credit card number and cvv validator download best 0 intro apr credit cards emirates air miles credit card uk credit card number sample 2013 what is the best credit card for bad credit amazon credit card payment mailing address suze orman credit card debt calculator credit cards with 0 percent interest on purchases next payday advance bbb easy cash loans for unemployed what will my vanquis credit card limit be tesco credit card bank details change loans with bad credit history and no guarantor pay monthly catalogues for bad credit dillards credit card application free credit card payment gateway india best store cards to build credit uk international credit card fees chase lowest interest rate credit card rbc guaranteed credit card acceptance best 0 interest free credit card prepaid credit cards business plan what is one disadvantage of using a credit card to get a cash advance amazon mastercard uk new payday loan direct lenders 2012 ba visa credit card uk online bad credit loan lenders fast short term cash loans can get discover credit card bad credit call bank of america credit card services gas credit cards with no annual fee how to buy apps for iphone 4 without credit card i need a credit card to help me build my credit disney premier visa credit card from chase can you pay best buy credit cards with gift cards free online virtual visa card td visa gold card insurance coverage best mobile credit card processing paypal no fee credit cards with cash back instant cash payday loans south africa my barclay credit card online hsbc transfer credit card balance how to apply for a mastercard debit card credit card size laminating pouches uk american airlines credit card offers lowest apr credit cards credit union can you get a credit card with no credit secured credit card canada low interest how to get a personal loan with bad credit in india td visa student credit card pvr cinemas standard chartered credit card offers capital one credit card for bad credit uk credit card reward program comparison canada best iphone app for credit card transactions best buy credit card zero interest ge capital credit card payment can you accept credit cards over the phone with paypal visa credit card usa contact hdfc credit card payment through credit card credit card interest calculator excel nationwide credit card charges abroad credit cards air miles rewards canada size of credit card business in india vanilla gift visa card credit card minimum payment tesco credit card cibc student best american airlines credit card offers 2013 newegg international credit card sample visa credit card number for testing data mining implementation for credit cards application processing system high cash back credit card canada lowest apr credit cards for students best cashback credit cards with no foreign transaction fee cheats for need for speed carbon reward cards icici master credit card offers costco merchant credit card processing fees gift credit cards walmart interest rates on credit cards in canada free ipad credit card reader uk tesco credit card ppi claim address ikea apply credit card online how to eliminate credit card debt without hurting your credit square card credit card reader for iphone ipad & android instant pay day loans no credit check hdfc credit card helpline number gujarat american express small business credit card top 10 credit cards 0 balance transfers hdfc credit cards for corporate employees phone number for chase business credit cards best chase credit card for students business credit cards for poor credit buy visa gift card online and use instantly best credit cards after bankruptcy 2011 credit card application approval rates post office platinum card login nationwide credit card rates abroad capital one credit card cash advance interest best credit card to get cash advance best online payday loan websites list of all uk payday lenders barclay credit card application how to apply credit card online best air miles credit card canada best cashback credit cards 2012 in india halifax credit card minimum payment calculator gap visa credit card 0 interest credit cards for 24 months direct cash advance lenders no teletrack best credit card rewards miles no annual fee best credit cards for building credit 2012 chase visa credit card benefits hdfc gold credit card apply legit cash advances online who has the best credit cards for bad credit applying for credit card online uk how to apply credit card in bpi for ofw cash rewards credit cards can you get car finance bad credit secured credit cards for bad credit instant approval requirements for credit card application hsbc national city bank credit card offers load virtual credit card paypal poor credit rating credit cards uk best money back credit cards platinum credit card bank of ireland catalogues for bad credit easiest one to get credit card fraud for dummies video credit card helpline standard chartered bank personal loans with bad credit history intuit credit card machine for iphone natwest commercial credit cards online home depot credit card no interest for 18 months buy manual credit card machine hsbc 0 balance transfer credit cards apply online credit card citibank free prepaid credit cards no application fee american express credit card verification phone number secure credit card bank of america chase bank marriott rewards credit card does american express gold card build credit tesco credit card 0 purchases is capital one a good credit card to build credit payday loan lenders only no fees bank first credit card application apply for a student loan online uk lowest apr credit cards india does arco gas have a credit card check my credit score no credit card required credit card settlement offer letter sample unsecured credit card with no credit check average credit card processing charges citibank premier credit card login hdfc bank credit cards customer care number hyderabad credit card authorization form australia chase secured credit card apply american express black card fees uk credit card companies list hdfc credit card compare where can i spend my greenwoods gold card citibank credit card online application india key ring reward cards apk neiman marcus credit card payment center capital one secured credit card cash