Doug's Business of Baseball Weblog:

October 2003

October 31, 2003: Deal Close on Expos Schedule. LINK

Barry Bloom of MLB.com reports that Monterrey, Mexico is back in the picture as a possible part-time home for the Expos in 2004. He also notes that the stadium in Puerto Rico used last year has received $2 to $3 million in work in anticipation of the Expos' return.

In return for accepting another split schedule, Expos players want assurances regarding the team's payroll (the Expos have already made an offer to Vlad Guerrero) and a promise that the club's future will be decided over the next year. MLB must decide whether the short-term gain from a split schedule outweighs the potential long-term benefit from extending the run of its Stadium Extortion Across North America Tour.

October 30, 2003: Collusion Grievance Is Considered. LINK

Ross Newhan of the Los Angeles Times reports that with the 2003-04 free agent signing season about to begin, the MLBPA may file a grievance alleging collusion in the 2002-03 offseason.

The union's suspicions center around clubs' use of a central information bank to learn what other clubs are offering particular players, and the use of the "60/40 rule" restricting club debt to deter some clubs from signing free agents.

The owners clearly haven't colluded as brazenly as they did from 1985 through 1987, when top free agents received no offers at all unless their former employer disclaimed interest in re-signing them. Now suspicions center on a collective effort to depress salaries among the second and third tier of free agents by flooding the market with them. This is a smart operating strategy for any one club to implement on its own, but given MLB's labor history, when two dozen clubs suddenly get the same bright idea at the same time the MLBPA has good reason to investigate.

(Along these lines, check out this article from MLB.com, which predicts that as many as one in four players may become free agents.)

October 30, 2003: No Takers Likely After Red Sox Put Ramirez on Waivers. LINK

Asking irrevocable waivers on Manny Ramirez shortly before the free agent shopping seasons opens was a clever move by Red Sox GM Theo Epstein. Epstein has apparently concluded that he can find better uses for $100 million over the next five years than giving it all to Manny Ramirez. If someone's willing to take Ramirez' contract off his hands, Epstein will reinvest the money in free agents. If not, the Red Sox can either keep Ramirez or try to trade him, eating a hunk of his contract in the process.

The Ramirez contract illustrates the real problem with many free agent deals: not the dollars, but the length. Manny Ramirez turned 29 two months after his eight-year contract with the Red Sox began. From 29 through 31, he's been one of the majors' best hitters, the player the Red Sox paid $20 million/year for. But the Sox have Ramirez under contract through age 36, during which time his offensive production can be expected to decline significantly while his glove ultimately turns him into a full-time DH.

Granting players free agency after six years in the majors assures that just about everyone except Alex Rodriguez and Andruw Jones hits the market at an age when they can be expected to decline -- and the longer the contract, the steeper the eventual decline. The Yankees' biggest contracts are especially bad because they're back-loaded: Jason Giambi, whose contract is guaranteed through age 37, gets a $7 million raise at 35, another $3 million at 36.

October 30, 2003: Ballpark Would House "Miami Marlins". LINK

The Miami Herald reports that if the proposed new stadium is built, the Florida Marlins will change their name to Miami Marlins. That's the least the club can do in return for a multimillion-dollar public subsidy from Miami.

Nomenclature can be a sensitive issue in southeast Florida. The Marlins originally chose the "Florida" name to appeal to a broader geographic area, and the Herald's Fort Lauderdale-based competitor calls itself the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

October 30, 2003: Stadium Lease Cuts Into Marlins' Postseason Profits. LINK

Marlins president David Samson told Sarah Talalay of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that the club netted only about $6 million from the postseason, compared to the $12-$14 million other clubs could expect to earn from a World Series appearance. Their onerous lease is the culprit. The Marlins claim to have lost $20 million in 2003.

The Marlins plan to give World Series rings to all their owners -- including the 14 former Expos limited partners with a RICO action pending against Samson and Jeffrey Loria. If any 2003 Marlins World Series rings wind up on eBay, I'll know where they came from.

