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The Financial Documents Baseball Doesn't Want You To See
August 26, 2010 2:05 PM   Subscribe

Today, Deadspin leaked financial documents detailing the finances of several MLB teams, including a few that are getting revenue sharing money. They show that several of MLB's "poorest" franchises turned a profit due to these cash infusions.

Jayson Stark of ESPN fears these revelations may lead to further labor strife.
posted by reenum (56 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Slate's analysis of The Pirate's business strategy. Basically, they win financially by losing on the ballfield.
posted by octothorpe at 2:15 PM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gee, turns out that welfare for the rich doesn't make them work any harder...or maybe the Marlins are just waiting for a reason to spend some of the revenue sharing on payroll instead of on partners' distribution....
posted by beelzbubba at 2:17 PM on August 26, 2010


To me, this feels like the fiscal equivalent of refusing to use any sort of instant replay. Tradition is so important that it makes bad decisions excusable.

You'll rarely find me being a "free markets above all else" cheerleader, but if a market can't support a team, throw the bums out (or more accurately, let the bums back up their diamond studded suitcases to a city that can.)

And if there's not enough cities, contraction is an answer that would help the league in quality and fiscally.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:25 PM on August 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Marlins have always been an interesting franchise to me. After the firesale after their first World Series, they managed to build a great team mostly around young talent and win it all again in one of the most incredible post season runs I know of. And at one point that season they were in the basement of the NL! The Marlins are still "perfect" in post-season. Every year they've made the playoffs they've won the World Series.
posted by kmz at 2:27 PM on August 26, 2010


Basically, they win financially by losing on the ballfield.

There are a handful of teams in a variety of sports where the fan base is so rabid that there's no financial incentive for the team to make any effort to improve performance. Games will sell out and jerseys & hats will be sold regardless. Now, this isn't exactly the same as what you're saying, but the same underlying economic truth dives both situations: that these businesses are structured to turn a profit regardless of whether the team does well or not. And when you think about it, that's not exactly shocking.

As a once-Torontonian the Leafs are basically the poster boys for this kind of sports franchise. The Leafs could literally just skate around the rink in their underwear and dance swan lake on ice and the box seats would still be sold out every night.
posted by GuyZero at 2:27 PM on August 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


But it might be with a different type of audience.

(checks flights to Toronto)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:29 PM on August 26, 2010


Man, that depresses the hell out of me. Maybe it's time to find a new MLB team to root for.

Any suggestions?
posted by box at 2:29 PM on August 26, 2010


These businesses are in the entertainment industry. Every face needs a heel. Christopher Lee drew a salary despite being defeated by everyone from Van Helsing to Treebeard.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:30 PM on August 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


The whole thing with the Pirates vs the Rays strategy seems to be about doing work versus working the system. Essentially, the MLB makes it viable for the Pirates to be the welfare queens of the league. google ron paul, etc
posted by GuyZero at 2:32 PM on August 26, 2010


Gee, turns out that welfare for the rich doesn't make them work any harder...

Managing a team in such a way that payroll is low has nothing to do with the effort put in to manage the team. If I were a billionaire and owned a team, it would be "easy" to just overpay for every player I wanted. What's interesting about the report and the financials is the idea that this is the only way Pittsburgh can make money - that if they fielded a team with a substantially higher payroll, they would lose money, because no matter how well the team did, there is a limit on the market that the owners could sell their team to. There has been, I'm sure, a ton of hard work put in to figuring out just how much the Pirates should spend on players to maximize profit.

What these owners aren't taking into account is their own ability to grow the market for their teams. Green Bay is a piddling town and would be considered a tiny market, but they have done a great job of marketing themselves to such an effect that they are a national brand. Green Bay has also succeeded as a team owned not by some evil Mr. Burns billionaire but by the shareholders (fans) who have invested in the team. Would that model work for baseball, I wonder?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:33 PM on August 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Any suggestions?

I've been following the Phillies as my NL team (primarily a Red Sox fan). They're a lot of fun, even if this is a minor heresy-- my family were Braves fans until the Braves moved in the 50's.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:34 PM on August 26, 2010


Green Bay has also succeeded as a team owned not by some evil Mr. Burns billionaire but by the shareholders (fans) who have invested in the team. Would that model work for baseball, I wonder?

