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History Wins: Astros to Wear Throwback Colt .45s Uniforms with "Pistol" PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 09 March 2012 18:16

As reported yesterday, the Astros had been weighing whether to approve wearing the original Colt .45s logo that adorns a Colt pistol as part of the club’s celebration of their 50th anniversary. Given the change in society when it comes to associating guns to sports teams (see the Washington Bullets as another example), seeing if MLB would approve (they deferred to the Astros), and fans reaction, has been a months long process.

Today, Houston Astros Owner and Chairman Jim Crane announced that the Astros will, indeed, wear replicas of their original Colt .45s jersey during the April 10 and April 20 games at Minute Maid Park.

The jersey, worn when the ballclub was named the Colt .45s in its first three years of existence (1962-64), included a pistol below the name “Colts” across the chest of the uniform.  This week, the Astros heard from thousands of fans who were passionate and virtually unanimous in their support of the authentic Colt .45s jersey.

“We made this decision for a number of reasons,” said Crane. “We listened to our fans, who were almost unanimously in favor of wearing the original jersey. We wanted to honor all of our past uniforms during this special 50th anniversary season, and we felt it was important to be true to the tradition of the franchise.”

As part of the Astros 50th anniversary celebration, the team will wear a different uniform from its past each Friday home game during “Flashback Fridays.” The one exception will be on Opening Day, Friday, April 6, when the club will wear its current uniform. The Astros will wear the Colt .45s uniform for the first time on April 10 vs. Atlanta commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first game in franchise history, which was an 11-2 win over the Chicago Cubs on April 10, 1962. The team will also wear the Colt .45s uniform during the Friday, April 20 game vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Image source: Houston Astros


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Astros Plan to Announce Fri. Whether Colt .45 "Pistol" Uniforms to Be Worn PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 08 March 2012 15:04

Will this Astros approve the original Colt .45 logo...?

... or this alternative on Friday?

Let’s all agree to something before we get started: guns in the hands of the wrong people are a bad thing. Let’s also agree that (within reason) highlighting traditionally historical themes within the sports framework is good. Going back to the deadball is bad. We can certainly debate whether the Cleveland Indians “Wahoo” characterture is offensively racist. And, we can debate whether the Astros should be allowed to wear the original Colt .45 uniforms that have a gun on them as part of the Astros’ 50th anniversary celebration this year.

To the credit of the Astros, that’s exactly what they’ve been engaged in for several months with MLB, and this past week with fans.

According to a release by the club, when they approached MLB about whether they should or should not use the original uniform design with the Colt pistol on it, the league is deferring to the Astros to make the decision. The uniforms will be worn as part of their “Flashback Fridays” promotion that will highlight a different uniform each month with the team wearing that jersey for each Friday night game. Part of the program includes the iconic Colt .45s jersey that the team will wear on Tuesday, April 10 vs. the Atlanta Braves (commemorating the first game in franchise history) and on Friday, April 20 vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Astros plan to announce tomorrow (Friday) whether the “pistol” design or the alternative jersey that would only have the Colts name on the front of the jersey will be used.

As we said upfront, guns in the wrong hands are bad. As this is really about wearing the historic uniforms for two games, and the fact that the Astros are moving to the American League next season, it would be a nice tip of the hat to history if the original design with the pistol was approved.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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MLB Approves Expanded Playoffs For 2012, Still Lowest of Big-4 Sports PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 02 March 2012 16:07

Wildcard

It took an extra day, but as anticipated, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association today agreed to a 10-team format that includes two additional Wild Card Clubs and an elimination game in each League prior to the Division Series for the 2012 season, as opposed to waiting till next year. The format will see a second Wild Card would be awarded in both the American League and the National League; and that a single Postseason game would be played between each League’s two Wild Card Clubs, with each winner advancing to compete among the three division champions from each League in the Division Series. If the format had been in place last year, the Rays would have played the Red Sox in the American League while the Cardinals would have played the Braves.

The change, which was endorsed by the Commissioner’s 14-member Special Committee for On-Field Matters, marks the first amendment to the Postseason since MLB adopted the six-division, eight-team Postseason structure in January of 1994.  The first Postseason to be played under that format occurred in 1995.

Implementing the format change did not come easy, and will have a wrinkle in it for 2012 that will change going forward, beginning in 2013.

The difficulty in having the extra games this season has been that the 2012 schedule is already finalized. The issue has been to try and squeeze in the new Wild Card games the day after the regular season ends, deal with any potential regular season tie-breaker games that would have to be played before then, the League Division Series, and the League Championship Series and account for time to allow rainouts, all into a three-week window from Oct 3 to the start of the World Series on Oct. 24. Those concerns by the players were addressed as part of the discussions.

