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Umpires for 2013 LCS Announced by Major League Baseball PDF Print E-mail
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MLB News
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 11 October 2013 16:49

2013 MLB Postseason logo

Major League Baseball today announced the umpires who have been assigned to the National League and American League Championship Series.  Thirty-year Major League Umpire Gerry Davis will serve as the crew chief for the NLCS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals, while 36-year Major League Umpire Joe West will lead the crew assigned to the ALCS between the Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox.

The tandem will call balls and strikes in the Game Ones and the potential Game Sevens of the two LCS.  Davis and West were the crew chiefs and home plate umpires in the A.L. and N.L. Wild Card Games presented by Budweiser, respectively, during this Postseason.

Davis, whose 116 career Postseason games officiated are a Major League record, will lead an NLCS crew that includes regular season crew chief Ted Barrett, Mark Carlson, Bruce Dreckman, Mike Everitt and Greg Gibson.  Barrett, Everitt and Gibson teamed with Davis for the A.L. Wild Card Game, while Dreckman was assigned to the A.L. Wild Card Tiebreaker Game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Texas Rangers.  This will mark the 26th career Postseason assignment for Davis, including his ninth LCS.  The NLCS, which will be exclusively telecast by TBS, begins tonight at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

West, who leads the active staff in years of Major League service with 36, will guide an ALCS crew featuring regular season crew chief Dale Scott, Rob Drake, Dan Iassogna, Ron Kulpa and Alfonso Marquez.  Scott, Drake and Iassogna worked the N.L. Wild Card Game with West, while Kulpa was assigned to the A.L. Tiebreaker Game between Tampa Bay and Texas.  This is West’s 21st career Postseason assignment, including his eighth LCS.  The ALCS, which will be exclusively broadcast by FOX, begins on Saturday at Fenway Park.

A complete listing of the rotations assigned to the National League and American League Championship Series can be seen by selecting Read More

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Pirates-Cardinals Game 5 NLDS Sees An Average of 6.1 Million Viewers PDF Print E-mail
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Television
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 10 October 2013 20:23

2013 MLB Postseason logo

With a decisive Game 5 between the Pirates and the Cardinals, with the winner moving on the meet the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS, viewers reached for the clicker to watch.

The complete game by Adam Wainwright that led the Cardinals to a 6-1 win over the Pirates in Game 5 of the NLDS on Wednesday led to the most-watched game of the 2013 Postseason.

TBS’ national telecast of Cardinals-Pirates averaged 6.1 million viewers, up 69 percent over comparable Wednesday coverage in 2012 according to Nielsen. For the seventh time in the last nine nights, TBS topped all cable competition in primetime, leading the second place network by 125 percent in the metered market ratings.

Overall, through 15 Division Series telecasts, TBS has averaged 3.7 million viewers, up 9 percent through the same number of games in 2012.

In St. Louis, Wednesday’s game drew a 33.6 rating, the highest mark for an MLB game there since Game 6 of the 2012 NLCS. By the conclusion of the game, 58 percent of all TVs on in St. Louis were tuned to the game. In Pittsburgh, the game drew a 31.1, second-best ever on record in the market behind only last week’s Wild Card game.

This Postseason has been marked by especially strong starting pitching, as well as an unprecedented number of rookie pitchers. Seven rookies have started Postseason games this year (Gerrit Cole, Sonny Gray, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Danny Salazar, Daniel Straily, Julio Teheran and Michael Wacha), already eclipsing the previous record of six set during last year’s entire Postseason. In addition, there have already been 10 instances of a starting pitcher going at least six innings and allowing no more than one run, two shy of the entire 2012 Postseason.


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. 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 here.

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Through Weds, MLB 2013 Postseason TV Ratings Up 9% Over 2012 PDF Print E-mail
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Television
Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 09 October 2013 00:00

Ratings continue to be strong with the Division Series seeing crucial “win or go home” elimination games on the slate. TBS’ national telecasts of Athletics-Tigers and Red Sox-Rays averaged a 3.1 fast national rating and 4.5 million viewers, up +35% and +32%, respectively, over Day 6 coverage in 2012 according to Nielsen. For the sixth time in the last eight nights, TBS easily topped all cable competition in primetime, leading the second place network by +139% in the metered market ratings.

Overall, through 16 Postseason telecasts, TBS has averaged 3.7 million viewers, Turner’s best average through that number of games since 2010 and up +9% over 2012.

