Posted on: September 22, 2010 1:41 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:08 pm
 

Turn out the Lights

If you are 30 years old, it is likely that you have no memory of ever have seeing a World Series game played during the day.  If you are 50 yrs. old or younger, you son or daughter has probably not ever seen a World Series day game.  It has been that long since the last one, game 7 of the 1987 World Series.  The 50 year old fans were probably among the 10’s of thousands of us who had a transistor radio confiscated at school and sent home with a note for Mom and Dad.  It was worth it to surreptitiously try and catch the score while the teacher was distracted by taking someone else’s radio away.

The decades of potential fans whose baseball interest was diminished and stunted have the tri-headed monster of greed to blame.  Bud Selig, the alphabet soup of networks (ABC-CBS-NBC-ESPN-FOX-TBS-MLB) and the 30 team owners that picked over the carcass of “America’s Pastime”.  Relegating it to secondary status behind the NFL.

Selig, in his desire to serve his pimps sold the product for the highest price available, viewing in Prime Time with the intent of higher rating and greater revenues for the pimps.

Baseball has been losing a generation of kids and other fans who are in bed during the game's biggest moments. Last year's rain-delayed Game 3 between the page/PHI">Phillies">Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays began at 10:06 p.m. ET — and didn't finish until 1:47 a.m. The series' late starts and finishes in chilly, rainy weather contributed to record-low TV ratings for the 2008 World Series.                                                                                                                                    

The Phillies and Rays players who wore ski masks and ear flaps to ward off frigid temperatures in last year's series would support the idea, says former Cy Young Award winner Rick Sutcliffe, now an ESPN analyst. Some players complained they couldn't feel their fingers or toes, he said. With this year's World Series possibly starting at the latest date ever, nobody wants to see freezing, even snowy weather help determine winners from losers. - By Michael McCarthy, USA TODAY 8/2009

 

It is apparently time to pay the piper; four of the last five World Series have posted lowest television ratings in the past 25 years. As the television contracts expire with MLB, renewed contracts will likely reflect the reality of the falling ratings.  Revenues will fall and a generation of what might have been stronger fans will not be there to shore up the falling rating.  The golden goose died.

 Former page/NYM">Mets">New York Mets pitcher Ron Darling, now with SNY and TBS, said MLB and Fox may be "underestimating" the audiences and ad dollars an old-time day game could command.

"It would be such an anomaly that everyone would get on board. If the corporate partners are forward thinking, they'd want to be part of a historic event," Darling said. "At some point, you have to generate new viewership, new fans. These kids have so many things to watch these days that it's a step in the right direction to have kids and their dads and moms sit and watch a game together. I think it would be unbelievable."- By Michael McCarthy, USA TODAY 8/2009

Ironically, the second highest rated game of the last twenty five years was the 1987 day game between the Twins and Cardinals.  It finished behind the 1986 game 7 between the NY Mets and the Boston Red Sox.  Despite being played on a Monday night opposite the Redskin and Giants game, the World Series drew the highest single game rating of all time.  One year later, the lights went on and have not gone out since.

There are four teams from the northern tier states contending for the World Series; Yankees, Twins, Reds and Phillies.  This raises the probability that cold November weather will be an element for the fans and players to deal with.  Two western teams, the Giants and Rangers suggest later game starts and games in the EST zone finishing tomorrow. 

 

These are my perceptions of the folly of having relegated the World Series to the interests of the Networks and the owners instead of the nurturers of the game, the fans.  My perceptions may not be your reality.  If you agree let me know, more importantly if you don’t agree, let me know.  

 

Posted on: July 24, 2010 10:12 am
Edited on: July 13, 2011 12:18 pm
 

Hall Of Fame Needs a Repair

I recently polled the fans of all thirty teams on the cbssports mlb boards.  I regard this as the most expert panel available considering that they represent all teams and every venue of Major League baseball.  I was welcomed on every board and the poll question that I submitted was whether the Hall of Fame vote should remain in the hands of the BBWAA or should existing Hall of Fame Members determine who should stand beside them in the Hall.  Some of the comments I collected I have added with attribution.

 

 


I feel strongly that the only people who can truly recognize a hall of famer is a hall of famer. This is an elite member of people and collectively they should be the only ones who decide to be one of the baseball immortals. Baseball writers tend to vote on likability and not always on performance. Southside Pride, White Sox

 

Since when were baseball writers an inherently higher authority on baseball, or the best interests of baseball?

