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Neil deMause 

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03-02

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The BP Wayback Machine: Chasing Ballparks in Minnesota and Florida
by
Neil deMause

05-26

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14

The Payoff Pitch: How the Mets Were Lost
by
Neil deMause

05-03

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2

The Payoff Pitch: Bridesmaids, Revisited
by
Neil deMause

04-20

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5

BP Unfiltered: Selig Seizes Dodgers
by
Neil deMause

04-19

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26

The Payoff Pitch: Plenty of Good Seats Still Available
by
Neil deMause

04-05

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9

The Payoff Pitch: Probing the Forbes Figures
by
Neil deMause

03-21

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23

The Payoff Pitch: Blackout and Blue
by
Neil deMause

03-11

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3

BP Unfiltered: Japan Earthquake Baseball News
by
Neil deMause

03-08

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The Payoff Pitch: Contraction-traction, What's Your Traction?
by
Neil deMause

02-22

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13

One-Hoppers: Steinbrenner Slams Reds (No, the Other Kind)
by
Neil deMause

02-22

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26

The Payoff Pitch: Two, Three, Many Wild Cards!
by
Neil deMause

02-17

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One-Hoppers: Sternberg's Non-Threat Threat
by
Neil deMause

02-07

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11

The Payoff Pitch: Whose Money Is It, Anyway?
by
Neil deMause

02-06

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11

One-Hoppers: Meet the Mess
by
Neil deMause

01-26

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40

The Payoff Pitch: Will the A's Ever Move to San Jose?
by
Neil deMause

06-22

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One-Hoppers: Sternberg: We've Got Better Places to Be Than Tampa Bay
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Neil deMause

04-30

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One-Hoppers: Old New Stadiums, Revisited
by
Neil deMause

04-26

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One-Hoppers: Rays Stadium Numbers: Do They Add Up?
by
Neil deMause

04-06

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15

One-Hoppers: Un-Juicing Ticket Prices
by
Neil deMause

03-30

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One-Hoppers: First A's-to-San Jose Rumor Hits the Fan
by
Neil deMause

03-25

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6

One-Hoppers: MLB.com's Stadium Magic!
by
Neil deMause

03-15

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7

One-Hoppers: Selig: No A's Relocation Report Yet
by
Neil deMause

03-10

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BP Unfiltered: Yankee Stadium Coming Down
by
Neil deMause

04-03

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29

Out at the Ballpark
by
Neil deMause

02-17

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5

Don't Build Angry
by
Neil deMause

03-18

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Of Elephants and Fish
by
Neil deMause

03-04

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Stadium Watch 2007
by
Neil deMause

02-20

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Bad and Badder
by
Neil deMause

02-15

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Give 'Em Enough ROPE
by
Neil deMause

02-08

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When Is A Win Not A Win?
by
Neil deMause

11-15

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Hail, Hail, Fremontia
by
Neil deMause

11-03

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On the Margins
by
Neil deMause

09-13

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Additional Charges May Apply
by
Neil deMause

05-26

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Stealing Minnesota
by
Neil deMause

02-16

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Bronx Bummer
by
Neil deMause

01-31

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Amazin' Mail
by
Neil deMause

01-23

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Amazin' Savings
by
Neil deMause

01-16

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Our Long Nationals Nightmare
by
Neil deMause

12-05

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Ghosts of 2002
by
Neil deMause

11-08

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How Much Is That Stadium in the Window?
by
Neil deMause

08-15

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The Next White Elephant?
by
Neil deMause

05-26

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Twins' Stadium Deal
by
Neil deMause

05-04

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It Happens Every Spring
by
Neil deMause

04-19

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New Wine, Old Bottle
by
Neil deMause

03-23

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Buying Off the Orioles
by
Neil deMause

02-16

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Fantasy Firefight
by
Neil deMause

01-05

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Angels in America
by
Neil deMause

12-16

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Hang On, Youppi!
by
Neil deMause

11-18

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The National Debt
by
Neil deMause

09-28

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D.C. At The Bat
by
Neil deMause

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February 17, 2009 11:48 am

Don't Build Angry

5

Neil deMause

The economic mess leaves several stadium plans in disarray and widespread anger over public subsidies and naming rights-related issues.

If you've received your brand-new copy of Baseball Prospectus 2009 this week, you'll have found an essay by yours truly on teams' plans for new stadiums. It's a piece that I filed back in simpler times known as "January," when we still shopped at Circuit City, the president was some former Texas Rangers owner, and A-Rod was only reviled in the press for his relationship with Madonna. The basics that are laid out in BP2K9 are still accurate, as the Marlins, A's, and Rays are all pushing for new homes, with the Marlins way in the lead; the Mets and Yankees, meanwhile, are preparing to open their new stadiums amid controversy over who's paying the $2.7 billion bill. Since then, though, there have been a few unexpected twists:

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March 18, 2007 12:00 am

Of Elephants and Fish

0

Neil deMause

Will MLB's completist instinct for new or improved stadiums find satisfaction in Miami and Fremont?