Local ratings highlights from Tuesday’s games included:

• 19.7 in Boston, the second highest rated MLB game there since Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS.

• 19.3 in Detroit, the highest-rated MLB game there since the 2012 World Series.

• 17.8 in Tampa Bay, the highest-rated MLB game there since Game 5 of the 2010 ALDS.


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. 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 here.

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MLB 2013 Postseason Ratings Up 29% After Day 2 of LDS PDF Print E-mail
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Television
Written by Maury Brown   
Saturday, 05 October 2013 23:11

Whether it’s large markets and storied brands (Red Sox, Dodgers), or that the Pirates are in, or that Tigers are trying to get back to the World Series, people are watching MLB’s postseason more than last season.

Friday’s four games, with three airing on TBS and one televised by MLB Network, were up +29% in national rating (1.8 average) over the corresponding four-game slate in 2012.

Overall, through Day 2 of Division Series action on TBS and MLB Network, the entire 2013 MLB Postseason is up +16% in national rating over the corresponding coverage in 2012, according to Nielsen (2.2 average).

MLB Network’s coverage of the Pirates’ 7-1 victory over the Cardinals was the network’s highest rated game of the year (1.0 coverage rating), and drew the third-highest rating in the network’s history.

The four games on Friday were also the top four most talked-about programs on social media across all of TV throughout the day on Friday, accounting for 40% of all tweets about anything on TV all day, according to Social Guide. As the Braves-Dodgers game was nearing its conclusion, more than 1,500 tweets were sent each minute.


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. 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 here.

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Why the Fan Base of the Tampa Bay Rays Gets Harsh Judgment PDF Print E-mail
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Maury Brown Article Archive
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 04 October 2013 01:26

They say that life isn’t fair, so get used to it, but there’s times when that cold splash of reality in such a neat package isn’t enough. Being critical isn’t something that is fun (although snark is often the soup de jour these days).

Such is the case when it comes to my view of the Tampa Bay Rays fan base. I have been critical of them (but I don’t hold all fans to the same measure). When one gets out in front of a touchy issue with fans, having a bull’s-eye on your back comes with the territory.

I just published an in-depth report on the 2013 MLB attendance for the regular season on Forbes. Within, I write this:

The season ends as the sixth-highest all-time and the league was quick to point out that all of the top 10 seasons in attendance have been over the last decade. The Los Angeles Dodgers led the majors with 3,743,527, the first time they led the league since 2009. At the other end of the spectrum, despite being consistently competitive on the field, the Tampa Bay Rays ended the season with a total of just 1,510,300 or an average of 18,646 per game. They were the only club to see average attendance below 19,000 per game.

Whether on Twitter, Facebook, or elsewhere, fans of the Rays have taken offense to my position. Instead of addressing them individually, here’s my answers as to their responses:

Why Do You Bash on the Rays, but Not on Indians Fans?

Cleveland ranked 29th in attendance this season after the Miami Marlins got a strong push from playing the Tigers in their last series of the season at Marlins Park. While Progressive Field was sold out for the AL Wild Card game against the Rays, it’s one of the only shining moments at the gate all season for Cleveland. In fact, as the Indians were coming down the stretch in the dogfight with the Rays and Rangers, they had some of the worst attended games of the season for the league. On Sept. 3 against the Orioles they drew just 9,962 and six days later against the Royals they drew 9,794. In fact, for the season they had 5 games that were under 10,000 in attendance. But, I hold a harsher view of the Rays fans over the Indians due to this: the Indians haven’t been successful in the standings before this season since losing the ALCS in 2007 and prior to that they hadn’t been in the playoffs since 2001 when they lost to the Mariners. The Rays have been in the postseason four of the last six seasons, including the World Series in 2008. While neither club should be seeking out fans at the end of the season in a tight race, the Rays have had much more success that should be drawing fans in.

But the Ratings Are High!

Against the abysmal attendance, the Rays television ratings have been up substantially this year. So, bashing isn’t fair, it’s the ballpark that’s the problem, right? That may well be. There’s no disputing the fact that the ballpark is in a bad location and as a dome, doesn’t exactly stack up with newer ballpark experiences, but the television ratings don’t pay dividends like the gate does, at least not now. That’s because regardless of how those ratings move, the rights fees are locked into the agreement. The Rays may benefit from the ratings when their new deal comes up, but for now, ratings increases don’t garner an effect on the bottom line. The gate still holds a massive amount of weight in the revenue game for the Rays.