GREEN BAY SOCIALISTS MORE LIKE IT AMIRITE?
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:39 PM on August 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


The worst part of this is that most if not all of these teams are playing in brand new stadiums funded mostly by the same taxpayer-fans that they continually disappoint and fleece with constantly higher ticket prices for terrible on field product. The As are crying thier eyes out as we speak demanding a brand new 1/2 billion-dollar stadium funded by tax breaks and the city of Oakland.

And if the team doesn't get what they want, they have no problem deserting a loyal fan base for more favorable tax havens. (see Sonics, Seattle).
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:41 PM on August 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


If MLB was a little more stringent about auditing the books of teams that receive revenue sharing money and making sure they are legitamately using that money for salaries and player deveopment, this wouldn't be an issue. Too bad the Commissioner is also an owner (and don't give me any of that "he doesn't run the Brewers" stuff. His kid is in charge of the team. I'm sure Pops Selig is "consulted" on every major issue).
posted by KingEdRa at 2:41 PM on August 26, 2010


That sound you just heard was George Steinbrenner sitting up in his grave screaming, "I FUCKING TOLD YOU! DIDN'T I FUCKING TELL YOU???"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:43 PM on August 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I heard that them Deadspinners been molesting some swedes.
posted by Elmore at 2:48 PM on August 26, 2010


The As are crying thier eyes out as we speak demanding a brand new 1/2 billion-dollar stadium funded by tax breaks and the city of Oakland.

The A's are not listed by Deadspin one of the teams secretly making money off revenue-sharing.
posted by joyceanmachine at 2:51 PM on August 26, 2010


As an Expos fan, this look at the vermin under the old rug of major league baseball is neither surprising nor comforting.
posted by docgonzo at 2:52 PM on August 26, 2010


As an Expos fan...

Every time I see a Nationals hat I tell the person that I too love the Expos.
posted by GuyZero at 2:54 PM on August 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Man, that depresses the hell out of me. Maybe it's time to find a new MLB team to root for.

Any suggestions?


The Angels.

They spend competitively, they play competitively. The manager, Mike Scioscia, commands respect and is highly regarded in all phases of the game. Arte Moreno is the first Hispanic owner in any American major league sport, and the first thing he did upon acquiring the team was lower the price of beer and tickets. Moreno didn't buy the team like a billionaire's plaything -- he was part-owner of a successful minor-league franchise for 15 years prior to acquiring the Angels.

He doubled the value of the Angels franchise in just three years.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:54 PM on August 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


> You'll rarely find me being a "free markets above all else" cheerleader, but if a market can't support a team, throw the bums out.

It is so far from being that simple.

The revenue gap in MLB has been widening for years. Last year the Yankee's made over 3 times in much in revenue as the Pirates ($441 million vs. $144 million). When you factor in that operating costs are relatively consistent across teams, the marginal amount of money the Pirates have to spend on talent is even smaller.

When you're facing this type of money gap, it's practically impossible to stay competitive. This problem is exacerbated by:
  • Draft Issues. The relatively flat talent curve and low draft success rate in baseball makes it difficult for the draft to remedy parity issues. In sports like basketball, hockey (and to an extent, football) a single or small number of talented players can turn a team around. You could take Roy Halladay and Zach Grienke and put them on the Pirates and they still don't reach the playoffs. In addition, the MLB draft only has recommended bonuses that are ignored by most teams, allowing richer teams to draft better players. Players in foreign countries don't have to enter the draft at all, again biasing talent recruitment towards wealthier teams.

  • No real salary cap. Baseball uses a luxury tax system which a penalty threshold so high than only the richest teams in baseball break it (Yankees, sometiems the Red Sox). The amount of money the Pirates receive via the system, about $15 million, is enough to bring the Pirates 3-4 more wins (a marginal win costs about $4-5 million in free agent talent).
The Pirates could not somehow spend that money and become competitive. In fact, I would bet that the amount of money the Pirates spend on players is comparable to other teams when viewed as a percentage (would you have guessed that the Yankees and Royals spend the same percent?).

