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August 24, 2010

The Selig Statue: The Flow of the Revenue Stream of Big League Clubs


Minutes ago in Milwaukee,the Bud Selig statue was unveiled at Miller Park, to commemorate a time in baseball history. The unveiling comes on the leak of the financial statements of the Pirates, Mariners, Rays, Marlins and Angels –things which owners never would do in the strike years of 1981 as well as 1994 when a players’ strike wiped out the last eight weeks of the season. The year without a World Series.

According to the thesis of journalist Pat Reusse, it is now in baseball “incumbent” to sell 2.4 million tickets – average 30,000 over an 81-game schedule – “to be considered successful at the gate. You can beat the system for a few years, but to stay competitive for a longer haul teams no longer can flinch at the idea of a $100 million payroll.”

Despite a projected attendance of 2.7 million people, Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the team will lose money this year. “I think it’s a foregone conclusion that we are going to lose money this year. I don’t see any way that’s not going to be the case….We did everything we could to do that with a big push with pitching. We threw a lot of money at it and it didn’t work.”

Somewhere in that statement was the announcement that Doug Melvin won’t be back next year. Because, as Attanasio said, “If you can’t stand the heat, don’t go into the kitchen. We are committed to putting a winning team on the field.”

Even before any notes about invoicing them for 2010 post-season tickets, the Minnesota Twins announced in a letter to season ticket-holders, per-game price hikes for 2011 just for season-ticket packages (full, 40-game and 20-game) ranging from 3 to 9 percent. Single-game pricing hasn’t come out yet. This, after averaging an attendance of more than 40,000 per game, with revenue streams, not including national television money, local radio and television money, or without suite revenue, of more than $240 million.

Because in the nature of sport, losing is part of the game. Consecutive losing seasons are inevitable, and fans are fickle. The day will return when Minnesota fannies will not be filling those 40,000 seats every night and day.

https://baseball91.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/when-you-absolutely-positively-needed-it-overnight-overnight-millionaires/

“The numbers indicate why people are suspecting they’re taking money from baseball and keeping it — they don’t spend it on the players,” said David Berri, after stumbling on his win as the president-elect of the North American Association of Sports Economists, about the Pirates of Pittsburgh. When you live in affluent times, economists branch out into new areas. Like the North American Association of Sports Economists. “Teams have a choice,” according to David Berri, and they “can seek to maximize winning, what the Yankees do, or you can be the Pirates and make as much money as you can in your market. The Pirates aren’t trying to win.”

Yesterday Deadspin released information on the revenue stream of the Pittsburgh Pirates. And Maury Brown was discussing on his radio show today all of the repercussions. With the best record in the National League, the San Diego Padres carry the second-lowest payroll, next to Pittsburgh, in baseball at $37.8 million which is less than what the Cubs are paying two players combined. The Pirate payroll is reportedly $34.9 million. And David Berri is offering his insight about all of it. From revenue-sharing, gate receipts, television and radio revenues, amounts from MLB Advanced Media, and the Central Funds.

Perhaps with his own concern for still present real estate bubble, the leader of the North American Association of Sports Economists might not have noticed that this year Tampa Bay is competing for first place with his Yankees after having gone to the World Series in 2008, with a payroll less than half that of their division rivals in Boston and New York. And Carl Crawford won’t be back. But who has time to read the sports page when you were going to be taking on the presidency and had a real job. I think.

There is no information available if David Berri is married. Or was. Or about the money he spent on housing, indicating if the Berris themselves weren’t trying to win. Or whether Berrai was spending his money on his kids. Or just his wife. Or his feeling about the Cubs. With the third-highest payroll in baseball, new owner Tom Ricketts’ team played 10 rookies last Wednesday and were still trying to win.

David Berri did not answer how much exactly someone deserved, to play baseball. And if the price would be the same in New York, Nebraska, or Utah. Berri himself is a 41-year old graduate from Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln in 1991, with an economics major. He is now an associate professor at Southern Utah University having authored of two books, Stumbling on Wins: Two Economists Expose the Pitfalls on the Road to Victory in Professional Sports, and The Wages of Wins. Mostly about professional basketball. Apparently about the relationship between finances and winning. He pursued his Masters and doctorate at Colorado State University, an NCAA institution with cable television. Watching from a distance. Like a pigeon oversees a statue.

Maybe Berri was too busy talking to the South American Association of Sports Economists to notice, but Pittsburgh has complied with the rules for revenue sharing, spending $23.2 million in 2008 and $21.2 million in 2007 for player development. According to the Commissioner’s office, where Pirate club president Frank Coonelly used to work. Or maybe Berri was too busy talking to the Central American Association of Sports Economists. Or just at the World Cup. Like Paris Hilton.

“The numbers indicate why people are suspecting they are taking money from baseball and keeping it,” said David Berri, who has moved to Dubuque, to California, to Utah with his PhD. “The Pirates aren’t trying to win.” Like the Nebraska Cornhuskers across town from Nebraska Wesleyan University used to.

Though it did seem a little early, the White Sox sent in mid-August a note to season-ticket holders with a big exclamation point, advising that “post-season invoices are on the way!” Maybe for economic reasons, since in the post steroid age when it was “incumbent” to sell 2.4 million tickets, the White Sox would not be there. But with an expectation more money meant more wins, with more than 50 games left, the message was: “We are currently in a battle to make the post-season and in order to process and deliver all post-season tickets by the end of September, we are invoicing you for the 2010 post-season at this time.”

It was after 1994 that the steroid era began, undetected, with all of the concern of a regulator from the Security and Exchange Commission in the first decade of the New Millennium. When Bud Selig took over, as acting commissioner in 1992, and permanently, in the age of consensus, in 1998. The things which could come out of work stoppages. Like the requirement to operate a business like the clowns wanted the circus run. As if the clowns had a stake in all of this, when people no longer laughed, and old clowns would one day die. Like Marvin Miller.

