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 26, 2011 2:18 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 6:49 pm

Is the Fan Base Forgotten?

2011 marks the fiftieth year of Mets baseball starting with the 1961 expansion draft led to the first pick of Hobie Landrith, which then sparked manager Casey Stengels’ response to the press’s question as to why the team had chosen Landrith first “without a catcher there would be a lot of passed balls”.  I am convinced that if the Mets had selected Elio Chacon first instead of second, Casey would have said ‘without a second baseman there would be a lot of ball hit up the middle into centerfield’.  I was no longer the baseball version of Phillip Nolan; I was now a fan with a team.  Fifty years represents over 8000 games played, probably well over 2000 players who dressed in a Mets locker room, 20 managers, 4 World Series appearances, and 3 home stadiums. 

It also represents sadly only 3 numbers retired, 1 player in the Hall of Fame and only 1 player who spent a full career in a Mets uniform.  We have on the team today a player who could possibly fill all three of these sad statistics upon his retirement perhaps 10 years from now in the person of Jose Reyes.  It will be a while before we will know how this turns out.  What we can do and should do is to honor with a retired number some of those who have worn the uniform.  The Mets do have a Mets Hall of Fame which now numbers 25; it is a respectful measure to some of the contributors to the team from William Shea and Joan Payson at the very beginning to Ralph Kiner who still does an inning or so 20 or so times a season.  That is not the same commitment as a retired number which implies that no person will ever honor this number as much as you have.  It is an honor that MLB awarded to Jackie Robinson, our neighbors in NY have retired 15 numbers representing 16 players, and the Mets list is three including two managers.

Category: MLB
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: April 14, 2011 1:54 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2011 12:13 pm

73* - 762*

Fifty years after Roger Maris hit 61 homeruns and received from Commissioner Ford Frick the mythical asterisk.  The current holder of the single season home run record, Barry Bonds received from a jury of his peers a verdict of guilty on a charge of Obstruction of Justice, a verdict that carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison.  Last weekend I heard a voice on sports radio discuss the dumbest individual to ever step into a locker room, this sportscaster said that even with Manny Ramirez being caught a second time for PED use (not counting the 2002 Mitchell testing) he will vote for him for the Hall of Fame.  He went on to say that would include Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens based on their credentials before they started using PEDs’. The question is, and I don’t know, “when did they start cheating”?   I don’t wish to stigmatize any group, but my analogy is if a priest has had an exemplary career and is now considered for a position as a bishop.  Should the knowledge of a recent pedophile incident void all the previous years of dedicated duty?  Roger Maris is not in the Hall of Fame because his career was not worthy.  Bonds doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame because he cheated Hank Aaron, Maris and every other player who played the game without steroids or HGH.

Category: MLB
Tags: Mets
Posted on: April 9, 2011 2:31 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2011 12:14 pm

Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest

This is not the review of a new movie, nor is it the title of a biography about the Three Stooges.  Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest is all embodied in the person of one Manuel Aristides Ramirez, aka ‘Manny’.  Manny Ramirez recently announced his retirement from baseball while hitting .059 for the Tampa Bay Rays and leaving $1,925,000 of his 2 million dollar contract behind.  It wasn’t pride that prompted Ramirez to retire; if that was the case he would have walked away in 2009 after signing a 2 year 45 million dollar contract with Frank McCourt and the Dodgers.  Five weeks into that season in which he was the highest paid player in the National League he started serving a 50 game suspension for testing positive for a masking agent used to conceal steroid use.  While this was his first time penalized, his name was one of those leaked from the 2002 testing used in the Mitchell Report.  While suspended, the Dodgers saved $7,362,498.  Ramirez’s pride tolerance allowed him to finish that 2 year contract, although he finished it in a White Sox uniform.

Manny Ramirez didn’t retire because pride told him he didn’t have it anymore and rather than be a burden to the team the right thing to do would be step aside.  Ramirez retired because he got caught cheating again.  Ramirez’s retirement coincided with the announcement that he would be facing a 100 game suspension. Today I listened to a host on a sport radio station say he would still vote for Ramirez to go into the Hall of Fame, because “his numbers before he used steroids were dominant”.  Does anyone know when Manny Ramirez began cheating?  Sports talk radio host doesn’t, I don’t, but I do know when he was caught cheating.  Apparently common sense is not a requirement to talk sports professionally.
Category: MLB
Posted on: March 6, 2011 1:44 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2011 12:14 pm

Of Their Own Doing

Earlier this year the BBWAA voted on the 2011 Hall of Fame candidates.  For the fifth year Mark McGwire failed to garner much support for election as his vote total fell to under 20 %.  In his five eligible years he has yet to gather even one third of the required 75% of the vote necessary for election.  This year he was joined by two new additions to the PED and Hall discussion.  Rafael Palmerio with 569 HRs, over 3,000 hits and 1,800 RBIs was supported by the voters to the tune of 11%.  Palmerio will be remembered by his “I have never used steroids, period” denial driven home by a finger pointed at the chairman of the congressional committee investigating steroid use in baseball in 2005.  Several months later he tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanzolol.  Also joining Palmerio was Juan Gonzalez with 434 HRs, 1400 RBIs, and 2 MVPs.  Gonzalez was cited by Jose Canseco as a steroid user and was also mentioned in the Mitchell Report.  Gonzalez escaped being a one and done candidate by 4 votes with 5.2% of the vote.  Without the shadow of PEDs anyone of these three would have been first ballet Hall of Famers, so what is wrong with this picture?  In my mind nothing, the voters have gotten it right.

Next year three new first time candidates will appear on the ballet Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and Sammy Sosa.  The first two could possibly hear the news delivered by a guard and delivered through steel bars at a federal penitentiary.  Sosa will need to have the HOF vote translated since we learned at that 2005 congressional hearing that Sosa doesn’t speak much English.  I ask whether you believe that the BBWAA are getting it right or should performance enhancing drugs be a non factor in the Hall of Fame vote. I am posting this blog entry on all MLB message boards, for those interested I will follow up with the poll results. 

Category: MLB
Tags: Mets
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