advance unsecured credit card bad credit ok chase bank credit card deals fake credit card number visa average credit card processing fees 2013 are merchant cash advances good same day cash advance online black hello kitty credit card best credit card to build your credit score credit card approval online instant loan with bad credit and no job credit card history in the philippines login into sears credit card hsbc philippines visa debit card small bad credit loans uk take credit card payments on android uk credit card air miles offers get free prepaid credit card online can i claim back credit card insurance example black card nandos paypal prepaid mastercard uk major credit card logos uk credit debit card logos uk hsbc credit card points business credit cards cash back rewards woolies everyday rewards cards unsecured credit cards after filing bankruptcy hdfc virtual credit card charges td bank airmiles credit card credit card rewards comparison malaysia paypal virtual credit card zero interest credit card promotions orchard bank credit card customer login how do preloaded credit cards work nilson report top credit card issuers small business credit card machines uk best australian credit card to use in usa short term credit card terminal rental the best rewards credit card in canada best credit card rewards program 2013 emirates platinum card staff paying off credit card debt template now on sale at starbucks square credit card reader blackcharge mobile credit card terminal free credit check uk no credit card sears canada credit card lost absa gold credit card travel insurance credit card apr rates average online direct payday loan lenders no credit check platinum cardcaptor sakura free download capital one secured credit card increase target visa card login rfid credit card protector canada can a credit card company garnish your wages in florida online prepaid credit card canada cash advance loans online home citibank apply credit card online hsbc gold credit card limit new uk credit card laws paypal credit card reader uk best buy credit card credit card vanilla mastercard amazon axis bank online credit card application bank of america credit card settlement offer 2012 best rewards credit cards 2011 gas what is the best credit card to have 2012 best rate credit card balance transfer credit card for bad credit instant approval uk walmart credit card cashback rules how to compare credit card terms td canada trust credit card credit card transfer balance deals are credit card charges vatable promotional balance transfer barclaycard disney reward credit card by chase hdfc credit cards offers and deals secured loan bad credit rating quick and easy cash loans online easy credit card to get approved for how to get a us credit card living in canada best credit cards for poor credit history online visa card registration best cash reward credit card world;s first credit card 1950 hilton credit card points guy credit card settlement india cibc credit card services international apply for capital one credit card by phone spg credit card bonus 2013 national city bank credit card payment credit card machine hire uk clark howard best credit cards 2013 payday loans lenders no credit check td visa credit card canada student credit card no credit check apply for american express corporate credit card what is a secured credit card yahoo answers how do you apply for a credit card machine visa prepaid credit card activation credit card 0 balance transfer explained free pre approved credit cards best united miles credit card offer pay us bank mortgage with credit card hsbc credit card application online in india compare citi credit cards credit card protection plan review how do i pay my first premier credit card orchard bank unsecured credit card for bad credit best australian credit card for travelling overseas best business credit card for contractors cancel credit card credit score disputing credit card charges visa neiman marcus credit cards accepted vodafone balance transfer chennai payday loan online no teletrack direct lender td us visa card benefits best credit rewards cards free gold card hostelworld best credit cards for college students who travel how to get credit card details off ipod sbi advantage platinum credit card credit loans reviews credit cards with low apr for bad credit art van ge credit card payment comments amazon credit card review manhattan standard chartered credit card payment online how long does it take to get credit card once approved starwood preferred guest? credit card review united credit card login chase will a secured credit card help your credit where to buy facebook credits cards icici hpcl platinum credit card benefits walt disney visa rewards card best buy instant approval credit card credit limit calculator c program horizon credit card login credit cards after chapter 7 bankruptcy apple credit card swiper security number on visa debit card consolidating credit card debt into home loan credit card over limit fees law best credit card transfer balance deals credit card fraud detection system using hidden markov model free visa gift cards international travel credit card chase cheapest iphone credit card processing discover student visa credit card iphone credit card payment options virgin credit card payments online online payday loan direct lenders student credit cards with no credit no income anz transfer credit card balance disney visa credit card phone number my virgin credit card account login 12 month bad credit loans no brokers united cash loans visa credit cards for students in india online credit card cvv checker lloyds tsb student credit card interest rate credit card protection insurance australia halo reach credit limit get a credit card with bad credit no deposit youtube how to use a credit card machine new credit card offers 2012 instant credit card decisions online payday cash advance online no credit check buy starbucks platinum card does bank of america have a secured credit card where can i apply for a credit card with poor credit the best credit card to have in india paypal 3d secure credit card validation best us airways business credit card offer top rated credit cards no annual fee prepaid credit card post office australia