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The Biz of Baseball :: Business of Sports Network
Pujols Graces ESPN the Magazine's Fantasy Baseball Double-Cover Edition PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Monday, 01 March 2010 22:13
Albert Pujols
Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols is the featured story in this week's ESPN The Magazine. And while he is not Derek Jeter from a marketing standpoint, heis becoming more and more the face of Major League Baseball. When doing research for the article that I co-wrote with Larry Borowsky for the Maple Street Press 2010 Cardinals Annual entitled The Cost Of Doing Business, I spoke with Dan Farrell, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing, and Martin Coco Director of Advertising and Fan Development for the Cardinals. Pujols is a key part of the organization both on and off the field.


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 is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Prominent Players Open MLB Season on DL PDF Print E-mail
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Injuries
Written by Matthew Coller   
Sunday, 04 April 2010 21:01

 

The Red Sox had it last season.  The ’08 Yankees were sick as a dog.  Remember the 2007 Cardinals?  They could barely get out of bed.  These teams came down with the injury bug.  Not just the usual bump and bruise, not just a tight hammy here or dead arm there, but the rampant spreading of what could only be described as collective bad luck.

As of Opening Day, nobody officially has the bug, but several teams will be missing key players to start the season.  Here are some of the most important players starting the season on the DL:

RP Angel Guzman (Chicago Cubs) – Guzman underwent arthroscopic surgery in March to repair a “career threatening” injury to his right shoulder.   In 2009, Guzman was the only consistent Cubs reliever sporting a 2.95 ERA in 55 games.

SP Ted Lilly (Chicago Cubs) - Lilly, likely the team's third starter, was put on the DL Sunday retroactive March 26.  Lilly has made several minor league appearances and has looked good.  Manager Lou Pinella said he felt "wonderful."  Return is likely when he becomes eligible.

3B Freddy Sanchez (San Francisco Giants) – After signing a two-year, $12 million extension in the off-season, Sanchez will start the year on the 15-day DL.  The infielder surprised the Giants when he had surgery in January to get rid of discomfort in his shoulder.

2B Ian Kinsler (Texas Rangers) -  Kinsler sustained a high ankle sprain March 12 and will not be ready for the opening of the season.  Kinsler, who was put on the DL retroactive March 26 will be available April 10.

1B Russell Branyan (Cleveland Indians) – After signing a one-year, $2 million contract in the off-season, Branyan will start the year on the DL due to a herniated disc in his back.  Branyan hit 31 home runs last season for the Seattle Mariners.  The primary first baseman is likely to start the year on rehab in triple-A Columbus.

SP Daisuke Matsuzaka (Boston Red Sox) - The Sox announced Sunday that Matsuzaka will start April 10 for triple-A Pawtucket.  The Boston pitcher has struggled with back and neck problems that put him behind in spring training.

SP Cliff Lee (Seattle Mariners) – The new Mariners starter said he “felt good” after throwing Sunday.   He has been shut down since March 15 with a strained abdominal muscle.  Lee suffered the injury after being run over by Dimondbacks’ catcher Chris Snyder.  The timetable on Lee’s return is still unclear, but the team says he may be ahead of schedule.

SS Jose Reyes (New York Mets) – Reyes, who missed 126 games during the 2009 season, starts where he left off: on the DL.  He missed most of spring training with thyroid issues.  Reyes did take 10 minor league at bats and says “everything is good.”  The Mets have not announced when Reyes will return.

CF Carlos Beltran (New York Mets) - Beltran was another player who surprised his team with off-season surgery.  He is reported to be seeing action soon.  As for now, Gary Matthews Jr. will start in center for the Mets.

RP J.P. Howell (Tampa Bay Rays) – The Rays have not yet revealed their timetable on their closer J.P. Howell.  It appears they are taking precautions as he has struggled with soreness in his shoulder.  Rotoworld suggested Howell may return in early May.