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March 4, 2007 12:00 am

Stadium Watch 2007

0

Neil deMause

Neil catches us up on what's happening on the ballparks front, as teams try to get new homes or renovate old ones.

The BP annual, as you may know, works on a crazy-short deadline, which allowed me to cover events up through mid-January. Naturally enough, in the few short weeks since, stadium news has busted out all over: some projects have lurched ahead, others hit unexpected roadblocks, and others just saw their price tags soar, which can't really be said to be unexpected given past stadium history. The scorecard so far in 2007:

Minnesota Twins

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February 20, 2007 12:00 am

Bad and Badder

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Neil deMause

A glib observation about the Pirates' booting big bucks leads to a more rigorous examination of the contracts that do real damage.

With the aid of Nate Silver's MORP formula for converting on-field performance into dollar value, I soon had the--well, an--answer. While the likes of Derek "Operation Shutdown" Bell ($9 million, -0.2 WARP) and Kevin Young ($24 million, 2.8 WARP) were deservedly infamous, the "winner" as the biggest waste of Bucs bucks turned out to be Jason Kendall. Despite being a solid five-wins-a-year player during the course of the six-year deal he signed in November 2000, the backstop with the busticated ankle still fell $28 million short of earning his keep.

Blowing $28 million with the stroke of a pen, as Pirates GM Cam Bonifay did back then, is pretty impressive. But as impressive as the Pirates' record of lousy judgment is, surely there are examples of other teams' deals that ended up being even more costly?

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February 15, 2007 12:00 am

Give 'Em Enough ROPE

0

Neil deMause

Neil responds to reader mail about last week's re-evaluation of Marginal Payroll and Marginal Wins.

The loudest gasps were prompted by the article's final conclusion, that by looking at teams' ROPE scores (Return on Payroll Expenditure, which is essentially the old Wall Street term "return on investment" with a cute acronym tacked on) we can determine that nearly every team in baseball is spending more on payroll than it gets back in new revenues, many by a factor of more than two to one. To be honest, this shocked me when I saw the numbers--I've long held to the position that sports team owners are in it to make a profit, first and foremost, and will only spend on players what they figure they can recoup from the increased ticket sales, TV rights deals, etc., that result from a winning ballclub.

That's not what ROPE shows, though. As I wrote last week, aside from the handful of teams that are getting a decent return on their investment, "Every other team in baseball would have been better off, from a revenue perspective, by fielding a minimum-wage team and taking their lumps on the field." That prompted reader W.L. to ask:

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February 8, 2007 12:00 am

When Is A Win Not A Win?

0

Neil deMause

The great Doug Pappas' signature calculation gets an upgrade that integrates Nate Silver's research.

So it is, to some degree, for Doug Pappas. Of all the many and varied things that Doug did in his too-short life, probably his best-known creation is Marginal Payroll/Marginal Wins, a measure designed, as he explained when he introduced it in the 2004 edition of the Baseball Prospectus annual, to "evaluate the efficiency of a club's front office by comparing its payroll and record to the performance it could expect to attain by fielding a roster of replacement-level players."

The idea was both simple and brilliant: Take the amount of money a team spent on payroll, subtract the minimum that it would take to field a 25-man team, then divide this by the team's wins, less the number of wins an all-minimum-wage team would be expected to rack up (calculated by Pappas as a .300 winning percentage.) It was a metric that would go on to inspire Michael Lewis' best-seller Moneyball (Lewis was impressed with how the Oakland A's under Billy Beane continually ranked at the top of the MP/MW charts), and become an annual feature of this Web site; since Doug's death, the annual MP/MW tabulations have been carried on by BP's Ben Murphy and Maury Brown.

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November 15, 2006 12:00 am

Hail, Hail, Fremontia

0

Neil deMause

Have the Moneyballers found a home? Neil ponders this latest field of schemes...

That said, yesterday's press event kicked off what's sure to be a years-long public battle over the future of the A's. The bare bones of the plan to cart the A's down I-880 to Fremont (as far south as you can go in the East Bay without rounding the corner and finding yourself in the South Bay, aka "Giants territory") had been public knowledge for a while now: the team would lease a plot of land currently controlled by networking giant Cisco Systems, and plunk down a stadium seating between 30,000 and 34,000 fans, accompanied by a hundred acres or so of condos. As for everything else--who would pay for it, how fans would get there, and so on--those details would be provided on another day.

That day was not yesterday. Between Wolff ("We are customer-oriented!") and Bud Selig ("This stadium will not only reflect the latest in everything, but it will reflect a unique sensitivity to fans"), there was enough empty rhetoric to fuel the 2008 presidential campaign. Cisco execs, meanwhile, showed off their latest technological gimcrackery, demonstrating how the company's interlocking land-and-naming-rights-and-fancy-shmancy-electronic-gear deal would provide fans who were running late to the game with the ability to watch live game footage on their PDAs--apparently unaware that unless current MLB blackout rules are lifted, they'll have to settle for video of the Padres-Rockies game. It was at about this point that a techie friend IM'd me with the message: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo."