October 29, 2003: Marlins, Dade County Announce Outline of New Stadium Deal. LINK

Hours after the Florida Marlins' victory parades, the Miami-Dade County Commission announced that the county would contribute $73 million from hotel and sports facility taxes toward the estimated $325 million cost of a 38,000-seat retractable-roofed stadium in Miami. The Marlins have offered to pay $137 million and to cover cost overruns -- but as Sarah Talalay notes, the club's offer is "mainly a pledge of future stadium revenues" rather than actual upfront money.

Several obstacles remain. The $325 million figure doesn't include the cost of the land. No site has been selected, although Miami officials reportedly favor a location near the Orange Bowl. And the project still needs another $115 million, presumably from some combination of the city of Miami and the State of Florida.

Moreover, the cost estimate seems low. The last failed stadium proposal, 2-1/2 years ago, was budgeted for $385 million. This shouldn't be an issue so long as there's an absolute cap on the amount of public money for the project: getting out of Wayne Huizenga's lease at Pro Player and into their own facility will generate so much additional revenue for the club that the Marlins will easily be able to finance the overruns. The Marlins could easily pay much more than the $137 million they've offered, which could be funded from naming rights, concessions and advertising alone without touching the money the Marlins will earn from luxury boxes and club seats.

October 28, 2003: Two Perspectives on MLB's Postseason TV Ratings. LINK

Comparing the Associated Press report to MLB's own press release, it's hard to believe they're talking about the same season.

The AP lead declares that the 2003 World Series was the third lowest rated ever, ahead of only the 2002 Angels-Giants battle of West Coast teams and the 2000 Yankees-Mets Subway Series. Buried in the article are the more relevant numbers: World Series ratings rose roughly 9%, while overall postseason ratings were up 28% from 2002.

Another point not mentioned by the AP: with so many more viewing options available to the American public, ratings for all television programs are down significantly. As the MLB.com press release crows, Fox's ratings were still high enough for the network to win the ratings battle on 13 of the 15 nights it aired baseball between the start of the LCS and the end of the World Series.

But MLB is guilty of its own excesses. It notes that the divisional series games on ESPN2 were that channel's highest-rated programs without acknowledging that these are the first postseason baseball games ever carried on ESPN2. And MLB's reference to 2003 as drawing "the most viewers in aggregate since 1987" is just silly -- the pool of potential viewers is much larger, given that the U.S. population has increased by 50,000,000 people since 1987.

MLB also trumpets the fact that postseason attendance jumped 19.6%, without noting that this is entirely a function of stadium capacity and the number of games played. The 2002 season featured 35 postseason games (18 Divisional Series, 10 LCS and 7 World Series), compared to 38 in 2003 (18 Divisional Series, 14 LCS and 6 World Series). Moreover, the Yankees and Marlins play in the largest stadiums in their respective leagues: capacity for the six World Series games in Pro Player Stadium and Yankee Stadium was over 50,000 more than for the seven games played last year in Pacific Bell Park and Edison International Field.

MLB has every reason to be proud of its postseason ratings performance. The real test will be whether they remain high if the Red Sox and/or Cubs miss the playoffs in 2004.

October 26, 2003: Looking Ahead for the Yankees. LINK

As previously noted, the Yankees' $164 million payroll as of August 31 was more than three times the Marlins' $54 million figure. As the table below shows, the Yankees already have a payroll well in excess of $54 million...for the 2006 season.

Player 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Guarantee
Contreras 7 7 8         22
Giambi 10 11 18 21 21 22/5   86
Jeter 17 18 19 20 20 20 21 135
Matsui 7 8           15
Mussina 14 17 17 17/1.5       49.5
Posada 6 8 9 12/4       27
Weaver 6.25 9.25           15.5
Williams 12 12 15/3.5         27.5
TOTAL OWED 79.25 90.25 74.5 46.5 41 25 21 377.5

The figures above are conservative. They assume that no options will be exercised, and don't include yet-unpaid portions of signing bonuses, which would push the Yankees' future commitments well over $400 million. I also assumed that "prospect" Drew Henson (due $12 million through 2006) will switch to football.