You cannot attend Major League Baseball games and not detect that some of the clowns in the commissioner’s office were micro-managing the game. The messages on those scoreboard, the control of all umpires, or their uncontrol, the partnerships with broadcasters who seldom criticized the home team. In the age of consensus, it was all the same. Along with the “we are invoicing you” message. The commissioner’s office was instructing each club on the same rules of baseball operation, and threatening huge fines to any owner who offers criticism of the rules under the basic agreement, as to the luxury taxes paid by the “pseudo-large market” teams, about revenue sharing.

After the unveiling of the steroid era by Congressional hearing, little change had come. The system was fixed, front office executives collaborating now with the Players’ Association, to avoid work stoppages. At least until the release of those financial records, it was all about maintaining the status quo. The goal was good television ratings in October, so the Yankees did enough each year, with wild cards, to obtain those good national television ratings. When the New York Times was even allowed to buy a stake in the Boston Red Sox, and finally the Red Sox won a World Championship. Everybody was happy, under the circus tent.

That unveiling of the Bud Selig statue, after the steroid era had come to an end. Baseball owners had been through a lot. Actually about the time of 2004, the Murdoch News Corporation was losing an estimated $30 million to $60 million a year operating the Dodgers, and was desperate to sell. The Dodgers! One of the “pseudo-large market” teams, like the Mets and the Red Sox. And the Yankees.
After all the great growth of the game, after the strike of 1994, with finally the unveiling of the steroid era in those Congressional hearing. With only perjury charges left to decide.

Bob Nutting and Pirate club president Frank Coonelly (formerly of the commissioner’s office) called a press conference yesterday to say.“ It’s important the team not be in the kind of financial shape it was in in 2003 and 2004, when we were struggling and making bad decisions purely driven by financial constraints and pressure.” During the steroid era, in 2003, as the steroid era continued, under former owner Kevin McClatchy, the Pirates’ debt-to-equity ratio had exceeded Major League Baseball’s standard and the Pirates were forced to asked Bob Nutting, then a minority partner, now the principal owner, for money to fund operations in 2003. The Nutting Family made the loan to the Pirates which partly was converted into a $20 million equity stake. The standard of debt-to-equity ratio established by Major League Baseball’s basic agreement of 2002 which expired at the end of the 2006 season?

At about the same time as Mr. Nutting was bailing out Pittsburgh, Frank McCourt had used in 2004 his Boston parking lot to buy the Dodgers from Murdoch’s News Corp. Frank and Jamie McCourt have come a long way from their early days together when Jamie had lent $1,000 to Frank to start his development company which became the McCourt Group.

That bubble in sports. Was there any reason for the owners to flex their muscle in 2006, when money was so cheap? Cheap money for the operation of any business. As the value of franchises rocketed like a Sammy Sosa homerun, in October 2006, Donal Fehr said: “With the new labor contract, baseball’s drug-testing rules will also be extended through the 2011 season. When both sides agreed to toughened drug testing last November, they said that deal would run through the next labor contract.” Is it now a consensus that there never had been “toughened drug testing?” The current collective bargaining agreement which had been worked out quietly in October 2006, behind the scenes by the then soon-to-be fired Chicago Cub President Andy MacPhail, the baseball executive who had not taken a player to arbitration since at least a time prior to 1995.

Peter Gammons reported in October 2006 that the new basic agreement made “relatively minor changes to the previous agreement and doesn’t alter baseball’s drug rules.” At the same time, it was reported that both sides “would consider adding testing for Human Growth Hormone.” Four years later, I think those baseball players are waiting news of such testing for major league ball players.

It sounds like the story of Countrywide, my own home mortgage holder, until they ran into trouble. With the leak of the financial statements of the Pirates, it has been noted the Pirates are carrying considerable debt, though the Boston Globe reports a belief this debt is only a fraction of that of some other clubs. “It is common for major league teams to owe such debt ….owners aren’t burdened by the debt because franchise values historically rise each year, meaning most teams could be sold for a substantial profit.”

Planted in front of Miller Park, the bronze, 7-foot statue designed and produced by Brian Maughan, shows Mr. Selig’s right hand extended. Under Selig, franchises never would release the books to the players union or to the municipalities as Selig implored civic authority to release tax moneys for new stadiums.

In Milwaukee, if you were selling 2.7 million tickets and losing money, the owner just was clueless in his overall baseball operation. Maybe listening too much to those sports economists like David Berri (who has moved as often in his short professional career more than the Atlanta Braves had in the past 50 years). Or busy paying for the costs of Selig’s statue. Because when two teams played, losing would always be part of the game, as Brewer fans learned so well at the feet of Bud Selig. Negotiations of a new basic agreement, with the usual leaks yesterday, signified that the same arguments in the years of 1994 and 1981 would be back, over a philosophy of cutting expenses and raising prices. The Cubs went to arbitration this year with Ryan Theriot for the first time since before Andy MacPhail had been hired. The bubble in real estate would be affecting national elections and the future of baseball. And maybe a ball club somewhere would be concerned about having to raise ticket prices.
 

 

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August 9, 2010

Cancer Takes Seattle Manager

It was in the first half of June, that Mariners second baseman Chone Figgins criticized manager Don Wakamatsu for removing him from the second spot in the order. The 32-year old one-time All-Star said, “I think I’ve about earned enough respect as a player. I’m still battling and I’m doing good. I should stay where I was hitting.”

The people who have seen his play this year would agree that he has “earned enough.” Figgins was brought to the Mariners to play second this season at a cost of his $9 million salary. At the time he was moved out of the second spot, he was hitting .235. Manager Don Wakamatsu informed reporters before the June game that the lineup switch wasn’t focused upon Figgins.