The issue with baseball isn't revenue sharing. It's that there isn't enough revenue sharing. There's enough to keep teams profitable and to provide a simulacrum of competition. To fix* baseball you need a real salary cap, more revenue sharing, a slotted draft system and a draft slanted even heavier towards unsuccessful teams.

*fix defined as a game in which all markets are equally competitive. MLB doesn't want this and you may not either.
posted by christonabike at 3:00 PM on August 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


Man, that depresses the hell out of me. Maybe it's time to find a new MLB team to root for.

Any suggestions?


I moved to Florida right when the Rays started their World Series season, so I started rooting for them. They're basically what the Pirates should have been years ago, a "small market" team that made good decisions, built up their farm system, and eventually made good.

I still root for the Pirates, but it's been 18 years, and sports fandom shouldn't be a form of Stockholm Syndrome.

There are a handful of teams in a variety of sports where the fan base is so rabid that there's no financial incentive for the team to make any effort to improve performance.

In the case of the Pirates, it's more like the fan base of the visiting teams that prop up the ticket sales.
posted by dirigibleman at 3:01 PM on August 26, 2010


Man, that depresses the hell out of me. Maybe it's time to find a new MLB team to root for.

Any suggestions?

How about the Royals? We have an owner who pinches pennies, gets tons of revenue sharing, always have a youth movement on the horizon...

On second thought, maybe I should start rooting for the Angels too.
posted by reenum at 3:02 PM on August 26, 2010


I'm not sure there's really a problem here.

The framing on this post makes it sound like 'those bastards are too cheap to buy good players', but according the "Slate's analysis" link from octothorpe, wins cost about $5 million each if you try to buy them with free agents. Tampa Bay spent $20 million to buy 31 wins (which is amazingly good; they must have an awesome coach), but their revenues didn't go up accordingly. They just didn't sell very many more tickets. And they lost revenue-sharing money because they were doing better, so they actually ended up going from a $20 million profit with a poor result to just $3 million getting to the World Series.

My takeaway from the analysis is that the great players simply aren't worth what they're charging, and that's going to be the source of labor friction, not cheapskate managers.

Someone always has to be last, each and every season, and if MLB tries to keep financially weaker teams alive, that doesn't seem like a big problem to me. If all the weak ones fail, then baseball as a whole gets less interesting, and that will hurt the strong teams, too. And it's not like they're living on the public dime, so we're not really in a position to criticize. Ain't our money, ain't our say.

If the numbers in that analysis are accurate, and if fans really want wins, as opposed to headline stars, I expect to see a fairly significant decline in free agent salaries over the next decade or so. If, on the other hand, fans reward having the Big Names in a club, even if it's not doing that well overall, then salaries may remain disconnected from season results.
posted by Malor at 3:13 PM on August 26, 2010


The As are crying thier eyes out as we speak demanding a brand new 1/2 billion-dollar stadium funded by tax breaks and the city of Oakland.

On the other hand, Oakland does keep braying about revitalizing the community and bringing in more business, etc. You can't blame the A's for jumping on that bandwagon.

It's certainly not as criminal as Seattle's "Well, you voted down the stadium but Paul Allen will LOAN the city the money so we're building it anyway, hope your grandchildren enjoy paying this shit off" method of stadium finance.
posted by yeloson at 3:13 PM on August 26, 2010


If MLB was a little more stringent about auditing the books of teams that receive revenue sharing money and making sure they are legitamately using that money for salaries and player deveopment...

I think this is where a lot of people partaking in this discussion are misunderstanding the general design and ultimate aim of these franchises.

Let me use an example that I'm surprised has not yet been brought up: Ralph Wilson.

Ralph Wilson is the owner of the Buffalo Bills. Ralph Wilson owns the catering company at the stadium, his family owns the company that rents the equipment to the Bills, he also has a stake in several other components that the franchise "leases/purchases" from him. Also, Rich Stadium changed to Ralph Wilson stadium in 1999, in honor of a guy who could probably buy it, but continues to have a lease with Erie County (who owns the stadium) and will be playing some home games in Toronto (to get an extra $78 mil with moderate tax intrusion). A lot of this seems a tad unneccessary, does it not?

