best credit cards for 650 credit score british airway chase credit card application canadian credit card with lowest interest rate capital one retail credit cards asia miles credit card philippines small new business credit cards hhonors credit card american express american express travel miles credit card aaa financial services credit card login nab internet credit card payment bmi baby credit card application top ways to pay off credit card debt square credit card printer canadian tire credit cards applications free dating sites no credit card australia debit card vs credit card rewards no foreign transaction fee credit card 2012 can pay my flagstar mortgage credit card which credit cards have the best foreign exchange rates credit card design ideas foreign currency transaction fee credit card india cimb credit card redemption travel credit card reviews average college student debt credit cards get credit card swiping machine india credit card payment processors canada sears credit card bill payment address credit card college student bad credit how to activate wells fargo credit card apply for a lowes business credit card whats the best credit card credit card number generator with cvv online credit card transactions for small business can you pay your gap credit card store show roberto carlos credit card hall credit card reader iphone 4 uk hsbc student credit card hk centon 128gb datastick credit card usb flash drive can pay used car credit card credit card security breach 2011 can you buy florida lottery tickets with a credit card tips paying down credit cards preloaded credit cards walmart compare credit card balance transfer offers calculator aluminum credit card case wholesale reviews on first premier bank credit card best benefits of credit cards stop credit card access checks credit card free flight southwest american express prepaid credit card reviews different types of credit card companies paypal send money using credit card open credit card online how to pay off credit card debt universal american express credit card login new bad credit credit card offers paying federal estimated taxes with credit card best credit card machine requirements for discover student credit card pay auto loan with credit card chase suntrust secured credit card card consolidation credit debt payment versus best student credit card australia suntrust bank credit card login credit cards for people with bad credit ratings repair ips credit card online payment stop united mileage plus credit card offers juniper credit card barclays bank delaware volkswagen credit card login apply imagine credit card furniture credit cards for bad credit spirit airlines credit card application status macys american express credit card sign in close credit card accounts without hurting credit score apply sbi corporate credit card natwest credit card lost pin number regulates credit card companies uk online credit card payments for business average american household debt credit cards bank america cash reward credit card review citi govt credit card payment how do credit cards companies make money guaranteed credit cards with instant approval aa credit card account login tips for getting out of credit card debt 40 000 united miles credit card credit card processing fee owl credit card magnifier cheap car rental johannesburg no credit card ge online services credit card login kohls charge card credit limit best banks with secured credit cards the history of credit cards credit card bailout obama credit card foreign transaction fee bank america mango credit card reviews credit card number length reviews delta airlines credit cards types of american express credit cards tire kingdom credit card customer service the children;s place credit card payment online best credit card points program university credit card payments college student credit card with cosigner how to pay hdfc credit card bill from citibank account negotiating with credit card companies + settlement ways to get cash from credit card case mate iphone 4 credit card holder apply lowe;s credit card get lower apr chase credit card tjx rewards credit card cancel my chase credit card account frequent flyer credit card qantas blue star credit card processing can get money order credit card walmart toys r us credit card number phone number ann taylor loft credit card application status check visa credit card balance what is the credit limit on a black american express card can we transfer money from credit card to credit card pay mortgage with credit card check the avenue credit card services unsecured credit cards for people with low credit fat wallet credit card thread guaranteed approval credit card bad credit smart money best credit cards 2009 what is a cid code on credit card ge credit cards india first credit card company to introduce the multi-application smart card what is the best credit card for a college student with no credit history send money with credit card american express credit cards no balance transfer fee low apr credit card easy payment plan pros cons debt consolidation credit cards can you pay mortgage with credit card bank of america how to pay navy federal credit card hsbc credit card website how to make itunes account without credit card on iphone 4 using credit card advantages and disadvantages balance transfer credit cards for bad credit how to change credit card on itunes from ipad 2 citibank credit card payment centers delhi how to find sort code and account number on credit card bpi credit card application follow up how does credit card info get stolen apply for chase visa credit card new york & co credit card credit card dimensions inches how to get out of credit card debt faster hack rfid enabled credit card steal money cheap hyatt credit card uk can you apply for two credit cards in the same day pay belk credit card online does being denied for a credit card lower your credit score send my wells fargo credit card payments best credit card for foreign transaction fees address gap credit card payments loans for bad credit and no debit card best 0 interest credit card deals how to pay credit card bill online hdfc with other bank how do credit cards work minimum payment 1st premier bank credit card phone number can i pay my bank of america credit card over the phone get all three credit scores free without credit card student credit card instant approval