“Obviously, it’s me,” Figgins said at the time. “It doesn’t matter. Anybody that has ever known me or watched me play this game….no matter where you hit me, first, second or 10th…..I’m going to come to play. If I come off the bench, I’m going to play 110 percent. There’s not anybody in this game who can take that away from me.”

Well, if you watched Figgins, you knew it actually WAS him that necessitated the change in the line-up. But today, sixty days later, Don Wakamatsu lost his job because of the cancer named Figgins.

Figgins was still hitting .235 on the last Saturday in July, when he came to play at Target Field in Minnesota, back hitting second in the lineup. The lineup change had not lasted long. That night, he was involved in a play with a missed cutoff man on one play, when he clearly no longer was coming to the ballpark “to play every single day,” as Figgins had said in June. In a prior Boston weekend series, 8 days before, Figgins inexplicably let a throw from Michael Saunders, which had missed the cutoff man in the bottom of the fifth, bounce a few feet to his left without any movement from him as the ball dribbled past the second base bag. Mike Cameron leading off the fifth inning, went to third on the play, having pulled into second on the ball hit into the left-field corner.

Figgins was told he was being benched, when he returned to the dugout. He then began shouting across the length of the bench, with ensuing pushing between players and coaches who tried to intervene. One Mariner had climbed over teammates and lunged toward Figgins, with the starting pitcher reportedly in the middle. Third baseman Jose Lopez ended up with his jersey over his head, with the jersey pulled off his back. When reporters were allowed inside following the 2-1 loss to Boston, Figgins turned down requests to talk through a team spokesman.

In June, it was Figgins who claimed he wasn’t frustrated by Wakamatsu, even if his manager was frustrated by him. “I’m never frustrated,” Figgins said in June. “The fact is I come to play every single day. I never get frustrated with anybody.”

“I’m motivated every day,”Figgins said, with three-and-a-half years left of a four-year $36-million contract. “Like I’ve said before, there’s nobody who can ever doubt what I do on the field.

So what Chone Figgins, in the first year of a four-year $36-million contract, do you do now? You fire the manager. Asked if the team quit on Wakamatsu, general manager Jack Zduriencik, “I would not go there. I don’t think that’s a fair question. These guys are professional athletes.”

In this bad Rime of the Ancient Mariner, because with the albatros hung around the neck of Jack Zduriencik, the fact is, Chone Figgins will keep coming, however poorly, to play. Because “these guys are professional athletes.” As evidenced on YouTube and all over the country. In Big League parks. At Big League prices. And with $27 million real dollars left on his contract.


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June 10, 2010

$9 Million Second Baseman with his .230 Batting Average Pops Off

Mariners second baseman Chone Figgins raising his batting average to .230 on Tuesday after going three for four. And after a great night, when asked about his disappointment in being dropped to ninth in the batting order after the first 56 games of the season, Figgins criticized manager Don Wakamatsu.

The 32-year old one-time All-Star said, “I think I’ve about earned enough respect as a player. I’m still battling and I’m doing good. I should stay where I was hitting.”

Apparently Figgins brought to the Mariners not only his $9 million salary for 2010, but a growing talent as bench coach when his playing days are over. “I’ve been getting on base, I’ve been hitting the ball pretty good,” said the $9 million free-agent acquisition, with his batting average of .230. “Obviously, it has something to do with me.”

“I come to play every single day,” Figgins said. “No matter the situation or anything. I come to play every time.”

After Monday’s 4-2 victory over the Rangers, he wasn’t frustrated by Wakamatsu’s decision, he said. “I’m never frustrated. The fact is I come to play every single day. I never get frustrated with anybody.”

Manager Don Wakamatsu informed reporters before the game that the lineup switch wasn’t focused upon Figgins. “Obviously, it’s me,” Figgins said. “It doesn’t matter. Anybody that has ever known me or watched me play this game….no matter where you hit me, first, second or 10th…..I’m going to come to play. If I come off the bench, I’m going to play 110 percent. There’s not anybody in this game who can take that away from me.”

So what Chone Figgins, in the first year of a four-year $36-million contract, do you do now?

“Same thing I do all the time….come to play every day. You’ve seen that tonight. Every time that something happens, he took me out the first time….he pinch-hit here….And I still come to play. That’s not ever going to change. And there ain’t nobody in the front office or in this game or any part of what this game is all about can tell me any different. They will never see any different from me by coming to play.”

“I’m motivated every day,”Figgins said, with three-and-a-half years left of a four-year $36-million contract. “Like I’ve said before, there’s nobody who can ever doubt what I do on the field.

“I don’t have anything to say. The fact is, I come to play.”

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April 23, 2010

Slumdog Millionaire, Part III

Alex Rodriguez violated the unwritten code of conduct in baseball last night in Oakland when after Robinson Cano’s foul ball down the left field line, following his own one out single, he cut across the pitching mound and touched the pitching rubber on his return to first base, infuriating the pitcher Dallas Braden.

Braden yelled at Rodriguez, telling him to get off the mound. Rodriguez characterized the confrontation as “pretty funny, honestly.” According to the New York Times, he did not remember where he was running or whether he did, in fact, step on the rubber as he returned to first. ‘It’s not really a big deal,’ he said.”

According to the New York Times, Braden said of the New York Yankees. “It’s kind of disheartening to see that not show through, or be reflected by somebody of his status. They are an extremely classy organization with guys who always tend to do the right thing every time.”

To Braden, it was big deal. After the game, Braden said: “I don’t go over there and run laps at third base. I don’t spit over there. I stay away. You guys ever see anybody run across the mound like that? He ran across the pitcher’s mound. Foot on my rubber.”