Well, not if you're Ralph Wilson. You see if the Buffalo Bills turn a profit, Ralph Wilson has failed. Though all money funnels back to the same pocket, if the Buffalo Bills franchise (only one of Mr. Wilson's interests) sees a profit, he'll have to pay taxes on those earnings and can't continue to write off the losses, he won't get the revenue sharing, Erie County won't pay as much in stadium upkeep, they would raise his rent, or worse, the value of the stadium would go up so high his only option would be to buy it, as paying 15% of a stadium's worth a year without owning said stadium is only a good deal if the stadium ain't worth shit. On paper, the Bills are going under, but the people (Mr. Wilson's family and a few trusts) are doing very well. They exploit the fact that Erie County (mostly Orchard Park) desperately needs all of those people employed and needs the game-day tourism to keep themselves in the black, and having a losing team that doesn't turn a profit is the only way he can maintain their interest. If the Buffalo Bills or Erie County start seeing more money (income taxes from better paid players plus playoff incentives, additional tourism, local revenue from "We won the super bowl" t-shirt sales, etc.) they've got possession. There's a threshold, and if they go over it, Erie County can say "Dude, get f'd, we'll get another franchise in here, or can sell Springsteen tickets for $180 a pop and cover two games worth..."

Granted, someone may be able to explain this better, and I may have overgeneralized, as I barely understand the ins and outs, but I have an uncle who has been complaining about this scheme for many years (indirect financial interest), and it looks quite a bit like what the Pirates are doing.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 3:19 PM on August 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I moved to Florida right when the Rays started their World Series season, so I started rooting for them.

Hope you enjoy next year's fire sale. That's the downside of the "Moneyball" method. You only have a limited time frame to try and win with the young players before their rookie contracts expire and they are eligible for Free Agency. Look at the Marlins under Huzinga and then Henry-- each time they won the Series, they blew the team up. They simply don't have the same revenue streams that teams like the Yankees, Mets and Red Sox do (it helps to own your own television channel. The Yankees can finance their player payroll simply through their YES network profits.)

As somebody pointed out up-thread, MLB needs to adopt a true salary cap (and ideally, a floor, as well) and real revenue sharing. That's why the NFL works so well-- the big revenue (TV money & merchandising) is shared equally throughout the league. The individual owners only have things like tickets sales, game day concessions and, depending on the team, stadium rights to exploit for themselves alone.
posted by KingEdRa at 3:38 PM on August 26, 2010


Obligatory

and dirigibleman, I'm happy too that the 'Rays are doing well now, but let me just say - you shoulda been here during the Naimoli Era. (No, you shouldn'a. Probably put 10 unearned years on Lou Piniella's clock.)
posted by toodleydoodley at 3:42 PM on August 26, 2010


I find it depressing that this is news. It's been obvious to people paying attention to baseball finances for ages now; there were plenty of posts excoriating Carl Pohlad for doing the same thing with the Twins 10+ years ago on rec.sport.baseball. (And it goes back further than that; per David Grabiner's Strike FAQ the owners got caught lying about their finances in '85.)
posted by asterix at 3:44 PM on August 26, 2010


His kid is in charge of the team. I'm sure Pops Selig is "consulted" on every major issue.

His "kid" sold the team to Mark_Attanasio six years ago.
posted by drezdn at 3:51 PM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


@ drezdn: Oops! That's what I get for not using my google-fu! Still, I think that Selig represents the owners more so than acting as an honest broker between players and ownership. Fay Vincent lost his job as MLB commissioner in part because the owners discovered that he was as willing mete out harsh punishments on owners as well as players. The "Best Interests of Baseball" was perfectly fine to invoke when dealing with players, but when it was applied to ownership (see George Steinbrenner's short-lived "lifetime ban" from day to day ownership of the Yankees in the early 90's), it was another story. The Commissioner, even if he is an employee of the owners needs a certain amount of independence from them as well. Selig has NEVER been that man.