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November 3, 2006 12:00 am

On the Margins

0

Neil deMause

Now that some of the details of the new CBA are coming to light, Neil's able to look at a few of the finer points of how teams will now receive and spend money.

For anyone trying to analyze the new deal, though, the way it was announced was less revolutionary. All that MLB and the MLBPA signed last week was a "memorandum of understanding" sketching out the broad strokes of the deal--and what was released to the press was even less than that, effectively a summary of a summary. As a result, most of the reporting thus far has necessarily been a mix of incomplete facts, rumor, and guesswork. Maury Brown began to untangle the CBA's new revenue-sharing rules on Monday. My job today is to take a deeper look at some of the implications of the new system for how teams will actually be receiving--and spending--money.

First off, a quick recap of the rule changes, as we understand them so far. Under the old system, as Maury explained, revenue sharing consisted of two separate pieces: A "straight pool" that skimmed off 34% of every team's revenues and divided equally among all 30 teams, and a "split pool" that was levied only on the top-revenue teams and redistributed to the lowest-revenue ones. (This two-headed system was a compromise put into place during the last labor talks in 2002, when the owners wanted a straight-pool plan, and the players a split one.) The overall effect was that several hundred million dollars a year was shuffled around, mostly from the rich teams to the less-rich, but with the odd effect that teams at the top of the economic ladder actually got to keep a bit more of each dollar of new revenue (giving up 39%) than those at the bottom (who gave up 47%).

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September 13, 2006 12:00 am

Additional Charges May Apply

0

Neil deMause

The Cardinals blaze a new trail to the public pocketbook with a gambit that might be ominous for taxpayers everywhere.

But for the public that fronted the other third of the stadium money, this stadium, as the phrase goes, was to be more than just a stadium. Part of the draw that led Missouri legislators to approve public money for the project (St. Louis residents actually tried to vote down the funds, but were ruled to have waited until after play had resumed to file their appeal) was the Ballpark Village that the Cards promised to build on the site of the former Busch Stadium: shops, restaurants, condos, all the trimmings that are, according to legend, supposed to suddenly bloom once a stadium is installed, boosting your city's tax base, and revitalizing your dusty downtown.

As the Cards' website exults:

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May 26, 2006 12:00 am

Stealing Minnesota

0

Neil deMause

After many years and many millions of dollars, the Twins will finally get a new open-air stadium. And, as usual, there's a lot going on with the deal.

If this sounds weird to you, you're not alone--it does to me as well. Not the delay of game time--given that it's Liriano vs. King Felix, I'll forgo my planned quip about how even watching sausages being made is preferable to seeing a Twins-M's matchup--but rather that the Twins, the poster children for futile stadium campaigns for a decade or more, have suddenly hit the public jackpot.

This is Minnesota, after all, the state that had rejected public stadium funding time and time again, all the way back to the Scott Stahoviak era. Along the way, Twins owner Carl Pohlad had promised to up and move to North Carolina, offered his team up for contraction, tried to play a regular-season series in a temporary stadium to hook fans on the lure of outdoor baseball--everything short of threatening to play in the hollowed-out skull of Kent Hrbek--all seemingly for naught. To a generation of baseball fans, it seemed like the Twins would be fielding balls off the Hefty bag beneath Teflon skies for all eternity.

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February 16, 2006 12:00 am

Bronx Bummer

0

Neil deMause

Neil deMause responds to Andrew Zimbalist and the Yankee Stadium financing debate.

Now that Zimbalist has issued his rebuttal, though, I'm glad for the opportunity to get to the bottom of the question of just who'd be paying the $1.8 billion tab to replace Yankee and Shea Stadiums. As I've been stressing for months now, it's not as straightforward a question as it sounds, what with the current craze for financing agreements that are more complex than the save rule.

As Zimbalist correctly observed on BP Radio, I'm a journalist, not an economist--though I do consult with economists and other sports business experts on a regular basis, to check both my reasoning and my Excel skills. That said, he's an economist, not a journalist, and may not have all the information on the nuances of the New York stadium deals. So I've spent the last couple of weeks digging through the public record, and the not-so-public record, to clear up the facts of the matter. The result is going to take a bit to explain and will delve in places into economic minutiae, but try to keep your eyes from glazing over for just the next few minutes--this is worth getting right, not just for the sake of New York taxpayers, but because it's an excellent lesson in the difficulties of ferreting out the true costs of modern stadium deals.

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January 31, 2006 12:00 am

Amazin' Mail

0

Neil deMause

Neil deMause responds to some reader mail generated by his column on the proposed Mets stadium.

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