How long before Commissioner Selig's term expires?
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Friday, April 09, 2004

Selig: New Park Saved Padres

Another new stadium means another opportunity for the Commissioner to explain why nine-figure public subsidies were the only thing standing between the local club and extinction. During the opening game at PETCO Park, Selig told Barry Bloom of, "The fact is that without it, the Padres just couldn't generate enough revenue to stay in business."

After all, the Padres haven't won an NL pennant since...1998, weeks before local voters approved the bond issue that built the new park. Since obtaining the assurance of future prosperity that the stadium was supposed to bring, the Padres have posted five consecutive sub-.500 seasons, during which they've never finished higher than fourth. Bud continued:

I know there has been some debate about new ballparks and they're not the panacea for all the ills. You look at what's happened particularly in Milwaukee, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. But just like San Diego, those teams couldn't continue to operate in their old stadiums."

These would be the same four clubs which, in their new stadiums, have four of the majors' eight lowest Opening Day payrolls in 2004. Last year they finished a combined 138 games under .500, and of the four only Cincinnati, whose Great American Ballpark opened in 2003, posted above-average attendance. Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Detroit were 25th, 26th and 27th, respectively. The world champion Marlins, who have been screaming for a new stadium for years, were 28th in attendance and opened the 2003 season with a payroll $10 million below Cincinnati's, $6 million below Pittsburgh's and $400,000 below Detroit's.

The Phillies' opener at their new Citizens Bank Park is Monday. Wonder if Bud will say that Philadelphia, too, needed the new stadium to keep its team?
The Boss' Bucks Level Playing Field

Yankee-loving Chris Isidore of CNN/Money interviews Yankee-hating Moneyball author Michael Lewis, who's very happy about George Steinbrenner's hands-on management style. Without it, Lewis says, the Yankees would be run more efficiently and it would be harder for smaller-market clubs to challenge them:

"[Steinbrenner]'s a machine for competitive balance. Yes, the money is in New York. Yes, the money is in his hands. But he squanders money. Thank God for it."

When he wrote Moneyball, Lewis was worried that deeper-pocketed clubs would learn from the Oakland Athletics' example. If they did, their deeper pockets would give them the advantage Commissioner Selig is convinced exists today. However, the negative reaction to Moneyball within much of the baseball industry leads Lewis to believe these inefficiencies will continue.

"Having money means you're not Billy Beane -- if you don't have to economize, you won't.

"The more chaotic the market is, the less competitive balance is a problem because there's more opportunity for efficient management. [Steinbrenner's] spending creates a chaotic market."

Microsoft Roots for the Home Team - Windows

Microsoft has wasted little time turning its $40 million investment in MLB Webcasting into a marketing tool. It's offering prospective subscribers to MSN Premium three months' free access to all of MLB's live video and audio feeds, then charging $9.95/month for the remaining three months of the season. MSN Premium subscribers can thus pay $29.85 for all the live content contained in's own "All Access" subscription.

Microsoft's critics note that MSN Premium is a Windows-only package. Mac users must buy their live baseball through -- and Linux users don't even have that option.
Idiots Write About Sports: Putting the 'Fun' in 'Fundraising'

Via Baseball Musings, here's a list of which club owners have contributed to which Presidential candidates this year. Unsurprisingly, former owner George W. Bush got the most.

On a similar note, earlier in the week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explained why Bush was so willing to throw out the first ball in Busch Stadium this season. Managing partner William O. DeWitt Jr. isn't just a contributor, he's a "Ranger" who has raised over $200,000 for Bush from other donors. Since 2001 the Cardinals' owners have contributed at least $743,000 to Republican candidates and committees.
More Ad Dollars for the Yankees

Buried at the bottom of this column, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes:

"It might have seemed impossible, but the Yankees have found more ways to squeeze advertising into Yankee Stadium. Bank of America ads now cover the walls and the railings of both dugouts; Fuji ads take up space on the walls behind the on-deck circles; and when the groundskeepers drag the infield while performing their 'Y.M.C.A.' routine, they hawk Toro products on their sweepers.

"A billboard for the New York Stock Exchange has replaced the out-of-town scoreboard in left field. New, 100-foot boards on the facing of the loge level above first and third base show one score at a time while the Yankees game is going on, but switch to more ads between innings."

I'm sure the other 29 clubs are comforted by the knowledge that they'll get 34% of the money from these ads.

