2 cialis 20 mg viagra generic nl opiniones cialis generico prednisone taper 60 mg doxycycline 50 mg australia generic options propecia 100mg zoloft withdrawal propranolol 20 mg dosage antibiotic cipro 500mg wellbutrin generic version generico cipro xr 1000 metformin pcos mg doxycycline 100mg gerd metformin 500 mg ratiopharm generic metformin names generic name cialis discount viagra 50mg nome generico propranolol cialis online store 1000 mg metformin pregnancy erythromycin 500mg alcohol cialis 10 mg beipackzettel cialis 24 mg uk cialis online propecia 5mg order viagra online original tetracycline 250 mg dosage buy lexapro cod cialis 20 mg wallgrens viagra online review xenical 120 mg cheap cialis generico prezzi metformin 1700 mg levitra india buy how viagra 800mg cialis generic 20 mg cialis 20mg bangkok cytotec 50 mg pfizer glucophage 500 mg tablets generic wellbutrin watson valtrex online pharmacy buy cialis bali lisinopril generic celebrex 25 mg buy synthroid order viagra 150 mg generic levitra legitimate viagra versus generic kamagra gold 100mg generic chewable viagra online viagra uk cialis 5mg ausreichend 1000 mg glucophage xr cialis 4o mg diflucan 180 mg 5mg prednisone dosage generic viagra ray cipro 750 mg bid generic viagra 16 buy viagra 800mg zoloft 50 mg opinioni cialis 5mg price cialis vendita online glucophage 500mg preis cheap viagra expensive viagra jet online vidal xenical 120 mg frozen zithromax 200mg cialis 20 mg 2 tablets celebrex 200 mg buy buy nolvadex ireland 800 mg black cialis cheapest cialis malaysia buy generic wellbutrin medicamento lexapro 15mg lexapro dosage 70 mg nolvadex generic tablets generic viagra vs prednisone generic drug lexapro generic alcohol buy zithromax antibiotic taking 20mg levitra liquid nolvadex mg prednisone 5mg propecia 1 mg 90 tablets lexapro generic alternatives cialis cheap Washington vanzare viagra online 2012 lexapro 15mg generico phenergan 25 mg insomnia xenical apotheke online viagra online apotheker cialis 20mg n2 buy nolvadex india cheap levitra sale 5 mg prednisone pregnancy viagra seal online wirkungsweise cialis 5mg celebrex celecoxib 200 mg prednisone 40 mg pregnant clomid 50mgs augmentin 500mg uses le nexium 20mg propranolol bula generico levitra 10 mg orosolubile 5mg lexapro pill propecia generic version propranolol 40mg ansiedade amoxil capsule 500mg order lasix cheap levitra 20 mg 8 doxycycline 100mg kopen online medications viagra zoloft 200 mg strattera 80 mg buy order nexium 40mg order viagra samples generic cytotec 200 mcg viagra online xlpharmacy prednisone 20 mg 10 days cialis 5mg oad viagra online quality buying viagra beijing lisinopril cinfa 20 mg doxycycline online mastercard lily cialis 20mg augmentin 50mg viagra 50 mg phuket prednisone 5mg bronchitis lexapro buy canada diflucan 150 mg forum blueberry 100 mg viagra pharmacy viagra generic nexium 40 mg generika augmentin 875 mg prices cialis 5 mg citalopram generic viagra klonopin online viagra prices cialis 20mg 121doc levitra 10 mg kullanimi nolvadex 25mg fake clomid australia online buy 5 clomid tablets erythromycin 500mg indications buy cialis johannesburg cialis generic 10mg germany viagra online bactrim 240 mg cialis 20mg pakistan generic cialis 2.5mg levitra online a viagra 100 mg 4 comprimidos cialis 10mg fta generic viagra manufacture buy clomid cheap florida metformin 850 mg online lexapro zoloft generic brands cipro 1a 250 mg legal clomid online cipro 200 mg generico zithromax 250 mg vidal overview diflucan 150 mg buy viagra kuala glucophage xr 500 mg mg propecia 50mg clomid daily buy 20mg cialis walmart levitra 20mg augmentin suspension 457 mg costo levitra 20 mg generic lexapro formula lexapro 30 mgs viagra onlineutah prescription viagra online generic viagra 600mg xenical en generico lisinopril 20 mg rx 534 nolvadex 10mg men doxycycline mono 50 mg viagra 25 mg effects levitra 10 mg duracion buying viagra spain viagra 100 mg 10 prednisone 60mg sidefects estonia generic cialis viagra 100mg phiser cheap australian viagra viagra generic uae augmentin 875 mg dose efeitos viagra 100mg buy legal nolvadex wellbutrin 75 mg cost zithromax 100mg sachet generic lisinopril mylan viagra generic company priligy order generic super viagra phenergan tablets 25 mg generic viagra brasil amoxil tablets 250mg cheap 50 mg viagra cialis 10 mg beter viagra 10 mg zithromax buy cheap zoloft borderline personality buspar generic form zovirax 250 mg flakon cytotec buy usa lisinopril 2mg online consultation propecia 36 hour cialis mg buy viagra wien doxycycline 100mg dogs propecia msd online lisinopril 10 5 mg buspar 600 mg overdose cap doxycycline 100mg buy doxycycline sydney vanzare cialis 2.5 mg aciclovir 200mg zovirax cialis soft 5mg nexium 40 mg pills lexapro price 20 mg global generic wellbutrin cialis dosage 60 mg viagra trusted online viagra generic soft prednisone 200 mg pcos clomid 50mg generico viagra portugal metformin 1000 mg daily brand viagra 100 mg zovirax online australia buy erythromycin uk buy 20 mg doxycycline cialis 20 mg break viagra canada cheap tadalafila cialis 5 mg lexapro reviews 10 mg buy women viagra buy viagra fast lasix 400mg generic dari xenical clomid generic canada viagra 100 mg preis nolvadex 60mg start tab clomid 100mg com generic glucophage zithromax 1 gram 1000 mg tetracycline 100 mg buy strattera pharmacy cheap viagra pharmacy green