which credit card is best in india spg credit card 30000 points premier credit card rewards ikea credit card apply malaysia credit limit increase wells fargo payday loans no credit check no fees how do you cancel a maurices credit card top credit cards in india credit card debt uk 2012 sears credit card credit score capital one credit card online account mobile credit card services for small business buy facebook credits gift cards online credit card cash advance calculator post office prepaid credit card review payday online loan lenders does the chase liquid card help build credit black card benefits american express what is a secured credit card to rebuild credit kisan credit card interest rate sbi american express credit limit increase apply for a visa credit card gold credit cards uk new credit card laws 2013 uk android credit card reader hardware business credit card comparison canada pay barclays us credit card how do walmart prepaid credit cards work axis bank credit card visa verification compare the market credit cards balance transfer different types of credit cards in us bank of america credit card minimum payment calculator credit card calculator payoff date what;s the easiest credit card to get approved for best credit card for travel in europe best buy credit card usa how to report credit card frauds in india what does visa cards start with online credit card generator with cvv and expiration date 2013 american express platinum travel credit card offers india free credit card terminal software best department store credit cards 2012 myfico credit card finder quick payday loans for bad credit low fixed rate for life credit cards credit card review australia american express platinum travel credit card india smartphone credit card apps mastercard credit card car insurance how to apply credit card in hsbc bank lowest interest credit card malaysia orchard bank credit card address payments sunday school reward cards recurring credit card authorization form template free unsecured personal loans bad credit sears hsbc credit card online payment direct payday loans long black cardigan secured credit cards to build credit no annual fee what happens to credit card debt when you die in texas sears credit cards citibank best interest rate credit cards 2012 citibank corporate credit card statement credit card comparison chart singapore virgin black credit card criteria best payday loans over 3 months where can i buy an american express prepaid credit card guaranteed cash advance loans bad credit 5 cash back credit card gas bank of america credit card phone number uk hsbc premier credit card terms and conditions 3d secure credit card validation chase fast cash loans with bad credit online best way to get approved for a credit card with bad credit best credit card rewards offers walt disney world rewards credit card best credit card offers for travel rewards accept credit cards free paypal how do amscot payday advances work high limit credit cards credit card limit calculator malaysia mba credit card canada get credit card numbers and cvv best cashback cards chase visa rewards cards prepaid visa cards compare 0 transfer credit cards amex credit card promotions philippines citibank credit card credit limit calculator the best way to reduce credit card debt quickly 12 month 0 balance transfer no fee good and bad things about credit cards chase united plus credit card login southwest airlines chase visa credit cards credit card purchase protection mastercard banks that are easy to get credit cards best travel credit card no annual fee canada can square take international credit cards pay victoria secret credit card online banks that offer mortgage loans with bad credit apply online loan bad credit best buy credit card payments hsbc central bank of india credit card online apply citibank balance transfer form us airways barclays credit card login best business credit card for travel rewards pay tesco online credit card free virtual credit card vcc for paypal verification credit suisse internship credit card business analyst job uk cashback credit cards malaysia southwest credit card reviews chase neiman marcus credit card payment alaska airlines credit card canada companion ticket best online payday loans in south africa instant credit card approval australia key ring reward cards uk best reward credit cards 2012 australia online credit card icici bank credit card apply online in chennai spectrum federal credit builder & classic credit card petro canada credit card services hdfc credit card bank offers united chase credit card for business good credit card to build credit best credit card to have for travel bpi credit card online application for ofw how to build a credit rating without a credit card online payday lenders shut down lowest apr credit card in canada best credit card consolidation loan companies new credit card merchant fees sign up for no more credit card offers free credit cards bad credit no annual fee free credit card processing software neiman marcus credit card minimum payment citi credit cards payment costco credit card processing rates for small business td canada trust credit card login when are best buy credit card payments due credit card balance transfer instant approval credit card ratings and reviews virgin money credit card contact number guaranteed credit card approval australia td emerald visa cardholder agreement company credit cards uk horizon gold credit card toll free number marriott rewards premier credit card reviews hdfc corporate credit card customer care how often capital one credit limit increase travel credit cards compare canada no fax easy payday loans instant decision credit cards for bad credit when does chase credit card report to credit bureau tesco credit card login app ge capital city furniture credit card best indian credit card to use in usa square credit card reader android uk bad credit car loans no credit check apply for discovery health credit card credit cards bad credit instant approval no deposit canada best credit cards to have 2011 best cashback credit cards for excellent credit sbi credit card login
Home Pete Toms LWIB: Did Judge Sonia Sotomayer Save Baseball? Cubs Sale Stalled? Draft Slotting, Troubles for Redbirds

