bactroban online legally himalaya speman reviews ampicillin uses for dogs lov cost nitrofurantoin why has prevacid been discontinued propecia canada get where acivir pills current price voltaren purchase non perscription birth control pills online can order mycelex-g canada over the counter prevacid vs prescription prevacid order prometrium tablets how long does it take for zovirax to work on cold sores pharmacy mexico ampicillin amitriptyline for sale australia buy pravachol in australia cheap cialis 20mg online xenical diet pill online is ciprofloxacin better than amoxicillin where purchase finast cialis sublingual brands india generic retin a cream reviews cephalexin drugs india kamagra oral jelly espan~a letrozole bodybuilding capoten lowest price online cephalexin sold over counter differin gel for acne is dapoxetine legal in canada weight gain pills that work what is amoxil 500mg periactin online forum prescription nexium 40 mg tablet price doxycycline sunlight viagra generic name funny clomid without prescriptions uk generic pills for rogaine 5 canadian pharmacy windsor canada diovan 80 wiki cheap zyban online mail-order singulair what are the side effects of zyprexa trust pharmacy viagra augmentin 100mg cheep generic precose switzerland generic name for betapace home insurance uk carafate canada head office finax medicine alli australia pill buy plavix perth australia buy viagra in malaysia trusted medstore online buy phentermine 37.5 mg tablets cooperativa puerto rico rincon diclofenac cost without insurance canadian pharmacy metformin ropinirole parkinson;s treatment canadian family magazine recipes skelaxin without insurance lasix suppositories buy how much does maxalt mlt cost protonix without a prescription from us ordering protonix best online pharmacy generic caverta buy actos online without a prescription sumycin shortage 2012 where to get brand advair diskus januvia generic cost generic augmentin price how long does it take for lisinopril to get out of your system levothroid mail order india diovan online store order augmentin next day delivery how to take brand advair diskus celexa 10 mg tricor 48 mg price generic dilantin uk paypal no prescription ginette-35 buy keflex 200 best site get atarax cymbalta new zealand rualis 20 what are the side effects of norvasc viagra sublingual best price how to get premarin in australia where can i buy cardizem mg what happens when drinking on antibiotics fluoxetine medication children buying brahmi in manchester buy amoxil online no prescription generic malegra fxt online in usa is generic isoniazid available in usa new list of drugs under price control in india revatio medication side effects hydrea delivery uk asthma inhalers without prescriptions best site to buy betnovate aspirin enteric coated tablets side effects can seroquel 100 get you high viagra generika kaufen deutschland mba jobs in pharmaceutical companies in india topamax in india buy india meds norvasc generic name what is zocor 20 mg used for american express canada my account login cytotec comprar buy probalan online buy tegretol tablets online what are the side effects of the drug celebrex minoxidil results after 2 months buy colospa usa how much does zovirax cream cost what is tricor medication used for para que se usa baclofen western drug zithromax pharmacy that sells amaryl morning after pill nhs free canadian pharmacy buy accutane online prednisone without prescription overnight my zenegra coupons buy generic minocin online with prescription side effects of synthroid can order dulcolax canada remeron capsules luvox online from usa liv 52 brands india can you get pregnant on methotrexate what is atenolol medication how long to use ciprodex for swimmers ear diclofenac gel buy on line cialis sales uk 20mg head lice permethrin uk que pastilla es mejor viagra o cialis where to buy dapoxetine can you buy lasix pills generic from parlodel what quantity of aspirin is contained in most over the counter apirin products evidence for transgenerational medication in nature mobic prescription drugs etodolac mrp mevacor coupons buy cytotec online india calan pharmacy online order zovirax ointment which is the best antibiotic for uti most reliable place to buy sumycin online zyvox dose shuddha guggulu drug class lexapro shop levitra super active shortage 2012 kamagra for sale in south africa lamisil generic 2013 drugs 500 mg cheap zyvox erythromycin indian manufacturers cheap prandin free delivery viagra for discount viagra for sale in hong kong side effects of benzac ac erythromycin alcohol nhs roche xenical orlistat cabgolin women buy dolonex dt piroxicam tablets to buy aciphex pilex no prescription canada canada rx discounters coupon prandin capsules avandamet rxlist compare prices adalat buy lasix online cheap buy skelaxin generic search engines list reglan tablets dose does triamterene cause weight gain trental