This was the A-Rod who in Toronto in 2007 as a base runner called for a pop fly, violating the unwritten code of conduct. Whether written or unwritten, this A-Rod ignores all codes of conduct. Like with steroids. It was in October 2007 when Selena Roberts wrote: “Do you like the new A-Rod who doesn’t care if he is liked?”

Nothing had really changed.


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April 8, 2010

Valuations and Devaluations

Nicholas Cage. Pak Nam-Ki. Citibank’s former CEO. Tom Petters. Theo Epstein.

U.S. District Judge Richard H. Kyle, the judge in the Tom Petters’ trial, on sentencing Tom Petters for orchestrating a $3.7-billion Ponzi scheme, said: “You had to know.” Petters apologized to his family, friends and former employees.

In North Korean, restricting the amount that could be exchanged, the redenomination of the won on November 30, 2009, forced people to swap old banknotes for new ones at a rate of one hundred to one. On March 19, 2010, it was reported that the finance minister in North Korea was executed over too much inflation. Pak Nam-Ki was charged “with ruining the national economy deliberately as the son of a big landlord who infiltrated the ranks of revolutionaries,” Yonhap News Agency said. Pak was 77 years old when he was shot dead in the last few weeks at a military range in Pyongyang, after earlier being sacked as chief of the ruling communist party’s planning and finance department. There had been public anger at the inflation following the currency revaluation. A lot of anger. South Korea’s National Intelligence Service’s Won Sei-Hoon said the revaluation aggravated hunger, wiped out savings, and sparked riots after prices soared.

That is what happens after tinkering with currency. Or with the manipulations of systems.

At the start of his testimony, Charles “Chuck” Prince, the former Citigroup Inc chief executive, told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission “I am sorry.” His sorrow was for the problems that led Citigroup to be rescued by the government, while absolving himself of any personal responsibility for the $30 billion which eventually had to be off in collateralized-debt obligations.

In a foreclosure action for auction yesterday, bidding opened at the county courthouse in Pomona, California at $10.4 million on the property with a total of $18 million in loans, far less than the asked for price of $35 million on a property lost to foreclosure by Nicholas Cage, and in less than a minute the auction closed with no takers in the courthouse sale. Cage, who had earnings of $40 million last year according to Forbes, could not be reached for comment. In October, Cage filed suit against his former business manager, Samuel J. Levin for allegedly having “lined his pockets with several million dollars in business management fees” leading Cage down a “path toward financial ruin,” per the complaint. Levin did file his own countersuit, describing a spending binge by Cage “of epic proportions,” where by July 2008 Cage owned an island in the Bahamas, 15 palatial homes around the world, 4 yachts, a private Gulfstream jet, and millions in art and jewelry.

The Baltimore Orioles will pay just the $400,000 minimum of Julio Lugo’s $9 million salary this year, after a trade that sent him from St. Louis to Baltimore for a player to be named later. Or for cash. Lugo had come to St. Louis last summer in a trade between the Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox. It had been the Red Sox who agreed to pay $8.6 million of Lugo’s $9 million salary this year. That Red Sox general manager had set a price for all baseball in the system of arbitration by paying this salary. As the world begins to deal with the economic fallout of pretend banks, of propped up collapsed banks, of balloons in real estate, a view into the affects of bubbles on baseball salaries is worth a longer look.

There is so much sweet sorrow around today as Tiger Woods steps up to the tee in Augusta. Where is the punishment in all of this?

Now no one is all over Theo Epstein in all of this. Yet. But when the day arrives when the ticket buying public, in times more reflective of the 1960s, realizes that baseball can be watched in person only by the wealthy, maybe the spotlight might be focused on why no one in the front offices were fighting the system. No one had been watching out for the blue collar fan for some time. As the bubble in valuations in New York and Boston slowly affected the franchises throughout the nation.

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November 28, 2009

Bud Selig To Retire


Commissioner Bud Selig told a New York Times columnist. “I’m concerned about the pace of the game.

Hypocrisy is a charge leveled when someone fails to live up to the virtuous standards being expounded.

On spectating. On the theatrics of spectating. I attended sports events to watch. More and more there are these spectating participants. Who stood up and blocked my view. And they looked for others in the crowd to do as they did. As if they were participating in what was gonna happen on the next pitch. Orchestrated. Over-managed ritualized standing, watching the Joe Girardis and the Ron Gardenhires over manage. Baseball 2009. Embracing the language of the age, and ritualistic noisemaking. On Fox Television.

Fox Sports. The prior owner of the Dodgers. Bigger than life Fox Sports that gave me week in and week out on their local affiliated cable station broadcasters that stole enjoyment from the game. It was like that Mr. Potter in It’s A Wonderful Life who owned everything in town. When the Mr. Potters controlled the broadcast rights. With an FTC that just allowed the media to drain credibility with sponsors who equally sponsored politicians through lobby groups. When baseball was just a small part of the problem, only reflecting all off society’s ills. Drugs. Steroid use. Sexual harassment, with the Mets, at ESPN. Those Stanford grads managing the Diamondback to a last place finish. Bud Selig’s New Age Baseball.

Bud Selig and dermatology. His thin Wisconsin skin that was bothered if he spent any time in October in New York. About criticism of umpires versus instant replays. Bud Selig making TV more important each October. What now happened each year with all post season baseball. Making the audience at home more important than the ticket buyer. With a disregard of playing conditions once a game began. Like the scheduling of baseball in November. Bud Selig New Age Baseball.


Fox Sports. During the regular season. Making television so important until no one was watching televised baseball during the regular season. Without regard to the clocks. And those 4 hours games. As if this was the NFL. Fox Sports and their good drones who cover the games, and don’t ask any uncomfortable questions.