With Centralized Money, the Rays Are Profitable

Without revenue-sharing, the Rays wouldn’t likely see any profits. The point is not whether a club is profitable, it is the flexibility that comes with increased revenues. There has never been an owner or GM out there that when asked whether they wanted more or less revenues to work from, they selected “less”. You don’t have to have a $200 million payroll to be successful, but being able to work from more addresses risk aversion. So, if fans want to see this kind of success continue, having to live off the revenue-sharing pie isn’t the way to go.

Why Do You Care?

This is the one that is often said of national writers. That because we don’t live in a particular market, our feelings are somehow diminished. What most every baseball writer has is a love of the game. We like it to thrive. We want to see smart, well run organizations be rewarded for the hard work. In that, the Rays are my AL organization of the last 5 years. They have done incredible things in terms of developing talent, and doing almost magic in wrapping that talent up early to long-term contracts. The Rays in any other position would be reaping massive benefits from seeing the gate humming. I’m not saying that the Rays in the Trop are going to be a top 5 attendance draw, but they should absolutely be outdrawing Houston, Kansas City, Seattle, and be at least where Oakland is at.

When Will You Stop?

Maybe the best thing that could happen is a World Series victory for the Rays. It would show what a club can do with so little. It is also the highest a club can go, so at that stage, you’d get a real feel for whether it’s the ballpark or the fans that make the Rays a habitual bottom feeder in the attendance standings. They say winning cures all ills. It hasn’t yet in Tampa Bay. Maybe a World Series cures all ills for the Rays. That would be the best news of all.


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. 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 here.

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NL Wild Card Game that Sees Pirates Advance Draws Strong TV Ratings PDF Print E-mail
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Television
Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 02 October 2013 22:02

2013 MLB Wild Card

With the first playoff game in Pittsburgh since 1992, and the winner-advances format for the Wild Card, fans tuned in to Tuesday’s NL Wild Card game to officially kick off the 2013 MLB postseason.

With the largest crowd, ever, in PNC Park history at 40,487 the game got strong ratings on TV and solid action via social media.

TBS’ telecast of last night’s NL Wild Card Game drew a 3.0 fast national rating and 4.6 million viewers, both +15% increases over last year’s NL Wild Card Game. The game led TBS to win prime time over all other cable competition, with a metered market rating +150% higher than the second place network. In Pittsburgh, the TBS telecast drew a 33.7 local rating, the highest for any MLB game ever on record in the market.

The game also got lots of activity on social media, with 336,169 total tweets sent by 142,463 unique authors, by far the most-discussed program on TV throughout the entire day, according to data from SocialGuide. As the Pirates closed out the 6-2 victory, more than 70% of all tweets about anything on TV were about the game.


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. 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 here.

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5 Reasons Why Rob Manfred Will Be the Next Commissioner of MLB PDF Print E-mail
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Maury Brown Article Archive
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 01 October 2013 15:23

Who>When Bud Selig made his announcement last week that he was, indeed, retiring at the end of his contract in January of 2015, the question on everyone’s mind was who will replace him? Thousands of words have been written on the subject such as here, here, and as late as 2006, here. But, with the 2013 postseason looming, Selig is making good on his claim that this is indeed the last contract he will have as MLB’s commissioner.

Beyond the announcement, a key move was made yesterday when Rob Manfred was made COO of the league. Manfred has been involved greatly with labor negotiations, the drug policy, and other aspects that made him baseball’s #2 exec, even if he didn’t have the position. Here’s 5 reasons why Manfred is the next commissioner of baseball.

Moving Manfred to COO Officially Puts Him in the #2 Position

When Bob DuPuy left MLB as its COO and President, the position was never filled. Selig took over that aspect of the league, and ever since everything has run across his desk. With moving Manfred into the COO spot, he now occupies the true position as MLB’s second in command. As a part of the transition, Manfred will now oversee day-to-day management of the Commissioner’s Office in New York.

Selig and Manfred Will Now Work More Closely

The two already worked closely together, but now it appears that moves will be done with Manfred at Selig’s side, rather than Manfred taking direction from Selig. In the statement about Manfred’s promotion, Selig said, “I am pleased that I will work with him even more closely in the near future.” While one might say that regardless of the possible move to the position of commissioner, Selig would be working more closely with Manfred, it’s that promotion to COO that makes it sound more and more like Manfred is being groomed for the position. After all, Selig could work more closely with Manfred in his former role as Executive Vice President for Economics & League Affairs.

