A look at ever-increasing player salaries and the player best-positioned to eclipse the $300 million mark
Giancarlo Stanton got his first at-bat of the spring Thursday, making him the first $300 million ballplayer to step onto a major-league field. (Whether he opts out midway through that contract is an open question, but no matter.) Three years ago, when we were still stuck at $275 million, Maury Brown wondered who would be the first player to break that threshold.
"Professional baseball is on the wane. Salaries must come down or the interest of the public must be increased in some way. If one or the other does not happen, bankruptcy stares every team in the face." – Albert Spalding, 1881
Some 20 players could be suspended for ties to Biogenesis, as the league seeks testimony from Tony Bosch in a case that could have far-reaching financial implications.
Major League Baseball may seek to suspend as many as 20 players, including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, as part of the investigation into the Miami-area Biogenesis anti-aging clinic, according to a report by ESPN. The league has been pursuing legal avenues, including a lawsuit against Biogenesis, Biokem, Tony Bosch of Biogenesis, and others, seeking damages. That and other pressure may have finally taken a toll on Bosch as, according to the ESPN report, he is ready to cooperate with MLB investigators in exchange for their dropping the case. With Bosch testifying against players, the league could begin the suspension process “within the next few weeks.”
Should all the players be suspended, it would mark the largest number of suspensions for performance-enhancing substances in the history of professional sports. In 2005, the first year of mandatory drug testing, MLB suspended 12 players between April and November of the year, the largest amount of suspensions at the major-league level to date. At the time, first-time suspensions against the joint drug agreement between MLB and the players’ union were only for 10 games. Since then, the number of games a player can be suspended for has increased dramatically to 50 for a first violation, 100 for a second, and a potential permanent suspension from both MLB and minor-league baseball for a third.
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Jeffrey Loria's club is seeing a historic decline in tickets sold in the second year of its new ballpark.
“Nobody loves me, nobody cares, Nobody picks me peaches and pears. Nobody offers me candy and Cokes, Nobody listens and laughs at me jokes. Nobody helps when I get into a fight, Nobody does all my homework at night. Nobody misses me, Nobody cries, Nobody thinks I'm a wonderful guy.” –Shel Silverstein, poet and singer/songwriter
Shel Silverstein didn’t write this about the Marlins. For one, he died just a few short years after the club was christened in South Florida. Certainly, the Marlins are loved by some, just not by as many as they could, which is to say the current owners haven’t done themselves any favors. In poll after poll, column after column, Jeffrey Loria is ranked as the worst owner in all of North American professional sports.
Maury explains the challenges that MLB faces in attracting young and minority fans.
Whether it was the release of the movie“42,” the anniversary of Hank Aaron surpassing Babe Ruth as the all-time home run leader, or one of many articles each year telling baseball it has an “issue,” Major League Baseball decided recently it was time to create a task force to deal with the decline of African-Americans at the highest levels of the game. Baseball, like other professional sports leagues, likes to create this type of task force. It shows that the league cares, and well meaning be damned, is often stocked with people that likely aren’t difference-makers. Recommendations will be made, but they will be around things that don’t get at the heart of the matter, because those things are difficult—if not impossible—to fix.
The “problem” isn’t really a problem in the way that MLB’s task force is likely to look at it. It’s about the change in society, the growth of other sports, the power of television, the internet, how fast players can transition, the growth of other minority groups now playing the game, and, yes, marketing.
Rain (and snow) has wreaked havoc on the schedule in the first few weeks, but bad weather isn't always a significant drag on attendance.
We often think of baseball players as being the Boys of Summer. We envision the warmth of the sun on our face while we are laughing with the kids who are on break from school. The ballpark experience is the full embodiment of “summer.”
The problem is, we’re not quite there yet. Just because the 2013 season is underway doesn’t mean that we’re getting summertime weather. Far from it.
A look at which way each AL team's attendance will move during the coming season.
Attendance is a funny thing in Major League Baseball. Oftentimes, we pay so much attention to the correlation between paid-attendance numbers and on-field performance that we forget that the team’s performance during the previous season can have just as much of an impact on how many fans come to the ballpark.
Since we at Baseball Prospectus have just rolled out PECOTA’s player and standings predictions, I decided to go one step further and use this data to project teams’ attendance marks. Using historical data, the latest “Red Book,” and examining what has gone down in the offseason, here are my attendance predictions for each American League team. (Part two of this series, on the National League, will run next week.)
Maury explains the trend that contributed to this year's dormant hearing season, including quotes from the late Marvin Miller.
Several years ago, when I was deep in the throes of researching Major League Baseball’s labor past, I contacted former MLB Players Association Executive Director Marvin Miller to ask him some questions about the defining early moments of the players union. I knew well of Curt Flood’s struggles and eventually the Peter Seitz ruling that allowed for free agency. It was well documented, and only a scrub would phone Miller without having that information in his or her back pocket. But, I had latched onto another labor facet that preceded free agency. It was still fuzzy, but the impact of salary arbitration seemed larger than it was often portrayed, taking a back seat to the struggles of Flood and the breaking of the reserve clause. So, as I talked to Miller, I brought up the subject.
“Which was more important, achieving salary arbitration or free agency?”
Jim Crane may have been telling the truth...but not the whole truth.
Depending on what you read, clubs in Major League Baseball are either making a massive profit, breaking even, or, if you listen to the owners, often running in the red. Since baseball is a private industry, trying to determine the truth is a matter of educated guessing, wild hyperbole, or a case of “no comment” coming from the league and clubs.
So when an owner talks about the financial status of the club he runs, it prompts a fair amount of discussion. As we’ve seen with the leaked financial documents from the likes of the Marlins and others, the truth typically is on the side of ownership not only making a profit, but a handsome one at that.