Moreover, the table includes only the eight players with at least two guaranteed years left on their contracts: a catcher, two outfielders, two infielders, two starting pitchers and Jeff Weaver, who has less chance than I have of playing for the 2004 Yankees.

The Yankees already have to replace or re-sign three members of their 2003 starting rotation. Irreplaceable closer Mariano Rivera's contract expires after the 2004 season. The farm system has no one likely to help before at least 2006. This could get very, very ugly.

October 26, 2003: Time Right to Talk Stadium. LINK

So long as Jeffrey Loria doesn't follow Wayne Huizenga's example by gutting the world champion Marlins' roster, he'll never have a better opportunity to persuade the locals to subsidize a new ballpark for the club.

The Marlins can certainly use a new park. Not only do they have to contend with the oppressive lease terms Huizenga "negotiated" with himself when he owned the Marlins as well as the stadium, Pro Player Stadium is a football facility with oceans of terrible seats for baseball. It's also located well to the northwest of downtown Miami -- convenient for attracting patrons from Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach to a Sunday NFL game, but terrible for the everyday, after-work traffic MLB relies on.

October 24, 2003: Cubs Season Over, But Scams Go On and On. LINK

Greg Couch of the Chicago Sun-Times observes that the Cubs somehow "forgot" to notify purchasers of playoff tickets that they could receive refunds for unplayed games rather than having the money automatically applied toward their purchase of 2004 season tickets. Since the season ticket money isn't due until January, Couch calculates that this amounts to a three-month, $6.75 million, interest-free loan from the Cubs' best patrons to the Tribune Company.

The Cubs also used to forbid season ticket holders from reselling their seats to ticket brokers, warning that they could lose their tickets if they did. Then they set up their own season ticket exchange on the Web, which collects a 15% commission on the proceeds of tickets resold through it. Antitrust laws prevent the Cubs from forcing their patrons to resell tickets only through the "official" brokerage, but they "forgot" to notify bleacher season ticket holders that they were now free to resell to anyone.

As Couch notes, "They seem to forget only things that could cost them money."

October 23, 2003: MLB Takes Hardball View on Web Sites' Use of Its Data. LINK

Rob Bowman of MLB Advanced Media says that MLB has the legal right to stop Web sites from posting play-by-play data without a license from MLB. As Bowman told USA Today:

"One way to exhibit a live baseball game is TV. Then there's radio. The third is offering real-time data online. To us, there's no difference."

Unfortunately for Bowman, the courts think there is a difference. In 1996 the NBA tried to stop STATS, Inc. and Motorola from providing real-time game updates through the "Sports Trax" pager and STATS' AOL Website. They lost.

The Second Circuit opinion began by rejecting the NBA's copyright claims. It held that the games themselves aren't copyrightable, and that summarizing the events of the game doesn't infringe any copyright in the broadcast of the game.

That left the NBA with state-law misappropriation claims. The Second Circuit rejected those, too, holding that under all but the most extreme facts, any such claim is preempted by federal copyright law. The plaintiff loses unless it can show (i) that the information being transmitted by defendant is time-sensitive; (ii) that defendant obtained that information by "free-riding" from plaintiff rather than gathering the information itself; and (iii) that defendant's product threatens the very existence of plaintiff's.

The first part of this test was met by the NBA case and could be met by MLB: the contemporaneous transmission of play by play information is clearly time-sensitive. But the sports leagues' claims fail the second and third parts of this test. STATS and others don't "free ride" off the league -- they duplicate the league's work by hiring their own people to generate a parallel set of real-time reports. Nor can MLB.com credibly claim that its play-by-play service will be driven out of business if Sportsline and others aren't prevented from competing with it.

Gathering and presenting real-time pitch-by-pitch information from up to 15 games at a time is so expensive that if MLB charges a reasonable price to license its data, third party Websites should be willing to pay that price rather than duplicating the work. But MLB doesn't really understand the concept of competition...