The elimination of the out-of-town scoreboard is a particular peeve of mine. When I'm at a ballpark, I want to know what's going on elsewhere, and I particularly want access to this information between innings, when there's nothing on the field to hold my interest.

Mayor Proposes Baseball Stadium at RFK

The Washington Times reports that Washington, D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams will propose full public funding of a $340 million baseball stadium in Washington. The facility would be constructed in the RFK Stadium parking lot.

The city's previous proposal called for a $425 million stadium at a different site, with the club's owner expected to contribute $125 million toward the project. Columnist Thom Loverro writes:

"[T]he Williams administration and the Malek group finally came to an inevitable realization: This is Major League Baseball's game of extortion, and, contrary to the delusions of [one] Councilman ... baseball holds all the cards."

Conflict of Interest at Work

Buried at the bottom of this Minneapolis Star Tribune article about the Twins' new Victory Sports network is this tidbit:

"Fox Sports Net no longer has the Twins, but it does have the rights to 115 Milwaukee Brewers games and will begin showing them in certain parts of Minnesota, including Austin-Rochester, Duluth and Albert Lea. The Brewers and Major League Baseball approved airing the games."

According to my Rand McNally Road Atlas, Rochester and Albert Lea are both within 100 miles of Minneapolis, are not on the Wisconsin border, and are at least a five-hour drive from Milwaukee. Duluth is a little farther away and on the Wisconsin border, but is also approximately 390 miles from Milwaukee. What conceivable justification, other than the Commissioner's personal stake in the Brewers, does MLB have for allowing the Brewers to expand their local TV market into these cities? Does anyone seriously believe that if the Brewers were the ones trying to start a local cable network, MLB would allow the Twins to air their games in Madison and Green Bay?

Trying to Make 'Cell' A Better Sell

Amalie Benjamin of the Chicago Tribune discusses the renovations the White Sox have made to U.S. Cellular Field/Comiskey Park to make it more fan-friendly. 6,000 upper deck seats have been removed, reducing capacity to about 41,000, and the roof has been reconfigured, reducing the height of the park by about 20 feet. A new wall behind the upper-deck concourse is intended to reduce the wind and keep fans in the area warmer during the early and late months of the season.

Roof with a View: Building, Cubs Settle

The Chicago Cubs and the owners of Skybox on Waveland settled their dispute yesterday, after U.S. District Judge James Holderland called both sides into chambers and banged a few heads. I suspect the conversations went something like this:

Judge to Cubs: "You have no case. All you have is the right to put up a barrier to block the view from their rooftop. Wouldn't you rather have some money?"

Judge to Skybox on Waveland: "I'm not going to stop the Cubs from erecting a barrier. Wouldn't you rather pay some money and stay in business?"

Terms of the settlement are confidential, but the quotes from both sides in this Chicago Sun-Times report suggest they're both satisfied. The other 12 rooftops in the area had previously agreed to pay the Cubs 17% of their gross revenues, but Skybox on Waveland had balked, saying its owners had spent millions of dollars to upgrade the property.


Thursday, April 08, 2004

New Forbes MLB Franchise Valuations Published

Forbes's annual franchise valuations, covering the 2003 season, have just been posted to the Forbes Website. They'll be published in the issue dated April 26.

The feature article, about Jeffrey Loria, includes a graph that should send Bud & Co. screaming into the night. According to Forbes, over the past six years major league baseball franchises have appreciated 50% more than the S&P 500.

Here is the summary table of franchise value, appreciation, debt.value ratio, revenues and operating income (net of revenue sharing) for 2003. Forbes says the average major league club is now worth $295 million, with 2003 revenues of $129 million and earnings (before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of -$1.9 million. The Boston Red Sox passed the New York Mets to become MLB's second most valuable franchise, though at $533 million they're still far behind the Yankees ($832 million).

Seattle made the most money, $17 million, while Texas lost the most, $28.5 million. Revenue sharing helped the Tigers, Padres, Athletics, Brewers, Royals and Devil Rays turn profits, while pushing the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers and Braves into the red.

I've updated my downloadable spreadsheet, which includes Financial World and Forbes valuations since 1990, to include the 2003 figures. If you find this, or any of the other downloadable data available from my site, useful, please consider supporting the site, either through a small donation or a purchase through the link.
Senate Urges Stronger Steroids Testing for Baseball

Today the U.S. Senate passed a nonbinding resolution urging MLB to adopt stronger steroids testing. Senators John McCain and Byron Dorgan warn that unless the owners and players act within two months, "obviously we have to explore other options," like "real legislation."