Maybe a century ago the media had dignity, integrity, and the good sense to know the difference in reporting a story and inventing one, but I would contend that species is nearly extinct.

I wonder how many baseball writers have placed a bet on baseball. Taken illegal drugs? Evaded taxes? Had multiple DUI's...and still kept their job, and their privacy.
Who better to decide who makes it to the top of the mountain than the people already there?  The advantage that a member has over a writer is experience.  A writer doesn't know first hand what it takes to be in the Hall of Fame.  They have never had to face the pressures of Aaron chasing the home run title or of Ripken playing hurt and gutting it out.  I'm not questioning the writer’s knowledge of the game but you don't see a baseball player deciding who gets a Pulitzer Prize. –Gnotoriuos1, Braves

 

A player that has played the game and has met the criteria to be a Hall of Famer is best suited to judge who stands beside him. I don't know why writers were ever given the honor (power) in the first place. Maybe way back when, the writers actually knew what they were doing, but that is clearly not the case anymore. –rokketmn, Red Sox

 



My problem with the voting is where you have a once in a lifetime player, even by HOF standards, and some fool won't vote for him on the first ballot.  No one has ever been a first ballot unanimous choice.

Here are some examples, Ty Cobb was left off four ballots, and Nolan Ryan wasn’t on six, Hank Aaron on nine, Babe Ruth on 11 and Willie Mays on 23. Joe DiMaggio needed to appear on the ballot three times to get in, receiving 44 percent and 69 percent in his first two tries That alone tells you the system is flawed.-USC FAN IN OKA

 

To me it's ridiculous the way it is. In any award given because of voting, who knows better than peers what the qualifications of greatness are?-darkcloud

 

Many of baseball's problems are the same ones we have in society, largely self inflicted, but excused away as the responsibility of some other party to be responsible for. I would say that the Baseball Writers as a whole are as flawed as anyone that has played the game, but are exempt from scrutiny by their media peers, and the people that stand in judgment by them. It is ironic that the writers get to vote on the all time greats, with the ability to admit or deny using any criteria they wish, objective or subjective, when they in fact have had the opportunity to paint those players public image the way they wanted them to be seen. Artfully or arbitrarily, they all get a vote.

 

When I started the poll I was biased, toward the Membership vote.  I don’t believe that in any way I led or steered the vote.  My initiative was that with all of the obviously great ball players of the past century that the Baseball Writers of America Association never found one worthy of a unanimous vote.  I believe this to be biased and flawed thinking and grounds for replacement as fair arbitrators of those eligible for the Hall.  There were of course those who voted for maintaining the system as is.  The repeating reasons given were “if it’s not broken don’t fix it” or it “seems fine the way it is”.   I and the majority of fans polled felt it wasn’t fine and that in fact it was broken.

 

THE VOTE

BBWAA………….68

Hall Members…..253

Category: MLB
Tags: Mets
 
Posted on: March 10, 2010 4:02 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:10 pm
 

A Short List

The New York Daily News has recently begun a baseball promotion called “Modern Yankee Heroes”.   I am not a Yankee fan, but I don’t diminish the accomplishments of the players cited,  but I thought about the use of the word ‘Heroes’ and felt it wasn’t appropriate to call multimillion dollar ballplayers heroes because they have huge contracts, hit .300 or drive in 100 runs.  The phrase ‘Hero’ should be reserved for those who truly stand out in their field and distinguish themselves in the face of aggression.

In the arena of major league baseball only two names come to mind whom I would call a ‘Hero’ 

Ted (Teddy Ballgame) (The Kid) (Splendid Splinter) Williams played 21 years with a career BA of .344 and hit 521 HRs.  His BA is the highest for any hitter with 500 home runs and he is also the last (1941) to hit .400. Williams also homered in his last at bat in September 1960.   Williams also won two MVPs, two Triple Crowns, and six batting titles.  What makes him a hero in my mind is his service to his country in two wars as an aviator in the Navy and Marine Corp.  His military service covered over five years of his baseball career.  He was the wingman of future astronaut John Glenn and was honored by General Douglas MacArthur.  "To Ted Williams - not only America's greatest baseball player, but a great American who served his country. Your friend, Douglas MacArthur. General U.S. Army."