October 21, 2003: Series "Centennial" Is Really MLB Hype. LINK

My column for the postseason issue of Boston Baseball explains that while 2003 may be the 98th, 119th or 121st anniversary of the World Series, it is not the 100th.

And as I've previously written, urban legends notwithstanding, the name "World Series" has nothing whatsoever to do with the New York World newspaper.

October 21, 2003: Yanks Lead Marlins Three to One...in Payroll. LINK

According to the Associated Press, the Yankees' payroll as of August 31 was $164 million, far and away the highest in the majors. The Marlins' $54 million payroll ranked 21st.

The eight playoff qualifiers were 1st, 4th, 6th, 9th, 11th, 19th, 21st and 25th in player payroll. Though the AP article didn't include a table of team payrolls, #2 was almost certainly the last-place Mets, with the Dodgers #3 and the last-place Texas Rangers 5th.

October 20, 2003: Jeffrey Loria Has Ties to Selig Family. LINK

Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus tipped me to this tidbit buried in a Globe and Mail story:

"Commissioner Bud Selig and his family have long-time ties to the wife of Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. Sivia Loria is from Milwaukee, Wis., as is David Samson, the Marlins' president and stepson of Jeffrey Loria. Samson's father-in-law was the former team physician for the Milwaukee Brewers, who are owned by the Selig family."

The Commissioner's Office has a new motto: "More Incestuous Relationships Than a Rural West Virginia County."

October 20, 2003: Mexico City Mayor Says City Seeking Blue Jays. LINK

A few obstacles stand in the way, though. First, Jays president Paul Godfrey says the club isn't for sale and won't be moved. Second, Mexico City's only current stadium is "the Foro Sol, an awkward, 26,000-seat stadium that is designed so that a section of a race car track can be paved through the middle of the field for the Mexico Grand Prix each year." Third, at an altitude of 7,400', Mexico City is over 2,000' further above sea level than Denver, creating even more problems for pitchers. And fourth, its pollution and sanitation problems make Mexico City an unattractive destination despite its metropolitan population of close to 20,000,000.

October 20, 2003: Baseball's Next Pitch Will Be a Global One. LINK

Larry Eichel of the Philadelphia Inquirer discusses MLB's efforts to boost interest in baseball overseas. These efforts include a special international feed of the World Series; $25 million of development spending; efforts to create a baseball World Cup; and possibly playing a 2005 regular-season game in Europe.

October 17, 2003: Three Former Players Sue MLB Over Pension. LINK

Juri Morioka's hold on the title of Worst Lawsuit Against MLB, 2003 Edition was shorter-lived than the Red Sox' lead in Game Seven of the ALCS. Three former players have filed an action that makes Richie Phillips' 1999 labor strategy look both principled and meritorious.

The players, Richard Moran, Ernie Fazio and Mike Colbern, sued MLB in California, seeking to represent a class of 1,053 players who retired before 1981. They allege that they were discriminated against when the pension rules were amended 22 years ago to reduce the vesting period for pension benefits from five years to 43 days and for medical benefits from five years to one day, but only for players then active. In their world, it's unlawful discrimination to negotiate better benefits for current employees without making those benefits retroactive for all existing retirees. In our world, it's not. Indeed, other groups of retired players have sued and lost over this issue.

The players are also suing for battery and negligence, claiming that trainers shortened their careers and caused them long-term harm by shooting them full of cortisone without warning them of the risks. The statute of limitations on any such claim expired decades ago.

Finally, the plaintiffs allege that MLB discriminated against white players by voluntarily offering pension and medical benefits to former Negro Leaguers but not to them. In other words, they contend that MLB can't compensate the victims of clear, unambiguous discrimination without offering the same benefit to everyone else, including the very people who benefited from that discrimination. After that argument, I'm looking forward to their attorney's sob stories about his clients' poverty and ill health. My reaction won't be the one he wants, though...

October 16, 2003: Ex-Worker Accuses MLB of Anti-Asian Bias. LINK

Juri Morioka, a Japanese citizen who worked for 15 months as an administrative assistant in MLB's Broadcasting Department, claims she was subjected to $3.4 million worth of ethnic slurs.