TBS. And Chip Caray, never mentioning the incident of Miguel Caberra in the playoff game, of the circumstances of his drinking until 6 a.m. Too inconvenient for everyone. Those MLB partners. The Tigers. And Caberra’s wife. Not explaining how there might not have been a playoff in Minnesota.

TBS. And Chip Caray, making more errors than the umpires. Let’s share the performance enhancement drugs with the broadcaster. And Joe Buck. Whatever happened to likable broadcasters? Honest broadcasters who were not some shills of MLB, TBS, or Fox Sports. People who knew something and were worth listening to discuss baseball. Likable guys. Like Skip Caray. Or Jack Buck? Men not born with silver microphones in their mouths. People who reached the national stage not on their pedigree. But based on talent.

Joe Buck. Where there was melodrama everywhere. And “good at-bats.” Melodrama everywhere, created by your broadcasters. And Joe Buck encouraging those spectating participants in the crowd. To stand and block my view. While he sat in his pressbox. Elevated above it all.

I was a spectator. I knew my role. I had paid to watch. As ticket prices escalated. Thanks to collusion. When the commissioner was now colluding with the Major League Players Association. Every 4 or 5 year. In the basic agreement. When Bud Selig gets his $15 million cut each year. He was good at colluding, as an arbiter had once ruled. And so was Donald Fehr who was just given an $11 million severance package with his retirement. Collusion to increase revenue from the working stiffs who bought baseball tickets. While those artificial drones in the broadcast booths, and journalist still cheerleading the expenditures of dollars on free agents. In publicly financed stadiums. Thirty three years later after free agency began. New stadiums were needed to pay for this system.

Free agency. Because players would talked to the Peter Gammons s and the Murray Chase s who fed Marvin Miller’s New Age Music. All this artificial participation. By stand up guys everywhere. In the stands and in the dugouts. Guys like Scott Boras and all the other stand up cheerleaders in L.A. With the Yankees playing the Angels in the American League Championship Series in Anaheim, did Scott Boras, visible in virtually every center-field camera shot conspicuously standing in the home plate suite, ever sit down? And in Chavez Ravine. But not just in L.A. Give Scott Boras a visible location and maybe more of his clients will sign with the Dodgers, the Angels, or the Yankees. All this endorsed artificiality by Boras and all those stand up cheerleaders in Dodger Stadium.

According to Joe Buck, there should not have been a focus in the attention given in an 10-1 game on umpires and the bad calls. Not in the newspapers. Joe Buck who thought about it, and five minutes later, in an intro of “not to beat a dead horse” umpire discussion, talking about the threat of baseball’s credibility, about replays. In instant replay.

About the threat of the loss of credibility. Joe. Get a mirror. Or listen to yourself tells us what wonderful baseball we were watching in New York, in spite of the rain and cold temperatures. And all these good at-bats that contributed to the perversions of length of game. The game was supposed to be about hits, not walks. When the purpose of the bat was to swing. And not have to listen to Joe Buck drone on and on. Get out of your heated booth and feel the conspicuous rain for 210 minutes. Then tell us of the wonders of a good at-bat. Umpires used to postpone such games because of rain and cold. Maybe you can tell the writers what to write about in those wonderful games 10-1 games when the games take 210 minutes, however hard it was to be consistent in the spotlight so much on one microphone.

As ticket prices escalated. The threat of baseball’s credibility. When Commissioner Bud Selig told a New York Times columnist. “I’m concerned about the pace of the game.” With instant replays which would add to the length of game. Other than making TV and Fox Sports even more important. Those fans at home more important than anyone in the park. People in the park who paid to conspicuously watch everything except the instant replays. Or what those spectating participants did not obstruct.

Bud Selig’s New Age Baseball. And Selig’s concern about “the pace of the game.” Hey Bud, what about the length of the season?

This Bud is empty. He has just announced his retirement. In 2012.

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October 25, 2009

On Human Growth & Those Hormones


Commissioner Bud Selig told a New York Times columnist. “I’m concerned about the pace of the game.

Hypocrisy is a charge leveled when someone fails to live up to the virtuous standards being expounded.

On spectating. On the theatrics of spectating. I attended sports events to watch. More and more there are these spectating participants. Who stood up and blocked my view. And they looked for others in the crowd to do as they did. As if they were participating in what was gonna happen on the next pitch. Orchestrated. Over-managed ritualized standing, watching the Joe Girardis and the Ron Gardenhires over manage. Baseball 2009. Embracing the language of the age, and ritualistic noisemaking. On Fox Television.

Fox Sports. The prior owner of the Dodgers. Bigger than life Fox Sports that gave me week in and week out on their local affiliated cable station broadcasters that stole enjoyment from the game. It was like that Mr. Potter in It’s A Wonderful Life who owned everything in town. When the Mr. Potters controlled the broadcast rights. With an FTC that just allowed the media to drain credibility with sponsors who equally sponsored politicians through lobby groups. When baseball was just a small part of the problem, only reflecting all off society’s ills. Drugs. Steroid use. Sexual harassment, with the Mets, at ESPN. Those Stanford grads managing the Diamondback to a last place finish. Bud Selig’s New Age Baseball.

Bud Selig and dermatology. His thin Wisconsin skin that was bothered if he spent any time in October in New York. About criticism of umpires versus instant replays. Bud Selig making TV more important each October. What now happened each year with all post season baseball. Making the audience at home more important than the ticket buyer. With a disregard of playing conditions once a game began. Like the scheduling of baseball in November. Bud Selig New Age Baseball.

Fox Sports. During the regular season. Making television so important until no one was watching televised baseball during the regular season. Without regard to the clocks. And those 4 hours games. As if this was the NFL. Fox Sports and their good drones who cover the games, and don’t ask any uncomfortable questions.