Although he only played ten years and the record books are not full of his name, Jackie Robinson is the other ‘Baseball hero’. Jackie Robinson made his debut April of 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodger and was the first black man to play in the Major Leagues.   Robinson left UCLA just short of graduation in 1941 and was drafted into the Army in 1942 after the outbreak of WWII where he was commissioned as an officer.

Jackie Robinson was selected by Branch Rickey as the man to ‘break the color barrier’ because he felt that Robinson could passively stand up to the expected racism.  Robinson more than passed that test, he opened the door for African-Americans to compete in the greatest of all games.  He did that while also winning Rookie of the Year, an MVP, playing in six All-Star games and being elected into the Hall of Fame.

Both of these men were in a way connected, while Robinson was the first African-American in the Major Leagues, the last team to integrate was Ted Williams’ Boston Red Sox.  Pumpsie Green was the first black man to wear the Red Sox uniform and was openly welcomed by Ted Williams when he joined the team.  Ted Williams was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966.  His induction speech on that day included a wish that Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and the other great players of the Negro Leagues who never had the opportunity to play Major League Baseball would someday be welcome at Cooperstown.  That day began five years later with the induction of Satchel Paige.

When I wrote the blog entry ‘A Short List’ I focused on two ballplayers that legitimately could be called heroes Ted Williams and Jackie Robinson.  A fellow poster (jbellows) on the Mets board commented that Roberto Clemente should be on that list.  He was right, I was remiss, and now my omission is corrected. 

Although all three members of the short list are in Hall Of Fame it wasn’t their baseball prowess that qualified them as candidates for my list, it was the peripheral qualities that were the attraction.

Roberto Clemente died on Dec. 31 1972.  He died in a humanitarian effort to help the people of Nicaragua who had suffered an earthquake one week earlier.  The aid packages that Clemente had sent in three previous flights had been confiscated by the corrupt Nicaraguan government.  Roberto Clemente accompanied this relief flight in hope that his presence would ensure that that the relief aid would reach the people affected by the earthquake.  His plane crashed shortly after takeoff and his body was never recovered.  Roberto Clemente was born in Puerto Rico and died trying to assist those in Nicaragua.  I believe that he didn’t allow National boundaries to prevent him from reaching out a hand.

In 1973 Roberto Clemente became the first Latino to be elected to the Hall Of Fame.  He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and the first Presidential Citizens Medal.  In 2002 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  In 1973 the Pirates retired # 21 and erected a statue out side Three Rivers Stadium.  That statue is now outside PNC Park. 

Few in any walk of life can match Roberto Clemente’s love for his fellow man.

 

Anytime you have an opportunity to make things better and you don't, then you are wasting your time on this Earth" --Roberto Clemente

 

 

 

There have been players who have played despite extreme physical handicap such as Pete Gray, Bert Shepard and Jim Abbott.  They certainly are heroes to overcome their limitation, but Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente are the top of my very short list.

Posted on: March 3, 2010 12:57 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:11 pm
 

The Worst of Times

A number of years have passed since I watched my first ballgame, it was on a black and white screen, it was 1954 and the team was the NY Giants.  I wasn’t a Giant fan, but my father, an Irish immigrant, who never had played or rooted prior to 1954, decided the Giants were his team.   I had been a Dodger fan for perhaps, maybe, possibly, a whole year. 

Much has changed since those days of eight teams in the American League and eight in the NL.  The majority of games are now under the lights, including unfortunately the post season.  In the ‘50s’ the World Series ended roughly 10 days after the season ended.   One team from the AL and one from the NL finished the season on top of a field of eight, unless it was 1951 when baseball needed a three game playoff.  It sometimes happened.  There was not a divisional round (best of 5) or a Championship round (best of 7) to decide the contestants for the ‘Series’.  The 154 games stretching from April to the end of September were intended to do that. 

Many of the changes in the game happened before 1992, most in my opinion were not in the interest of the fans.  But what did happen in 1992, was the owners of the Major League teams installed Allan Huber Selig (Bud) as the interim Commissioner of Baseball.  Selig fit the profile of the Commissioner the owners needed, an owner himself and an avid opponent of existing Commissioner Fay Vincent.  After an 18-9 vote of ‘no confidence’ Vincent resigned and ‘Bud’ Selig was the Commissioner of Baseball.  The Baseball Barons had in the ninth Commissioner of Baseball one of their own. 