viagra 3800 mg periactin uk buy diflucan 50 mg capsulas celebrex 200 mg tabs lisinopril 20 mg tablets doxycycline monohydrate 150 mg 500 mg of tetracycline cialis tablets 10mg xenical 120 mg price buy generic zithromax cialis 20 mg canadian lisinopril 40 mg lupi zithromax 500 mg vidal zoloft 100 mg levitra 40mg generic wellbutrin generic cost cheap cialis marbella tadalafil generic cialis nolvadex tamoxifen 10 mg buy cialis store generic levitra soft harga levitra 20 mg buy kamagra canadian nexium buy online order generic clomid propecia 1 mg cut levitra cheap usa cialis 20mg schweiz 10 mg prednisone withdrawal nolvadex buy tamoxifen buy valtrex australia zovirax 200mg capsules nexium 20 mg canada phenergan 25 mg nausea cialis compresse 5 mg cialis dose 30 mg levitra 5mg alcohol 20mg cialis boner cialis 2.5 mg effectiveness generic propecia buy cialis 5mg tadalafil cialis 15 mg zithromax 600 mg egypt levitra 5 mg costo cialis 5 mg treatment buy zithromax iv 150mg sr wellbutrin prednisone 20 mg information cialis 100 mg fiyatlari kupim cialis generic 20mg cialis pills fake cialis online generic viagra manufactures xenical 120 mg contraindicaciones zoloft 50mg nexium 40 mg diarrhea synthroid 100 mg cost 300 mg of zoloft lisinopril dosage 5mg purchase bactrim generic zoloft 100mg bula viagra femminile online generic lisinopril hydrochlorothiazide clomid ile mg zithromax online usa viagra 20mg ervaring arret zoloft 25 mg viagra online legal augmentin zawiesina 457 mg propecia cheapest price uk cheap kamagra prednisone 5mg 3 days prednisone 10mg day 200 mg of diflucan metformin 500 mg kosten buy dapoxetine london 35 mg levitra dangerous doxycycline 100mg birds xenical 120 mg rezeptfrei levitra going generic celebrex 200 mg generic 200mg zoloft daily purchase Levitra 10 mg cheap levitra tab clomid 100mg au bactrim 800 buy prednisone 5mg cancer buy amoxil 50 mg lisinopril 10mg buy cipro antibiyotik 1000 mg effet 40 mg cialis buy kamagra liverpool cipro online order prednisone stopping 20mg viagra 150 mg cipla genuine 5mg cialis diflucan 150 mg n1 cheap lisinopril 20 mg cipro 500mg dosing sildenafil 100mg viagra free viagra 150 mg 20 mg cialis break zoloft sale online levitra 20 mg billiger cialis tablets cheapest zoloft 50 mg cost levitra 30mg etkisi nolvadex generic name prednisone 20mg pills levitra 20mg directions zithromax 250 mg preis nolvadex 20 mg pills diflucan tablets 100mg omeprazole 20 mg nexium lisinopril biogaran 20 mg zithromax 250 mg n1 buy zithromax capsules propecia finasteride generic aurochem generic cialis comprar viagra 25mg prednisone uses generic clomid online buy generic lexapro date kamagra 100 mg contrareembolso generic cialis 200 mg cialis 20mg bula buy cipra cialis round 200 mg bactrim clomid 150mg ovulation kamagra 100 online kaufen cheap 25mg viagra glucophage nombre generico online pharmacy tetracycline buy metformin 500 mg buy cialis bangkok thyroid synthroid generic wellbutrin generic manufacturers 7 mg prednisone viagra sale 25mg assunzione cialis 20 mg diflucan online shopping propecia cheapest kamagra 100mg discount buying generic cialis viagra online argentina glucophage 300 mg levitra 20mg fta 4 500 mg diflucan generic viagra shop levitra orodispersible generic generic problem viagra took 2 cialis 20 mg brown viagra 150mg buying viagra 4 pills cialis 50 mg tablets lisinopril 10 mg ulotka viagra 150 mg paypal viagra buy amoxil 125 mg 5 ml lisinopril 40 mg 4214 v propecia generic same cialis 2.5 mg holland levitra 10mg 4st viagra generic oscommerce xenical online sale buy metformin 850 mg order hydrochlorothiazide 25 mg buy xenical malaysia clomid 50mg dosage buy viagra cod 1750 mg of augmentin viagra femenina online order zithromax generic 36hr cialis cialis cheap 10 mg fake viagra 100mg 100 mg cipro online buy 10 mg cialis buy kamagra thailand periactin generic brand lisinopril 5 mg nebenwirkungen generic lexapro difference generico viagra preco valtrex order canada pastillas cytotec genericos levitra 20mg erfahrungen viagra generic 50 mg xenical buy singapore 5 mg cialis review viagra 50mg walgreens clomid nolvadex online cialis 200 mg price strattera borderline buy online viagra buy online nolvadex 604 cheapest levitra online diflucan generic fluconazole order viagra lexapro 5 mg day prednisone taper 20mg hyclate doxycycline 100mg buy propecia philippines priligy 30mg malaysia lexapro generic paronia 50 or 100mg viagra viagra pesni online buy bulk cialis prednisone 40mg sciatica nexium 40 mg kullanim prohormones clomid 50 mg indikasi lisinopril 10 mg lexapro 10 mg tablet 100 mg phenergan 75 mg phenergan valacyclovir valtrex generic xenical 250mg malaysia buy viagra belfast zoloft mg doses amoxil 100 mg cats doxycycline mg malaria generic augmentin dosing coupons generic cialis celebrex prospect 100mg online tablets viagra colombian viagra generic viagra onlines generic viagra 26 cialis zoloft generic reviews levitra half 20 mg 400mg. viagra cheap 5mg cialis diflucan online buy cheap propecia nexium dosierung 40 mg metformin 10000 mg valtrex generic discount 200 mgs. viagra online cheap viagra cialis 20 mg dosing doxycycline 500 mg tablet nexium generic sale viagra sells online zovirax 200mg dosing doxycycline mono 100mg prednisone 50mg price levitra 20mg vardenafil celebrex celecoxib 400 mg
Home All Articles State of Major League Baseball - 2008