TBS. And Chip Caray, never mentioning the incident of Miguel Caberra in the playoff game, of the circumstances of his drinking until 6 a.m. Too inconvenient for everyone. Those MLB partners. The Tigers. And Caberra’s wife. Not explaining how there might not have been a playoff in Minnesota.

TBS. And Chip Caray, making more errors than the umpires. Let’s share the performance enhancement drugs with the broadcaster. And Joe Buck. Whatever happened to likable broadcasters? Honest broadcasters who were not some shills of MLB, TBS, or Fox Sports. People who knew something and were worth listening to discuss baseball. Likable guys. Like Skip Caray. Or Jack Buck? Men not born with silver microphones in their mouths. People who reached the national stage not on their pedigree. But based on talent.

Joe Buck. Where there was melodrama everywhere. And “good at-bats.” Melodrama everywhere, created by your broadcasters. And Joe Buck encouraging those spectating participants in the crowd. To stand and block my view. While he sat in his pressbox. Elevated above it all.

I was a spectator. I knew my role. I had paid to watch. As ticket prices escalated. Thanks to collusion. When the commissioner was now colluding with the Major League Players Association. Every 4 or 5 year. In the basic agreement. When Bud Selig gets his $15 million cut each year. He was good at colluding, as an arbiter had once ruled. And so was Donald Fehr who was just given an $11 million severance package with his retirement. Collusion to increase revenue from the working stiffs who bought baseball tickets. While those artificial drones in the broadcast booths, and journalist still cheerleading the expenditures of dollars on free agents. In publicly financed stadiums. Thirty three years later after free agency began. New stadiums were needed to pay for this system.

Free agency. Because players would talked to the Peter Gammons s and the Murray Chase s who fed Marvin Miller’s New Age Music. All this artificial participation. By stand up guys everywhere. In the stands and in the dugouts. Guys like Scott Boras and all the other stand up cheerleaders in L.A. With the Yankees playing the Angels in the American League Championship Series in Anaheim, did Scott Boras, visible in virtually every center-field camera shot conspicuously standing in the home plate suite, ever sit down? And in Chavez Ravine. But not just in L.A. Give Scott Boras a visible location and maybe more of his clients will sign with the Dodgers, the Angels, or the Yankees. All this endorsed artificiality by Boras and all those stand up cheerleaders in Dodger Stadium.

According to Joe Buck, there should not have been a focus in the attention given in an 10-1 game on umpires and the bad calls. Not in the newspapers. Joe Buck who thought about it, and five minutes later, in an intro of “not to beat a dead horse” umpire discussion, talking about the threat of baseball’s credibility, about replays. Instant replay.

About the threat of the loss of credibility. Joe. Get a mirror. Or listen to yourself tells us what wonderful baseball we were watching in New York, in spite of the rain and cold temperatures. And all these good at-bats that contributed to the perversions of length of game. The game was supposed to be about hits, not walks. When the purpose of the bat was to swing. And not have to listen to Joe Buck drone on and on. Get out of your heated booth and feel the conspicuous rain for 210 minutes. Then tell us of the wonders of a good at-bat. Umpires used to postpone such games because of rain and cold. Maybe you can tell the writers what to write about in those wonderful games 10-1 games when the games take 210 minutes, however hard it was to be consistent in the spotlight so much on one microphone.

As ticket prices escalated. The threat of baseball’s credibility. When Commissioner Bud Selig told a New York Times columnist. “I’m concerned about the pace of the game.” With instant replays which would add to the length of game. Other than making TV and Fox Sports even more important. Those fans at home more important than anyone in the park. People in the park who paid to conspicuously watch everything except the instant replays. Or what those spectating participants did not obstruct.

Bud Selig’s New Age Baseball. And Selig’s concern about “the pace of the game.” Hey Bud, what about the length of the season?

Sports Blogs

August 14, 2009

Slumdog Millionaires: See-thru Shorts

Cheaters never prosper. At least in days gone by. Selena Roberts broke the story with Sports Illustrated. About a slumlord named Alex Rodriguez. Yeah. The 6' 3" ball player, listed at 190 pounds when he started with the Seattle Mariners, is now 240-pounds, and looks not at all like the Ken Kaissers of the baseball world.

Selena used to work at the New York Times. Here is her last article at the New York Times which had been about a slumlord named Alex Rodriguez.

December 7, 2007
By SELENA ROBERTS

Alex Rodriguez isn’t exactly a slumlord, but he has become a landlord caricature among some of those who live in the properties that he owns and operates.

October 5, 2007
By SELENA ROBERTS

Only A-Rod could turn being contrived into a virtue. Only A-Rod could orchestrate an unplanned redemption. Do you like the new A-Rod who doesn’t care if he is liked?

I actually dig this version even though I’m absolutely sure I’ve fallen into a P.R. plan hatched by overbearing handlers to humanize Rodriguez in an effort to free his talent from the burden of being perfect.

See Alex laugh at himself — and then inwardly cackle all the way around the bases. See Alex hang out with his teammates — and then create a season so far removed from others it should be encased in glass.

A-Rod’s plan to make this postseason special began during the spring. It all started when he showed up in Tampa, Fla., with a catharsis on the subject that had always left his pinstriped pants on fire: the issue of how many times he really and truly has roasted marshmallows with Derek Jeter which, truth told, is none.

“Let’s make a contract,” Rodriguez told reporters in February. “You don’t ask about Derek anymore and I promise I’ll stop lying to you.”

Deal. That moment of Jeter liberation ended the days of the needy Alex, the obsequious Alex. It didn’t mean A-Rod would always escape controversy. The tabloids ensured his megacelebrity would expand when they splashed his dalliances with a stripper on the back pages. His wife’s response? Cynthia Rodriguez wore a profane T-shirt to a game that told everyone to back off her hubby.

