Tag:Pirates
Posted on: September 12, 2011 2:10 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Absolutely Clueless

No one should have been surprised that the worst Commissioner in the history of baseball made another bad decision yesterday on the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our country.  The two cities that bore the brunt of those attacks New York and Washington DC were told by MLB not to wear the caps of the first responders for the Mets or the Navy Seals for the Nationals.  Joe Torre, formerly the Yankees manager in 2001 was the messenger, but there can be no doubt that the author of that edict was Allan Huber Selig. 

What profit would baseball garner by having the nation watch a game with the players wearing the unauthorized caps of the NYPD, the FDNY, the Port Authority of NY ?  None. This on Selig’s watch is unacceptable.

Selig as owner of the Brewers with help of the gang of 6 forced Fay Vincent, the last independent Commissioner, out and assumed the role of acting commissioner himself.  For the next six years Selig wore two hats, baseball owner and commissioner until in 1998 baseball confirmed him as commissioner and he turned the Brewers over to his daughter and son-in-law.  Six years after that the Brewers were sold and Selig’s son-in-law Laurel Prieb was hired as an executive by MLB.  In the 35 years that Selig and family owned the Brewers they made the playoffs twice and in the final twelve years finished under .500 every year.  An argument could be made either way as to whether Selig was as bad a commissioner as he was a baseball executive.  Both sides would be right.

September eleventh resonates with  everyone.  But for some the scars are still visible in the unfinished resurrection of the fallen World Trade Center, in the tears of loved one left behind and in the children.  The NY Mets wore the caps of the first responders in the first game after 9/11/01 against the Braves at Shea Stadium on Sept. 21/ 2001.

On September 11, 2001, 3,051 innocent people died at the hands of Osama bin Laden and his death squad.  403 of them were first responders who died trying to save lives.  184 died in a field in Shanksville, PA., the final resting place of Flight 93, where the final words were “Lets Roll”.  The courage and patriotism on that plane destined to hit the Capital Building can never be surpassed.  I think of that day and I get a knot in my chest, and Selig sees dollar signs.  Not only the worst commissioner, but a soulless commissioner.

Posted on: July 27, 2011 3:12 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 6:46 pm
 

Victory

There is a settlement and the NFL is in business again.  Most baseball fans will now devote a growing proportion of attention on their football teams as the start of the NFL season begins and the baseball season draws to close. Every columnist I read Bob Glauber (Newsday), Mike Lupica and Gary Myers (Daily News) were all complimentary on the fairness of the CBA and the part that Jeff Saturday played in the negotiations.  It amounts to 10 more years without having to revisit lockouts, decertification and a work stoppage.   If only the MLB had a Players Association and a Commissioner who did not more resemble the Allied Forces and the Axis Forces facing each other on a battlefield than the NFL joint leadership. 

MLB and the Players association have had eight labor stoppages since 1972 with a significant loss of games (712) in 1981 that resulted in two half seasons.  The 1994 work stoppage was far more costly when baseball shut down and the rest of the season and post season were lost.  The contention was over the subjects of a salary cap and revenue sharing, but the adversarial relationship had been brewing for years.

In an interview with the Biz of Baseball in 2005 former Commissioner Fay Vincent was quoted “The Union basically doesn’t trust the Ownership because collusion was a $280 million theft by Bud Selig and Jerry Reinsdorf of that money from the players. I mean, they rigged the signing of free agents. They got caught. They paid $280 million to the players. And I think that’s polluted labor relations in baseball ever since it happened. I think it’s the reason Fehr has no trust in Selig.”  This referred back to the 1990 settlement of three cases of collusion brought by the MLBPA against the owners 1986-88.

 

At that time, then-commissioner Fay Vincent told the owners:

“The single biggest reality you guys have to face up to is collusion. You stole $280 million from the players, and the players are unified to a man around that issue, because you got caught and many of you are still involved.”

 

A little more than a year later a 18-9 no confidence vote led by the ‘Gang of Six’ which included Allan Huber Selig and Reinsdorf cost the last independent Commissioner his job and Brewers owner Selig became Commissioner.

We have seen what can happen when men of reason and character like Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith sit down to resolve an issue.  This will never happen in MLB as long as the commissioner is a stooge of the owners and lacks the moral fiber to command the trust of the MLBPA.

 

I entitled this entry ‘Victory’ for the NFL CBA.  For baseball fans titles like Defeated, Disillusioned or Disenfranchised might better describe baseball’s relationship with the fan.  The game has been sold to the media and Corporate America.  If you want to watch a game with your son during the school year, plan on writing him a note for missing school the next day.  Unless you are of more than ample means don’t expect to be going to many games.  The owners have sold America’s Pastime and with every dollar squeezed out are bring the game closer to the end of the glory that once was baseball.