RP Kerry Wood (Cleveland Indians) – Saying Kerry Wood is on the DL is like saying Babe Ruth hit home runs.  Wood strained a muscle in his back and will be on the DL retroactive March 26.  Chris Perez will take over as closer while Wood is out.

SP - Gil Meche(Kansas City Royals)  – The Royals starter was put on the DL retroactive March 26 with right shoulder bursitis.  He’s already thrown several times and is tentatively scheduled to start the sixth game of the regular season for the Royals.

SP Scott Kazmir (Anaheim Angels) – The Angels placed Kazmir on the DL as a precaution.  He threw 71 pitches against the Brewers in an exhibition game.

SP Jeff Francis (Colorado Rockies) – The left-hander missed 2009 with surgery to repair a torn labrum.  Apparently it isn’t healed yet because Francis says “It’s hurting pretty bad.”  He was scheduled to start the second game of the season, but will miss at least the first couple of weeks.

RP Houston Street (Colorado Rockies) - USA Today reported that the Rockies’ closer had a setback in his attempt to overcome right shoulder stiffness.  He was shut down for the third time during the spring earlier this week.  Left-hander Franklin Morales will take over as Rockies closer.

CL Brad Lidge (Philadelphia Phillies) – The Phlis’ closer struggled last season with injuries, seeing his numbers suffer as well.  Lidge threw a bullpen session Sunday.  The Phillies said Lidge had “No pain.  No issues.”  Lidge had surgery on the inner half of his elbow after the World Series last season.  The closer will make rehab appearances in early April and will likely join the team later in the month.

1B Lance Berkman (Houston Astros) - Berkman, who has suffered from knee injuries and recovering from arthroscopic surgery, said he is unsure about whether he'll be able to return when he is eligible on April 10.  His recovery period was originally estimated to between two and four weeks.


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Matthew Coller is a staff member of the Business of Sports Network, and is a freelance writer. He can be followed on Twitter

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Lamb: Dreaming of the Florida Marlins and Prince Albert PDF Print E-mail
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Kyle Lamb Article Archive
Written by Kyle Lamb   
Tuesday, 16 November 2010 00:00
Albert Pujols
Dream the impossible dream: What
if Albert Pujols played for, of all
teams, the Marlins?

It’s not exactly The House That Hanley Built, but when the Florida Marlins move into their new ballpark in 2012, a task overdue by nearly 15 years, it will be hard not to note it was a move precipitated with Hanley being the focal point.

But let’s think outside the box a moment, and just contemplate a different scenario for the Marlins. Certainly the following is extremely unlikely, but let’s play a game of “what if.” For just a moment or two, let’s set aside reality and ponder a Marlins franchise making a big play for relevance once again.

As the Marlins prepare for the final year in Joe Robbie / Pro Player / Dolphin / Land Shark / Sun Life Stadium (whew, that was a mouthful), they’ll do so with their brightest star being more Hollywood than Miami—enough for a starring role in HBO’s Entourage. Making matters worse, the standoffish icon’s image, tainted as it is, now has to withstand a 2010 season that saw an OPS drop by 100 points from the previous year.

Even this diva wasn’t immune from the hitting-suppressed landscape around baseball this past year. He still hit .300 with 21 homers, but he also got the manager run out of town.

But the Marlins gave Ramirez a 6-year, $70 million extension in May 2008 with the goal of his being the face of the franchise as they move into their new park. Sometimes it feels like the $15 million they’ll pay him in 2012, the year the park opens, will be better suited being donated to the Columbian Cartel.

So it begs the question: do the Marlins need a new face—perhaps a kinder, gentler image with fewer blemishes? The Marlins should look west to find their royalty.

Prince Albert.

Albert Pujols is heading into his final season with the Cardinals, after a no-brainer $16 million club option was exercised by St. Louis a few weeks ago for 2011. The Cardinals will undoubtedly continue to attempt to ink Pujols to an extension, but thus far have seemingly been unsuccessful on that front. He says he wants to remain in St. Louis, but one wonders what the holdup is.