An interesting twist will be for this season only, the five-game Division Series will begin with two home games for lower seeds, followed by up to three home games for higher seeds.  This one-year change will eliminate a travel day prior to a decisive Game Five of the Division Series and was necessary because the 2012 regular season schedule was announced before the agreement on the new Postseason was reached.  Next year, the Division Series will return to the 2-2-1 format used in previous years.  The league and MLBPA said that, “Details on the scheduling of the new elimination games between each League’s Wild Cards will be announced in the near future.” That last time MLB saw the 2-3 format for the LDS was 1997.

“I greatly appreciate the MLBPA’s cooperation in putting the new Postseason format in place this year,” said Commissioner Selig in a joint statement. “The enthusiasm for the 10-team structure among our Clubs, fans and partners has been overwhelming. This change increases the rewards of a division championship and allows two additional markets to experience playoff baseball each year, all while maintaining the most exclusive Postseason in professional sports.”

Michael Weiner, the Executive Director of the MLBPA, added, “The players are eager to begin playing under this new format in 2012 and they look forward to moving to full realignment in 2013.  Our negotiating committee and the owners’ representatives worked hard to develop a schedule that should make for fairer competition and provide our fans with a very exciting season.”

Why the Urgency?

As to why there heavy push to implement the changes this year, as opposed to waiting till 2013 when the Astros move to the AL West and the schedule can be properly addressed, the feeling was, “Why wait?” The clubs pushed for it as it adds the extra potential to reach the postseason, which translates not only into added revenues for those 5 seeds in each league that now make the postseason, but the season ticket sales that accompany that in the following year of making the postseason. The clubs also felt that it made winning the division much more important now than in years prior. To add, MLB will see additional revenue when details of who will be broadcasting the new games is reached closer to the upcoming postseason, and could be parlayed into an even larger payday for the league when national broadcast deals begin being negotiated in early 2013. The current deals with FOX, ESPN, and TBS expire at the end of 2013.

RELATED: Expanded Playoffs in MLB Announced Friday, But Broadcast Deal Still Up in the Air

For those that think that MLB will be diluting the postseason with added teams, one needs to look at how many teams make the postseason in the other Big-4 sports. The added teams now means that one-third of MLB’s 30 clubs have a shot at the playoffs. That remains the lowest percentage of total teams when compared to the NFL, NBA, and NHL. The following shows the number of teams per league that make the playoffs each season, along with the percentage of the total.

League

Total Teams

# in Playoffs

% of total

NBA

30

16

53%

NHL

30

16

53%

NFL

32

12

38%

MLB

30

10

33%

Biz of Baseball Research


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Complete 2012 Spring Training Schedule Released PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 17 January 2012 10:31

2012 MLB Spring TrainingThe first 2012 Spring Training exhibition will be held on Wednesday, February 29th in Clearwater, Florida, where the Philadelphia Phillies will host Florida State University, while the first Cactus League game will be in Phoenix, Arizona on Friday, March 2nd, when the Seattle Mariners will visit the Oakland Athletics in a preview of Japan Opening Series 2012, Major League Baseball announced today.

Five Grapefruit League games and four Cactus League games are scheduled for Saturday, March 3rd.  The Boston Red Sox will debut JetBlue Park at Fenway South in Lee County, Florida on Sunday, March 4th, when the club hosts the Minnesota Twins.  The first full slate of action in both Arizona and Florida, involving all 30 Major League Clubs, is Monday, March 5th.

The Mariners and the A’s will complete their Cactus League schedules on Wednesday, March 21st.  Major League Baseball will open its regular season in Tokyo for the fourth time when the A’s and the Mariners participate in Japan Opening Series 2012, a two-game set scheduled for March 28th and 29th.  Japan Opening Series 2012 will be dedicated to assisting in the rebuilding efforts across Japan.

Select exhibition games at Major League and Minor League ballparks will be played from Saturday, March 31st through Wednesday, April 4th.  The Miami Marlins will host the inaugural regular season game at their new downtown ballpark on Wednesday, April 4th, when they will welcome the 2011 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals at 7:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPN.  Six games are scheduled for Thursday, April 5th and 10 games are scheduled for Friday, April 6th, with the first full slate of regular season games on Saturday, April 7th.