The change in the balance of power between the players and ownership led to the strike that cancelled the 1994 World Series and has had a great influence on the animosity between the parties that still exists today.  

One of the changes instituted under Selig was the restructuring of the leagues to accommodate expansion; the new division (Central) created a new component to the playoffs …the wildcard.   This is in my estimation a Selig win.

The largest failure of ‘Bud’ Selig was his failure to respond to the proliferation of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) that will always be the defining event of the Selig era as the commissioner of baseball (no caps intended).   Selig’s performance at the 2005 House Committee Hearings was an embarrassment to baseball, after 10 years of turning a blind eye to the proliferation of PEDs in the game, Selig stuttered and sweated his way to finger pointing at Donald Fehr and Gene Orza.  He absolved himself of responsibility by relating the minor league testing program instituted under his watch.   Was Selig right, yes, the MLBPA would have opposed any effort by the commissioner to initiate steroid testing.  Not even trying was the failure.  ‘Bud Selig’ is reaching the end of his time as the Baseball Commissioner, in my mind he has been without a doubt an owner’s toadie and the worst commissioner in the history of the game.  The division between Baseball and MLBPA is largely a result of his allegiance to the owners who own him.  During his last two years in office he has the opportunity to make restitution for his past 18 years, but what ever positive that he does accomplish will never balance the books on the damage done.

Posted on: January 13, 2010 1:20 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:12 pm
 

A Crying Shame

The recent admission of Mark McGwire that he did, as suspected, use performance enhancing drugs while playing for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Oakland A’s was hardly startling.  The BBWAA, who vote on Hall of Fame membership have over the past four years sent a message, by a 3 to 1 margin, that steroid cheaters need not apply.

McGwire’s tearful admission to Bob Costas, that he regrets his action, raises the question, will enough writers be swayed by McGwire’s contrition and give him a sympathy vote in future Hall elections?  I personally hope that does not happen.  Did I cheer Mark McGwire’s heroics, I did.  I watched as he picked up his son after he hit the ‘62<sup>nd</sup> HR and as he received the congratulations of the Maris family.  I was moved by the whole event, I was also woefully naïve.  I didn’t recognize the PED influence that had turned a game I loved into an arcade game.

Some of the writers who have voted for Mark McGwire’s election into the HOF have given the use of any product that enhances performance on the field as legitimizing steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) usage.   Among those examples are Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and Billy Martin and I’m sure thousands of other ball players over the past one hundred years who took aspirin to lessen the effects of a hangover from the previous nights celebration.

They also cite the use of ubiquitous uppers (Amphetamines). As reported by a player “greenies gave me the ability to function, 13 games in 4 cities with one day off is brutal.  Without them standing in the box was a death wish, Performance enhancing… at the end of a long road trip walking was a big deal”.  I start my day with two healthy belts of caffeine … PED?  There is such a thing as taking coffee and two aspirin to an absurd level to justify cheating.   Fortunately those writers are in the minority, and in this writer’s opinion hopes that it stays that way

The ‘steroids era’ has taken from fans that relationship of Babe Ruth’s 60 home runs and Roger Maris’ 61.  It took  the 755 that Hank Aaron hit to eclipse the 715 of Ruth.  It has made us look at every accomplishment with a jaundice eye.  Was Nolan Ryan or Randy Johnson playing ‘fair’, how did Cal Ripken Jr. manage to get out there for 2,131 consecutive games?  We would never have questioned Lou Gehrig’s streak or the home runs of Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays.

 

McGwire, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sosa, Palmerieo, Giambi, A-Rod have all had a part in destroying a part of baseball that almost let us look at today’s accomplishments in  yesterdays light.   Of course it never was a level playing field, Major League Baseball needed 40 years before Jackie Robinson put on a Brooklyn Dodger uniform and it took another twelve years until the Red Sox completed integration by signing Pumpsie Green.  But there was a continuity that is along with 61 and 755 homeruns forever gone.

