Business of Baseball Report

MLB Unveils Plans for Olympic Replacement

Last week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that baseball would not be played at the 2012 summer Olympics. Bud Selig and company wasted no time in unveiling their own plans for what’s being called the World Baseball Classic. The United States and 15 other countries will play in a tournament similar to soccer’s World Cup. A news conference on Monday featured several big name players who were lining up to play in the inaugural event in March 2006.

A few problems have already cropped up. Cuba will likely be invited to the tournament, but it’s unclear whether they’ll field a team because of concerns over defections. Colombia isn’t currently slated to have a team despite being home to the two starting shortstops for last year’s World Series (Edgar Renteria and Orlando Cabrera). Japan also has reservations because the tournament is basically controlled by Major League Baseball and the players’ union. The soccer World Cup, in contrast, is governed by FIFA, an independent agency.

As it stands, 47% of the proceeds is set to be split amongst the teams. The remainder would be split up among Major League Baseball, the players’ union and the International Baseball Federation.

Anaheim Angels Fight Part Time, Work Together Part Time

You have to love these stories. On the one hand, the city of Anaheim dropped an attempt to force the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to include disclosures on their tickets and advertisements that they’re actually located in Anaheim. On the other hand, the city and the team are cooperating in an attempt to get the semi-finals and the finals of the newly created World Baseball Classic played at Angels Stadium.

The disclosure bill was supported by the cities of Anaheim and Los Angeles but was opposed by the team and California’s radio and television stations. This chapter of the legal battle between Anaheim and the team came to a conclusion as the bill was dropped due to lack of support.

Radio is Making a Comeback

In my opinion, baseball is by far the best game to listen to on the radio. I fell asleep most nights as a kid with my headphones on listening to Ernie Harwell call the final innings of the Tigers game, and even now when I go out for walks, I usually take my headphones to listen to the game.

But with the advent of satellite radio, listening to games while not watching them is becoming en vogue again. Prior to the 2005 season, MLB signed a deal with XM Radio to broadcast all baseball games on the radio. Even better, you listen to the local broadcast, not some generic radio announcer. With this deal, XM Radio subscriptions have soared, and many happy baseball fans are able to listen to their home team’s games on the radio, whether they live in the area or not.

All-Star Game Conundrum

In another story that hits close to home, the official hotel for Tuesday’s All-Star Game is in Dearborn, Michigan. On the drive from the hotel to Comerica Park, players, fans and the media must pass the abandoned shell that is Tiger Stadium. It still stands, but the stadium is in a serious state of disrepair, and while redevelopment projects are mentioned on occasion in the local media, nothing ever happens.

The city of Detroit has paid Mike Illitch $2.5 million over the last five years to maintain the ballpark and to provide security for the stadium. And while it appears that some sort of All-Star event was planned for Tiger Stadium, it never got off the ground because it’s in such bad shape.

While I enjoy attending games at Comerica Park, Tiger Stadium still holds a place in my heart. Nowhere else could you be as close to the field and the players as you could at the old ballpark, and even I get depressed when I drive down I-75 and look at what’s become of a cherished monument to the game.

Cardinals’ Radio Rights Back in Play

A couple of weeks ago, I reported that the KMOX had pulled their radio broadcast offer to the St. Louis Cardinals off the table. Now it appears they’re making a last-ditch effort to get the broadcast back by making what they’re calling a final sales pitch to the team. At issue is whether the Cardinals want to stick with the more far-reaching broadcast that KMOX provides, or whether they want to buy into KTRS, which would basically center the entire radio station around the ball club.

The biggest issue for fans is the night-time broadcast area. While KMOX can be heard across the country, KTRS can’t even be heard by the entire St. Louis area. The final offer from KMOX is rumored to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $7.5 million.

Twins Stadium Bill Put on Hold

It appears that Twins owner Carl Pohlad will have to wait a few more months to start counting the money from the Twins’ new stadium. After putting the final touches on a state budget, thus ending the partial government shutdown, it appears the state legislators are now more concerned with taking their summer vacation than they are with giving billionaires a handout.

As it stands, it appears the Twins will have to wait until the fall for the bill to be considered. What’s also interesting is that in a recent poll, 58% of Hennepin County residents opposed the sales tax increase, but the county is trying to do an end around the residents by getting the legislators to exempt the team from requiring a referendum on the new sales tax.

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