Like Shoot to Thrill - An AC/DC Tribute on Facebook!

An authentic tribute of AC/DC that covers the best of the Bon Scott era and the best of Brian Johnson's material

Who's Online?

We have 965 guests online

Atom RSS

State of Major League Baseball - 2008 PDF Print E-mail
User Rating: / 24
PoorBest 
Articles & Opinion
Written by Various Authors   
Sunday, 15 June 2008 23:04
Article Index
State of Major League Baseball - 2008
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
All Pages

State of MLB - Authors

(L-R top row) Tim Marchman, Peter Abraham, Todd Radom, Dayn Perry, Tyler Bleszinski, Andrew Zimbalist
(second row) Ken Davidoff, Kevin Kaduk, Tim Lemke, Maury Brown, Ken Rosenthal, Jeff Erickson
(third row) Kurt Bandenhausen, John Brattain, Craig Calcaterra, David Pinto, King Kaufman, Jordan Kobritz
(fourth row) Joe Siegler, David Chalk, Jeff Passan, Jonah Keri, Alex Belth, Fred Claire
(bottom row) Michael Neuman, Charlie Wiegert, Jerry Crasnick, Rich Lederer, Kurt Hunzeker, Chuck Armstrong
(not pictured) Brent Gambill


What you are about to read is a mosaic – a multi-faceted, exceptionally broad view of Major League Baseball in 2008. As in 2006, we approached those that follow the sport at a professional level; be it bloggers from a fan’s perspective, sports economists, writers for large, mainstream outlets such as ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, and FOX Sports; analyst heavies from the likes of Baseball Prospectus, The Hardball Times, or Baseball Analysts; baseball writers for newspapers such as Newsday and the New York Sun; to executives that work in the sponsorship arena, or fantasy sports, or those at the highest levels of the front office in MLB franchises, we worked hard to run the gambit and get divergent perspectives.

Plainly put, we threw the net wide.

The criteria we gave was simple: Give us a few paragraphs on how you see the state of MLB in 2008. You, as a reader, have a different idea of how the game is doing. It's just that the interpretation is different. With that, we got the wide-ranging commentary you see here.

We wish to thank every one of those that provided material for this compilation. Every one of them has extremely busy schedules and responsibilities.

