While a small portion of an interview with Stephen Borelli of USA Today runs on page 11 of this week’s edition of USA Today Sports Weekly, the entire interview runs today via USA Today’s website on their MLB page. The article entitled, Bloggin' baseball: Keeping up with baseball as a business goes into how BizofBaseball.com was started, Brown’s background, and some of his thoughts on the state of the game. Here are some excerpts:
Before launching the site, what was your baseball background?
In 2001 I was extremely fortunate to work with former Indiana Pacers General Manager, David Kahn on the key documents that would become a submission to Major League Baseball for the relocation of the Montreal Expos. Portland, of course, did not get the team, but it allowed for an extensive analysis on the market to see if MLB would work there. I also was the co-chair of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) Business of Baseball committee and a columnist for both The Hardball Times and Baseball Prospectus before focusing heavily on The Biz of Baseball.
When did you come up with the idea for your site and how and when did it launch?
The idea was really an extension of some of the work that I had been doing for SABR. I had created a site dedicated primarily for researchers, but for the most part, when the word "business" is attached to most anything, it causes the average person's eyes to glaze over –sports economics is beyond boring. The concept we have is simple: sports is influenced as much by what happens off the field as what happens on it; help fans understand that. The site launched in September of 2006 and traffic, and media interest in what we are doing has tripled in just the last year, alone. The site is much like a house that never has enough rooms – we keep building on to it.
You have attracted prominent front-office executives, baseball journalists and industry insiders for interviews on your site. How have you been able to build such an impressive array of them?
To tell the truth, I've been exceptionally fortunate and lucky. For every interview published there have been two or three that never transpired. Being naïve, I simply felt that if I was asking decent questions, the platform to publish the answers on (internet only) would not matter. Each interview published has worked as a sort of business card for approaching the next interview subject. Landing Bob Costas very early on opened a lot of doors, as did interviews with former commissioners Vincent and Kuhn through SABR. I've been told pigs will fly before Commissioner Selig will do an interview with me, but I look forward to the day that might happen. I find him the most compelling figure in all of sports given how he's turned the game around.
In what condition do you see the game amid our economic crisis?
As solid as any industry can be in these trying times. If not for the incredible growth in revenues over the last 5 to 6 years, and changes that allow them to be more equally distributed across all the clubs, I wonder whether some teams would have survived a recession of this magnitude.
What's the worst thing that could happen to baseball?
Labor unrest. Strikes or lockouts. When the CBA was up for renewal in 2002, it came against the backdrop of 9/11. Between that, and the '94 strike, I believe the owners and players realized that fans had just about had enough of the bickering. Relations are a bit more strained than they have been over the last two rounds of collective bargaining, but hopefully both sides understand how important it is to keep the game moving forward.
What's the best?
That one day the World Series is as popular as the Super Bowl. They're very different animals, so I'm not holding my breath. Other than that, maybe that the Pirates or Royals win a World Series before too long. When that happens, it would be hard for anyone to say that there is no parity in baseball.
See the rest of the interview with Maury Brown on USAToday.com
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