Posted on: July 24, 2011 5:09 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 6:47 pm
 

Here's a Thought

I understand that this entry will raise the BP of fans in a number of cities.  But it shouldn’t be too many since these fans are pretty much alone without a large fan base to share the victories and loses of their teams.  This thought came to me as I watched the FOX Game of the Week featuring the Phillies and the Padres.  Despite a game effort bySan Diegothey were a team overmatched and predictably lost.

Divide the major leagues into three pieces, National, American and Freedom.  The National and American leagues would conduct business as usual and playing for the Commissioners Trophy after some restructuring into two five team divisions (East & West).  If necessary they could even continue the distracting practice of interleague play.  The Freedom League, free from competing against 100 & 200 Million payrolls would also divide into two 5 team divisions and would conduct its own postseason.  All leagues would send its top two finishers onto the post season.  The Freedom League would participate in all major league activities; free agency, the draft, trading deadline, and revenue sharing.

Since revenue sharing is a ‘gift’ from the major leagues, the Commissioners office would oversee the budgets of Freedom League teams.  All revenue sources would be spent on organization operations to improve the product on the field at all levels.  Owners would not take any earnings while the team remains in the Freedom League, this will not be well received by Jeff Loria of the soon to be Miami Marlins which are moving into a new Stadium built with public money.  In 2008 the Marlins had an opening day payroll of 21.8 Million, they finished last in attendance and Jeff Loria finished with a 39.2 Million dollar operating profit and a net profit of 29.4 M.  The 2008 Marlins received 48 Million in revenue sharing.  2009 the payroll was still the lowest in baseball, and Jeff Loria collected another 44 M in revenue sharing and turned another net profit. 

A MLB commission would decide after each season; based on attendance, payroll and performance whether a team would move up to either the AL or NL and who would move down.  The ‘graduation’ would not be guaranteed and would also depend on an existing AL/NL team floundering.  Freedom League teams would retain their former AL/NL affiliation. To accomplish this six of the ten teams comprising the Freedom League would come from the ranks of the National League.  The following are the 7 NL teams with the lowest payroll and attendance followed by 5 candidates from the American League.

National League Payroll          2011             Attendance
Padres                                                              Marlins
Pirates                                                            Nationals
Diamondbacks                                                  Pirates 
Marlins                                                         Diamondbacks 
Nationals                                                          Padres
Astros                                                                Reds
Reds                                                                 Astros


American League Payroll                             Attendance
Royals                                                            Athletics
Rays                                                                Indians
Indians                                                              Rays
Blue Jays                                                          Royals
Athletics                                                         Blue Jays

Some of these teams have .500 or better records as we reach the 100 game mark in the season.  The Pirates and the Indians have surprised their fans with their play and both are in contention for their division championship.  Contrary to the theme of my favorite baseball movie "Field of Dreams", if you build it they may not come.   The formula IMHO is payroll drives attendance and attendance provides sustainability to produce on the field.   We could of course continue with the haves beating up on the have nots, an unbalanced schedule and millions of disenfranchised fans who pay to watch an inferior product while ownership short changes them and the league.  Separate out the teams that are not competeing, ensure that ownership is investing in that team.  And allow it to have success, and engage their fanbase before stepping up the NL or AL  


                 

Posted on: July 12, 2011 1:05 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 6:48 pm
 

Mama don't let your Babies

grow up to Allan Huber Selig, Commissioner of Baseball.  aka, former owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, owners lackey, leader of the Great Lakes Gang which ousted Fay Vincent.  Selig, could also be found cowering beneath his desk if the Players Association’s Gene Orza or Donald Fehr showed up to see him.

This is the week that the Major Leagues pause to conduct the   Midsummer Classic, the All-Star Game.  First played as part of the 1933 Chicago Expo, the game provided a tableau for the best players of the American and National leagues to face each other and also given national coverage it gave baseball fans in remote areas and in cities with only one team to listen to the broadcast of the game and to hear the exploits of players they had only heard about.  In 1933 and until the early 1950s eleven of the sixteen major league teams were located in just five cities. New York had three, Boston; the Red Sox and Braves, the Athletics were in Philadelphia, the Browns in St. Louis and Chicago had two. Each of these cities had players of both leagues ready available to see play. Cincinnati, D.C., Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh had one team.  Prior to the mid 50’s less than 50% of families owned automobiles, so travel to see a game was somewhat restricted.  The spread of television ownership in the early 50’s gave the All-Star game a boost and increased fan interest.  That interest continued through the 70’s. During the 1980’s we started to see a change in the player’s commitment to the game.  Players began passing on attending, others limited themselves to three innings before that became more the norm, and some who had played three left before the game was over, with this player attitude, fan interest also waned.  The Home Run Derby was created to regenerate interest and to produce revenue for the media as well as baseball.  Perhaps the fans in the park get a kick out of it, but it is three labored hours of batting practice and Chris Berman.  It may be the singular reason that remotes have ‘off buttons’.  Another blow to the game was struck in 2002 when the team mismanagers ran out of players in the eleventh inning and the commissioner (Selig) called the game a tie. 