Entries are shown in alphabetical order, with a listing of those that contributed directly below. We hope you enjoy.
Maury Brown, Founder and President, Business of Sports Network, Bizball LLC


  • Peter Abraham - Yankees beat writer, The Journal News and LoHud Yankees Blog
  • Chuck Armstrong – President, Seattle Mariners
  • Kurt Badenhausen – Senior Editor, Forbes
  • Alex Belth - Founder of Bronx Banter and editor of "The Best Sports Writing of Pat Jordan"
  • Tyler Bleszinski (Blez) - Founder and author, Athletics Nation
  • John Brattain – Columnist, The Hardball Times, MSN Canada, Baseball Digest Daily
  • Maury Brown – Founder and President, Business of Sports Network
  • Craig Calcaterra – Author, Shysterball
  • David Chalk - Author, Bugs and Cranks. Contributor to Yahoo!'s Big League Stew and East Windup Chronicle
  • Fred Claire - Former Exec. VP, and GM, Los Angeles Dodgers. Book author. MLB.com
  • Jerry Crasnick - Baseball Writer, ESPN.com. Author, "Licence to Deal"
  • Ken Davidoff – Baseball writer, Newsday
  • Jeff Erickson - Senior Editor, RotoWire
  • Brent Gambill - Senior Producer, MLB Home Plate, XM Satellite Radio
  • Kurt Hunzeker - Director of Business Development for Active Marketing Group; Founder of Sparts Marketing; regular contributor Business of Sports Network
  • Kevin Kaduk ('Duk) - Editor, Big League Stew, Yahoo! Sports
  • Jonah Keri - Writer for ESPN.com, a contributor to YESNetwork.com and the New York Sun
  • Jordan Kobritz - Regular contributor, Business of Sports Network; Professor sports management; former minor league team owner
  • Rich Lederer – Founder and lead writer, Baseball Analysts
  • Tim Lemke - Sports business reporter, Washington Times
  • Tim Marchman - Baseball writer, New York Sun
  • Michael A. Neuman – Founder and President, Amplify Sports and Entertainment, LLC
  • Jeff Passan - National baseball writer, Yahoo! Sports
  • Dayn Perry - Regular contributor to FOXSports.com; regular contributor, Baseball Prospectus
  • David Pinto - Owner and author, Baseball Musings; author, The Sporting News
  • Todd Radom - Todd Radom Design, (Logos - Washington Nationals, current Angels design, Super Bowl XXXVIII, World Series 100th Anniversary, more)
  • Ken Rosenthal - Senior baseball writer, television analyst, FOX Sports; book author
  • Joe Siegler - Author, Ranger Fans
  • Charlie Wiegert - Vice-President, CDM Fantasy Sports Corp. (Fanball.com)
  • Andrew Zimbalist – Sports economist, author

Select Read More to see this rountable article


Peter AbrahamPeter Abraham
Yankees beat writer, The Journal News and the LoHud Yankees Blog

Our game is in terrific shape. Most teams either have new stadiums or are building them. Exciting new players are coming from countries near and far and the issue of performance enhancing drugs is finally being addressed in a real way. You can follow the game on a variety of media platforms and a group of dedicated bloggers are bringing a unique perspective to how the game is chronicled.

But who will be sitting in the stands in 20 years?

Like World War II veterans, baseball fans are dying every day and nobody is replacing them. Late-night starts for playoff games virtually exclude children from participating in any meaningful fashion. Ticket prices are growing at a rate that make it almost prohibitive for families to attend. Black players are now an anomaly, leaving young black kids with no heroes to emulate. Baseball's RBI program and urban academy programs need to be strengthened.

Baseball has not marketed its star players properly. Think NBA and you think Kobe and LeBron. No last names needed. You can't turn on a television during football season without seeing Peyton Manning. The face of baseball is who exactly? A-Rod? He's the guy who opted out of his contract during the World Series. How to promote the game, Alex. Players and owners need to work together and put aside short-term gain for long-term viability.

Baseball has fixed a lot of what was wrong. But unless the sport is made more accessible to a new generation of fans, what's the point?


Chuck ArmstrongChuck Armstrong
President, Seattle Mariners
(Read The Biz of Baseball interview with Chuck Armstrong)

Currently, Major League Baseball is enjoying its greatest financial success in history. In 2007, only two of the 30 Major League teams had negative cash flow; in 1992 when Commissioner Selig first took over on an interim basis, only two clubs had positive cash flow. Moreover, there is a chance that this year the total gross revenue of Major League Baseball may surpass the total gross revenue of the National Football League. What a dramatic turnaround. And the financial success has been shared/enjoyed by all segments of the game; ownership, players, business partners, and the communities in which the 30 MLB teams reside. The fans seem to enjoy this greater competitiveness as well with new attendance records being set each season.

On the playing field, success has been equally apparent. Over the past seven seasons there has been a World Series Champion from each of the six divisions; with only the Boston Red Sox repeating in 2007. This is a far cry from the so-called halcyon days from 1948-1964 when the New York Yankees won the American League pennant 14 out of those 16 years, and over in the National League, either the Dodgers or the Giants won more often than not.