And they have. Amazing what a support system A-Rod has assembled. The Yankees and the manager who abandoned him last year are there for him this season.

By TYLER KEPNER
Published: February 7, 2009

Rodriguez was well established by 2003, and when he joined the Yankees the next season, he was widely considered the best player in baseball By the time he was 30 — in spring training of 2006 — he was all but whining about the scrutiny he lived under.

“My whole life is about getting crushed,” he said. A few years ago, I casually mentioned to Rodriguez that his knowledge of the game could make him a good television analyst, if he ever wanted the job. He startled me with his response, saying bitterly that when he retires, nobody in baseball will see him again.

Until Saturday, though, Rodriguez had never been directly linked to steroid use, and that will change his carefully crafted image forever.

There had been inferences from Jose Canseco but nothing like the revelations first reported on SI.com web site (Sports Illustrated).

“His legacy, now, is gone,” one Yankee official said of Rodriguez, speaking on condition of anonymity because the organization had no public comment. “He’ll just play it out. Now he’s a worker. Do your job, collect your paycheck and when you’re finished playing, go away. That’s what it is.”

Several other front-office officials declined to comment Saturday, but the Yankees were clearly blindsided. Just like that, the questions about Joe Torre’s book do not seem so distracting anymore.

…. His legacy, if not his whole life, is getting crushed

by Jack Curry
Published: February 8, 2009

“Rodriguez has worked to try to become the perfect player, although he has been far from that in the post season. Perfect swing, perfect work habits, perfect knowledge of the game, perfect everything. But perfect players are not expected to pursue unfair advantages. Perfect players are not supposed to use steroids.”

By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT
Published: February 9, 2009

“Now admitting he took performance-enhancing substances for several seasons, Rodriguez said he did not know exactly what substances he took, but that he hadn’t taken substances since 2003. ‘I am guilty of being negligent, naïve, not asking all the right questions,’ the Yankees’ third baseman said.”


Those test results from 2003 were never supposed to be made public.

http://www.observer.com/2009/media/who-s-lady-meet-selena-roberts-rod-s-worst-nightmare

THE LATEST FROM the New York Times, ON THE PLAYER DEVELOPMENT STORY, IN THE NEW YORK WORLD THAT HAS SUCH STRONG FEELINGS ABOUT BERNARD MADOFF, WHEREAS THE A-RODS AND MANNYS ARE ALLOWED TO KEEP REPRESENTING THE ETHICS OF A CITY IN A BASEBALL UNIFORM. OR IN BOSTON WHERE TITO WANTS TO HAVE BIG PAPI'S PLAY DEFINE HIS PERSONA. STEALING ONLY MILLIONS. ONE TICKET AT A TIME.

By TYLER KEPNER
Published: August 13, 2009

SEATTLE — As the Yankees played at home July 22, 2008, a news release came across the wires. It was from Hollywood, and the subject was Alex Rodriguez‘s new partnership with the William Morris talent agency. In the press box at Yankee Stadium, the writers snickered and team executives cringed.

“Partnering with William Morris will enable me to broaden the scope of my career in creative and innovative ways,” Rodriguez said in a statement.

“I think they’re good,” he said, then added a nod of satisfaction, turned, and walked down a hallway, out a side door. That was Rodriguez at the height of his preening diva persona, one of many he has tried in his complicated career.

A year or so later, the scene is almost unfathomable, and not just because players leave the new Yankee Stadium through a more private exit. Rodriguez has been exposed as a former steroid user. He has received bad advice from his cadre of advisers. He has had hip surgery, the most serious injury of his career.

What has resulted is a new persona that is by far the most effective I have seen in parts of eight seasons covering him with the Seattle Mariners and the Yankees. He is Alex Rodriguez, baseball player, and nothing else.

Rodriguez is a ghost in the clubhouse, at home and on the road, especially before games. He limits his availability almost exclusively to brief sessions with a group after games in which he has made an impact, good or bad. He does almost no one-on-one interviews, and nobody questions the rules. Reporters had come to view Rodriguez as insincere, at best, over his first five seasons in New York. Telling outright lies — insisting he was still great friends with Derek Jeter, bragging to Katie Couric that he did not take steroids because he never felt overmatched — can have that effect.

Rodriguez’s early forays into image control were public-relations disasters. In 2005, he bragged about his work ethic to The Record of Hackensack, N.J., offending other players. In 2006, he whined about the glare of the spotlight in a Sports Illustrated cover story, coming off as an insecure loner.
An avalanche of negative publicity followed his decision to opt out of his contract during the 2007 World Series. But when Hank Steinbrenner caved to his contract wishes, it seemed to empower Rodriguez as an entity unto himself.

He hired Madonna’s manager, Guy Oseary, and began using the publicist Richard Rubenstein at public appearances. Just as he committed his next 10 years to the Yankees, he distanced himself from their publicity arm, a decision that backfired twice in spring training.

The first was the clunky news conference explaining his steroid use, strategically planned by Ben Porritt, a political operative and partner in a crisis-management firm. The next was the provocative photo shoot for Details Magazine, said to be orchestrated by Oseary, in which Rodriguez kissed himself in a mirror.

Since then, Rodriguez has relied much more on Jason Zillo, the Yankees’ media relations director, who is roughly Rodriguez’s age and understands the sports media better than the other advisers. Zillo was blunt with Rodriguez, telling him he was probably the only New York athlete to whom reporters wanted less access, not more.

There have been no exclusive interviews, no outside brush fires to contain. He has a movie-star girlfriend, Kate Hudson, and a marquee job on baseball’s most scrutinized team. Yet he has managed to blend in and let his play define his persona."