(Interestingly, Sen. Dorgan's former chief of staff, who's married to his fellow North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad, is also MLB's chief lobbyist on Capitol Hill.)

Any bill the Senate passes could face trouble in the House of Representatives, where Judiciary Committee chairman James Sensenbrenner has said that Congress should not intervene in a collective bargaining dispute.
27.3 Percent of Major League Baseball Players Born Outside the United States

MLB's annual survey of Opening Day rosters reveals that 227 of the 830 players on the 25-man roster or the DL, or 27.3%, were born outside the United States. That's down slightly from 2003, when 27.8% were foreign-born. 79 of these players were Dominicans, followed by 45 Venezuelans, 36 Puerto Ricans, 16 Mexicans, 11 Canadians, 10 Japanese, 6 Panamanians, 4 Australians, 4 Koreans, 3 Colombians, 2 from Curacao and one each from Aruba and Nicaragua. (The complete list is available by clicking the link.)

The percentage of foreign-born players in the minor leagues reached an all-time high: 47.6% of the 6,117 players under contract as of April 4. These players come from 33 countries, including such unlikely homes as Argentina, China, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Vietnam. There are fewer Japanese-born players in the minors (seven) than in the majors (10).
Rooftop Holdout Asks Judge to Thwart Cubs' Reprisal

The owners of "Skybox on Waveland," the only one of 13 rooftop clubs across from Wrigley Field that hasn't agreed to share its revenues with the Cubs, have asked the federal judge hearing the Cubs' action against them to enjoin the club from taking any action to block the view into Wrigley Field from their rooftop pending a trial of the Cubs' copyright infringement suit against them. They accuse the Cubs of deliberately delaying the trial to coerce a settlement.

However, while the Cubs' case against them appears weak, so does Skybox on Waveland's claim to have an affirmative right to peer into Wrigley Field from their rooftop. That the Cubs probably can't block them in the courts doesn't mean the club can't block them with a fence.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Baseball's Average Salary Drops

For the first time since 1995, Opening Day salaries are down. The average fell 3% this year, from $2.55 million to $2.49 million. The number of players earning $1 million or more fell again, to 374, while the median salary remained stable at $800,000.

The Yankees are in a universe of their own: their $182.8 million payroll is $57.6 million more than second-place Boston. Put another way, even if they released Mike Mussina and Mariano Rivera, the Yankees would still be outspending the Twins, Athletics and Marlins combined.

The Red Sox, in turn, are spending $24 million more than third-place Anaheim. The New York Mets have the NL's highest payroll, $100.6 million, with 1/6 of this money going to Mo Vaughn, who at least was kind enough to injure himself severely enough for the club to recoup most of his salary from an insurer.

At the other end of the spectrum, those new stadiums haven't loosened the purse strings in Cincinnati ($43 million), Pittsburgh ($32.2 million) or Milwaukee (a major league low $27.5 million). MLB trimmed the Expos' player budget by almost $9 million, while the Texas Rangers trimmed their own by nearly $50 million.

New Data Files Uploaded

I've updated some of my downloadable spreadsheets with 2004 data.

Here is an Excel spreadsheet with average ticket prices since 1950. If you want the same information in HTML format, click here.

This spreadsheet contains Team Marketing Report's ticket price and Fan Cost Index information for 1991-2004. Note that TMR extensively revised their 2003 data after it was posted to the Web last year. I haven't compared previous years' numbers, which I obtained from the original TMR releases, to the ones currently posted on the TMR Website.

This spreadsheet contains major league payrolls, by team, since 1977, as computed by as many different methods as I was able to find for each season. As I've previously written, the different payroll numbers use different methods and are computed at different times of the season, making some more useful than others for particular purposes.
Looking for a Big Hit

Andy Giegerich of the Portland Business Journal reviews the economic arguments for and against a major league stadium. Drew Mihalic of the Oregon Sports Authority believes that despite the recession that continues to grip the Pacific Northwest, many Portland residents have money burning a hole in their pockets that they're just waiting to spend on a baseball team:

"In Portland, I'd go as far to say we have people who are couch potatoes who all of a sudden have something to do. It won't be a transfer as much as it'll be people spending who didn't spend before."