There are, however, two problems currently existing which appear to only be getting worse and we should take steps immediately to address and redress them. Let’s discuss.

1) Broken Bats. As we have all noticed, over the past several years, not a game goes by without bats virtually exploding and sending shards of shrapnel cascading sometimes over 100 feet from home plate. The fact that no one has yet been seriously injured is amazing. Just wait until a catcher or an umpire takes a wood sliver in the eye or the throat. Why is this happening? Back in the 1920’s & 1930’s, players might go an entire season and not need any more than 10-15 bats. Recently, the favorite bat of Shoeless Joe Jackson, Black Betsy, which he reportedly used for more than a year, was put on the auction block for a large monetary sum. I have three primary reasons why there are more broken bats today. They are:

a. The wood is now second and third growth wood, not as strong and hearty as the wood originally used for baseball bats, which had endured many tough, but tree hardening, winters in the northern climes of the United States .
b.The biggest reason is that the modern-day player keeps wanting thinner and thinner handles, and bigger circumference barrels. With the force of the pitched ball coupled with the torque of the swing, these thin-handled bats just naturally break more. When I first started playing baseball at about 9 years of age, I used to save up my allowance to buy the Jackie Robinson model because it had the thickest handle and was therefore the toughest to break. Today’s kids grow up with metal bats, all with extremely thin handles and huge barrels. When they make the switch to wood bats, it is the thin handle that feels most comfortable. On my last visit several years ago to Hillerich & Bradsby in my home town of Louisville , Kentucky , I witnessed the ever fascinating process of baseball bat making. I was struck by how many bats are broken in the lathe solely because the players are specifying such thin-handled bats.
c.The third reason is not much discussed, but is also a major cause for so many broken bats: Today’s players do not know to keep the labels up. Amazing, isn’t it? When I mention this to our players, they just shake their heads like I’m crazy; and when I mention this to our managers and coaches, they also shake their heads and lament they are unable to get the players to believe this. I am truly baffled by this. Also, some of today’s bats are so heavily lacquered that the hitter can’t find the grain so as to hold the bat the proper way even if he wanted to. Some years ago I asked Bill Nye the Science Guy (an engineering graduate from Cornell, by the way) to come to our Spring Training and demonstrate why it was important to hold the label up and have the points of the grain in the wood absorb the shock of the pitched ball. Bill prepared an elaborate model of a bat in cardboard and went through an easily understood demonstration. The result was that perhaps a few of our players finally bought in; but not many.

However, none of these reasons is the cause for the exploding bats. The exploding bats are all maple, not the traditional northern white ash. I have been told that Joe Carter when he was with the Toronto Blue Jays was the first major league hitter to use a maple bat. The maple bat craze really picked up steam when Barry Bonds began using them and declared that maple bats were harder and helped him hit the ball farther and with greater velocity than a white ash bat. Now, I’ll bet over half the players are using maple bats. My view is that maple bats should be banned for use in Professional Baseball. Not only do the maple bats explode, but I have been told by knowledgeable major league hitting coaches that they can be broken on the inside and the hitter is unable to detect it. Perhaps that’s why the explosions are so violent when they occur; because the bat was already broken.

So for this problem, my recommendations are:

  • i) Get/Use thicker handled bats;
  • ii) Teach players from the lowest levels of wood bat use to hold the labels up; and
  • iii) Ban maple bats.

2) The second problem that I would like to discuss is what I perceive to be the biggest problem facing our game today: The decline of youth baseball in North America. While we all certainly applaud the increased worldwide interest in Baseball and that Major League Baseball now sports players from countries literally spanning the globe, one of the reasons why this is occurring is because fewer players are coming out of North America . When I was a child first starting to play baseball over 55 years ago during summer vacation from school, my mother would make a sack lunch and I would leave in the morning to go to the nearest baseball diamond and literally play all day with my friends, knowing that I had to be home by 5pm for my family chores and dinner. We would often have as few as three players per side. (That’s why we all were primarily pull hitters because hitting to the opposite field was an out; not to mention that the star hitters of the day, Ted Williams and Stan Musial, were dead pull hitters.) As late as 25-30 years ago, when I would fly into cities I would look out the window of the plane and observe kids playing ball. Not any more. Now when I look out the window of the plane, either the ball fields are completely empty (usually the case), or the kids are uniformed and organized and playing structured games with adult coaches, umpires and some cheering parents. I have been told that after Little League age (12 years old), more than half the kids quit playing baseball. In addition, the growth of the so-called “select” teams starting as early as age 9-10 means that many boys who want to play are not chosen and left behind. Those that are chosen only play a lot if they happen to be the best players on that team. This causes even more boys to stop playing baseball. Make no mistake, baseball is a hard game to get really good at, and there are many late developing kids who quit before they have gotten proficient enough to play for these select teams. Compounding all this is that many coaches of select teams perceive themselves as baseball geniuses and are in it just to win and prove their self-perception as being correct. In order to achieve their selfish win-at-all-costs objectives they therefore overuse their players, especially the pitchers who often ruin their arms before they reach 17-18. Also, there has been a proliferation of other sporting alternatives that are not as hard, particularly – soccer and lately lacrosse, where if you work hard and hustle, you can be a decent player and a good teammate. And then there is basketball, which you can do alone. I think that Baseball can be the best team sport going, but unless we start working at the earliest ages and the lowest levels, the continuing decline of Major League players from North America will only be accelerated. Make no mistake, this will soon be followed by a decline in our fan base and interest in Baseball in general.