The incidents alleged in the complaint, which presumably constitute her lawyer's harshest characterization of the worst conduct she witnessed, include one executive repeatedly referring to people of Japanese ancestry as "Japs" and referring to a Japanese client as "stupid" or "a moron," and another executive once reportedly saying "I hate Japanese more than Koreans." She claims she was fired for objecting to these comments, none of which were apparently directed towards her.

Nice try. If this is all the plaintiff can allege, her claim should be thrown so far out of court that it bounces.

Update: Here's MLB's press release responding to Morioka's suit, which states that the National Labor Relations Board had investigated her claim and found no evidence of discrimination.

October 16, 2003: Baseball Ratings Get Huge Boost During Playoffs. LINK

LCS ratings are so high -- up 55%, with one game to go -- that CBS and NBC both substituted reruns for their regular first-run Thursday night programming. Last night's Cubs-Marlins Game Seven may have also set a record for Lowest Percentage of Viewing Public Rooting for the Eventual Winner.

October 15, 2003: Historic Ballpark Postcards Online. LINK

While watching what for 22 outs looked like it would be the final game of the NLCS, I scanned twenty 30- to 90-year-old stadium postcards from my collection. The AL cards are here, while the NL cards can be found here. I plan to post more of these cards during the offseason. Enjoy!

October 14, 2003: Expos' RICO Arbitration Postponed; Puerto Rico Games Likely. LINK

Two pieces of news from The Globe and Mail:
  • The arbitration between the Expos' former limited partners and Jeffrey Loria has been postponed until late February or early March. The nonarbitrable part of this action, against Bud Selig and Robert DuPuy, is stayed until this arbitration is complete, with the proviso that during the stay, the plaintiffs can still seek to enjoin any proposed sale or transfer of the Expos. The plaintiffs must win the arbitration against Loria to have any hope of winning against Selig and DuPuy.
  • The Expos are likely to play 22 games in San Juan once again -- but in 2004, all the games in Puerto Rico will be played before the All-Star break.

October 13, 2003: Tribe Trims Ticket Prices for 2004. LINK

After seeing their attendance decline by 39% in 2003 after fans realized the club was in full rebuilding mode, the Cleveland Indians have reduced their average ticket price by 5% for 2004. Purchasers of full and partial season ticket packages will receive a discount from the single-game price for the first time, and the price of corner lower box and mezzanine seats has been reduced by $5/seat.

There's a lesson here for fans who claim that MLB ticket prices are too high: if you really want cheaper tickets, hope that your team sucks.

October 13, 2003: Buckner, Wilson Become Pen Pals. LINK

According to Bill Buckner, "my son's going to college" on the money he's made signing photographs of the ball rolling between his legs during Game Six of the 1986 World Series.

Buckner and Mookie Wilson make several appearances together each year. Buckner says, "it seems like, by now, everybody in New York has to have one." No joint appearances have been scheduled for Greater Boston.

If the memorabilia business had been this active 75 years ago, Fred Snodgrass would have become a multimillionaire. Instead, when he died, 62 years after dropping a fly ball that may have cost the New York Giants the 1912 World Series, all he got was a headline on his New York Times obituary that proclaimed: "FRED SNODGRASS DEAD AT 86/ MUFFED FLY BALL IN 1912."

October 12, 2003: Selig "Not Concerned" About Dodgers Deal. LINK

Bud Selig: "People get tired of hearing me talk about our economic problems, but when you see a premier franchise like the Dodgers losing the amount of money they have, that speaks for itself."

Doug Pappas: "Yes we do. And when you see the Dodgers selling for $311 million in 1998 and a reported $430 million in 2003, that simple fact speaks louder than all your whines about the true condition of baseball's economics."

Bud Selig: "We have hope that the economics will improve with the new [labor] agreement."

Doug Pappas: "Earth to Bud: the increased revenue sharing in the new CBA will hurt, not help, the Dodgers by taking millions of dollars from them and redistributing it among lower revenue clubs."