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 561 guests online

Atom RSS

LWIB: Did Judge Sonia Sotomayer Save Baseball? Cubs Sale Stalled? Draft Slotting, Troubles for Redbirds PDF Print E-mail
User Rating: / 27
PoorBest 
Pete Toms Article Archive
Written by Pete Toms   
Monday, 01 June 2009 06:12
Last Week in Bizball by Pete Toms

This week, did Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayer save baseball? Is the sale of the Cubs stalled or will this summer see Thomas Ricketts’ group in control of the franchise? Also, new rumours that Commissioner Selig has not abandoned his strategy of imposing “slotting recommendations” in the June Rule IV draft. And difficult times for one of minor league baseball’s crown jewels.  

DID JUDGE SONIA SOTOMAYER SAVE BASEBALL?

"Some say that Judge Sotomayor saved baseball." So said President Obama upon announcing Judge Sonia Sotomayor as his nominee for the Supreme Court. LWIB Judge Sotomayer received widespread praise amongst the baseball media and bloggers for ending the work stoppage that both cancelled the 1994 World Series and threatened the use of replacement players for the 1995 season. Judge Sotomayer also forced owners and players back to the bargaining table and a new CBA was agreed to in November 1996. To what degree Judge Sotomayer’s injunction against the owners has contributed to the subsequent uninterrupted labor peace in MLB remains debated. LWIB reviews some of the opinion and reflection on Judge Sotomayer’s historic decision.

Richard Sandomir:

Sotomayor, then a federal district court judge in Manhattan, was faced with a petition filed by the National Labor Relations Board seeking a finding of unfair labor practices by baseball owners. The players had struck over the likelihood that owners would impose a salary cap, which they did. After withdrawing the cap in early 1995, owners tried a new strategy: they abolished salary arbitration, centralized player negotiations with the commissioner’s office and ended an agreement not to collude on salaries, leading to the complaint by the N.L.R.B.

AND

Sotomayor agreed with the N.L.R.B. that the owners could not willy-nilly institute their 1950s-style version of labor relations. If she did not issue an injunction, she wrote, “the harm to the players is the very one the owners’ unfair labor practices sought to achieve, i.e., an alteration of free-agency rights and a skewing of their worth.”

Sotomayor’s ruling restored the terms of the previous labor agreement so the season could go forward. Randy Levine, who became the owners’ chief labor negotiator five months after Sotomayor’s injunction, said her decision “gave both sides an opportunity to take a breath, to take stock of where they were.” Levine, now the Yankees’ president, added, “It led to the good-faith bargaining that produced revenue sharing, the luxury tax and interleague play.”

Executive Director of the MLBPA, Donald Fehr is quoted in the same piece from Mr. Sandomir:

“Her ruling did not produce an agreement, but it gave the parties time to get on with normal business and get back to the bargaining table and produce an agreement,” he said. “If it hadn’t ended when she ended it, it would have gone on for some time and it would have gotten uglier and uglier.”

Ronald Blum:

Bud Selig, acting baseball commissioner at the time, said then her decision was "disappointing and may represent a step backward in our negotiations for a meaningful agreement with the players' union."