Sports Blogs

August 3, 2009

Damn Yankees

Filed under: Boston Red Sox,Larry Luchiano,Theo Epstein — baseball91 @ 4:08 AM
Tags: , ,
    Seeing kids, who you grew up with, smoke marijuana for the first time. Maybe knowing that a girl you liked had slept with someone last night. That was college life. Or that an athlete used steroids.

    I did not grow up in the age of relativism. Where kids asked not to be judged. Where teachers seemed to accept that there was no absolute moral authority at institutions of higher learning. Or anywhere.

    Dr. Faust. Joe Hardy. Or “Saturday Night at the Movies” …..with the professor turned pitcher with the one good season, thanks to a chemical spill in his lab, caused by a baseball coming into to his lab through a shattered window. Success, until he ran out of juice. In one season.

    The universal story, generation after generation: “Damn Yankees.” Dr. Faust. Joe Hardy or David Ortiz. About cheating. It seemed to me that 90% of college kids smoked marijuana at least once. And some regularly. That was in he 1970s. Until we had reached a point in the 1990s, which I finally believe, that 80% of players were steroid users.

    It was the focus of the Major League Players Association to protect these guys, without drug tests. So that salaries could rise. Until there were very few left with any reverence for the game.

    It was all about money. It was only about money, for the managers, for the general managers,for the umpires. For Agents. For scouts turned agent. For agents turned owners. The leadership from above also lost the reverence for the game somewhere along the way.

    The Boston Globe had this piece today: “Emeritus professor at Pennsylvania State University, Charles Yesalis, a specialist on performance-enhancing drugs, said, “It doesn’t have to be thorough, it just has to show activity. ‘We asked these guys, and we fired them.’ Charles Yesalis believes that professional sports executives today are generally concerned about doping only so far as it brings them bad publicity. You have to show a reasonable amount of activity,’’ Yesalis said. He said that the manner in which Major League Baseball and the Red Sox handled Cyr and Remy suggested a desire to appear to be taking the matter seriously, rather than a sincere interest in a thorough investigation. And Dominguez never sought to question Marquez himself about possible involvement with steroids, according to Kerner, Marquez’s lawyer.

    The comments made by managers throughout the league, wishing for the release of the other 100 names, support Charles Yesalis’s theory. That theory was, “Let’s shoot the messenger.” These guys were asking if they could not just keep playing like always? A 50 game suspension without pay, and Manny was back on the payroll. Life goes on. There was no death penalty to a career. Especially when David Ortiz seemed like a nice guy. Nice guys could cheat? I think Fred Wilpon could address whether Bernie Madoff was also a nice guy. If only he had belonged to the Players’ Association, he would not have to spend 150 years in jail.

    What about the affect on the teams that tried to carry on the tradition with honor, actually without steroid use? The politics of the game after 1976, with the inception of free agency, was all about spending money. Spin doctors eventually came up with the excuses for bad years, bad franchises, calling the campaign that of small markets against the big markets. Beat writers, more and more, carried the ball with the excuses.

    No writer ever focused on the affect of the ticket-paying public on these salaries. Even the concept of a beat writer has died in Los Angeles with the economic damage done to newspapers. No one had yet provided the affect on the teams that tried to carry on the tradition with honor, actually without steroid use? Against those world championship trophies in New York and Boston.

    In the age of relativism, children distantly removed from Great Depression and Great Wars might never understand those lyrics of Damn Yankees:

    You’ve gotta have heart!
    Miles and miles and miles of heart!
    Oh, it’s fine to be a genius of corse!
    But keep that ol’ horse
    before the cart!
    First you’ve got to have heart!

    Smokey:
    A great pitcher, we haven’t got!

    Rocky:
    A great slugger, we haven’t got!

    Sohovic:
    A great pitcher, we haven’t got!

    All:
    What’ve we got?
    We’ve got heart!
    All you really need is heart!
    When the odds are sayin’, You’ll never win,
    that’s when the grin should start!
    We’ve got hope! We don’t sit around and mope!
    Not a solitary sob do we heave, mister
    ’cause we’ve got hope.

    Rocky:
    We’re so happy, that we’re hummin’.

    All:
    Hmm, Hmm, Hmm

    Coach:
    That’s the heart-y thing to do.

    Smokey:
    ‘Cause we know our ship will come in!

    All:
    Hmm, hmm, hmm

    Sohovic:
    So it’s ten years over due!

    All:
    Hoo, hoo, hoo.
    We’ve got heart!Miles and miles and miles of heart! Oh it’s
    fine to be a genius of coarse, but keep that old horse before the cart!

    Smokey:
    So what the heck’s the use of cryin’?

    Coach:
    Why should we curse?

    Sohovic:
    We’ve got to get better……

    Rocky:
    ….’cause we can’t get worse!

    All:
    And to add to it; we’ve got heart!
    We’ve got heart!
    We’ve got Heart!

    Sports Blogs

June 20, 2009

No Hat? $510,000 Settlement

Alfred G. Rava initiated a class-action lawsuit against the Oakland A’s after he wasn’t given a commemorative plaid sun hat being handed out to women at an A’s-Twins game on Mother’s Day 2004 as one of the first 7,500 ladies arriving at McAfee Coliseum for the game. The Oakland A’s have reached an out of court $510,000 settlement with the biological male, who happens to be an attorney.

Alfred G. Rava, the biological male who happens to be an attorney, also initiated similar class action lawsuits against the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, claiming a violation of his civil rights under gender discrimination.

According to freelance writer Joe Kukura, biological male attendees of that Mother’s Day game may come forward and claim a $50 plus 2-for-1 A’s tickets and a Macy’s gift card. The Mother’s Day hat promotion had followed the breast cancer research fundraiser in a 5 kilometer “Race For a Cure,” in support of breast cancer research.

In other news, as federal judges are bound by a code that says they should not join any organization that discriminates by race, sex, religion or nationality, Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor resigned from an elite club for women on Friday.

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