can you ask credit card companies to freeze interest how to get out of a credit card machine lease credit cards rebuilding credit after bankruptcy can create apple id without credit card details wireless credit card machine for android hdfc track your credit card status visa aaa credit card login how to apply for add on credit card in hdfc what is the lowest apr credit card applying walmart credit card online wells fargo bobs furniture credit card payment chase travel plus credit card can college students get credit cards suze orman credit card tips paypal credit card address verification private label credit cards wells fargo pre paid credit card hhgregg ge credit card login american credit card solutions bbb average interest rate credit cards now bad credit history credit card 5 cash back credit card discover best credit cards for miles rewards npc credit card processing company payment credit card debt settlement forum credit card information stolen psn hack american express bank credit card india how do you pay bank of america credit card online wachovia credit card minimum payment free credit card clip art logos halifax credit card online register barclaycard initial credit card application prepaid credit cards help rebuild credit median credit card debt american households zero city bank credit card uk prepaid credit cards that build your credit credit cards for first time users credit cards citibank singapore credit card number generator free software download credit cards does qvc accept my credit card keeps getting declined online best credit card offers balance transfers 2011 customer reviews on chase freedom credit card pay mortgage credit card wells fargo business credit cards with best rewards best credit cards transfer balances 2011 does mn state fair take credit cards best credit cards indian nyco credit card payment ent federal credit union credit card leather credit card wallet uk boa secured credit card status what do you need to apply for a business credit card first credit card no credit history no annual fee citi how many numbers does a credit card have in it zero balance transfer credit card offers prepaid credit card foreign travel state farm credit card rating chase credit card 0 transfer balance how to buy credit card numbers online google search credit card numbers hdfc credit card indiatimes offer small business accepting credit card online capital one custom credit cards old credit card debt in florida costco business credit card benefits aopa credit card benefits credit card scanner for android what are the best cashback credit cards what are the costs and pitfalls of using credit cards and debit cards low credit score credit cards credit cards fixed interest rates 0 credit card balance transfers purchases which credit card is best for balance transfer murphy usa walmart credit card citibank cash back credit card world of warcraft credit card redemption can you get a chase credit card with no credit best buy credit card log page the children;s place credit card application credit card debt forgiveness act 2009 hsbc credit card sign in page pay down high credit cards direct merchant bank credit card login usa credit cards chip pin credit card acquirer issuer should use credit card these checks pay with 2 credit cards best buy bowflex credit card payment how to check visa credit card balance online do prepaid credit cards help build credit freedom first credit card login credit cards 0 balance transfers no transaction fee schwab credit card international fee how many credit cards for good credit score bank of america credit card cover rental car insurance itunes no credit card option sapphire credit card login government citi visa credit card regulation z affects credit card issuers in which of the following ways uob credit card advance cash pay best buy credit card online make paypal without credit card bank account direct merchant credit card processing get cash credit card without pin sample authorization letter to pick up credit card; how to pay your amazon credit card credit cards ratings apply for credit cards with low credit score hsbc credit card services complaints sears credit card discount psn credit card numbers for sale suntrust credit card application lowes ge money bank credit card close citibank credit card account online my citibank credit card statement online walmart visa credit card login canadian credit card with no foreign currency transaction fee hsbc credit card cancellation credit card shopping cart wordpress mac compatible usb credit card reader axis bank titanium credit card offers capital one credit card for no credit history blue sky american express credit card reviews best reward credit cards 2012 travel new credit card laws canada 2011 subprime credit cards capital one best credit cards small business rewards offers federal law credit card refunds axis bank credit card bill payment online maybank credit card promotion malaysia credit cards balance transfer 0 interest no fee paypal charge to pay with credit card how much does quickbooks credit card processing cost chase credit card abuse can you get free credit report without credit card hsbc credit card foreign exchange rate delta skymiles credit card upgrade from gold to platinum uob debit card credit limit can i transfer a credit card balance to another person credit cards without international exchange fees do u need credit card paypal account accept credit cards cell phone paypal car care one credit card phone number target visa credit card payment online best small business credit cards miles credit card to build credit history credit cards with no deposit for bad credit apply for credit card with bad credit uk best credit card processors us toyota credit card services how to apply for a disney visa credit card american express credit card login student credit cards with bad credit/no credit walmart credit card services phone number pay off credit card or pay down mortgage business credit cards uk continental credit cards chase not using a credit card with itunes names different credit card companies credit score do need get visa black card spend get unsecured credit card no credit check citibank credit cards apply phone top cash back credit cards uk how does high credit card balance affect my credit score many credit card transactions per day uk hdfc titanium credit card offers 2012 credit card