It's also no secret that Selig has always been much more sympathetic to small market teams (having owned one himself) than the mega-teams, so it comes as no surprise to me that MLB hasn't been keeping tabs on the recipients of the luxury tax windfall. I was never a fan of Steinbrenner, but he was absolutely right on this issue when it was first implemented.
posted by KingEdRa at 4:11 PM on August 26, 2010


if you root for the angels, you deserve to die. in fact, the rally monkey deserves to die as well.

if your going to go for a team, go for the rangers. fantastic farm system. very good young players (that are likable). good front office. new owners (nolan ryan/chuck greenberg are the faces) who love the fans and have visited the biggest rangers website (lonestarball.com) and are implementing big time changes IN FAVOR of the fans (4$ blue light specials, 1$ hot dogs, etc) as well as buying full page ads in many newspapers across texas (basically any that are within a 3 ish hour radius.)

oh yea, and a meme from LSB will be making its way onto the jumbotron tonight...ALL HAIL THE MANTIS!

that said, the pirates are under new management, and have spent a ton of money in both the draft and in the latin american (J2) market. they picked a guy who may turn out to be the best player in the draft IMHO in j tallion...

now the marlins are another story. their owner screwed the expos. he penny pinches like no other, to the point the MLBPA is essentially auditing him to make sure he is spending his revenue money with the club/team. the marlins are moving into a new stadium next year and their current stadium is in horrible shape. the "out of town" scoreboard was in such bad repair that it broke and instead of spending money to fix the scoreboard, mgmt basically said "fans can check out of town scores on their cell phones" -- loria (sp) is horrible.

/rant

if your looking for a team to follow, look no further than the rangers. check out lonestarball and jump on the bandwagon...there is always room for more rangers fans!
posted by knockoutking at 4:26 PM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


oh yea, and they are thinking it may have been an insurance company that leaked the info...if you like stuff like this check out Maury Brown at Biz of Baseball
posted by knockoutking at 4:29 PM on August 26, 2010


Too bad the Commissioner is also an owner (and don't give me any of that "he doesn't run the Brewers" stuff. His kid is in charge of the team.

Mark Attanasio purchased the Brewers in 2005. He's not related to Selig. From looking at the front office listings, it doesn't look like it's run by the previous owner's kids. Attanasio has increased spending on players since he took over the team.
posted by Electric Elf at 4:33 PM on August 26, 2010


How about the Royals? We have an owner who pinches pennies, gets tons of revenue sharing, always have a youth movement on the horizon...

I once heard from someone within the Royals organization that they were the most profitable team in baseball. When all this came out I was surprised the Royals weren't mentioned anywhere.

What all this amounts to is a large minor league division within baseball that is never really competitive, always a "youth oriented team," and consistently farms players to the better teams. There's no impetus to change because teams like the Royals* and the Pirates make tons of money. They're profitable and the cities subsidize the fancy new stadiums.

*The Royals are a particularly egregious example. David Glass cannot sell the team for a profit, along with a bunch of other restrictions. This all seemed great at the time, meant to keep the Royals in Kansas City. What it has created is a monster that has no incentive to become a good team. They grow talent, once the talent is worth trading they do so, and then they go back to the farm system. For how shitty the Royals have been over the last twenty years, they've had all kinds of top players go through their system: Johnny Damon (Yankees), Jermaine Dye, Angel Berroa (Yankees), Carlos Beltran (Mets), etc. Essentially we've created a nice trophy for the Glass family that also happens to make them a lot of money.

Of course I've heard at least 3-4 first hand accounts from waiters around town who have described the awful things to David Glass' meals. And he apparently is a poor tipper, so everyone felt they got a two-for-one on those exchanges.
posted by geoff. at 4:47 PM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


if it makes you feeel any better about the royals, they too are headed in the right direction (hopefully) same as the pirates and rangers. they probably have the best farm system in the game right now - which is hard for me to say as a rangers fan. unfortunately they are also in the same place as the rangers have been until VERY recently...and that problem is that the owners sucks. BIG time.

i wish you the best of luck getting rid of glass, or at least winning despite glass...
posted by knockoutking at 4:57 PM on August 26, 2010


geoff., in the early '00s, when Billy Beane kept snookering Herk Robinson out of the Royals' stars (Damon, Dye, Beltran), I tried to be an A's fan. I stuck with it for a couple of years, but in the end, I came back to the Royals. I can't help it. I'm like a guy who keeps going back to his drama loving girlfriend after getting my tires slashed.