in italia generic pills for aricept effexor xr for purchase without a prescription bactrim where to buy in canada cost of zofran iv what cold medicine is safe with prednisone doxazosin comprare strattera and alcohol abuse types of blood pressure medication and their side effects naproxen sodium uk dipyridamole pharmacy coupons eli lilly cymbalta lawsuit zetia maximum dosage antabuse tablets from buy coumadin overnight pharmacy cheap pamelor no prescription list of top ten pharmaceutical companies in india glycomet medication amiloride hcl dose order acetazolamide online acquisto sinemet sicuro online risperdal .25 mg tablet para que sirve el citrato de clomifeno 50 mg antabuse side effects while drinking buy inderal no prescription fast delivery how to import aceon actos medication online gonorrhea medication online can get antivert over counter exelon prescription generic amaryl switzerland how much is my prescription without insurance viagra plus next day delivery is there a generic drug for topamax strattera 100mg cheap purchase lorazepam online no prescription cardizem no prescription compare prices brahmi lawsuit metoclopramide overdose cat buy atorvastatin pharmacies depakote online cheap parlodel free delivery comprar skelaxin portugal how to use nexium esomeprazole buy hoodia online usa buy bactroban online reviews albenza suppositories buy buy clonidine with no script aciphex not generic buy aciclovir online drinking on amoxicillin nhs aspirin daily use reviews cheap pharm discount code where to buy alligator gar donde puedo comprar allegra astelin shelf life cilas 1064 particle size analyzer cost of generic lexapro buy minocin 80 mg online buy coumadin us generic relafen in usa online nitroglycerin purchase ordering viagra super active 100mg online drug shop buy online no prescription brand levitra can i make micronase cialis import singapore acheter du plavix where to buy alli weight loss orlistat cafergot where to get generic medicine for aricept buy lozol online in usa how to buy arjuna in london cytoxan online order avalide with no perscription buy tramadol cod saturday delivery ciplactin 4mg side effects prednisone deltasone adverse effects artane to buy in england tadacip for men in usa actos legal us craigslist manchester united tickets generic plendil quick delivery sticky content isoptin over the counter ortho tri cyclen from china best online canadian pharmacies no prescription where can i get some proventil sildenafil citrate side effects long term diclofenaco sodico 50 mg dosis nin~os cheap cialis uk online order promethazine cheap maxalt 10mg tablets side effects advair diskus costco amantadine refill pack best price for chloramphenicol should i use generic viagra can you only get forzest on prescription glimepiride side effects long term when to stop aspirin in pregnancy 250 mg zithromax chlamydia que es lincocin con eucalipto mail order benzac buy lotrisone cream canada pharmacy how to use nizagara tablets isotretinoin buy buy aldactone pfizer drug store viagra in uk buy mail order pariet novo glyburide 2.5 mg where to buy prevacid drugs online prescription drug cialis sublingual non persciption erythromycin bactroban reviews prednisone dosage asthma content insurance uk cheap generic protonix cheapest place to buy paxil viagra available in indian market atorlip-5 max dose where can i buy remeron in canada purchase cheap order zithromax macrolide roxithromycin drug schedule actos dosage recommended cipla ltd bangalore sialia sialis wiki over the counter allegra d 12 hour acivir online canada online pharmacy no prescription needed tamoxifen hoodia over counter alternative viagra products zyprexa overdose fatal plavix canada overnight delivery altace prices cvs online actoplus met purchase side effects of fincar craigslist edinburgh tx order phenergan online canada med cab aciphex cheap decadron online rockwood lithium price increase order avodart online no prescription with a visa generic sarafem pmdd are prinivil and zestril the same keppra xr generic reviews ayurvedic medicines online where to get bupron sr pct benicar online in us why is there a shortage of dramamine propecia medicine in india retino-a cream 0,025 shopping furosemide from china buy topamax online from india buy evista online australia no prescription tadalafil brand name acheter anafranil 25 +canada pharmacies cialis protonix medication card buy ceftin quick celexa next day viagra professional mg no prescription what is starlix used for tamoxifen overnight order actonel medication by mail taking meclizine during pregnancy altace india generic order cialis on the internet tretinoin 0,025 in croatia generic ephedraxin cost order erection packs 11 online without jr strength acetaminophen dosage rapid tabs what does trazodone 150 mg look like danazol pharmacy order cheap generic viagra 100mg how to take toprol xl mg how to order synthroid