Earlier this week, we talked about what the future of baseball's national TV contracts might look like. Here's a glance at their past.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
Earlier this week, Maury Brownexamined the future of baseball's national TV contracts. For a look at its past, revisit the piece reproduced below, which was originally published as a "The Imbalance Sheet" column on September 28, 2000.
For me, this marks the end of one of the more unusual journeys into the
world of baseball analysis. For BP, I hope this marks but the first of many
graduations into full-time positions in the baseball world.
ESPN.com reported yesterday
that 11 major-league
teams showed an operating profit in 2001. They were led by the Yankees, who
are so profitable not even Enron's ex-CFO could screw them up, with a
claimed operating profit of $41 million. Why "claimed?" add it up:
What we got was even more disgraceful than the worst scenarios any of us had
conceived. Baseball made the ultimate coward's threat. As expected, they
announced that the owners had agreed to eliminate two teams for the 2002
season--a practical impossibility, but well in line with the previous
announcements of the Impotent King, Bud I. But Bud took it two steps
The A's do, indeed, score plenty of runs on the long ball--but that's only
part of the story. The A's offense is structured more around the base on
balls than anything else, because of an organizational belief that having
men on base is the most effective way to score runs. It's not revolutionary
or even unusual; the Mariners and Padres also followed the Tao of Ted and
racked up the runs by drawing walks--even, in the Padres' case, without much
power to speak of.
So when the A's don't homer, they still fare well by putting men on base.
And when the A's do homer, they fare well because they tend to have men on
base already. Don't believe me? Look at the numbers:
For those who missed it, McMorris proposed that last weekend's series
between the Rockies and Expos be moved to Colorado, with the Rockies
donating the games' receipts to a September 11th charity. The reason would
have been obvious enough, but McMorris decided to rub vinegar in the wound
by pointing out that playing the games in Denver would draw significantly
more fans and raise much more money for the charity than playing the games
in Montreal could. McMorris had the facts on his side, but the Rockies' PR
department would probably like to slap him with a leash and a muzzle after
his ill-considered foray into verbal gamesmanship. One can easily imagine a
scenario where the Expos would have negotiated a deal to move the series had
the negotiation been conducted in private.
However, several readers responded to argue that single-season contention is
an anomaly, or that it's a matter of random chance that there will be
"Cinderella" teams. The facts don't support this claim:
The proposals on the table all involve either capping the amount a team can
spend in total across all draft picks (dumb) or capping the maximum payment
allowed to a single player, perhaps tied to the round in which the player
was drafted (better). The recent brouhahas (brouhahae?) over J.D.
Drew, Mark Prior, and Matt Harrington, as well as the high
likelihood that between five and ten first-rounders won't sign this year,
have given a significant boost to these proposals. The owners have a greatly
increased incentive to cap these players, and one can make a good argument
that the young players don't benefit from the lost year of development time.