Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Baseball's Permanent Bailout

That old chestnut 'the big market baseball teams--Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Mets, Cubs, etc--with all their financial resources, leave the small-market teams high and dry and with no true chance of competing' is bandied about with increasing regularity. But what's rarely brought up is how much of the MLB revenue sharing pie the small market teams actually get and how, for the most part, they fail to invest in their baseball operations with that free money. Take the fire-sale happy Pittsburgh Pirates for example:

“Last year, the Pirates are believed to have received a revenue-sharing check of $27 million from MLB, based on figures leaked to the Wall Street Journal,’’ [former Pirates public relations manager, Pittsburgh resident and producer for both ESPN and TBS, Ben] Bouma writes.

“They receive close to $35 million from the national TV contracts. That is $62 million before anyone buys a ticket, sets foot in PNC Park on Opening Day and buys a hot dog, or watches or listens to a game on local TV and radio. Not to mention what they will receive from MLB for the MLB Network and MLB.com/MLB.TV and Extra Innings packages. On top of this, they let go many front-office people [some with 20 years of service] earlier this season.

“This is no longer a problem of ‘how baseball is structured’ any longer. This is both fundamentally and ethically wrong...It is high time this [ownership] group is held accountable for the complete mismanagement of the franchise as their excuses have run out.’’

No wonder the big market team owners are complaining...

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