Elected commissioner in 1998 and still on the job, Selig refused comment Tuesday on Sotomayor, spokesman Rich Levin said.

Murray Chass:

Judge Sotomayor became an instant hero to baseball fans. The labor dispute between the players and the owners had gone on for nearly eight months, had forced cancellation of the 1994 World Series and had become the longest work stoppage in United States professional sports history.

AND

Just as Sotomayor is a beneficiary of the presence of a Democratic president in the White House, the baseball union was the beneficiary of the presence of a Democratic president in the White House.

The National Labor Relations Board is a political animal. Its makeup is determined by the party in the White House, and its decisions are usually determined by the political views of its members. Had a Republican been president in 1995 and the labor board reflected his views, it would have been highly unlikely to have taken the baseball case to court.

As it was, the Republican members of the board tried diligently to keep the board out of court. The vote to authorize the general counsel to seek an injunction was 3-2, with the three Democrats voting yes and the two Republicans voting no. One of the Republicans, Charles Cohen, took a step rare for the board, writing a dissenting opinion in which he disagreed with the authorization and said the case had no merit.

When Cohen left the board, he went to work for Morgan Lewis & Bockius, the law firm that represented the owners. Chuck O’Connor, the clubs’ chief labor negotiator, who devised the implementation of work rules that Sotomayor would find illegal, was a Morgan Lewis lawyer.

Peter Gammons;

She didn't necessarily save baseball; she saved the owners from themselves. The people who tried to rig the system with collusion, pay-for-performance and the artificial attempt to implement their own labor system were, as usual, ill-advised and leaderless. When Sotomayor forced the game to resume and charged that they bargain in real faith, baseball under Selig went from a $1.3 billion to $7.5 billion business.

Mike Lupica;

So now the legend of Sonia Sotomayor is that a female U.S. District Judge from the South Bronx, the first of Puerto Rican descent to be appointed to the federal bench in this city, someone who made the city proud Tuesday, practically saved the national pastime all by herself.

Only she didn't.

There is a difference between saving a season - and a union - and saving a sport.

AND

But in doing so, what she really rescued at the time was an economic system in baseball that desperately needed changing, one that would not really begin to change until later, when revenue sharing and a luxury tax on the big spenders like the Yankees finally began to take effect, and commissioner Bud Selig's new system did a lot more for baseball than Judge Sotomayor ever did.

AND

The tremendous growth baseball has experienced in this decade didn't really begin until the end of the work rules that Sotomayor preserved with the ruling that ended the strike once and for all. It doesn't mean her decision was wrong at the time, or that she was looking to prop up Don Fehr or Gene Orza or their union. Or that it was her job to change the work rules in baseball. It just means that her place in baseball history isn't suddenly enhanced because she is much more famous now.

Lastly, technically not from LWIB or germane to a discussion on Judge Sotomayer’s decision, but nonetheless some timely perspective from Andrew Zimbalist on the impact of MLB’s last work stoppage. From “May the Best Team Win”.

Baseball took a powerful initial hit from the 1994-95 strike. Average game attendance fell from 31,612 in 1994 to 25,021 in 1995, a drop of 20.9 percent. Serendipitously for baseball, the magic of Cal Ripken’s streak of consecutive games, the sustained economic and stock market expansion in the country, and the new stadium construction boom, followed by the home run heroics of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds, led to a gradual recovery in attendance (which reached 30,050 in 2001) and to a rapid growth in industry revenues (which doubled between 1996 and 2001).

Select Read More to see details on the sale of the Cubs, Rule IV Draft slotting, and debt service problems for the Memphis Redbirds

CUBS SALE

LWIB saw mixed messages in the Chicago media on the state of the Cubs sale from Tribune Co. to the Thomas Ricketts group. On May 29, Sam Zell was quoted in one of his newspapers (the Chicago Tribune) speculating that the deal could fall apart. On the same day, Crain’s Chicago Business reported that a much rumoured disagreement between the parties concerning the value of the Cubs broadcast deal with WGN (also owned by Tribune Co.) was nearing resolution and the finalizing of the deal was imminent. Also contributing to the slower than anticipated closing of the deal has been the Ricketts group challenge of acquiring financing in a (perhaps thawing) frozen credit market.