October 12, 2003: Fenway Faces the Future. LINK

Stefan Fatsis of The Wall Street Journal explores whether the success of the Red Sox could sway owner John Henry, and the Boston public, toward replacing rather than renovating Fenway Park. He notes that even without a wholesale overhaul, the Red Sox had the majors' second highest revenue in 2003.

October 10, 2003: News Corp. Sells Dodgers for $430 Million. LINK

News Corp. has agreed to sell the Dodgers to Boston developer Frank McCourt, who has apparently recruited a yet-unidentified partner. According to the Los Angeles Times, the price (which may be discounted) includes Dodger Stadium, the club's spring training complex in Vero Beach, Florida, and its facilities in the Dominican Republic. News Corp. paid $311 million for these assets in 1998.

Losing bidders include southern California real estate developer Alan Casden and former Mariners owner Jeff Smulyan.

October 10, 2003: Huizenga Profits from Marlins. LINK

Does he ever. In addition to all the money he rakes in from parking, concessions and luxury suites at Pro Player Stadium, Wayne Huizenga still receives $2 million/year from the State of Florida as part of a tax rebate he obtained when he acquired the Marlins as an expansion franchise.

This is over and above the reported $63.5 million profit he made selling the Marlins to John Henry in 1998, and the millions he shoveled into his other pockets while claiming that the world champion 1997 Marlins were hemorrhaging money. His ability to earn millions while still pleading poverty would make him a natural candidate to succeed Bud Selig as Commissioner, but Huizenga would never work for the mere $4 million+/year Selig reportedly receives.

October 9, 2003: Walter O'Malley Official Website Now Open. LINK

Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times notes that today is the 100th anniversary of Walter O'Malley's birth. The O'Malley family has just dedicated an official Walter O'Malley Website, which has a lot of interesting material, including photos, video andaudio clips, and .PDFs of business correspondence and reports.

October 9, 2003: Dodgers Look for a Quick Sale. LINK

The current frontrunner for the Los Angeles Dodgers is Frank McCourt -- a Boston real estate developer, not the author of Angela's Ashes. McCourt was one of the unsuccessful bidders in the rigged sale of the Red Sox, and also tried to buy the Anaheim Angels.

Jason Reid and Ross Newhan of the Los Angeles Times note that the timing of negotiations creates problems for the Dodgers. News Corp. remains in control of the club unless and until a sale has been approved by the other owners, a process that usually takes months. During this period of limbo, the Dodgers must set their 2004 budget, decide which players to retain and which free agents to pursue, and make other key operational decisions for the 2004 season.

October 7, 2003: Chicago, Boston Boost Playoff TV Ratings. LINK

Fox's 7.5 rating was up 21% -- the highest since the all-games-at-once, regionalized Baseball Network experiment of 1995 which many of us have been trying to forget for the past eight years. It's also higher than the rating for the 2003 NBA Finals, though still below Monday Night Football.

ESPN's ratings were 52% higher than last year, when the divisional games on cable aired on the ABC Family Channel. Saturday night's Oakland-Boston game was ESPN2's highest rated program ever.

October 7, 2003: Baseball Prospectus Chat: Doug Pappas. LINK

Here's a transcript of my online chat yesterday evening at Baseball Prospectus.

October 6, 2003: McClatchy: Better Days Ahead for Pirates. LINK

Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy says the club has lost $30 million in the three years since moving into PNC Park. He says the problem goes beyond the Pirates:

"We need to get our own affairs in order, but I don't think you can look at the Pirates without looking at an industry that has gone down the wrong road financially and now is trying to correct itself."

This article explains how most of Pittsburgh's financial problems were self-inflicted. No one forced former GM Cam Bonifay to give multi-year guaranteed contracts to the likes of Pat Meares, Derek Bell and Kevin Young.

October 6, 2003: Marginal Dollars Per Win, 2003. (BaseballProspectus.com; subscribers only) LINK

I discuss which teams got the most for their payroll money, which the least. A hint: the Tigers' Opening Day payroll was just $1.2 million less than Oakland's.

