A conversation about MLB, on the field, off the field.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

From the basement March 27 07

Arlen Specter made a thinly veiled threat today that Congress might revisit MLB's anti trust exemption in light of the DirecTV / EI deal which I and many others have been blogging about. At least I think that's what he means when he says ""When fans react, Congress reacts," he said, adding, "You may be well advised to act before we do." Neither Specter or John Kerry give a shit about baseball fans. Specter is doing the bidding on Capitol Hill for his corporate friends @ Comcast in his home state of PA. Comcast and the entire US cable industry are pissed at MLB & the NFL and I think the fight is far from over. ( The scrap between cable and the NFL over carriage fees for the NFL Network is a good one ) I don't understand the structure of American politics ( I do like Canadian politics, the results of the Quebec election yesterday are as intereting as baseball, well almost ) but from what I've read in Sports Business Journal the key politician on Capitol Hill vis a vis MLB's anti trust exemption is now Patrick Leahy. One thing I've learned over the years from watching the business side of sports south of the border is that the impression that the US is the country where there is little government and the marketplace is allowed to rule over all other considerations, is false. You can't open a lemonade stand in the US without the ok of politicians at every level, county, city, state & federal. Follow the goings on in Hennepin County with the Twins or in Miami with the Marlins if you want to see levels of bureaucracy.

On the subject of US politics, the most fun ( funnest? ) aspect of following Washington DC's attempts to bring the Nationals to their town was seeing Marion Barry's name again. ( He was opposed to the stadium deal, he's right it is bad public policy ) He's a councillor, well that's what we call it here in Ottawa. Wow, what a career! I guess it's crackhead week on this blog, first Josh Hamilton and now Marion Barry. I just think the word crackhead is funny.

On the subject of the Nationals....baseball websites and magazines ( it's been awhile since I bought a Bill Mazeroski's or Street & Smiths season preview mag, it used to be a big deal to me when they would hit the racks ) all have some sort of, they hope, unique "hook" to their team previews. At the www.hardballtimes the schtick is "Five Questions". Yesterday Richard Barbieri's Washington National's "Five Questions" preview was posted and it is written as a "McLaughlin Group" segment. Very nostalgic for me, I was a regular viewer in the 80's, I'm guessing that the program remains in production if Mr. Barbieri is lampooning it.

Well since I bashed the politicians I may as well take a shot at the lawyers as well. Mark Geragos who is representing Greg Anderson, Bond's "personal trainer", has also represented some of California's finest; Michael Jackson, Winona Ryder & Scott Peterson. How do you afford legal fees like that on a steroid peddler's income? If nothing else the Bonds witch hunt has cost Barry a big pile of cash in legal fees & endorsements.

Also March 26 at http://www.hardballtimes/, Vince Gennaro has a good piece on the value of RSN's to MLB teams. By Mr. Gennaro's count there are 12 teams "linked" to an RSN. Not surprisingly, looks like a good gig. This piece is also a reminder that teams operating losses / profits are worthless numbers. Andrew Zimbalist taught me what "related party transactions" are, a term that Mr. Gennaro also uses in this piece. The only figure that reveals anything about the financial health of pro sports teams is franchise value and even that can be misleading when you get into relationships with RSN's and stadiums etc. Delve into the Liberty Media purchase of the Braves from Time Warner and see if you can understand that deal with any level of sophistication.

Canuck update

Hoser C Maxim St. Pierre, mentioned here before, was dealt to the Brewers in exchange for RH Ben Hendrickson. Hendrickson was a big prospect at one time. I don't have the numbers but I'd be very surpirsed if many more prominent starting pitching prospects never pan out as opposed to position players. Obviously the biggest factor would be health, pitchers are more prone to injury, but also I think it's more difficult to predict if a guy has the acumen to master off speed pitches. The young pitchers that get the big bonuses throw hard and have raw physical talent. Raw physical talent or tools is more "projectable", as the Baseball America types would phrase it, at the positions.

IL inanities- Scranton is no longer the Red Barons but the Yankees. Syracuse is no longer the SkyChiefs but the Chiefs

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