Kurt BandenhousenKurt Badenhausen
Senior editor, Forbes
(Read The Biz of Baseball interview with Kurt Bedenhausen)

Financially, MLB has never been healthier. Last year saw record attendance, revenue and profits. Five years ago Forbes estimated that 16 teams lost money. Last year we figured that only three teams (Blue Jays, Red Sox and Yankees) were in the red. Of course all three of those teams have media properties connected to the clubs that offset any losses at the team level.

Despite some dubious free agent contracts doled out the past few years, owners have gotten spending under control. During the past five years, player costs (salaries, benefits and bonuses) have fallen to 56% of revenue from 66%. The big market teams are prospering thanks to record attendance, soaring ticket prices and media properties tied to the teams. The low-revenue teams are doing well thanks to revenue sharing checks that can top $30 million. It is showing up on the field as well with high-revenue and low-revenue teams putting teams in the playoffs.

One problem that needs to be addressed is the lack of interest in baseball's two biggest events: the All-Star game and World Series. TV ratings are in the toilet for both events. MLB is making a big international push, but interest on a national level seems to have waned. Fans support their local teams passionately more than ever before as witnessed by huge ratings on regional sports networks and record attendance (NYC's two teams drew 8 million fans last year and LA's two franchises drew 7.5 million). But fans aren't showing any interest in games if their teams aren't involved. Baseball needs to improve its marketing efforts to draw in the casual fans to its biggest events.

Problem number two is related. Who are baseball's marketing stars? The game has a plethora of young stars on the field, but they are not stars on a national level where companies want to align with them. Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning and LeBron James are all part of multiple national ad campaigns. Why aren't companies interested in baseball's best? Dice-K, Ichiro and Hideki Matsui all pull in big endorsement money in Japan, but Forbes research shows Derek Jeter to be the only American born baseball player that earns more than $3 million a year from endorsements.


Alex BelthAlex Belth
Founder of Bronx Banter and editor of "The Best Sports Writing of Pat Jordan"

In 1999, a close friend of mine was dying of cancer. I'd go to the hospice and visit with her and we'd watch the Yankees on a small TV. I was preoccupied with worry that labor trouble was on the horizon for MLB and that was going to spell bad news, something I was particularly aware of during those great years in the Bronx. My friend assured me that baseball would survive, no matter what. I felt foolish to be so concerned with baseball when I was really thinking about her dying. But she sounded so convincing, so confident that what she was saying was true and not just wishful thinking.

I didn't doubt her and she was right, of course. The steroid scandal has rocked the sport over the past few seasons, but here we are again, with another interesting season unfolding before our eyes between the white lines. Old stars getting cut, retiring, and future stars announcing their presence with authority. Run-scoring down. Tough pitching. Attendance is still strong and for many of us, the advancements in Internet technology has made this nothing short of a Golden Age to be a fan. (How did life ever exist before Baseball-Reference.com?)

I'm especially wrapped-up in this being the last year of the two New York ballparks. Hearing people's stories, their favorite memories. But the early season success of the Tampa Bay Rays and the Florida Marlins, the Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals has been compelling as well. How about the Cubs fielding a team that knows how to get on base and score some runs? As a New Yorker, it's hard not to get behind them with Sweet Lou running the show. And what about the sustained excellence of the Angels and Red Sox? And those star players. Griffey with his milestone. Manny, Pujols, Chipper and the great Mariano Rivera.

I'm not saying that there hasn't been a stain on the game. I'm just saying the game doesn't stop. And I still like coming back to watch.


Tyler BleszinskiTyler Bleszinski (aka Blez)
Founder and author, Athletics Nation

Ah, the State of Baseball in 2008. Baseball seems healthier than ever. The steroids scandal seems to be heading into our rear view mirrors (although remember that objects in a mirror are often closer than they appear), attendance has been rising to record levels and judging from teams like the 2008 editions of the Tampa Bay Rays and Florida Marlins then competitive balance is alive and well. Baseball is just as resilient as that scotch-guarded rug that the sports' all-time home run leader and Rocket man have been swept under.