October 6, 2003: Team Rich in Victory, But Its Bottom Line Still Struggles. LINK

The worst thing about the Marlins' postseason success is the extra money it means for former club owner/current stadium owner Wayne Huizenga, who negotiated a sweetheart lease with himself. Sarah Talalay of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel has the gory details:

"The Marlins pay rent and the cost of stadium ushers, custodians, ticket takers and security. The team receives 70 percent of the net revenue from the sale of food, beverages and souvenirs and just 37.5 percent of the $9 parking fee. The team gets none of the revenue from suites."

As a result, according to Marlins president David Samson, the Marlins would take home only half as much as other clubs from a seven-game World Series. The rest would unfortunately go to the man who did his best to destroy the Marlins.

In a related article, Talalay contrasts the Giants' success since building their own park.

October 6, 2003: Hope in Toronto, Despair in Montreal. LINK

Writing in Canada's National Post, David Steinhart is optimistic about the Blue Jays' future, with one unnamed analyst saying, "if the team can win, it'll start making money."

No such good news about the Expos, of course, but Steinhart gets it backwards when he writes, "A long-term stay is unlikely without significant local television and radio deals, something the Expos haven't had in years." Decent local media deals can only follow, not precede, MLB's commitment to the Montreal market. There's no reason for the Montreal media to support a club whose owners are determined to move as soon as their ransom price is paid.

October 4, 2003: Review: Anthony Krautmann, "Buying a Pennant in Major League Baseball". LINK

The fifth in Larry Hadley's series of reviews of recent economic scholarship on the business of baseball.

October 2, 2003: Fox's Saturday Baseball Ratings Up 8 Percent. LINK

National Saturday afternoon ratings rose from a 2.5/8 share to 2.7/8 share. These are MLB's highest regular season ratings since 1999, and the first time in 15 years that regular-season MLB telecasts earned higher ratings than regular-season NBA telecasts. The season probably has a lot to do with this: February weekends are much more conducive than July weekends to sitting home and watching sports on TV.

Nielsen reported a slight decline in ESPN's ratings, from 1.06 to 1.04, but since its methods aren't remotely accurate enough for this to be meaningful, it's better to call the ESPN ratings "flat."

October 2, 2003: Dowd Gives Rose Papers to Hall of Fame. LINK

John Dowd, who investigated Pete Rose's gambling for Major League Baseball, has donated a dozen boxes relating to the investigation to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library. They won't be available to researchers for several years, because the HOF Library has a huge backlog of uncatalogued material. By then Rose will probably be managing the Reds again, if Carl "I'll Do Anything to Boost Attendance Except Spend Money on the Team" Lindner has his way.

In the meantime, while the Dowd Report site seems to be gone, Sean Lahman's baseball1.com still has a copy online.

October 2, 2003: Management by Baseball. LINK

Here's a relatively new Weblog which should interest many of my readers. Jeff Angus's unique blog uses examples from the present and past of Major League Baseball to illustrate principles of business management applicable to the "real world."

Jeff, who's worked as a baseball writer, management consultant and columnist for computer magazines, explains what he's trying to do here.

October 1, 2003: Baseball Prospectus Online Chat. LINK

I'll be fielding questions on the business of baseball in a Baseball Prospectus online chat next Monday, October 6, at 8:00 p.m. If the ALDS haven't ended by then, I'll be opposite a Game 5.

October 1, 2003: Rich Team, Poor Team. LINK

Revenue sharing and the luxury tax competitive balance tax, from the Yankees' perspective.

Yankees president Randy Levine (who negotiated the 1996 CBA for the owners): "What the other owners in baseball do - we can't speak for them. But we do know that George Steinbrenner wants to do whatever it takes to put the best possible team on the field each and every year."

MLB president Bob DuPuy, responding to the suggestion that the luxury tax unfairly targets the Yankees: "No, what it maybe suggests is that we weren't able to negotiate a low enough [threshold]."

Bud Selig: "We think the new plan will help teams stay competitive. The competitive balance this year has been terrific."

File these comments away for 2006...

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