Review of the 2002 Member Survey

Each January, the Committee surveys all members with E-mail addresses about various issues relating to the business of baseball. These surveys often ask broad questions with no "right" answer, but since this year's edition focused on topics related to the upcoming labor negotiations, we can look back and see how well we did.

Only nine of 37 respondents correctly predicted that MLB's then-pending attempt to contract would be a complete bust, with both Montreal and Minnesota opening the 2003 season in the same cities. 25 of us thought that the Expos would relocate to Washington or northern Virginia, while just two forecast any reduction in the number of major league teams.

Fifteen of 37 correctly predicted that the 2002 season would end with a new labor agreement, reached without a strike or lockout. Of the remaining 22 respondents, eighteen thought the season would be played to completion with no work stoppage; as of January, only four anticipated a 2002 strike or lockout.

Our collective wisdom came close to predicting the percentage of local revenues to be shared under the new agreement. The owners asked for 50% revenue sharing and settled for 34%; our average guess was 33.9%, our median, 33%. But we all overestimated the likely luxury tax: the initial tax rate was lower, and the 2003 tax threshold ($117 million) higher, than anyone had anticipated. Fourteen of 35 respondents correctly predicted that the new CBA would not require teams to maintain a minimum payroll, while only seven forecast that it would not contain provisions for a worldwide amateur draft.

The Second Annual Bud Selig Prediction Contest asked respondents to identify the 16 clubs least likely to make the playoffs. For purposes of this contest, the 14 "contenders" included the eight playoff teams (New York Yankees, Minnesota, Oakland, Anaheim, Atlanta, St. Louis, Arizona and San Francisco), plus the six other clubs which missed the playoffs by the smallest margin (Boston, Chicago White Sox, Seattle, Montreal, Houston and Los Angeles). Here's how we voted, with the eventual contenders in bold italics:

Out of 29 valid ballots cast:

0 votes: Atlanta, New York Yankees, Seattle
1 vote: Arizona, Cleveland, St. Louis
2 votes: Houston, New York Mets
3 votes: Oakland
4 votes: Boston
8 votes: Chicago White Sox, San Francisco
12 votes: Los Angeles
15 votes: Chicago Cubs
17 votes: Minnesota, Texas
20 votes: Philadelphia
24 votes: San Diego
26 votes: Colorado, Toronto
27 votes: Cincinnati, Florida, Milwaukee, Montreal
28 votes: Anaheim, Detroit, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay
29 votes: Baltimore

We made four gross errors out of the 30 teams. 28 out of the 29 respondents dismissed the chances of the eventual world champion Anaheim Angels, fresh off a 75-87 season in which they missed the playoffs by 27 games, and just two thought the Montreal Expos could contend. At the other extreme, only one picked Cleveland as a non-contender, only two ruled out the New York Mets. With the Minnesota Twins a smaller error, we correctly assigned 25 of the 30 teams to "contender" or "non-contender" status.

Copyright © 2002 Doug Pappas. All rights reserved.
Originally published in the Fall 2002 issue of Outside the Lines, the SABR Business of Baseball Committee newsletter.

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