But all is not well in Bud Selig's version of Xanadu. For one thing, the archaic blackout rules of MLB have made it so that I can now watch a lot more Oakland Athletics games now that I'm living in Southern California rather than in Sacramento. Think about that for a moment. Sacramento isn't that close to the Coliseum. It takes about an hour and fifteen minutes, without traffic which is rare on the I-80, to get to the A's stadium. Yet Sacramentans didn't get KICU-TV which carries a LOT of A's games. And I was willing to shell out that extra money to get the Extra Innings package over Directv to get my A's games. That was until I learned that I could see pretty much every other team in baseball BUT my A's. I wasn't alone either. The fan is getting shut out because baseball still deems Sacramento part of A's territory when talking about their blackout policies. I tried to get to many A's games during the week and sometimes it would take me two and a half to three hours to drive to the Coliseum. I was one of those fashionably late fans, even though I wanted to be early to see batting practice. This should be a huge priority for baseball.

Another major issue, as I see it, is HGH. Baseball isn't currently testing for it so there's a good chance that some baseball players are still using performance enhancing materials. So while steroids may be a less prevalent issue, HGH should be something that is still a prominent news story. It doesn't seem to be. Maybe because steroids is sexier, or maybe just because HGH isn't something that is easy to detect. To me, this is something that is going to have to be tested if baseball will ever be considered "clean." Then again, maybe the American public just doesn't care anymore. The steroids scandal hasn't hurt baseball attendance so perhaps fans are just enjoying their blissful ignorance.

And the final issue is more of a personal one for me and it's nothing but positive for baseball. I'm really encouraged by what I see around the ever-expanding quality of the baseball blogosphere. From the superb stats-analysis to landmark interviews with baseball executives, baseball blogs are getting the fan closer to the sport than ever before. This fan empowerment is just a beautiful thing to watch as fans go deeper inside teams, team stats and player analysis than previously imagined. Despite what Buzz Bissinger and others might have you think, this movement has meant that fans are living their favorite teams 24/7/365 on places like Bleed Cubbie Blue, Viva El Birdos, Lone Star Ball, McCovey Chronicles and Athletics Nation. There is never an offseason any more and as a baseball fan above all else, it's a beautiful thing.


John BrattainJohn Brattain
Columnist, The Hardball Times, MSN Canada and Baseball Digest Daily

The game is rolling in record revenues and it’s all due to Buddy-Ball: publicly financed stadia that cater to the wealthy, keeping salaries down and making sure that any new ownership understand these principles. Right now, the Cubs are on the market and there is talk that Mark Cuban might make a play for it and Buddy-Ball has little room for Mavericks like Cuban who give a higher priority to winning than profits and keeping salaries low.

The Mitchell Report was a godsend to Selig and the ownership cartel in keeping the MLBPA on the defensive plus revealing the union’s deep schisms. As the union’s grey-headed eminence Marvin Miller stated almost 20 years ago that in the type of union-management setup in baseball that when 'one side becomes complacent, the other side grows bolder, and holding your place, marking time is an invitation to be shoved backwards.’ This complacency is helping create record profits since the phenomenal revenue growth has been aided by the union's accepting substantial disincentives to spending in the last two CBA. A few years back Barry Bonds pulled out of the MLBPA’s licensing agreement and struck out on his own. The old “all for one and one for all” attitude engendered by Miller is out the door being replaced by an attitude of “I got mine--screw you.” If the Yankees’ new stadium allows them the revenue to blow previous spending patterns out of the water, chances are good the other 29 owners will push for a salary cap (which would give each team a nice boost in franchise equity) that the MLBPA will fight off with the same success as the NHLPA since their muscle (read: unity and consensus) has atrophied.

What has to be borne in mind is that absent the financial windfalls that come from revenue generating mallparks catering to the economic royals of society (with minimal out-of-pocket expenses to cartel members) the game’s revenues would be nowhere near as high as they are right now. In that sense the economic prosperity of the sport is somewhat illusory. It's a bubble and bubbles eventually burst. In the marketplace, the sport continues to maximize revenues with a short term strategy that could create fallout down the road. Fewer and fewer games appear on free-TV, even over-the-radio games cannot be accessed online without a subscription and MLB and the MLBPA’s continued attempts to corner the fantasy/electronic game baseball market by making the usage of player statistics illegal without a license (and paying a fee) strikes many as excessively greedy. What was once the “people’s game” for the Joe Sixpacks of the world is slowly following the disastrous course traversed by professional boxing where excessive use of pay-per-view has relegated it to a fringe sport being rapidly overtaken by Ultimate fighting/Mixed martial arts.

The short term financial outlook for the sport is obviously rosy but there is a chance that the aforementioned bubble will burst for MLB. The greed of the various sporting cartels are putting communities where they do business deep into the red (see what may be happening soon in St. Louis) which may result in legislation in the near future to reduce the corporate welfare going to the leagues and the abuses of the cartels. The disappearance of the economic middle-class and the sport’s catering to the smaller upper class (as well as charging fees to follow games in any format) could result in a consumer backlash where fans look to minor and independent leagues for their baseball fix or simply find another sport to follow as have many former fans of boxing.