processing for new small business online access my credit card ann taylor loft fnb credit card travel insurance palais royal credit card login nordstrom credit card application credit card bill payment through debit card npc credit card services bank of america credit card account agreement does pnc bank offer secured credit cards sony credit card login capital one calculator how long to pay off credit card longest credit card 0 purchases credit card imprinter slips best airline miles credit cards 2011 publix employees federal credit union credit card aspire visa credit card application cancel chase credit card online credit card reward programs taxable credit card promotions november 2012 happens my credit card debt if file bankruptcy will a magnetic money clip ruin my credit card how does paypal work with my credit card credit card wallets/holders credit card avs verification valid credit card numbers and cvv numbers best iphone credit card reader chase credit card services contact phone number cabela credit card payment credit card payoff calculator formula get free credit card machine instant reply credit card application address for chase bank credit card payments axis bank credit card online shopping offers leather credit card wallets uk credit card approval criteria fee free credit card transfers store credit card details law ge money bank rooms to go credit card icici credit card online payment icici bank santander credit card login problems student discover card bad credit merrill lynch credit card application status obama credit card relief act www.shell credit card.account on line.com what credit card should i get if i have bad credit commonwealth bank gold credit card awards best credit cards for below average credit staples credit card online bill pay new york and company credit card credit score minimum credit score for credit card best credit cards balance transfers purchases do you need use your credit card build credit can you get student credit card bad credit credit cards in europe problems chase credit card lost or stolen alaska airlines rewards credit card access group credit card processing discover credit card status application lucky credit card redeem rewards points hdfc credit cards apply for a credit card rbs hdfc credit card online payment billdesk credit card default rate statistics how do i cancel my american eagle credit card pros and cons of using credit or debit cards aa miles credit card southwest airlines credit card review credit card online banking bank of america should i pay off credit cards with student loans ba american express credit card review shopping online credit card safety chase change credit card pin household bank credit cards good bank of america online credit card account access legacy visa credit card online what is 3 digit code on back of credit card credit card paper application can you pay with your credit card through paypal credit card american express bangladesh how can i view my citibank credit card statement online average credit card rate how do you cancel a credit card order can you pay bills with credit cards if credit card application denied maybank credit card advance cash pay my credit card bill online bank america credit card processing software pc hsbc best buy credit card online payment united mileage plus credit card account login kotak credit card statement online will wells fargo lower my credit card interest rate discover more card limited credit history citibank credit card default india average american credit card debt 2008 compromised credit card accept card credit internet over delta gold credit card sign up free apple id without credit card paying federal taxes online by credit card using someone else;s credit card without getting caught bad credit cards uk instant approval apply disneyland credit card easy to qualify store credit cards first time credit card uk cancellation of debt credit card tax usair credit card review student credit card applications online small business gas credit card credit cardholders bill of rights wiki chevron texaco credit card payment online diners club credit card sg american express foreign exchange rates credit cards cancel sleepys credit card money order from post office credit card total credit card debt apply online for barclays bank credit card capital one credit card review 2012 program credit card machine card credit bcr best mile credit card offers davids bridal credit card reviews lost credit card citibank india credit card comparison chart 2012 how long will it take to pay off my credit card formula best credit cards cash advance online advantages and disadvantages of using a credit card best credit card for us airways miles hdfc credit card swipe machine buy bitcoins instantly with credit card young money credit card credit card assistance program benefits how long does it take to get a credit card after approval kotak credit card customer care number ahmedabad rbc bank credit card login united credit card chase bank guaranteed credit card approval bad credit unsecured discover student credit card with no credit history ways cut down credit card debt credit card formula excel american express credit card merchant services 76 credit card union 76 phone number to call to stop credit card offers capital one credit card approval process do credit card miles rewards work yamaha motor credit card payment hsbc southwest visa credit card login how to get an apple id without a credit card 1st premier credit card payment address apply for student credit cards with no credit credit card payments via iphone uk barclay initial credit card review compare credit cards balance transfer offers td credit card application iphone asking credit card free app credit cards with no credit limit benefits of accepting credit cards using credit option your debit card what do you call the 3 digit code on the back of a credit card money magazine most rewarding credit cards can i use my bank of america debit card as a credit card how to use a prepaid credit card online purchase credit card machine hdfc visa gold - personal credit card best rate credit cards processing pci compliance credit card transactions unsecured credit card help rebuild credit yamaha credit card american express credit card benefits
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 965 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?