Business of Baseball Report

MLB, Players Union Agree on New CBA

The announcement of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) has been anticipated for a couple of weeks; the only question was when it would be finally announced. Bud Selig did just that last night when he made it official by announcing that MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) have come to a five-year agreement.

The fact that the two sides came to an agreement two months before the current CBA expired on December 19 is unprecedented. The last round of negotiations turned out to be the only time a work stoppage didn’t occur, and those negotiations went down to the final hour. Not only did they get the deal finished early this time, they agreed to the longest term ever.

I don’t have a copy of the new CBA yet, but details of the deal are starting to be documented. Both revenue sharing and the luxury tax are largely unchanged, and the minimum salary will increase from $327,000 to $380,000. The latest incarnation of the Joint Drug Agreement, which contained the stiffest suspensions for using performance-enhancing drugs to date, will now be a part of the CBA. It also looks like there will be a mechanism to force teams that receive more money than they put into the revenue-sharing pot to actually spend the money. Check back next week because I’m hoping to have all of the details.

Steve Lyons Speaks Out

Steve Lyons was fired two weeks ago for making some questionable comments on air during the American League Championship Series. For his side of the story, be sure to check out Maury Brown’s interview with Steve Lyons at Bizofbaseball.com.

Postseason Ratings Down

Game 1 of the 2006 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals posted a record-worst 8.0 Nielsen rating. This was down some 25 percent from the previous record set last year when the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros battled in Game 1 of the 2005 World Series. The rating for game two rebounded slightly and was actually ahead of last year’s game two with an 11.5 rating.

There are several reasons for a ratings decline. Neither New York team is in the World Series, nor is a west coast team in it. More options on cable television can also draw eyes away from the World Series, and even the Wild Card can be blamed. With more teams making the playoffs, sometimes the best teams don’t make it to the World Series. Had they used the old format before there was a playoff, which was used prior to 1969, we’d have a World Series with the New York Mets and New York Yankees. Under the current format, we have a team with the third-best record in the American League going up against the team with the fifth-best record in the National League.

For a nice look at the both the reasons for the ratings slide and its effects on what we’ll be watching on the air during the World Series because of those lower ratings, be sure to check out this column by Jon Weisman at SI.com.

A Look at the Ballpark of the 21st Century

In a lot of ways, I miss the old ballpark. As a kid going to Tiger Stadium, the usual fare was hot dogs (mustard only) and the preferred beverage was beer. Now at Comerica Park, you can walk up and purchase anything from sushi to veggie wraps to freshly made donuts. There’s a food court and even a martini bar. It seems like more effort is put into the ballpark experience than the actual game. Then again, I’m pretty old school.

Ken Belson of The New York Times wrote a spectacular column on Turner Field, the home of the Atlanta Braves. In it are discussions with the team’s head of baseball operations and several other team executives on what the team is doing to draw fans to the ballpark.

Also of interest is a graph showing the average total cost for a family of four to go the ballpark. At one extreme is the Boston Red Sox, who come out at $288. The difference between the Red Sox and the second-place Cubs ($219) is greater then the difference between the cost to go to a Cubs game and the 21st-cheapest place to watch a game, which is Minnesota. The major league average is $172, with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Athletics and Washington Nationals all coming in right around that mark.

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