online actoplus in usa quickest robaxin cheap alli 84 pack cheap cialis trial packs retino-a cream 0,025 without a prescription cozaar 100 review betapace on line no script where purchase xeloda phone in order for suprax nerve pain medication amitriptyline buy tinidazole astrailia benemid medicine online what is the normal dosage for strattera buy cialis soft online mexico no prescription voveran sr doctors online malegra dxt legal us cheapest prices nizoral tablets online cheap generic keftab nolvadex for sale philippines cialis super active overnight delivery cheapest online pill store crestor 10 mg coupon triamterene hctz 37.5 25 mg purchase what does levaquin cure hyzaar cost without insurance sildenafil over the counter australia where can i get pariet cheap tofranil sale uk advair diskus dosage children buy cheap xenical using pay pal buy erexin online thru paypals cefixime online purchase cardura with american express how much is indinavir tablets brand albenza for sale alli orlistat online rhinathiol for children dosage antabuse without rx order augmentin us buy cymbalta pills in the uk unisom in the uk bupropion usa sale digoxin new zealand online pharmacy uk finpecia beconase aq on line purchase fmc lithium india digoxin 20 mg where can you buy mentats in fallout new vegas cold medicine for people on coumadin order levitra big discounts permethrin 5 cream online can you get prevacid over the counter buying calan using paypal best generic zovirax sites is zyban sold over the counter lozol tablets 150 mg no prescription viagra soft sale vasotec online in us robaxin high bluelight mail order baclofen non persciption tetracycline my micronase coupons chlamydia zithromax drinking alcohol how long does viagra side effects last 4th cycle clomid success order diovan tablets biaxin birth control online mexico buy oxytrol in ireland femara drugs online purchases what is glucophage used for weight loss best place to buy viagra plus in canada buy revatio mg online for is nitroglycerin an over the counter drug buy antabuse online thru paypals benazepril plus amlodipine hydrochlorothiazide hypertension zestril online legally buy trazodone without rx asacol side effects hair loss minomycin order canada norco aurum 1 naprosyn overnight delivery lioresal now can i make celebrex 100 mg toprol xl xenical online bestellen schweiz acquistare medrol in italia fucidin cream for eczema side effects of diltiazem sr buy anacin boots pharmacy where to buy cheap generic epivir-hbv liquid pamelor review medrol dosepak more drug_uses generic equivalent for toprol xl i want to pay some evista anafranil legal in england acai berry discount alesse side effects acne can you buy primatene mist in mexico buy midamor next day buying mirapex from canada no prescription original kamagra chewable online exelon patch discounts side effects of atorvastatin calcium amoxil online from canada where to buy bupron sr in canada safely brand levitra pharmacy best dosage of nolvadex for pct what is ralista used for accutane pills legit best results viagra cialis can i buy viagra over the counter in thailand pills diclofenac over the counter medicine finasteride tablets online generic aleve elavil with american express blopress nebenwirkungen wikipedia where to buy phenergan without a prescription vente de amitriptyline au quebec cheap online viagra australia lioresal to buy in england premarin dosage and administration where can i buy cipro mg where to get sarafem pct buy cheap clonazepam online order provera from uk without prescription buy propecia 15mg online moduretic 20mg tab list of vipps pharmacies atrovent nebulizer dosage pediatric flomax results forum how much will calan cost low level pvp vendor alliance honor points levitra no prescription uk generic viagra best prices uk abortion pills cost in india best site to buy maxaman para que se usa el synthroid overnight buy without order clomid minomycin prices top 10 online tofranil sites domperidone dosage uk over the counter fertility pills at walmart how long does it take for allegra to start to work cheap pilex 40 mg cheap generic nymphomax mevacor with no rx prevacid price india best place buy snovitra super power pct buy augmentin patch buy viagra sublingual no prescription buy micardis boots zestoretic 100mg tablet seroflo pas cher generic midamor for sale on line alli prescription drug clomid success stories 2009 cheap pills berry acai store albendazole prescription only antivert 25mg tablets side effects how long to use evista voltaren discount code us pharmacies online that sell voltaren azithromycin uses medication inderal pharmacy coupons carafate 100mg cheep what does valtrex pill look like
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 902 guests online

Atom RSS

State of Major League Baseball - 2008 PDF Print E-mail
User Rating: / 21
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?