It’s been a little over a month, so this is one of my catch-up pieces. We’ll be looking at some of the big-picture items that have transpired since my sabbatical (it’s work again, really). There’s no better way to kick things off than hearing from the MLB commissioner himself Bud Selig. In an interview with Tom Verducci just short of his 21st anniversary as commissioner, Selig makes some strong proclamations.
First off, when asked if he’s going to retire when his current term ends, he says he can say with certainty that he will. Of course, this will go into the “we’ve heard this before” category because, well, we’ve heard it before. He made the same proclamation leading up to when his last term ended back in 2011, but when pressed, he signed on for another three years.
Selig sidesteps the Alex Rodriguez talk and says he has a decent relationship with union leadership. Steroids comes up, and he gets a few digs in on the union for keeping the testing heat away from the players, but then he seems to sidestep the issue about whether he knew there was a problem when everyone else was looking the other way.
The interview wraps up with Verducci calling out Selig on instant replay. Selig writes it off with just a simple “times change” remark.
Things actually have been quiet on the stadium front, with a couple of exceptions. The city of St. Petersburg, the mayor of which finally caved into demands by the Tampa Bay Rays to allow them to look for a stadium outside of St. Pete, has a little bit of mud on its face. Mayor Bill Foster says that MLB has told the Rays not to offer up any concessions when they try to get out of their lease with the city.
For now, the city has made an offer to the Rays to get out of their lease, but the league has told the team to hold pat and give nothing. Probably the funniest part of the Field of Schemes article is at the end where they discuss how the funding gap could be bridged with a year’s worth of Selig’s salary.
Coming out of right field is news that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim might be looking for a move. The team can opt out of their lease in 2016, but there’s also a three-year extension that gives them until 2019. That gives the team plenty of time to make some threats and either get the city to pony up for a new ballpark or to find a suitor somewhere else.
The Astros profit debacle
In late August, a story broke saying Forbes estimated the Houston Astros would have $99 million in operating income this year. It looks like having the worst record in baseball has its upside, because they cite the team’s low payroll and increased operating revenue as reasons behind what was expected to be a record profit.
In an interesting tidbit, it was quoted that this profit would have been as much as the last six World Series champions had combined to net. The Astros promptly said the numbers were inflated.
Then another Forbes writer, Maury Brown, gave a few reasons why he thought the $99 million figure was wrong. The television deal apparently wasn’t as sweet as many thought, and some of the revenue was subject to revenue sharing. This then prompted a response by the guy who wrote the $99 million article, and he did a little back-tracking.
To a certain extent, we will never know who was right and who was wrong, and, sadly, in this day of baseball accounting, everyone could be right depending on where things go and how everything is set up. It’s just interesting that there was a lot of noise about all this for quite some time, and now it’s settled down.
There are still a few weeks left in the season, but as it stands, the top three teams at the turnstiles all reside in the National League. Coming in first are the Los Angeles Dodgers. They only have three home games left, and they’re averaging nearly 46,000 tickets sold per game.
That’s an average of 4,300 more tickets sold per game then the next closest team, the San Francisco Giants. The Giants are struggling mightily, but they’re the World Series champs, and they’ve been able to ride that wave for all it’s worth.
In third place are the St. Louis Cardinals (who are close enough to potentially pass the Giants in the final weeks of the season). In fourth, and the top American League team, are the struggling New York Yankees. If they end up in fourth place, it will be the first time they didn’t finish in the top two since 2001. The Texas Rangers round out the top five.
At the bottom are our Florida teams. The Tampa Rays have the worse attendance despite their playoff run, and right behind them are the Miami Marlins. Third from the bottom are the Cleveland Indians, who also have been in contention and are giving the Detroit Tigers a run in the American League Central. The Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals round out the bottom five.
On the road, the Dodgers have also been the best draw, with the Giants right behind them. The Chicago White Sox have been the worst road draw, with the Angels the second-worst.