First, The Chicago Tribune on the state of the Cubs sale:

Sam Zell, chairman and chief executive of Chicago Tribune parent Tribune Co., indicated Thursday that the sale of the Chicago Cubs baseball team to the Ricketts family is not a sure thing.

"We've made it very public that the Cubs don't fit into the long-term picture of the Tribune," he said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. "So if the Ricketts deal doesn't get done, I'm sure there will be other ones."

On the same day, Crain’s Chicago Business reported:

Thomas Ricketts, who is leading his family’s bid to buy the Chicago Cubs from Tribune Co., is closer to sealing the deal than recent reports suggest.

As recently as two weeks ago, disagreement over the terms of the team’s broadcast contract with Tribune’s WGN network left the two sides as much as $50 million apart on the nearly $900-million deal.

Sources now tell Crain’s that both sides have made concessions on some of the key sticking points, bringing them near the conclusion of a sale process that’s dragged on for Tribune more than two years. The family, led by Mr. Ricketts, has been in exclusive talks with TribCo on the Cubs sale since January

On May 20 Ed Sherman , at Crain’s Chicago Business, commented on the importance of the Cubs broadcast rights to the Ricketts group.

If I'm Tom Ricketts, I probably don't want to accept a broadcast deal that was essentially an in-house negotiation. Especially if it might be as much as a 10-year deal, as has been speculated.

The Cubs' television and radio rights probably rank behind only the Yankees, Mets and Boston Red Sox in terms of value. Again, it is hard to pin a number on the TV side because of the various complexities, but safe to say it is in the $50-million neighborhood.

That neighborhood is upwardly mobile. Perhaps if you're Mr. Ricketts, you want to take some of those WGN-TV games and move them to Comcast SportsNet, a channel in which you're a co-owner. There's a double revenue stream on cable with advertising and subscriber fees. It would make fiscal sense for Mr. Ricketts to increase CSN's inventory of the Cubs from 80 to 100-110 games.
(LWIB note: the Ricketts group agreement to purchase the Cubs includes a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago)
It certainly can be used as a bargaining chip with WGN. 

Also, if Mr. Ricketts is thinking of launching a Cubs cable station down the line, would it be in his best interests to have games tied up with a long-term deal with WGN? I would think not.

The completion of the sale has also been stalled by challenges the Ricketts group face in acquiring financing during the credit crisis. The Biz of Baseball quoted the Chicago Tribune in early May:

Sources blamed the slow pace of negotiations on several factors. The double whammy of a recession and a financial-sector meltdown has made it difficult for the Ricketts to secure financing. The family raised $400 million for the deal by selling personal stock holdings and planned to borrow the rest.

Mid-May, The SportsBusiness Journal reported that the Ricketts group had all but finalized $450 million in financing, perhaps leading to a closing of the sale in July.

Chicago Cubs buyer Tom Ricketts is close to lining up three banks to arrange the $450 million financing necessary to complete his acquisition of the team, financial sources said, positioning him to clear a substantial hurdle in the long-running sale of the club.

JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America are set to commit to the deal as soon as the end of this week, the sources said. That commitment would allow Ricketts to submit his $900 million bid to the court that’s overseeing the bankruptcy filing of current Cubs owner Tribune Co. The court likely then would take 30 to 45 days to process the offer, one source said, leaving a potential closing ready by July.

Mr. Ricketts has also been searching for private investors to finance his group’s purchase of the Cubs. Amongst the individuals he has approached are Cubs celebrity fans, Bill Murray, John Cusack and Jim Belushi. From Bloomberg; “Ricketts, the chairman of Chicago-based Incapital LLC, is seeking to raise $100 million or more through the sale of preferred stock to avoid borrowing from banks to finance the deal, Crain’s said. The shares would entitle investors to a 6.5 percent dividend and represent a non-voting stake in the team...” The aforementioned report in The Sports Business Journal was skeptical if this approach is viable. “Ricketts has been trying to sell preferred notes in the team to raise another $50 million. These so-called “perk notes” would give the individual lenders special access to games, team executives and spring training. The notes would be repaid after 15 years. Sources differed on whether Ricketts would succeed in selling the notes, with some saying there was interest and others describing it as a hopeless cause.”