SELECT READ MORE TO SEE THE COMPLETE 2012 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE (Subject to change)

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SEE IT: Yorvit Torrealba Suspended 66 Games for Striking Umpire PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 26 December 2011 18:20

Imagine if this happened in MLB. Texas Rangers backup catcher Yorvit Torrealba has been suspended 66 games Venezuelan League for striking the homeplate umpire after striking out swinging. The total game count means he will miss the rest of this season, and all of next season in the Venezuelan League. The suspension does not carry over to MLB. He shoved the umpire in the mask, forceably driving him backward.Torrealba is currently playing for Leones del Caracas in the Winter Ball league

 


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Report: A's Granted Permission to Relocate to San Jose PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Saturday, 24 December 2011 17:11

Oakland A'sThe Oakland Athletics will be allowed to relocated to San Jose, according to a tweet from USA Today’s national baseball reporter, Bob Nightengale.  “All signs and top MLB sources say that the Athletics will be granted permission by Feb to move to San Jose,” said Nightengale. He added later, “The Athletics have received private assurances from MLB [but] can't speak about it publicly.”

According to the San Jose Mercury,”[Billy] Beane said he was unaware of any such news when reached by phone Saturday and didn't want to comment further. A's co-owner Lew Wolff could not be reached for comment, and team spokesman Bob Rose said the team continues to wait for Major League Baseball's report on the A's stadium situation and would have no further comment until then.”

The larger question is, what will the San Francisco Giants receive as compensation?

As we wrote in 2004:

The Giants control most of the Bay Area. Their territory includes San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Monterey and Marin Counties, plus Santa Clara County with respect to another major league team. By comparison, the Athletics' territory includes only Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

When Bob Lurie was looking to get out of Candlestick Park in the late 80’s, baseball expanded the Giants territory to include Santa Clara County where there were efforts to pass funding to build a new ballpark in San Jose. The voters in Santa Clara County rejected tax hikes to fund the stadium in both 1990 and 1992, yet baseball reaffirmed those rights when Peter Magowan purchased the team in 1995 and built PacBell Park.

From an indemnification issue, the Giants will likely receive something, but what “something” is unknown. It’s possible – however extremely unlikely – that through the league appointed committee that was formed in March of 2009, the league could simply push the relocation through based on the A’s controlling the market prior.

That may spark outrage, but based upon the MLB constitution, clubs are forbidden to sue league, but rather resolve disputes through arbitration. Watch the news, as it seems more likely that some sort of payoff to the Giants would be in play.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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MLB, Union For Players to Begin Discussions For International Draft PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 15 December 2011 16:55

While it wasn’t completed in time for the new collective bargaining agreement in Major League Baseball, the league and the MLB Players Association agreed that further discussions around the development of international players – including a worldwide draft – would begin, no later than January 15 of 2012.

Today both sides announced the “International Talent Committee” that would negotiate to try and reach a deal. MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner and MLB Executive Vice President for Labor Relations and Human Resources Rob Manfred are co-chairs of the committee. Joining Weiner on the committee are MLBPA Director of Player Relations Tony Clark, MLBPA Senior Advisor Rick Shapiro and MLBPA Special Assistant Stan Javier, while Kim Ng of the Commissioner’s Office, Sandy Alderson of the New York Mets and Andrew Friedman of the Tampa Bay Rays join Manfred.

There’s several items that the sides look to discuss. Per MLB and the MLBPA in a statement, they are:

  • If there is an international draft, whether international players should be part of a single worldwide draft (including players currently covered by the Rule 4 Draft) or a separate draft (or drafts).
  • The appropriate age at which international amateur players should be signed to professional contracts.
  • If there are to be multiple drafts, whether players from Puerto Rico should remain in the Rule 4 Draft or instead be part of an international draft.
  • The development of appropriate country-by-country plans for playing and development opportunities for players prior to draft eligibility.
  • The development of appropriate plans to provide undrafted or unsigned players (including players age 18 to 21) from Latin America with an opportunity to continue their development, including the creation of a new league or leagues, or the addition of centrally-operated Clubs in the Dominican Summer League (“DSL”).
  • Whether and how regulations should be put in place regarding representation of international amateur players (e.g., “independent trainers” and agents).
  • Improving the education and acculturation programs of Clubs at their international academies.
  • What safeguards should be established in relation to any signing bonus payments made to international amateur players.
  • The laws of the countries from which international players are signed and how those laws should affect the actions of the parties.
  • What actions are necessary in order to achieve the negotiation of a revised agreement between MLB and the Mexican League that allows players greater choice of where to play and promotes a fair and open system of player movement.
  • What actions are necessary in order to achieve the negotiation of revisions to the protocol agreements with the Korean Professional Baseball League, the Japanese Professional Baseball League, and the Taiwan R.O.C. League to accommodate a draft.
  • How Cuban players should be treated under an amateur talent system in light of the legal and political factors that affect their signability.

