owners of the Senators LET THEM MOVE TO BALTIMORE??? Allow the Expos to move to DC, contract the Marlins and the Devil Rays, and move the Brew Crew back to the AL. Get rid of the DH. To me, that would be the start of a number of moves to save cash overall and get some better competitive balance back. Oh yeah, and hire a new commissioner, but have him paid out of the pockets of both the owners AND the players union. For lack of a better candidate, I immediately nominate myself for the job. :-)

posted by PeteyStock at 11:39 AM on July 11, 2002

two columns: "large market," "above .500." You'll find no correlation. That's simply not true. I'm not saying anything about MLB's financial woes or who's smart and who's not; I just remember a textbook from the Economics of Sports class I took in college. Long-term, city size correlates very well with winning percentage.

posted by yerfatma at 02:53 PM on July 11, 2002

When he said one team would surprise us, I immediately thought Arizona... it's actually not a surprise at all... they've been borrowing money for years, and while it's been over a year since I heard about it, they were supposed to have been in big trouble 2 seasons ago... I like this - contract Arizona and Tampa Bay.... the very two teams that came in unnecessarily in the first place :) Actually, I still happen to think contraction sucks, and we can make do with what we have... if teams are allowed to move. Put the Expos in DC, screw Angelos, and do whatever you need to do with the Florida teams. Surely there's a market that could handle one of them.

posted by Bernreuther at 04:13 PM on July 11, 2002

Long-term, city size correlates very well with winning percentage. Someone must have forgotten to tell the Chicago Cubs and White Sox that fact. (And yes, I am a Cubs fan, so I can say this. ; ))

posted by Sister Havana at 04:25 PM on July 11, 2002

Not just the Cubs & The White Sox. Explain the success of the Cardinals, Orioles, Mariners, Indians, Reds, etc. And the woes of the Mets & Dodgers.

posted by djacobs at 04:45 PM on July 11, 2002

Up until Recently the reds weren't considered a small market team. Their fan base reached right up to the backdoor of nearly every team in the midwest. The once huge (nation-wide) coverage of their flagship radio station (700WLW, the nation's station) had a lot to do with endearing them to a wide area. Only one thing can fix this mess: Pete Rose for Commisioner!

posted by mick at 05:12 PM on July 11, 2002

Not just the Cubs & The White Sox. Explain the success of the Cardinals, Orioles, Mariners, Indians, Reds, etc. And the woes of the Mets & Dodgers. Point it out to me. All-time winning percentages. Cubs and White Sox are both above .500. The Dodgers are third-best all time (ignoring Arizona, since they've only been around a few years). The Mariners stand at .466, close to the Rangers, Padres and Phillies. St. Louis, Missouri has a population of 1.8 million people, many of them rabid baseball fans. That's not exactly a small market in baseball. I don't know what the deal with the Mets is. They have plenty of dough, so I'm guessing mismanagement. Give the franchise another 50 years, and their record should true out.

posted by yerfatma at 05:20 PM on July 11, 2002

Well, the owners /can't/ control the salaries. Need I point out that there is a big difference between collusion and a team deciding to, for example, not sign an expensive closer when they won't be competing anyway. (Kansas City, I'm looking at you.) revenue sharing and a salary cap would ... make the game worth watching for those in the proverbial small markets Don't forget that the market size - winning correlation is not absolute, particularly in the short term. I imagine that A's fans take a small measure of extra pride that their team can compete without spending Steinbrenner-esque amounts of money. I have to also disagree with you about Steinbrenner. (I can't believe I wrote that. I really, really, don't like the Yankees.) At least he runs his club like a business, instead of some weird public charity. Of course, there are so many anti-competitive practices in baseball already, (ie the draft) what's a few more, eh? (On preview) Yerfatma, I think the point is exactly that mismanagement can sink a rich team, while good management can make a poor team competitive. And, of course, that the Mets suck. (Sorry Mets fans, cheap shot, couldn't resist)

posted by alex_reno at 09:10 PM on July 11, 2002

alex reno: No-one believes the cries of poverty. (Other than, say, those of the Expos, and they could easily be saved by moving them to Jarry park.) Huh, Jarry park is a tennis stadium now. Big government thrown into the conversion. We won't see any baseball there anytime soon. Besides, a smaller stadium would only feel less empty. There would still be the same 8 000 fans. Oh, and about the strike, we're bound to have one, and here's why: the Expos have a good team. It's all one big anti-Expos conspiracy. Long live the 3-color cap!

posted by qbert72 at 11:41 PM on July 11, 2002

Ok, perhaps not Jarry park, but anywhere other than Olympic Stadium. I have it on good authority (er, actually a friend reported seeing a newpaper poll while he was there) that 50% of all Montrealers would not go to to the big O for any reason. You live there. Is that so, or have I been misled? No one wants to catch a 10 ton chunk of concrete, right? Seriously, I predict we'll see a slight upswing in Expos attendance as the club has shown its first signs of doing anything other than sucking up revenue sharing money since 1994. Great photo - haven't seen Claude Raymond since SRC stopped showing the Expos games in Alberta. Those are IMO the real Expos uniforms, not the new goofy pinstripe model.

posted by alex_reno at 05:08 AM on July 12, 2002

Oh, and here's a surprise: payroll will be made by all teams after all. Bud, you lying sack of [insert invective, your choice].

posted by alex_reno at 05:32 PM on July 12, 2002

alex reno: I have it on good authority [snip] that 50% of all Montrealers would not go to to the big O for any reason Hey talk about a late reply! In 1981 the Olympic Stadium was once filled by more than 50 000 soccer fans. Last weekend, 56 000 attended the CFL semi-final between Montreal and Toronto. Late 70's/early 80's Expos frequently generated similar attendances. The Big O is a lame sports venue at best, but put a winning team in it, and they will come...

posted by qbert72 at 11:15 PM on November 20, 2002

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