COMMISSIONER SELIG NOT ABANDONING “SLOTTING” STRATEGY IN RULE IV DRAFT

LWIB was surprised to read reports that Commissioner Selig had announced during the recently concluded quarterly owners meeting (May 20-21) that he would continue his attempts to enforce “slotting recommendations” in the June Rule IV amateur draft. After a concerted effort to enforce “slotting” in the 07 draft, Commissioner Selig had largely abandoned the strategy in 08. Perhaps the record amount of signing bonuses awarded drafted amateurs last year has renewed Mr. Selig’s convictions. The Biz of Baseball reported in November:

The current CBA – which took effect in December 2006 – included an earlier signing deadline of August 15 for players chosen in the Rule IV / aka June draft. Combined with another change that awards compensation in the following year’s draft for teams failing to sign their pick, management was to be better positioned in negotiations with drafted amateurs. In addition, prior to the 2007 draft, Commissioner Selig exerted pressure on clubs to adhere to recommended "draft slot" bonuses that were set 10% lower than the previous year. Some clubs complied, but the overall impact of the rule changes and “slot recommendations” was negligible.

Baseball America reported, "There were 184 picks in the first five rounds in 2007, and 171 of them signed, receiving an average bonus of $685,328. Last year, 179 of the first 184 picks agreed to terms, getting an average bonus of $662,531. So despite the 10 percent reduction in slots, the bonuses rose 3 percent.” Sports Business Journal reported, "Overall average signing bonuses for 2007 first-round draft picks hit their highest mark in five years, at nearly $2.1 million…"

Commissioner Selig relaxed his efforts to control spending in the 08 draft and an increased amount of dollars were awarded to drafted players. In August, Forbes reporter Tom Van Riper wrote, “The league made a concerted effort to change things this year, encouraging small-market teams picking near the top to draft the best talent and pay out expensive bonuses.” In October, Baseball America reported, “Teams combined to spend $186.5 million on draft bonuses in 2008, an amount believed to be a record and up 23 percent from the $151.8 million they shelled out in 2007.”

Murray Chass reported LWIB:

The commissioner told the owners that his office planned to roll back the recommended signing bonuses for the June 9 amateur draft by 10 percent.

The rollback might be immaterial because most clubs ignore the numbers anyway, but Selig is trying

AND

The clubs will get their rolled back numbers this week. The slotting system is confidential, and clubs aren’t supposed to know what figures other clubs are allotted.

Selig can’t order clubs to stick to the numbers because the slotting system has not been negotiated with the union. If Selig tried to impose the numbers on the clubs, the union would challenge the system and the owners might lose it altogether.

Peter Gammons also reported on the “slotting” announcement to the owners. Mr Gammons chided owners who have complied with past slotting recommendations and praised those who have ignored them.

There were reports Wednesday that Bud Selig has warned owners that he is going to try to force them to cut back bonuses by 10 percent after the June 9 draft because of the economy.

Ilitch is more loyal to his neighbors in Detroit than he is to Selig, which is why a 20-year-old kid named Rick Porcello won his fifth straight start Wednesday afternoon. If Selig had been able to muscle Ilitch into overruling general manager Dave Dombrowski and his esteemed scouting director David Chadd, Porcello would be pitching for the University of North Carolina on Friday against Dartmouth in the NCAA regionals.

Instead, Porcello has six wins and a 1.50 ERA in his past five starts. With manager Jim Leyland's careful monitoring of Porcello's 85-95 pitch limit, the youngster is on a pace to win somewhere between 17 and 21 wins; for some perspective, over the past 50 years, the only pitchers under 21 years old to win 17 games were Doc Gooden (17 at 19, 24 at 20), Wally Bunker (19 at 19) and CC Sabathia (17 at 20).

Porcello is smart, and he comes from a family that wanted him to go to college. Ilitch had to OK more than $8 million to get him to forget about a dorm room in Chapel Hill, N.C. Ilitch took Selig's calls and allowed Chadd to go above Selig's price-fixing "slot" and sign Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller, who in turn gave Dombrowski the chips to trade for Miguel Cabrera, one of the best hitters in the game.

So the Tigers have Cabrera, at 26 a potential Hall of Famer. They have Porcello. They have Ryan Perry, Chadd's No. 1 from last year, throwing 97 in middle relief.