Several of these address issues that have been a thorn in the league’s side.  On the issue of “safeguards should be established in relation to any signing bonus payments made to international amateur players”, it addresses skimming of bonus money from young talent in the DR and Venezuela. “Buscones” or a type of street agent have independently developed players in which they have players agree to hand over 20% or more of a signing bonus. But, it goes further. The White Sox organization saw their senior director of player personnel David Wilder and others in the organization fired over skimming, while former Nationals GM was forced out of the organization when the FBI investigated him for skimming bonus money as far back as during his time as GM of the Reds. The Angels fired Clay Daniel who headed scouting in Latin America over scouts skimming signing bonuses.

In discussions with both Michael Weiner and Rob Manfred last year, just as labor negotiations for the CBA were beginning, the top representatives for the league and players both said they were in favor of an international draft, but that the execution of that process would be difficult. As these points from the league and MLBPA show, they were certainly telling the truth. Whether parts or all of this transpire is unknown. Nothing is to say that meeting may not make an international draft and supporting policy system happen, but the sides are clearly further along than in 2006 when the sides failed to reach an international draft agreement as part of that CBA. In that case, the committee never convened and the international draft topic withered on the vine until it was resurrected as part of the latest labor negotiations.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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MLB Players Won’t Be Allowed to Use Bodies for Advertisement PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 14 December 2011 13:16

By now, most have heard about some of the key aspects of the new CBA in Major League Baseball. The agreement that has been ratified by the players and is scheduled to be ratified by the owners on Thursday, will see the most sweeping changes to the game since arguably the advent of salary arbitration and free agency. Everything from changes to the draft process, hGH testing, changes to revenue sharing, and more are within the deal.

But, some new details have surfaced by way of The AP, that shed light into some smaller, albeit, interesting aspects of the CBA.

For one, players will not be allowed to have tattoos of corporate logos. The premise being, that players could become “human billboards” for advertisers. The agreement reads, “no player may have visible markings or logos tattooed on his body. As body art has become more acceptable, it is as Rob Manfred said, “heading it off at the pass” a reference in preventing players from taking in sponsorship money to display corporate logos… for life.

Another aspect that is interesting: uniform number changes. If a player on a team wishes to have their uniform number changed, they have to inform the Commissioner’s Office by July 31 of the proceeding year that they wish to have their number changed. They can do it sooner “if the player (or someone on his behalf) purchases the exisiting finished goods inventory of apparel containing the player’s jersey number.”

Think about that a moment. This isn’t just jerseys were talking about. It’s everything with a player’s number on it. One imagines that uniform number changes by choice of a player should drop off dramatically, if not entirely.

In the “Alex Rodriguez Dept.” another new wrinkle pertains betting on any sport. There will be a ban on players betting with illegal bookies.

In the “Anger Management Dept.”, players can face possible suspension if they “intentionally throw a ball or equipment at non-uniformed personnel with the intent to harm; assaulting fans, media or umpires; or making public statements that question the integrity of the game, the umpires, the commissioner or the commissioner’s staff.”

Regarding the comments by players that could lead to suspension…. the game either became more civil or more boring off the field, depending on your point of view.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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From the 2011 Winter Meetings: Angels Become Darlings with Pujols, Wilson Signings PDF Print E-mail
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 08 December 2011 12:10

The Baseball Winter Meetings this year wound up being one of the most exciting in years, with the Miami Marlins becoming major players in the mix, while arguably the game’s greatest player heading to a new zip code.

The Marlins seemed to be in on nearly every major deal, landing closer Heath Bell, SS Jose Reyes, and SP Mark Buerhle. But, on Thursday morning, the club the no one saw jumping out and making the biggest splash, pushed the Marlins out of that position when the Los Angeles Angels aquired former Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols and former Rangers SP C.J. Wilson.

The Angels were the “mystery” team in the mix for Pujols, much like the Phillies were last year in the Cliff Lee derby. The contract is reportedly for 10-years, with a possible max value of $260 million. It has a no-trade clause. The C.J. Wilson deal is reportedly 5-years, and between $75-$77.5 million. All told, the two players could have a possible total payroll outlay over the life of the contracts of $337.5 million.

For Pujols and his agent Dan Lozano, he hits two major contract records. If the deal is $260 million over 10-years, as reported, he will become the highest paid first baseman by AAV ($26 million per) surpassing Ryan Howard’s $25 million AAV. His total contract outlay of the reported $260 million would rank second only to Alex Rodriguez 10-year, $275 million deal with the Yankees reached in 2008.

For Wilson, his $17.5 million possible max AAV would rank 8th behind Barry Zito ($18 million, AAV) and ahead of Jake Peavy’s 2010-13 deal of $17.33 million AAV.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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