John Crompton of Texas A&M is less than impressed by stadium promoters' claims of economic impact:

"My rule of thumb is to take what they project as an impact, move the decimal point one spot to the left and divide by half."
The Hardball Questions: Kevin Cattoor

The multi-author Weblog The Hardball Times presents Aaron Gleeman's interview with Kevin Cattoor, president of the Minnesota Twins' fledgling cable network, Victory Sports. Highlights:

According to Cattoor, Victory is now available in 8% of the Twins' market. While he defends the Twins' pricing strategy, he says his biggest frustration is that none of the major cable and satellite companies have offered to carry Victory Sports on expanded basic at any price, but have insisted it be a pay service. Cattoor refuses to consider this option:

"Once you do this, you lose your leverage and ability to get on expanded basic. If you recall, last December we offered the Victory service free of charge, inviting the operators to negotiate so fans could see the Gophers, Big Ten, SCSU and MSU hockey and more. None of the national providers accepted our offer. So, this option doesn't work. We tried it."

Cattoor also claims there's no relationship between attendance and the number of games telecast:

"We've never believed that having so many games on television suppresses our attendance. Conversely, if games are not on television, we don't think it will increase our attendance. The main factor that causes fans to go to the games is winning."

Finally, Cattoor says that even a new stadium and other increased local revenue won't lead to a significant increase in the Twins' payroll:

"We should strive to be at the league average if we get a new ballpark and maximize all of our local revenue streams."

Last year the Twins' Opening Day payroll of $55 million ranked 18th out of 30 teams. The major league average was just over $70 million. Does Cattoor really mean to suggest that in return for all the extra revenue a new stadium (and its $350 million public subsidy) would bring, plus extra money from Victory, the Pohlads only intend to spend $15-$20 million more on major league players?
Handouts? Try Private Financing for Stadium

Charles Elmore of the Palm Beach Post urges the Florida Marlins to bridge the gap in their stadium financing with private money. The club says it can build a retractable-roofed park for $325 million, and Miami-Dade County's $73 million contribution is already on the table. That leaves $247 million -- less than the San Francisco Giants raised and/or borrowed to finance their park.

Elmore also notes that even if Jeffrey Loria breaks his promise by attempting to sell or move the Marlins, MLB won't abandon Miami-West Palm Beach, which is the nation's seventh largest TV market.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Inferior Stadium Has Schott on Rampage

Steve Schott of the Oakland Athletics has an interesting way of promoting his ballpark:

"[W]hen you see a decent crowd here ... you see people waiting in long lines at the concessions, you see people not being able to get around, you see the traffic backed up, you see deferred maintenance just about everywhere you go."

In the next sentence, he got to his real point, how his poor A's can't possibly compete without a new stadium:

"It's an issue, especially with all the new parks opening up, that to stay competitive -- I'll say it now and I'll say it again -- we need a new park."

I made fun of this assertion in one of my first Weblog entries, more than a year ago. Nothing's changed, except that the Athletics have now made the playoffs four years in a row.

What Schott really wants is the right to relocate to Santa Clara County, which MLB considers Giants territory. He's invited Commissioner Selig, who remarkably hasn't visited the Oakland Coliseum since Schott's group bought the Athletics in 1995, to come to town and join him in begging/threatening the locals to open their wallets and give generously.
Twins will be hard to find on TV tonight/Stadium Backers See Signs of Hope

From the Twins' perspective, this is not a good juxtaposition of stories in today's Minneapolis Star Tribune. As state Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson is saying the Twins have a 60/40 chance of winning legislative approval for a new stadium, fans around the state are about to lose access to 105 regular-season games because the Twins haven't been able to reach agreement with the region's major cable companies for distribution of their new Victory Sports One network.

The Twins continue to demand that Victory Sports be placed on the expanded basic tier, at a monthly cost of $2.20-$2.30 per subscriber. That would be 50-60 cents/month more than Fox Sports charged last year for the Twins plus the local NBA, NHL and college hockey clubs, and significantly more than the $1.93/month a panel of arbitrators decreed the Yankees' games were worth.
MLB Channel Faces Hurdles

Steve Zipay of Newsday evaluates the concept of an all-baseball cable channel similar to those already operated by the NFL and NBA. He notes that such a channel could not offer live game broadcasts until after the current TV and cable contracts expire.