Still No Talk of a Search Committee

In all of the statements released by the league around Selig’s retirement and Manfred’s promotion, there has been nothing about a search committee. While the owners will still have to have 75 percent approval voting for Selig’s successor, the longer this goes without a search committee to field multiple candidates for a replacement, the more this is looking like it’s wired for Manfred.

Time To Sell Manfred to the 30 Owners

In making the promotion now, it makes it pretty obvious that Manfred is either “the guy” or at worst, a candidate on a short list. If Manfred is being picked by Selig as the guy he wants to see succeed him, he has 15 months to work the phones as only Selig can to ensure that the vote isn’t just the minimum 75 percent of the owners, but a unanimous vote.

Transitioning to Manfred Sends a Message and Perpetuates the Selig Legacy

This is the most important reason why Manfred is likely the next commissioner of Major League Baseball. Unlike nearly all his predecessors, Selig’s vision has been embraced by the owners and has allowed the league to flourish. With Manfred being the man to do the heavy lifting for Selig all these years, an internal promotion to commissioner sends the message that Selig’s vision is endorsed even after he leaves office. It also shows confidence in the overall direction that the league has been taking, and removes any signs that there is internal strife within the ranks. In that, like Adam Silver with the NBA, or even Roger Goodell with the NFL, lateral moves send a message of stability. It is only when there is dissension within the ranks regarding leadership that you see moves such as the ouster of Fay Vincent and the placement of Bud Selig as interim commissioner back in 1992.

There is always a case that quietly something else is happening behind the scenes, but to date those close to the league don’t show any hint that that’s happening. While no one will say that Manfred is going to be the next commissioner, it’s only because ultimately the 30 owners will have their say. Selig has been a master at building consensus. If there was someone else he was picking to succeed him, comments in the media would be happening, and he’d certainly be looking to line up the votes like he has so many times before. At least for the moment, it all points to Rob Manfred.


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. 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 here.

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Miami Marlins Selling Tickets to No-Hitter the Day After It Happened PDF Print E-mail
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Ticket & Attendance Watch
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 30 September 2013 14:08

Jeffrey Loria

Touting it as a “way to have a piece of history” the Miami Marlins are selling $15 tickets to yesterday’s no-hitter by Henderson Alvarez. The tickets will be on sale for not only Monday, but until Sunday, October 6th at midnight. The club is selling the 9,100 unsold tickets left for the game. The official box score for the game was 28,315, but the Marlins appear to be back-dooring in extra numbers and revenues with the tickets being sold after the fact. The Marlins did not sell out one game this season.

The Marlins finished second to last in league attendance this year with an average of 19,584 but will be trying to nudge that up as any tickets sold—even the ones for the no-hitter sold after the season is now completed —will count as paid attendance. In doing so, the Marlins are artificially inflating their attendance. The club currently will end the season with the worst attendance decline in the second season of a brand new ballpark since 1992 when Bud Selig took over as commissioner.

This isn’t the first time the Marlins have artificially inflated their attendance numbers. The club sold tickets after Roy Holladay of the Philadelphia Phillies pitched a perfect game in 2010 that was played in Florida.


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. 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 here.

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CSN Houston Files Involuntary Bankruptcy, Astros Say Filing “Improper” PDF Print E-mail
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Television
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 27 September 2013 23:58

AstrosComcast SportsNet Houston, the regional sports network created in partnership with the Houston Astros, Houston Rockets, and NBC Universal/Comcast, filed involuntary bankruptcy on Friday. The Houston Astros, who are the majority stakeholders in the fledgling RSN appeared to be caught off-guard by the action saying that Comcast “improperly filed” the petition “in an attempt to prevent the Astros from terminating the Media Rights Agreement between the Astros and Houston Regional Sports Network.”

The Astros, who are majority stakeholders own 46.384 percent of CSN Houston while the Rockets own 30.923 percent. NBC Universal/Comcast owns 22.693 percent.

The Astros added in their statement that CSN Houston “failed to pay the Astros media rights fees in July, August and September”, adding that they had “invested additional money in order to keep the network viable through our season.”

NBC Universal said in a statement that it had filed “in order to resolve structural issues affecting CSN Houston’s partnership.”

They added, “This action is necessary to preserve CSN Houston’s ability to provide its valuable programming and reaffirms Comcast/NBC Universal’s commitment to serving the region and its fans.”

