In the Nationals' and Orioles' battle for the local fan base, the team that blinks first may stand to gain the most.
This past month, I moved back up I-95 from Washington to Philadelphia, where I’d spent all but the previous eighteen months of my life. There has been only one major-league franchise in the City of Brotherly Love since the Athletics forsook Philly in 1955, but as I discovered during my sojourn in the District, many baseball fans in the DC area have been torn between the Baltimore Orioles, for whom many of them grew up cheering, and the Washington Nationals, who emigrated from Montreal in 2005. Neither team has been good during their years of geographic coexistence, and the metropolitan area has not seen a playoff game since 1997, but both teams have slowly begun to develop the young talent necessary to compete. Although animosity stemming from Orioles owner Peter Angelos’ opposition to a Washington franchise has cost the O’s some fans, many in the DC area have yet to determine their allegiance.
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A brief history of revenue sharing, from Bill Veeck to Randy Levine.
A little over a week ago, Yankees president and designated apoplectic pit bull Randy Levine decided to divert attention from his team's pitching woes by going after a new target: Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg. Five days earlier, the Texas honcho had asserted that it was his team's efforts to sign Cliff Lee that had stalled the Yankees long enough for the Phillies to enter the picture with their ultimately winning bid. Levine, hearing these as fighting words, lashed out by calling Greenberg a welfare case:
The Rangers have finally been sold, so is it possible that the new owners will start spending much more than Tom Hicks?
In case you missed Maury Brown’s caffeine-fueled tweet binge last Wednesday, the Rangers’ ownership-transfer fiasco is finally (and mercifully) over. After months of endless negotiating and maneuvering, the group that was supposed to get the team all along—led by Pittsburgh lawyer Chuck Greenberg and former Advil pitchman Nolan Ryan—ended up winning a day-long auction, beating out a rival group headed by Mark Cuban. The team is now officially out of bankruptcy, off of MLB’s dole, and presumably ready to start running normally again.
"[Economics] is a method rather than a doctrine, an apparatus of the mind, a technique of thinking which helps its possessor to draw correct conclusions."
--John Maynard Keynes, as quoted in the introduction to J.C. Bradbury's The Baseball Economist: The Real Game Exposed
Maury chats with Vince Gennaro, a former consultant to MLB clubs and author of Diamond Dollars.
When Michael Lewis wrote Moneyball, a larger audience became aware of Doug Pappas and his groundbreaking metric, Marginal Payroll/Marginal Wins, published here at Baseball Prospectus. The metric placed an economic value on how much a club was spending to earn wins, and how much a club was spending in the overall in terms of marginal payroll. It placed the value of a win into perspective, and was seen as a way for clubs to better valuate how they spent, not how much they spent.
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%).
Dan concludes his recap of the SABR convention, and corrects some issues from last week's column.
In Part 1 of this two-part column we looked at three interesting research presentations given at the 36th annual SABR convention. In review, those included a study evaluating managers by Chris Jaffe, a look at the performance of players in the "walk year" of their contract by Phil Birnbaum, and Sean Forman's quantitative look at a catcher's ability to stop wild pitches and passed balls.
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.