Moreover, MLB already offers nearly all out-of-market games to interested fans via the Extra Innings cable package and the streaming video on its own Website, which simply pick up and redistribute the local broadcast or cable feed. also offers several hours/day of baseball-related programming, as well as prepackaged game (and even player-specific) highlights. It's hard to see what unmet demand would be served by a new Baseball Channel.
Loria Makes Loudest Push

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has spoken! On the subject of the Marlins' demands for a new stadium, he declares:

"Everyone has to get this damn thing done in the next 30 days. They got it done in Seattle and San Diego and Cincinnati and Pittsburgh and Colorado and Philadelphia and Milwaukee. They all have new stadiums, and we're not going to consider ourselves a major-league city until we get it done."

No word whether anyone else in the State of Florida believes that Miami's status as a "major league city" hinges on the taxpayers' willingness to subsidize another sports facility. Also no word from Loria about what might happen if his latest self-imposed deadline isn't met.


Monday, April 05, 2004

Here's the Real Score in the Expos Game: 33,533-11,823

In a refreshing change from the usual civic boosterism, columnist Warner Hessler of the Hampton Roads Daily Press explains why his home region should not get a major league baseball team. Instead he says Washington/northern Virginia is the only logical destination.

As Hessler notes, Washington, DC not only has almost three times the population of Norfolk/Hampton Roads, but those residents have a per capita income 50% higher. (The numbers in the headline refer to projected daily attendance in Washington vs. Norfolk.) Hessler also cites a George Washington University study which claims that notwithstanding Peter Angelos' hysterics over the prospect of a major league team in Washington, such a club would reduce the Orioles' attendance by only about 7%. He doesn't, however, discuss the effect of a Washington club on the Orioles' media contracts, which would likely be much greater.

Thanks to Ballpark Watch for this cite.
Promises of Padres Are a Mixed Bag

Caitlin Rother of the San Diego Union-Tribune evaluates how well the San Diego Padres have fulfilled the promises they made in 1998, when they won voter approval for what's about to open as Petco Park.

The Padres invested even more of their own money than promised, and the stadium has attracted other private investors to develop the surrounding area. However, they haven't come close to meeting their promise to sell 10,000-20,000 tickets per game for between $5 and $10. The club blames the two-year construction delay, caused largely by a series of unsuccessful lawsuits by a stadium foe.
Yankees, Mets Pitch City on New Stadiums

The new (April 5-11) issue of Crain's New York Business (sorry, no link) reports that in the wake of New York's offer of $600 million towards the cost of the New York Jets' planned $1.4 billion facility, the Yankees and Mets have dusted off their stadium proposals and are back knocking on the mayor's door, hat in hand.

The Yankees are talking with their investment banker, Goldman Sachs, about building a new stadium in Macombs Dam Park that would include a "Yankee Village" of restaurants, bars, shops and other amenities designed to keep fans from fleeing the neighborhood after the last pitch. Their proposal is "far more complicated and more expensive" than the Mets' proposal, according to one anonymous insider; the Mets just want money for parking, ramps and other infrastructure. Both clubs are upset that the Jets, who left Shea Stadium for the Meadowlands 20 years ago, got their hands into New York's collective wallet before they could.
Lloyd's of London Sues Marlins, Alleging Fraud

Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald reports that Lloyd's of London has sued the Marlins over the policy it issued to cover Alex Fernandez's contract. Lloyd's alleges that the Marlins had simultaneously insured Fernandez through Lloyd's and The Hartford Life Insurance Co. without telling either of the overlap, and then tried to collect from both. The Hartford has already received a confidential settlement from the club.

More interesting, in a big-picture sense, are the terms of the policy:

"Like all professional sports teams with high-priced players, the Marlins bought a disability insurance policy to cover 75 percent of Fernandez's $7 million annual salary should he be unable to pitch over the next four years. The ball club said it paid a $731,253 premium for that policy."

75% of Fernandez's annual salary is $5.25 million/year. The policy was to pay $22,664.83 for each regular season day that Fernandez was disabled, yet for a starting pitcher the premium was just 14% of one year's potential payout? The club would get that back if Fernandez had spent just one month on the DL.

In fact, Fernandez tore his rotator cuff in the 1997 NLCS, missed the entire 1998 season, then pitched only briefly in 1999 and 2000. Lloyd's paid $5.25 million on the policy for 1998; this lawsuit involves claims for the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
Selig: Policy 'Best We Could Do'

Interviewed by George Will yesterday on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Commissioner Selig expiained that the owners settled for the current drug testing policy because it was the best they could get without a strike or lockout. Selig also denied suggestions that owners might look the other way at steroid abuse if it produced more home runs, and more fans:

"I would tell you that, as a group, the owners, I think, are as deeply troubled by the allegations of steroid use as any group possible, and there is nobody that will condone the use of steroids to jack up home run totals."