Baseball appeals to the common man since the average Joe isn’t almost seven feet tall or a 300 lb. quick-as-a-cat physical behemoth--it’s a game all can play and feel that had circumstances being different they may have been the one ’touching ‘em all’ to the roar of the crowd. This is the demographic the game needs to guard jealously and not push away. These are the ones that will stick loyally to the sport come hell or high water and allow the game to continue when hard times come. The game’s wealth is distancing itself from these ones and if the game hopes to continue its prosperity it needs to keep its core of support strong and not try to turn the fan upside down shaking them until every last penny comes tumbling out of their pockets. After all, what happens if teams have to pay for their own stadiums again and corporations start to cut back on entertainment expense due to the Wal-Mart-izing of this part of the world? MLB needs to understand that fans become customers and not the other way around.


Maury BrownMaury Brown
Founder and President, Business of Sports Network, Bizball LLC, of which The Biz of Baseball is a member

It’s hard to find too much at fault with Major League Baseball in 2008. Paid attendance was at a record high for the fourth consecutive year last year; another new ballpark went online in Washington, D.C. (albeit with a grotesque level of public funding attached); there was the most unlikely (Rockies) and powerful (Red Sox) teams in the World Series, which shows that when you combine revenue-sharing, a staggering level of revenues (another record, at $6.075 billion) and lightening in a bottle (sorry, Colorado fans, but you’re seeing that that was the case last year), MLB is seeing incredible parity.

In January, MLB will unveil the biggest cable channel launch in history, with the MLB Network arriving in approx. 50 million homes. Toot your horn, and pat your back. This is something the NFL, or anyone else in American professional sports could never pull off.

Yes, things are well. Not Fairy Tale “well” but there does not seem to be a calamity that Bud Selig and the rest of MLB and the MLBPA can’t handle.

A fitting example to the book called MLB is the chapter involving MLB Advanced Media. Yes, they and the MLB Players Association finally realize that the legal system just wasn’t in their corner on the Fantasy Stats case – a case where the First Amendment trumped the argument that using players names associated with their statistics without a license was a breach of the privacy rights of the players, but then they continue to innovate and create new products which will once again make them the darlings of all professional sports when it comes to online and digital platforms. The continued increases in revenues should show that BAM is in great shape.

One of the most interesting stories has been how the development of young talent is trumping the old “we need to stock our roster with expensive veteran free agents” model. The cousin to this new paradigm is wrapping up of contracts for young talent. I’m waiting for a six-year deal with club options for a newly born prospect to occur.

2008 seems to have created issues for MLB, as opposed to MLB creating issues in 2008. The economy – especially the price of gas – has made for a case of people choosing whether they wish to stay at home and watch games, or take out a second mortgage on the house so they can fill the tank and travel to the games. When you get to the point of offering discounts based on the national average price for a gallon of gas, or give away gas cards with a ticket purchase, it seems baseball does not cure all ills. MLB is a business impacted by the downturn in the economy; just possibly not as much as other indusrtries.

The possibility has impacted attendance -- or rather, attendance is flat compared to last year, not yet a downturn -- which in turn could impact revenues. Selig wants to see another record year in attendance and the aforementioned revenues are intertwined. Kudos to Bud and Co. for trying to make lemonade out of lemons.

There is always something to improve, and here’s my list:

  • The television blackout policy in MLB is nothing short of abysmal and teetering on the edge of consumer fraud. Get past the “over-the-air” territories you have created and stop making those of us with MLB Extra Innings sit and stare at blank screens each weekend, and depending on the market, much of the channels where a team 6 hours or more in drive time away is deemed “local market”.
  • Quit saying that, “If <insert your favorite market looking for a stadium> doesn’t get a new facility, they can’t compete.” That’s selling snake oil. Tampa Bay is showing that they can develop talent, and with the model of using young players as your base, player payroll lowers. Few believe that without a new facility teams can’t compete any longer. Sell it on other grounds; something with less public assistance.
  • Marketing players needs tending to. MLB is getting better at promoting the game, but is lagging when it comes to star players.
  • Let’s hope the commoners won’t all be relegated to the upper deck and bleachers in the future. While it is a supply and demand world, the lower bowl will soon be nothing more than corporately purchased blocks of seats due to rapidly escalating pricing. And, as we all have seen, nothing is better for television than empty seats behind the plate that don’t get used that day by the suits.

Yes, I skipped the whole performance-enhancing drug issue. It's simply too politically vexing and as I've said before, its a dirge I've grown exceptionally weary of. I'll let others touch on it. Beyond that MLB is healthy and happy, for the most part. Sure, there are going to be problems, but compared to where MLB was at a decade ago, it's pretty much peaches and cream.



 
 
Banner

Poll

Should MLB Force Jeffery Loria to Sell the Marlins?