A look at whether the Dodgers' new regional sports network will help them avoid revenue-sharing duties.
It went under the mainstream radar, but an article by Bloomberg News this past week raised the debate about economic parity within the league. The story centers on the lucrative television rights deal that the Dodgers are nearing as part of a potential regional sports network (RSN) and a “secret agreement” that would allow them to “cap income subject to revenue-sharing.” The article’s thrust is that somehow the Dodgers one-upped MLB and have figured out a way to get an advantage over all the other clubs as part of the sale that brought them out of bankruptcy.
A look at Houston's decision to use television money to pay down debts instead of putting it toward player payroll.
Back in August, I asked, How Low Can Jim Crane Go?—a reference to Houston’s player payroll. In the article, I tracked how the club has been dramatically cutting player payroll in recent months. Since then, there has been more cutting, a continued emphasis on player development (congrats to our BP colleagues Mike Fast on going to Houston and Kevin Goldstein joining him as Pro Scouting Coordinator), and increased revenues that will be available via Comcast SportsNet Houston. The team (along with the Houston Rockets) will own just over 77 percent of the network and will receive an annual $26.28 million raise, beginning in 2014, on the $23.72 million they currently receive as part of the league’s national television contract.
The Astros are approaching the end of their second consecutive 100-loss season, and a move into the AL West next season (where the bar for spending has been set high by the Rangers and Angels) means continued losing is likely for the foreseeable future. Since that article of mine in late August, a number of sources close to the club have said that there are have been grumblings within the organization regarding how the increased television revenues will be used.
A look at baseball most efficient and inefficient teams and how much money helps a team's chances of making the postseason.
When it comes to running a sports team, there are ultimately several factors that come into play that determine your ability win. Clearly, you have to be able to scout and evaluate talent. After that, getting those players under contract can be tricky. In doing so, it’s critical to make the best use of whatever revenue resources you have at your disposal. Money doesn’t buy championships, but let’s face it, it doesn’t hurt.
A look at the Stephen Strasburg situation in Washington and what the Nats could have done to avoid this media nightmare.
The countdown had been coming for months. It was just a matter of what would happen when it ended. We’re of course talking about the Washington Nationals’ declaration that they would shut down starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg at 160 innings pitched, something that the club had said they would be doing after the no. 1 draft pick and Scott Boras client had Tommy John surgery in 2010 to replace the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
We counted. We watched. We never made it that far.
A look at the Boston/LA deal that set a record for the most money ever involved in a Major League Baseball trade.
On Saturday, the baseball world saw what it often likes to see in a true blockbuster trade. There may be regrets when all is said and done, but for now, the sides each got what they were looking for. The Red Sox, who had the league’s third-highest Opening Day payroll ($175,249,119), got little aside from salary relief in the deal ; the owners of the Dodgers, who on May 1 closed a $2.15 billion sale, were looking to not only make the playoffs but run clean through to a World Series championship.
A look at Houston's rebuilding plan following their sale this past winter.
There was a time not too long ago when folks were leveraging themselves to the eye sockets in order to purchase goodies—big, expensive goodies such as homes and cars. In fact, many got in over their head and had these expensive, leveraged purchases repossessed, while others simply are straddled with mountains of debt.
Coming up on the end of the first season of owning the Houston Astros, Jim Crane seems to fit in with the latter group. He hasn’t done anything horribly wrong other than to strip the team down to the axels.
The Padres sale, the potential A's move, ESPN and FOX broadcasts, and umpire ejections are all examined in this week's Bizball.
The conversation often starts innocently. I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked, but to date, I haven’t been able to answer completely or in under a half-hour. The question is: What does sports business involve?
On the face of it, it looks pretty easy. I always grab the path of least resistance on the query and reply, “It’s sports outside the lines.” If you’re pressed to provide added detail, the conversation explodes into everything from labor to PEDs to stadium construction to sportswear to… to… well, you get the picture. When I write for Baseball Prospectus, it makes sense to pick a topic each week and dig into it. But, for every topic covered, there’s a cornucopia of them that don’t get covered.
A look at why contraction is not a legitimate option for Major League Baseball.
For those that haven’t followed baseball’s history outside the diamond, White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf could well be defined as one of baseball’s hardliners. While neither he nor Bud Selig would admit it, the two were greatly responsible for driving former commissioner Fay Vincent, Selig’s predecessor, out of office.
Reinsdorf has been a hardliner on other issues as well. He’s a key sounding board on labor issues and has often chimed in on paring the league down via contraction. Whether this was in 2002 when the league owned the Montreal Expos or now, when the difficulty of new stadium construction comes along, Reinsdorf has hit on the “C” word.
A look at the growing trend of huge free agent contracts.
Money has a way of making people do funny things. A lot of it can alter your perception of what is (and is not) extravagant. It certainly changes how you approach purchases, and in MLB, it’s no different.
The times were different and the circumstances far removed, but I can’t help but recall former commissioner Peter Ueberroth speaking to the owners on October 22, 1985. As I said, the topic was far, far different (collusion), but nothing (maybe ever) has changed about owners being hyper-competitive. As outlined in John Helyar’s seminal book, Lords of the Realm, Ueberroth was quoted as saying:
A view of how Major League Baseball can make the game more appealing to fans and bring the game to them more efficiently.
Love him or hate him, one thing that’s certain is that under Bud Selig’s tenure, MLB’s popularity has grown. Whether one points to what I call “Selig’s Reclamation Project”—the 22 new or renovated stadiums under Selig’s tenure, labor peace, revenue-sharing, et al—baseball’s attendance has skyrocketed.
Still, like everything, baseball could use some improvements. After all, nothing is perfect, and baseball is no exception. Some things are a byproduct of a landscape different than the NFL and NBA. Some are of its own doing. Everyone probably has their own list of what they could do to market MLB better, and we’d like to hear it in the comments. Here are five things that MLB could do to grow its popularity further.
Ratings for the MLB All-Star Game were up this year, but does that really tell the whole story?
Television ratings are a funny thing. The spin that can come out of the numbers can drive reports in wildly divergent directions. In sports, ratings can be spun to say that the popularity of a given league or club is high or low, depending on those feeding the information. Of course, leagues and clubs love to tout growth, while detractors can spin numbers negatively. For Major League Baseball, ratings have been used to show that the game’s popularity is on the rise, while others have pounded keys to say that it’s a “dying sport.”
So, which one is it? As is often the case in data analysis, the truth can lie in the middle. Before we get started, let’s give a quick primer on what the ratings numbers mean.
A look at the changing landscape of media rights deals in sports and how MLB will be affected.
There was a point not too long ago when the key revenue stream for Major League Baseball was the gate—ticket sales—with media rights through television coming in second. Recently, however, there has been an explosion in the amount of money coming into sports properties in the U.S. via media rights that is altering the landscape. Whether it’s collegiate sports conferences or the “big four” sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL), the dollar amounts for national and local broadcast rights have increased. The reason? With the advent of the DVR and movies on-demand, regular programming can be watched whenever viewers like. With content being recorded, fast-forwarding past commercials has become commonplace. Live sports programming is the exception. Since fans want to see action when it happens, advertisers are placing more focus around sports than ever before.
The increases in media rights fees have happened already at the local and regional level in baseball, as exhibited by the Rangers, Angels, and Astros (and soon to be Dodgers and Padres). In the coming months, MLB itself will be cashing in, too, when the national television broadcast rights come up for renewal. Currently, the deals with FOX, TBS, and ESPN all expire at the end of 2013. According to sources, informal conversations have already begun on renewing the national television deals.