I hope that the team is headed towards becoming a contender, but reading the Slate piece above makes me lose hope. The economics of the game might be too screwed up for the Royals to have the incentive to ever become a good team again.
posted by reenum at 5:18 PM on August 26, 2010


So it sounds like MLB deliberately sets it up so there are winners and losers, perennially. But the NFL seems helll-bent on achieving a league of 32 8-8 teams, otherwise known as "parity". I wonder why the difference.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:26 PM on August 26, 2010


I wonder why the difference.

Baseball never had guys like Wellington Mara and Pete Rozelle. Baseballs owners are notoriously parochial, while the NFL's owners were forward-thinking and dare I say, socialist in their commitment to do things together on even playing fields.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:39 PM on August 26, 2010




I didn't think I could feel any sorrier for Pirates fans than I already do, but here we are. After reading these documents I don't even know what the point of rooting for them would be. Maybe going to see a Pirates game is like going to see a movie; you don't care who wins, you're just hoping to be entertained for two (or in MLB's case, three or four) hours.

> The Leafs could literally just skate around the rink in their underwear and dance swan lake on ice and the box seats would still be sold out every night.

Yeah, but three quarters of the crowd would still be suits who show up halfway through the first period, pay barely any attention to the game because they're too busy schmoozing their clients, and then leave before the game ends no matter what's happening on the ice.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:56 PM on August 26, 2010


Man, that depresses the hell out of me. Maybe it's time to find a new MLB team to root for

If you would abandon your team because they haven't won for a long time and have no real prospects of winning in the near future, you don't actually like baseballl.

Orioles fan, does it show?
posted by escabeche at 6:58 PM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone always has to be last, each and every season

I believe you're referring to the Tigers.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:30 PM on August 26, 2010


Chuck Greenberg's another guy who cut his teeth in the minors; he's in the ownership group for our local team and the Altoona Curve down the road. He knows what he's doing, and I like to think all that minor league experience might cut down on the cynicism that the Pirates and Royals have to put up with from their front office.

Some of my earliest memories as a White Sox fan involve Reinsdorf forcing the state to build him U.S. Cellular Field, which seems kind of quaint now.
posted by jackflaps at 7:33 PM on August 26, 2010


I see your point, escabeche, but haven't won for a long time and have no prospects of winning in the future is one thing--if this analysis is credible, the Pirates aren't even trying to win.
posted by box at 7:41 PM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wait, Miami agreed to a stadium deal without demanding a look at the books? Crazy.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:28 PM on August 26, 2010


I didn't think I could feel any sorrier for Pirates fans than I already do, but here we are.

Well... they could be Baltimore fans...
posted by hippybear at 8:57 PM on August 26, 2010


On a slight derail, all this "woe is me, for I am a fan of _______, the worst team in baseball*" stuff has me thinking: Has anyone ever compiled some sort of Fan Misery Index, where teams are ranked by how difficult it is to be a fan of each team?

*Met fan, so I'm 'sperienced at this!
posted by KingEdRa at 9:13 PM on August 26, 2010


They show that several of MLB's "poorest" franchises turned a profit due to these cash infusions.

Isn't that the entire point of revenue sharing?

I'm with christonabike. MLB needs more revenue sharing. The Yankees have their own cable TV network. How can Kansas City compete?

I believe you're referring to the Tigers.

Hey hey hey. Hey. Hey now. I believe you are thinking of the Lions.

The Tigers won the World Series in 1984. Hell, they were in the World Series ... a few years ago ... 2006? (Beat Yankees; lost to Cardinals?)

It's been a looooong time since the Cubs or Giants won the World Series. San Francisco has never won it.

The A's are not listed by Deadspin one of the teams secretly making money off revenue-sharing.

That's because they don't have the A's financial reports. They only had documents for six teams.

Trust me, the A's are getting revenue sharing money, despite the fact that the owners are stinking rich (one a billionaire) and refuse to spend any money on players and done everything they can to leave Oakland as soon as they got there.

Here's a good recap of the current situation:

Wolff and Fisher Never Tried

Also, Field of Schemes has some excellent coverage on what it calls the "Great Baseball Financial Document Foofaraw."
posted by mrgrimm at 9:34 PM on August 26, 2010


Has anyone ever compiled some sort of Fan Misery Index, where teams are ranked by how difficult it is to be a fan of each team?