It’s not likely Pujols has any doubts about what the market will offer. It seems that nearly $30 million per annum awaits his future. One wonders, then, are the Cardinals willing to pay that bounty?

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Looking Past the Rhetoric: Fox' Fight With Cablevision is About the Future of Content Delivery PDF Print E-mail
Joe Tetreault Article Archive
Written by Joe Tetreault   
Wednesday, 27 October 2010 00:00
FIX-Cablevision Carriage Dispute
NYC and Philly Held Hostage, Day 13

The siege between News Corp and Cablevision drags through its second week. With New York and Philadelphia not getting their local Fox stations and in New York's case, their News Corp owned MyTV affiliate as well, the two media titans are slugging it out in a fashion that would make the Transformers in full metorpolitan destruction mode cringe. Sadder still, the havoc their battle is wreaking on viewers damages their brand in ways that at least one of them cannot sustain.

At stake tonight is Game 1 of the World Series, scheduled for Fox and likely to be unavailable to Cablevision subscribers in the metropolitan areas of New York and Philadelphia. The issue would be at a fever pitch if the Yankees and Phillies advanced to the Series, which I suspect was the leverage Fox wanted to use to gain concessions from Cablevision.

Cablevision, however, is hardly in a position to hold out on programming to its subscribers. They lack the brand loyalty that programming on Fox has earned. Viewers recognize this. Witness the fury of soon to be former Cablevision subscriber Joe Pawlikowski, Baseball writer and media watcher extraordinaire:

Tweet 1: "Cablevision is forcing customers to pay for channels they are not receiving. How do they expect to keep customers?"

Tweet 2: "If I don't have Fox by Wednesday night I am dumping Cablevision."

Tweet 3: "I will also encourage everyone I know to switch off Cablevision. There is no reason for consumers to be treated this way."

Joe makes a very good point. In their quest to win, Cablevision is damaging their brand in horrible ways. Fox is insulated from this in many ways by exposing the fundamental flaw of the current method of television delivery. Viewers want the product that Fox provides, they don't care much about the company that serves to deliver the product. That reality alone makes Cablevision's position entirely untenable and explains their eagerness for remediation.

Fox understands their customers are their advertisers, not their viewers. Television programming is a by-product of advertising distribution. As such, garnering more fees from their distribution is merely revenue enhancement and business diversification. As long as their programming can draw viewers, their advertisers won't flinch, even with the temporary loss of parts of markets like Philadelphia and New York.

The programming still draws viewers. Baseball fans like Joe and I may not like Joe Buck and Tim McCarver calling baseball games, but we like baseball games, and these games are the most important games of the year. So we watch. The product, even with its flaws still accommodates our yen for the greatest game played. Similarly, shows like Glee, Fringe and American Idol when it returns have strong audiences. And then there is the NFL, the 600 pound gorilla in the room.

Cablevision by contrast provides a service. They deliver Fox' programming to people's homes. People don't like buying services. They prefer buying results. If they contract a company to deliver television programming, it better do so. Cablevision's value added is convenience. And when their actions prove inconvenient, their viewers seek alternatives.

For many years, when cable companies operated as monopolies, the alternatives were few. While they need not compete with other local cable companies, they do deal with competition from telecommunications providers like AT&T (and their U-verse service) and Verizon (FIOS) as well as Satellite companies like DirecTV and Dish Network.

More worrisome for cable companies is the potential for disintermediation via the Internet. MLB.tv was the first instance of a league selling broadcasts direct to fans. Sites like Hulu (co-owned by News Corp and NBC Universal) can deliver television programming direct to consumers bypassing the cable companies and their competitors. In addition Apple, Netflix and Amazon offer streaming options that can be viewed with set top boxes or video game systems. Roku's set-top boxes which stream Netflix, Amazon as well as MLB.tv, will soon add Hulu, and the full disintermediation will have begun.