More important than the interview, though, is the fact that George Will was allowed to conduct it. This AP article notes, that Will was "selected by the commissioner last year for his marketing task force, a fact disclosed during the broadcast," but fails to mention that Selig also appointed Will to serve on his Blue Ribbon Economic Panel. Earlier in the day, Will's annual spring baseball column had planted a sloppy, wet kiss on Selig's cheek:

"Selig has been -- baseball is a game of inches, but this is not a close call -- the greatest commissioner."

Quite a change from what Will wrote nine years ago, when in the course of describing the consequences of the injunction which ended the 1994-95 strike, he hoped the future would soon bring "an end to the imprudence of an owner, Bud Selig, serving as commissioner -- the compounded imprudence of the owner being from a low-revenue team, the Milwaukee Brewers." (Quote from "The Strike: A Postmortem," 4/6/1995.)

Sunday, April 04, 2004

"Bottom line is, people want us to win"

Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News interviews Charlie Monfort, who became the Rockies' managing partner just before Opening Day 2003. Highlights:

The Rockies expect to make a $5-$8 million cash call in 2004, and another in 2005. Monfort's not worried; he says the club was "pretty much underfinanced," but became so popular so fast that no additional cash contributions were needed.

Rockies' season ticket sales are down about 5% from 2003's 17,000-18,000.

The Rockies' disastrous signings of Mike Hampton and Denny Naegle were "a tough pill to swallow, but it was the medicine that got us going in the right direction."

A Tale of Two Franchises

Troy Renck of the Denver Post compares, at length, the paths of the 2003 expansion teams, the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins:

"The Rockies believe they have had the superior business model from Day One. They have owned a better record in seven of 11 seasons. They have more than doubled Florida's attendance.

"The Marlins, survivors of a 1997 offseason roster filet, counter with two World Series titles."

Colorado has also had the higher payroll in nine of the franchises' 11 seasons, including the last seven in a row. Their 2004 Opening Day payroll of $67,390,000 is expected to be about 60% of the club's projected revenue of between $112 and $115 million.
Stadium Bid Weak from Start

Michael Vazquez of the Miami Herald criticizes the Florida Marlins' lobbying, or lack thereof, for the new stadium owner Jeffrey Loria has demanded. Even with a world championship and strong backing from Gov. Jeb Bush, the Marlins are unlikely even to get a vote on a stadium proposal. Vazquez summarizes:

"[W]hen making their argument to lawmakers, the Marlins couldn't answer -- and still don't know today -- basic questions: Where will the stadium be built? How will the team come up with $55 million it will still need to complete the financial package even if the state helps out?"

The club's cause also wasn't helped by a December poll that found 80% of Floridians opposed to contributing state tax money to a new Marlins' stadium.

Projected Standings for 2004

Each spring Tom Tippett of Diamond Mind Baseball simulates each season 100 times, based on rosters and player health as of the middle of spring training, to predict the final standings.

What makes these predictions different from the 100 or so most of us have read is the way Tippett presents the results -- identifying how often, in the course of 100 simulations, each club wins its division or the wild-card berth. Given 100 chances, only six clubs never make the postseason, and only the Yankees and Red Sox qualify more than 90% of the time. Remember that when you see some blowhard, or some Commissioner, saying that even before Opening Day, half the clubs have been effectively eliminated.

Writing now, no one knows which highly touted rookies will fizzle, which veterans will miss half the season with injuries, and which players will far exceed expectations. But even after the season, when everyone's actual performance is known, simulations show that it can still be difficult or impossible retroactively to identify the winner. That was the subject of my first-ever SABR presentation, at the 1993 convention, entitled "Tinkering Ever with Chance, Or...How Well Do Statistics Predict the Present?". I've just uploaded a copy to the Website.

My paper used an earlier version of Diamond Mind to show that even if one knew each player's actual statistics, as well as his club's batting order, pitching rotation and managerial tendencies, 10 or 20 simulations produced three or four different division winners in most six-club divisions. Even with a later version of Diamond Mind that uses each club's actual game-by-game starting lineup, 17 of the 30 major league clubs qualified for the playoffs in at least one of the 10 2003 seasons I simulated. As the saying goes, "that's why they play the games."

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