Anyone from Cleveland wins. Hands down.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:38 PM on August 26, 2010


KingEdRa: "Has anyone ever compiled some sort of Fan Misery Index, where teams are ranked by how difficult it is to be a fan of each team?"

Bill Simmons did, but I my google-fu is weak.
posted by graventy at 10:03 PM on August 26, 2010


"The Angels.

They spend competitively, they play competitively. The manager, Mike Scioscia, commands respect and is highly regarded in all phases of the game. Arte Moreno is the first Hispanic owner in any American major league sport, and the first thing he did upon acquiring the team was lower the price of beer and tickets. Moreno didn't buy the team like a billionaire's plaything -- he was part-owner of a successful minor-league franchise for 15 years prior to acquiring the Angels.

He doubled the value of the Angels franchise in just three years.
"

Fair points, but I cannot stand the announcers for the Angels here. I'd rather watch the Dodgers suck and be called well than see the Angels win. The only bright side to the inanities is that when the Angels lose, it's hilarious to listen to the two mooks flail.

I believe you're referring to the Tigers."

Hey man, we're in third and playing .500 ball. Being a Tigers fan requires acknowledging no higher achievement than that.
posted by klangklangston at 11:44 PM on August 26, 2010


That $5 million/win figure for free agents is true as far as it goes, but it is also not the whole picture.

This is because of the economics of contracts and free agency in baseball. When a player enters the league as a rookie, they are restricted for three years to essentially play for next to nothing for the team that they first played for. After that they can enter arbitration to get more money, but they still earn less than their free market value for another three years.

This is why everyone says that the secret to having a successful team while spending no money is to have young players. But this is contingent on having a good front office and farm system, because to be consistently successful you have to have a continuous supply of young players. The Pirates farm system has been terrible for a long time. Over the past few years they have been upgrading to be average, but they still have a long way to go to be able to complete on that basis.

The $5 million per win figure is also an average that is spread out across all skill levels. The marginal cost of a win is likely to be much higher for a team that wins a lot of games. So the Yankees would almost certainly spend a lot more to go from 90 wins to 91 wins than the Pirates would spend to go from 62 wins to 63. Going from 90 wins to 91 wins might mean picking up an All Star to replace a player that is a pretty good player. Going from 62 wins to 63 might require picking up a player that is slightly less worse than average. In free agency I would tend to think that the Pirates could pick up a win for something close to $1 million, but that's just speculation on my part.
posted by jefeweiss at 5:05 AM on August 27, 2010


Maybe going to see a Pirates game is like going to see a movie; you don't care who wins, you're just hoping to be entertained for two (or in MLB's case, three or four) hours.

Going to a Pie-rats game is a nice night out. Decent tickets are less than $20, the beer and food selection is pretty good, the PNC Park is beautiful and the view of the skyline from the seats is breathtaking. Oh and Pierogi Racing. And often fireworks or a George Thorogood concert afterward.
posted by octothorpe at 5:51 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is probably why we lost the Expos; they were trying too hard...

/stopped following baseball after the 1994 strike.
posted by CitoyenK at 7:32 AM on August 27, 2010


Hey man, we're in third and playing .500 ball. Being a Tigers fan requires acknowledging no higher achievement than that.

Back when John Fetzer owned the Tigers (1961-1983), when there were only two divisions per league, the standard was 5th place and .500 ball. Fetzer was a radio-TV wheeler-dealer who was one of the owners' leaders in negotiating regional & national broadcasting packages. He set up a fledgling cable/satellite syndicate that became the Pro Am Sports Service (PASS), which was arguably the model for what FSN ultimately became.

Fetzer was legendary in his belief that controlling the broadcast property revenues was far more important to the bottom line than actually winning. Still, his management team put in place the Tigers that Monaghan bought in 1983, winning the Whole Enchilada in 1984.

(So yeah, they must have meant the Lions, who have never seen a Super Bowl from the playing field, last winning the NFL championship in 1957.)
posted by beelzbubba at 8:33 AM on August 27, 2010


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