David Barron of the Houston Chronicle noted that listed as petitioning creditors in the case are National Digital Television Center of Centennial, Colo., which is owed $10,517.50; Comcast Sports Management Services LLC, which is owed $1,251,573.75 for management services; Comcast SportsNet California, which is owed $43,129.02; and Houston SportsNet Finance, based in Philadelphia, which has a $100 million loan to the partnership plus accrued and unpaid interest, fees, and other amounts.

The Astros added in their statement that, “Despite not receiving our media rights fees, our objective has not changed.  We will continue to work toward obtaining full carriage so that all of our fans are able to watch the Astros games while making sure that the Astros are able to compete for championships.”

CSN Houston will remain on the air while the bankruptcy proceeds. The network is only seen on about 40 percent of households in the Houston region and has struggled to gain carriage with any carriers outside of Comcast. Mayor Annise Parker tried to broker a break in the stalemate between CSN Houston and the major carriers by setting up meetings with officials of DirecTV, Time Warner and Suddenlink, but those meetings were fruitless.


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. 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 here.

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Now That Bud Selig Has Made it Official That He’ll Retire, What’s Next? PDF Print E-mail
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Maury Brown Article Archive
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 26 September 2013 16:29


Selig is officially retiring.
Now the question is, who
will replace him?

This time it counts. No, it’s not the outcome of the All-Star Game, but rather that Bud Selig really, truly is retiring at the beginning of 2015. Many times prior Selig has said he would retire, but this time the league issued a statement that solidifies that the Selig tenure will be coming to a close. He will officially retire on January 24, 2015.

Selig said in a statement:

“It remains my great privilege to serve the game I have loved throughout my life.  Baseball is the greatest game ever invented, and I look forward to continuing its extraordinary growth and addressing several significant issues during the remainder of my term.

“I am grateful to the owners throughout Major League Baseball for their unwavering support and for allowing me to lead this great institution.  I thank our players, who give me unlimited enthusiasm about the future of our game.  Together we have taken this sport to new heights and have positioned our national pastime to thrive for generations to come.  Most of all, I would like to thank our fans, who are the heart and soul of our game.”

What’s interesting is not that Selig actually is following through on his retirement (the Jan. 24, 2015 date is when his current contract expires and had said that when it was done, so was he with leading the league), but rather what will occur after.

Within the statement from the league it was said that “Selig will announce shortly a transition plan in preparation for his retirement, which will reorganize centralized Major League Baseball management.” What that means is open to interpretation.

Nothing in the statement from the league mentions any search committee to find a replacement. When a league source was asked if any would be put together, the response was, “We’ll see down the road.”

We’re over a year away from Selig’s retirement, so we’re more than a ways off. There should be no sense that the league is in some dire leadership vacuum at this point.

Early on, however, the fact that Selig’s transition plan calls for a reorganizing of MLB’s management, coupled with no clear notice of a search committee leads one to believe that the successor to Selig will likely be hand picked and internal to baseball. The fact that Selig is announcing it now would give him time to sell this replacement to the owners. Any replacement for Selig requires a written vote of approval by 75 percent of the 30 owners. Based upon the league constitution, the vote would take place no later than 6 months from Selig’s contract expiration (July of 2014) and no earlier than 15 months from its expiration.

It is this timeframe that explains why Selig has made his notification official now. It aligns within the 15 month window to name his successor. It also allows Selig to shepard in the replacement over time. In other words, the owners could vote as late as July of next year or as early as shortly after the end of the World Series.

The looming question is, who will that person be? There is no clear answer to that question, but it’s possible that with the reorganization that Selig has for the transition, that Rob Manfred, MLB’s Executive Vice President, Economics and League Affairs, could be that man. Manfred has been the point for labor negotiations with the MLBPA and matters of human resources since 1998. With Bob DuPuy leaving MLB as its president, Manfred has become baseball’s #2 behind Selig.

There is time to speculate as to who will be the heir apparent. But no later than July of next year, right around the mid-point of the season, the owners will vote as to who will replace baseball’s ninth commissioner. Selig has led Major League Baseball since September 9, 1992, when, as Chairman of the Major League Executive Council, he became interim Commissioner.  He was unanimously elected the league’s ninth Commissioner on July 9, 1998.  Only Landis—baseball’s first commissioner—will have held the post longer.


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. 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 here.

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