Mark McGwire’s ‘confession’ like that of Alex Rodriguez , Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte lack one thing, credibility.  McGwire like Pettitte only used PEDs for healing purposes, and in McGwire’s case, a decades worth of use didn’t contribute to his homerun prowess.   Giambi, mumbled a non specific apology for having committed a non specific error in judgment. A-Rod’s press conference and follow up left more questions unanswered than answered.   Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, and Gary Sheffield never did anything to confess or apologize for.  Clearly the only consistent amongst the PED generation is denial with one exception.  Jose Canseco has turned his steroid use into a cottage industry with two books and multiple public appearances.

Having read the newspaper accounts over the past few days, it would seem that those writers who do have a Hall of Fame vote were unmoved by Mark McGwire’s coming out with Bob Costas.  I would hope that in 2012 when Bonds, Clemens and Sosa become eligible and for the fifteen years after that the gate keepers to the Hall maintain those same standards.

 

 

 

Posted on: January 9, 2010 12:50 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:13 pm
 

The More Things Change...

One of the things that has not changed much over time is winning is contagious.  The most powerful team of my youth, The New York Yankees, is today the most successful team of the past decade and a half.  Back in the fifties most teams had their share of 'star' players.  The NY Giants had Willie Mays, Ted Williams was a Red Sox, Stan Musial played in St. Louis, and my Dodgers had Duke Snider and Gil Hodges.  There was no free agency, so players were bound to their team at the pleasure of the team.  Contracts were generally one year affairs and a cut in salary was not unheard of, even after posting a 'good' year. 
My best guess to the continued success of the Casey Stengel Yankees would be they scouted and traded better than their competition.  Today there is free agency and success is often measured by the size of the corporate checkbook, and
there is an inequity in baseball that will only solved by a salary cap, of course the players union is opposed to a salary cap for obvious reasons.  Namely a large percentage of their members would no longer have jobs or would have jobs at a lower dollar value than they do now.  Of course for the cap to work an upper and lower limit would have to be established and this is where the owners get involved in opposing a cap.  Some of those teams mentioned would find an upper limit salary cap limiting to the roster they are accustom to fielding and a lower limit cap may very well be above the spending level of others.

One of the "fixes" to the problem has been in place for over 20 years and that is Revenue Sharing.  This requires each team to contribute 31% of its revenues to a pool which is then equally divided among the 30 clubs.  The intent is to level the playing field between the big and smaller market teams.  The following numbers are from the 2002-2007 periods, but I have no reason to believe that much has changed in the past 2 years.  In 2005 the Yankees paid into Revenue Sharing 76 million dollars more than they received back from the pool.  That same year Tampa Bay, Toronto, Florida, and KC each received > 30 million more than their contribution.  This would seem to indicate that the field was indeed being leveled, but not necessarily the playing field. During the 2002-2006 periods the revenue sharing dollars for KC doubled to 32 million dollars in 06, a 100 % increase over 4 years.  Player costs for KC increased by 6%.  The 2006-07 Florida Marlins received a total of 60 million dollars in revenue sharing, and over the same 2 years had a combined player salary of < 46 million dollars.

Another element of field leveling is the luxury tax. In 2008 with the upper limit for Luxury Tax intent was set at a payroll amount of 155 million dollars, that resulted in only the NY Yankees (26.9 M) and the Detroit Tigers (1.3 M) being assessed a” tax penalty".  The Luxury Tax is assessed by MLB at a 22.5 % penalty for the first time exceeding the threshold, 30% for the second trip into the "outer limits" and 40% thereafter.  It is the 40% penalty that the Yankees have become intimate with and are annually invoiced for.  In 2009 the threshold is 162.5 million dollars and the NYY will be the only team over the limit. 2010 the ceiling rises to 170 million.

My view, there will always be large and small markets, the problem is those teams whose owners are in over their heads and cannot keep up with increasing salaries or will not increase spending, some teams the Indians and the Pirates do not have the financial wherewithal to compete. 
Location, location, location is often cited a formula for business success, what do you do with a location that will not support a winning team.  Both Tampa Bay and the Florida Marlins regularly have higher attendance on the road than at home. They are not alone.

The fix might very well be requiring that Revenue Sharing be reflected in the increased budgets of the receiving team’s major league team or its minor league teams.  Any shortfall of spending of those dollars as designated would result in a 2 for 1 penalty in the following year, this would prevent owners from pocketing the revenue sharing funds rather than using them to improve the product.
Secondly, lower the Luxury Tax threshold to capture more of the high spending teams.

The numerical data was gathered from various internet sites, the balance is my own personal view.

 

 

 

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