In Houston, Astros fans must realize that owner Drayton McLane cares more about Selig's favor than his fans. He forces his scouting people to adhere to "slot." Hence, in 2005, they were not allowed to draft Michael Bowden or go $30,000 above slot for Josh Lindblom, and today Bowden and Lindblom would be Houston's Nos. 3-4 starters. No wonder the Astros are such a dysfunctional team.

In Pittsburgh, the signing of Pedro Alvarez last summer proved that ownership cares about the fans, not the favor of the commissioner. Pirates fans were used to ownership forcing Bryan Bullington and slot players on them instead of the best talent available.

As Mr. Chass notes, the “slotting recommendations” will have little to nothing in common with Scott Boras’ demands for consensus No. 1 pick Stephen Strasburg. Given the poor attendance in Washington (particularly for a second year ballpark), their awful on field performance thus far in 09, and the Jim Bowden / “Esmailyn Gonzalez” fiasco, there will great pressure from fans and local media to sign Strasburg. Jeff Blair adds his voice to the chorus calling for MLB to allow the trading of draft picks.

The more I watch the Washington Nationals flounder, the more I realize how senseless it is that major-league teams are not allowed to trade draft picks. The Nationals are god-awful and consensus No. 1 pick, pitcher Stephen Strasburg, is ready to be this year's David Price. My guess is the Nationals could parlay this pick into multiple major-league-ready talent.

See the aforementioned Biz of Baseball report for a quote from Keith Law arguing the benefits of allowing the trading of draft choices.

DEBT SERVICING PROBLEMS FOR MEMPHIS REDBIRDS

Josh Leventhal at Baseball America reported LWIB that one of MiLB’s most admired franchises is facing some challenges servicing their debt. The Memphis Redbirds, consistently amongst the attendance leaders across all of minor league baseball, defaulted on a March 1 bond payment of $1.625 million.

An asterisk could have been included when we named Memphis’ Auto Zone Park the No. 1 ballpark in the minors this spring. After all, the bells and whistles featured throughout the downtown facility are unmatched in the minors — unfortunately so is its price tag.

No ballpark has matched Memphis’ $80.5 million cost since it was built in 2000. And that cost has finally caught up with the Redbirds, as the club was unable to make a $1.625 million bond payment on the ballpark in March, forcing the team to go in default on the facility and tap a reserve fund for the first time.

Memphis Commercial Appeal reported last week:

Years of struggling to make their bond payments finally caught up with the Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation, owners of the Redbirds and AutoZone Park.

For the first time since issuing $72 million in bonds in 1998 to cover the cost of buying the team and building the stadium, the foundation was in default of its March 1 payment of $1.625 million to US Bank, the trustee for the bonds.

The foundation was forced to dip into its debt reserve fund to make the payment. Redbirds president Dave Chase said Thursday the money must be replaced in the reserve fund account, but there is no timetable for doing so.

"Technically it's in default, but the reserve fund is there for this occurrence,'' Chase said. ''It's the first time we've had to use the reserve fund. We've been openly talking to the bondholders about how we go forward from here."

Difficulty in making the annual $5.4 million in bond payments, which are broken into March 1, Sept. 1 and Nov. 1 installments, is the primary reason the team and AutoZone Park are for sale. The heavy stadium debt, however, has made it difficult to attract suitors -- a situation that could improve if the Redbirds are able to restructure their financial terms.

In January, the same publication reported that the St. Louis Cardinals (current and long time parent club of the Redbirds) had backed away from an agreement to purchase the AAA club over concerns about the debt load combined with the $365 million debt on the new Busch Stadium. In January, the Biz of Baseball reported on the increasing number of MLB franchises acquiring and moving their minor league affiliates.

BUSINESS OF SPORTS NETWORK FEATURE ARTICLE:

Jim Balsillie Unveils Plans to Renovate Copps Coliseum - The Biz of Hockey

Pete Toms is an author for The Biz of Baseball and a staff member of the Business of Sports Network. He can be contacted at \n \n This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.

Follow the Business of Sports Network on Twitter Twitter

 
 
Banner

Poll

Should MLB Force Jeffery Loria to Sell the Marlins?