As a result of the weakness of their position, Cablevision holds out hope that mediation will settle the issue. Fox, for its part, has no desire to seek mediation, as a mediator will force both parties to accept concessions, concessions Fox feels they need not make.

This move by Fox to gain a greater piece of subscriber fees is geared towards using the cable companies to finance building an infrastructure to go direct. By continuing this fight, Cablevision is antagonizing their suppliers and their customers. Never a particularly good recipe for staying in business.

Using sporting events -- especially the World Series -- to gain leverage shows how little Fox actually needs any cable company. The delivery of sporting events to consumers will be transformed in the next decade. This is but the first skirmish in what will prove to be a technological revolution.


Joe TetreaultJoe Tetreault is Managing Editor 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 can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball

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SEC Makes Play Clock in College Baseball Here to Stay PDF Print E-mail
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NCAA Baseball
Written by Devon Teeple   
Friday, 10 December 2010 08:41

SECIt has been nearly one year since the Biz of Baseball reported on bringing a play clock into college baseball tournaments.

As a quick refresher, the Southeastern Conference, one of the NCAA’s most dominant conferences, suggested a new rule, one that would promote the game of baseball in a way that would arguably benefit the game by speeding it up.

There are two ways you can view this scenario.

The traditionalist will be aghast at such a radical change in the game. A rule or suggestion so far off the beaten path, that the word mockery is putting it nicely.

If you are a new generation of fans, a play clock might deal with some of the problems that have plagued getting games completed in a timely fashion in a society moving at an accelerated pace.

Using personal experience as an example, the game is perfect just the way it is. If you are the casual fan, the one looking for home runs and Playstation like statistics, you want action-packed, high scoring, home run laden contests, all in less than two hours.

Whether the SEC is favouring the latter is up for debate, nonetheless, this change -- this evolution of a rule -- can make the game more enjoyable and television friendly.

The rules are as follows;

The 20-second play clock begins;

  • With no runners are on base
  • A ball is called if the ball is not pitched within 20 seconds
  • A strike is called on the batter, if he is not ready 5 seconds before time expires

The 90-second play clock begins;

  • When the last out is made, and ends when the pitcher begins his windup
  • Batting team is penalized a strike if they are not ready in 90 seconds
  • Fielding team is penalized a ball if they are not ready in 90 seconds
  • Half-inning clock is extended to 105 seconds for televised games
  • Play begins whether the network is ready or not.

A report in USA Today, confirmed that the SEC was the only conference implementing this new strategy when the 2010 tournament began.

Viewing this objectively, a play clock will speed up the game. Previous tournament games eclipsed the three hour mark and did not finish before 1:00 am.

With that said, the NCAA released a statement saying that the play clock will be ruled with an iron fist by the umpires in the SEC, the regular season and on the “Road to Omaha” for the upcoming season.

According to Tim Weiser, deputy commissioner of the Big 12 Conference and chair of the Division I Baseball Committee, these changes will be best enforced “by the umpires at the championships”.

We’ve heard that some conferences are planning to have a visible pitch clock and some aren’t,” Weiser said. “That means umpiring crews in some parts of the country need to be experienced with that clock. That’s why we don’t want to have umpires’ first experiences with the visible clocks be in the championship.”

What once seemed like an experiment has become a reality.

In an age where society wants results as quick as possible, this is the best solution available. If it takes off that is another story, but as history suggests, everything is in need for a change. Better or for worse.


Devon Teeple is a staff member 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 is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Devon is a former student within Sports Management Worldwide's Baseball General Manager Class.

He is the founder of The GM's Perspective, is an intern with The Football Outsiders and contributor with the Plymouth River Eels. Currently, Devon is a Branch Manager at a financial institution in Southern Ontario Canada. He can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

 
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