Baseballs response was swift and profitable, partnered with FOX, Selig announced that “This One Counts.  Going forward the league winning the AS game would have home field advantage in the World Series and to insure that the rosters were sufficient to avoid mismanagers they were expanded, a reentry provision was created, and managers were advised to withhold players for emergencies.  Everything that could be done, outside of penalty kicks was done to keep the egg off the commissioners (Selig) face.

Perhaps the death knell was sounded in 1997 and wasn’t heard.  1997 was the beginning of regular season inter-league play (Selig) which involves eighteen games a year.  Besides the unbalanced regular season intra-league schedule and games now scheduled against teams that you may see every fourth year, it also removed the cachet of the All Star game which was to that point the only time that AL and NL players faced each other than the World Series.

It has not been surprising that manager, players and journalists are disenchanted with the Midsummer Classic.  Despite the value now placed on the exhibition game more than twenty percent of the players elected by the fans or selected by the manager opted out, some due to injury, some for personal reasons.  The value of “This One Counts”, zero.  Not one World Series in the past eight years dating to 2003 has gone seven games.

It has been on the watch this commissioner that the All-Star game has suffered its greatest loss of esteem.  This is the reign of the Worst Baseball Commissioner who also gave rise to another WBC, an abomination known as the World Baseball Classic.

 

 

Posted on: June 18, 2011 8:37 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 6:51 pm
 

Getting it all Wrong

Not able to fix the problems that plague baseball such as lack of a salary cap, suspected use of HGH, the slippage of baseball’s standing amongst other sports, the DH, and the over exposure of inter-league that has limited the more critical intra-league component, Allan Huber Selig has taken it upon himself to create a new twist that should never see the light of day.

Under pressure from the owners of teams in the NL Central Major League Baseball is looking at a two league 15 team format which would advance three teams each into the playoffs and have the fourth and fifth place teams play a post season series for the wildcard. 
  The NL Central is the only 6 team division in baseball, hence making the competition for the playoffs more difficult.  This can be traced back to 1998, when baseball’s AL and NL were both 14 team 3 division leagues. 1998 is when baseball expanded once again adding the Devil Rays to the AL and the Diamondbacks to the NL, realizing that 15 team leagues wouldn’t work Selig had his former franchise the Brewers moved from the AL to the NL creating a six team division.  Now in the chase for the last dollar MLB wants a fifth playoff team from both the AL and NL, hence formats that will give us inter-league play from day one until day last. There are two other configurations possible assuming that Selig wants to pursue fixing that which wasn’t that badly broken.  Contract two teams and return to the 1997 balance of that day and as long as we traveled back to 1997 delete inter-league all together or limit it to one 4 game series per year between geographical or historical rivalries.  I confess that I don’t know whether the concept of contraction falls under the CBA or not, if it does the Players Assoc. will never agree to the loss of jobs.  For the sake of this discussion, it does not.  My parameters for contraction would be attendance and I would grandfather all teams that made up the Major Leagues prior to the 1961 expansion which added the Angels and the Senators which replaced the team that became the Twins and later moved from Washington to Texas and became the Rangers.  Safe among low attendance teams (2008-date) would be the Athletics, Indians, Orioles, and Pirates.   The first contraction team should be the Marlins who have never received fan support and have finished last in attendance in two of the last three years and are currently last as we speak.  The problem, the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County are on the hook for 500 M on the 634 M dollar stadium.  Jeff Loria, team owner, and David Samson (son-in-law) team president have threatened to move the team repeatedly and have claimed poverty despite a 38 M operating profit in 2008.  Miami Mayor Carlos Alverez who engineered the stadium deal was later voted out of office 88%-12%.  The next expansion team that consistently appeared on the list low attendance is the Kansas City Royals, followed by the Blue Jays.  Should the Marlins get a pass and avoid contraction?  I would vote no, but with Selig’s finger prints all over the purchase of the Marlins by Loria they would be safe.   When 2002 dawned, John Henry owned the Marlins having bought the team from Wayne Huizenga.  The Boston Red Sox were on the market and Jeff Loria was unhappy in Montreal.  Selig brokered a deal in which MLB bought the Expos for 120 M, Loria bought the Marlins for 160 M and John Henry bought the Red Sox from the Tom Yawkey Estate.  The Expos ultimately moved to Washington and were bought from MLB in 2006 by Ted Lerner.

