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October 25, 2009 1:35 pm

The Biz Beat: Another Chilly Winter?

1

Shawn Hoffman

How economic uncertainty could tame the Hot Stove League and especially the free-agent market.

What's the free-agent market going to be like this winter? A buyer's market, or a seller's? I can honestly say that I have no idea, and any team executive who gives you a more definitive answer is probably either hoping or hedging.

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September 24, 2009 12:19 pm

The Biz Beat: Fixing the GM Rankings

27

Shawn Hoffman

Tweaking the system to better evaluate the benefits of draft position.

Way back in August of 2009, I tried to evaluate major league front offices on how efficiently they were spending their payroll dollars, building on the work of Doug Pappas and Nate Silver. I called it MR3/ExpMR-which was horrible. So from now on, we're going with Payroll Efficiency Rating, or PER. So there.

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September 11, 2009 1:39 pm

The Biz Beat: The Winter Market

8

Shawn Hoffman

After last winter's bonanza, the shopping-season selections among starting pitchers might leave something to be desired.

Want a top-of-the-rotation starter this winter? You might want to check the trade market, because this year's pool of free-agent starting pitchers is mediocre at best, and downright boring at worst. That's a sharp contrast from last year's group, which featured C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Derek Lowe at the top, and had teams bidding against each other in the worst economic environment we will ever see.

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August 20, 2009 12:10 pm

The Biz Beat: A New Way to Rank the GMs

57

Shawn Hoffman

Building on the work of Doug Pappas and Nate Silver, a new kind of scorecard.

Back in 2004, the late Doug Pappas came up with a simple way to evaluate how well each team was spending their money: marginal payroll per marginal win. Here's Doug's original formula:

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August 12, 2009 11:33 am

The Biz Beat: A Revenue-Sharing Re-Think

30

Shawn Hoffman

One man's argument for how the dichotomy between big- and small-market teams be resolved to everyone's satisfaction.

"We've gone as far as we can go with revenue sharing at this point."
-Red Sox owner John Henry (SI.com)


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July 29, 2009 11:57 am

The Biz Beat: Seeing Everything?

16

Shawn Hoffman

Two leagues, and two massively different approaches to streaming.

In a lot of ways, MLB Advanced Media really gets it. Their marketing strategy needs a major overhaul-they're trying to be a portal in a post-portal world, and it's grossly limiting their earning potential-but their technology is best-in-breed, and they really seem to understand that sports games will eventually be broadcast and distributed by the leagues themselves, not third-party networks. And why not? Once internet-enabled televisions and super-high-speed broadband become commonplace, cable networks will start being phased out, and MLB Extra Innings will become unnecessary. MLB can just cut out the middle man and make MLB.tv its primary method of distributing baseball games-on your television, computer, or mobile phone.

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The media overreaction to the latest sports antitrust case misses the mark on the issues.

"Antitrust case could be Armageddon."

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July 16, 2009 12:45 pm

The Biz Beat: Baseball's Midseason Report Card

9

Shawn Hoffman

Baseball isn't immune from the economic downturn, but has the damage been as bad as expected?

The year 2009 has been a ridiculously tough one for business, unless you happen to be a bankruptcy lawyer or maybe a psychic (supposedly they do very well when people are getting laid off). For its part, MLB has done its best to manage expectations, projecting huge declines in attendance, and beating the owners over the head with a don't-spend-too-much-on-payroll message during the offseason. If it all seemed like overkill, you can forgive Bud Selig and company for being cautious; according to some, baseball almost spent its way into contraction during the last recession, one that was far more mild than what we've been going through over the past year. So, with the first half officially in the books, how well have they actually executed?

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July 1, 2009 12:48 pm

The Biz Beat: The Hundred Years War

3

Shawn Hoffman

Why the Tribune still owns the Cubs.

I'll give Sam Zell of the Tribune Company this: the Cubs are just one of his many problems, and of all the mistakes he and the company have made, this repeatedly botched sale is actually one of the tamest. After all, compared to making a gigantic bet on the already-suffocating dead tree industry, losing a couple of hundred million dollars on a billion-dollar asset sale doesn't seem so bad.

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June 24, 2009 12:30 pm

The Biz Beat: Live Streaming on the iPhone

12

Shawn Hoffman

A closer look at the performance and the possibilities of the upgraded MLB At Bat baseball app.

For sports business and tech nerds, last Wednesday seemed like our equivalent of a man walking on the moon. MLB Advanced Media launched live-game streaming on its MLB At Bat iPhone application, following Apple's long-awaited iPhone 3.0 software update. For the first time, we're now able to watch live baseball on our mobile phones, without any complicated workarounds or external devices. Yes, we are officially in the future.

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June 18, 2009 1:33 pm

The Biz Beat: Social Networks

4

Shawn Hoffman

There may be overlooked opportunities for profit in tweeting on Twitter and befriending on Facebook.

Social media is still a tiny business for sports teams and leagues-not to mention for the blogs and social networks themselves. That's partly because the audiences just aren't there yet; the Cleveland Cavaliers are generally praised for their social media strategy, but their official Twitter account only has around 10,000 followers. The team's Facebook page has over 100,000 fans, but even that is still a small fraction of what they could reach through a local TV ad campaign.

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Who's at the helm may determine if the first deal to drop will begin a steady flow or just a very slow drip.

After years of negotiations and infighting, local MLB games are finally coming to a PC near you. That is, as long as you live in New York, subscribe to Cablevision, and root for the Yankees. The team, via the YES Network, signed a deal with Cablevision earlier this spring to stream games online within the team's local broadcast area at some point this year, a first for any major American sports team. There will presumably be a subscription fee, and the games will likely be shown on yankees.com, yesnetwork.com, and cablevision.com.

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