Business of Baseball Report

Fox, MLB Agree on TV Deal Extension

Early last week, MLB and Fox Sports agreed on a new seven-year television deal that includes TBS owner Time Warner. Fox will retain the World Series, All-Star Game and one of the league championship series with the other league championship series up for grabs. Fox will also increase the number of Saturday Games of the Week to 26 and move the game times to 3:30 p.m. instead of 1 p.m.

With the impending sale of the Atlanta Braves, Time Warner is no longer married to the team. TBS is still locked in and will show 70 Braves next year. Beginning in 2008, the network with show only 45 Braves games locally along with a nationally televised Sunday game of the week.

TBS will be on the hook for $104 million annually under the deal, while Fox Sports will pay $257 million. While this total is slightly less per year then current five-year, $2.5 billion deal in place, when it’s combined with the ESPN deal that was agreed on last year, television revenue will be up substantially from years past. For a good read on the particulars of the deal, be sure to check out Maury Brown’s latest.

All-Star Game Picks Up Viewers

The good news is, the All-Star Game was watched by more people this year than it was in 2005. The bad news is that 2005 was an all-time low as far as viewers, the second consecutive year that the game hit an all-time low, so you’re basically comparing it to rock bottom. The game had a 9.3 rating and was watched by an average of 14.4 million viewers. The home run derby had a 5.4 rating compared to last year’s 4.9, a 10% increase.

Doug Mientkiewicz Goes Off On Red Sox CEO

In 2004, Doug Mientkiewicz made the final out of the World Series for the Boston Red Sox. During the offseason, it came out that he had kept the ball and he eventually agreed to loan it to the team for a display. When it came time to give it back, the Red Sox kept it, resulting in a lawsuit between Mientkiewicz and the team.

Mientkiewicz made his return to Fenway Park earlier this week and he spoke out on how he was treated with regard to the 2004 World Series ball that he kept. While he praised the owners and general manager Theo Epstein, he wasn’t as nice when it came to Boston Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino. While he didn’t get specific, he claimed that Lucchino “continually did the unprofessional thing.”

Before you pass judgement, Mientkiewicz was in town here in Detroit for a weekend series with the Tigers. He was interviewed, and while you wouldn’t think this was a big deal, he told the radio station that at times, his family was threatened over the issue. He hinted to the fact that he basically held one person responsible, so when I read this today, I wasn’t all surprised.

World Waits for Bonds Indictment

Last week, reports began showing up that it was a forgone conclusion that Barry Bonds would be indicted by a federal grand jury. As of Tuesday night, this hadn’t happened, but the alleged charges are potential tax evasion, money laundering and perjury. The grand jury is set to expire by the end of July, but charges could come down as early as Thursday.

MLB commissioner Bud Selig has been quiet about the whole matter, but it’s believed that Selig will attempt to suspend Bonds for the transgressions. If Bonds files a grievance over the matter, a suspension could ultimately be decided by an arbitrator.

FCC Intervenes in Nationals TV Dispute

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission passed a measure that would allow the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) to enter into binding arbitration with cable giant Comcast Corp. At issue is Comcast’s refusal to air Washington Nationals games provided by MASN because of an ongoing lawsuit between Comcast and Baltimore Orioles and MASN owner Peter Angelos. Comcast claims that Angelos shut Comcast out of the rights for Orioles games and that MASN is asking too much for rights to the game.

With no time table in place, it’s hard to tell when this will finally be resolved. In the meantime, Nationals fans who are Comcast subscribers won’t be able to watch their team. There’s also still a chance that the two parties resolve this amongst themselves, but I won’t be holding my breath.

D.C Council Approves Land Sale

The Washington, D.C. council approved a plan last week under which the city would sell a portion of land near the future home of the Washington Nationals to a private developer. The plan for the land will be a mix of parking garages, retail and a hotel. The problem is, the incoming owner of the team doesn’t like it because the development could derail the stadium’s planned opening for the National’s opening day in 2008.

The city looks to make $61 million from the land. Although they’ll need all this and more since the total price tag for the new stadium is estimated to be $611 million.

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