Another option would be another round of expansion adding two more teams to the mix and creating two 16 team leagues with four 4 team divisions.  Based on the 2010 census there are eleven population centers that are larger than 9 current major league teams including Atlanta, Minneapolis, St Louis, and Cincinnati.  San Antonio, Indianapolis, Austin,TX, Charlotte N.C., and Memphis are all top 20 cities.  Others include Las Vegas, Oklahoma City and Albuquerque NM.  Whether it is contraction or expansion both would save baseball from first to last inter-league and from the continued meddling of Allan Huber Selig, baseballs worst commissioner beyond question.

Posted on: June 10, 2011 2:05 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:00 pm
 

A Common Denominator

What do David Wright, JasonBay, Ryan Church and Justin Morneau all have in common?  All suffered concussions in recent years and all have experienced a drop in performance. 

Church was the first of the four when he slide into the knee of the second baseman on May 20<sup>th</sup> 2008, he PH in a game two days later and then flew with the team to face the Rockies. At that time he was hitting .315 (.383 OBP) with 9 HRs and 32 RBIs in 162 ABs.  He had also struck out 39 times.  Church went on the DL June 5<sup>th</sup>, was activated on June 29<sup>th</sup>, returned to the DL July 6<sup>th</sup>, and returned on Aug. 22<sup>nd</sup>.  Through the end of the 2008 season he hit .219 (.305 OBP) with 2 HRs and 13 RBIs.  The 114 ABs resulted in 33 strikeouts.  Thru 2009-2010 Church never regained his HR ability and the K/AB remained higher than pre-concussion.

David Wright was hit by a pitch on Aug 15<sup>th</sup> 2009.  At the time he was hitting .324 (.414) with 8 HRs and 55 RBIs.  In the 426 ABs to that point in had struckout 105 times.  He returned from the DL on Sept. 1<sup>st</sup> and hit .239 (.289) with 2 HRs and 17 RBIs in the final month.  He K’d 35 times in 109 ABs.  Obviously Wright is not the same player he was in 2008, it is reasonable to point to the impact of Citifield and the aftermath of the concussion.

Both Justin Morneau and JasonBay sustained their concussions last July, Morneau early in the month in a play similar to Ryan Church when he was hit in the head by the fielder’s knee.  At the time of the season ending injury the 2006 MVP was hitting .345 with a .437 OBP; he had 18 HRs and 56 RBIs in 296 ABs.  Today he is hitting .225; the OBP is .281 with 4 HRs and 21 RBIs in 213 ABs. 

Two weeks later Bay ran into the gate at Dodger Stadium while taking an extra base hit away, this occurred in the 2<sup>nd</sup> inning but Bay completed the game.  His injury was also season ending and came at a time he was hitting .262 (.347) with 6 HRs and 47 RBIs.  While Bay was underperforming he had not raised a red flag among the Mets fans who had a full plate with the Castillo and Perez issues, the early success by the Mets and then the disastrous west coast trip following the AS break.  Mike Pelfrey’s 9-1 start followed by his July slump and of course the continued fans focus on the GM and Manager.  I believe that it was also thought that Bay was just starting slow and would eventually snap out of it.  He hasn’t hitting .207 (307) with just 2 HRs and 10 RBIs and a higher incident of strikeouts.

It would seem that sports medicine and neurological testing are still in the infancy of understanding the impact of concussions, the evidence is there from the incident of Alzheimer’s in football players, the diminished speech function of Muhammad Ali to the instituting a mandatory 7 day DL by  MLB for a player having a concussion.  Athletes in a wide spectrum of venues are all at risk.
  Maybe with Wright and Bay we have been looking in the wrong places for an answer to fix their problems, maybe the answer is… you can’t fix it.

Posted on: May 12, 2011 9:49 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:01 pm
 

A Giant has left us

If you are reading this blog and are not from the NY metro area you may not know the name Bill Gallo.  He was the iconic sports cartoonist from the NY Daily News for over 50 years, he passed away on 5/10/11.  Outside of an interruption in his newspaper career called WWII when he was a Marine who saw combat action in some of the bloodiest battles of WWII including Iwo Jima, his career spanned 70 years. 

My love affair with Bill Gallo began more than 50 years ago when I was twelve.  I got a job at a ‘candy store’ in Hempstead, NY, my job was to insert all the sections of the Sunday papers to make the final package.  Some sections arrived on Thursday, others on Saturday and the main and sports sections on Sunday morning….early Sunday morning.  In those days Hempstead was the primary shopping center for a large portion of Nassau Cnty. And there were only two stores that carried the papers.  What that meant was a lot of newspapers to insert, and a lot of choices The New York Times, the NY Daily News, The World-Telegraph & Sun, The NY Post, NY Mirror, the Herald Tribune, and The Journal American.  When my week was finished, a cumulative 10-12 hrs, I was paid my 5 dollars (minus 15 cents SS) picked up the Journal American for my father and a Daily News for myself and walked back home. 

Bill Gallo’s cartoons always brought a smile to my face and they weren’t just baseball, he drew it all, Muhammad Ali, Joe Namath, Arnold Palmer, if they did on a field, in an arena, or on the court Gallo captured them.  Bill Gallo poked fun at George Steinbrenner with his Prussian General Von Steingrabber.  George loved him for it. He created Yuchie, the eternal boy in all of us that was always carrying his glove.  28 of his illustrations hang inCooperstown.

I still read the NY Daily News every morning, and I have found it in Denver, San Antonio, the Great LakesTraining Center, Virgina, the Poconos, Boston and our Naval Base in Cuba‘Gitmo’.  If you don’t know his work, Google Bill Gallo, a small representation of his 15,000 illustrations are shown.

RIP Mr. Gallo

Posted on: January 16, 2011 5:28 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 1:11 pm
 

Mutually Inclusive ?

How much is payroll a factor in making the playoffs in baseball.  You could focus on the Yankees who outspend every other team in baseball and by a ratio that can be 5-1.

For this entry, I went back nine years to 2003 which was the first year of the ‘Luxury Tax’.  The Luxury Tax is relevant to the topic as it is a threshold agreed upon by the players union and MLB as a point where those teams that spent over that threshold would pay a tax to the MLB (for the development of baseball and player benefits).  I looked for the number of teams in the top ten payrolls of each season that made the playoffs, and made the World Series.  In each season the spread from the NYY (#1) to the tenth team was an average of 2.1-1 an indication that even the tenth highest payroll was already at a major disadvantage.

In the nine seasons there were a combined total of seventy two playoff positions available,  Thirty eight (53%) of these went to teams in the top ten in payroll in those given years.   Of the teams that landed in the World Series in those nine years only six of the eighteen (373.3%) were teams in the top ten payroll bracket.  2009 was the only year that both World Series teams, the Phillies and the Yankees were top ten teams.   

Big spending teams tend to remain big spenders, the Yankees, Mets Red Sox, and Cubs are on the list for all nine years.  The Angels have made it eight times. 

Returning to the Luxury Tax, only four teams during the nine year history of this version of the tax have crossed that line in the sand, the Yankees every year, the Red Sox twice, Angels, and Tigers.   Of the eightAL components of the fall classic 50%, the Yankees and Red Sox twice each have gone to the World Series and then wrote a check to the MLB to pay the tax.  However going to the World Series is not the goal for the Yankees, winning it is.  In the past 12 years 2001- the Yankees have won one championship and have spent more than 2.5 Billion in payroll to do so.  That one championship was won in 2009 after the addition of Marl Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and 424 Million to the payroll.

A large payroll seems to give a team a better than even money chance to make the playoffs and a decent chance to reach the World Series.   Each of the other major sports in theUnited States, the NFL, NBA, and the NHL have a salary cap and equally important a salary floor.  MLB has a new CBA and while they don’t have and no one should have expected a salary cap there were some changes to the Luxury Tax.  The Red Sox who paid the tax at a percentage of 30% on salary over the 178 M threshold will move to the 40 % level while the Yankees will be taxed at 42.5 %.  The new CBA will allow a team that falls below the threshold (189 M in 2014) to reset its tax rate at 17.5 percent and also recover some of its revenue sharing cost.   For the Yankees with a 2011 payroll of 213 M and no relief insight that may not happen for many years.  The Red Sox who paid a tax of 3.4 M are far closer.  Their 2011 salary was 189 M and with the loss of Jonathan Papelbon and David Ortiz accepting arbitration may edge them close to the threshold.  Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeny obtained in a trade with the A’s will add less than 2 M to the 2012 payroll.   

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com