Business of Baseball Reportby Brian Borawski
September 13, 2006
Mayoral Candidate Makes D.C. Stadium a Campaign Issue
The race to replace current and retiring Washington, D.C. mayor Anthony Williams is on. Two current council members are the front runners, including D.C. council chairwoman Linda W. Cropp. There are three underdogs amongst the Democratic candidates though, and one of them has tried to distinguish himself by politicizing the construction of the $600+ million baseball stadium that the city is currently subsidizing.
Michael Brown is a Washington lobbyist and the son of former Commerce Secretary Ronald Brown. He’s attempting one of those grassroots campaigns that always get people’s attention, and if he’s elected, he promises to halt construction of the future home of the Washington Nationals along the Anacostia Waterfront. In place of that, Brown calls for the much less expensive renovations to RFK Stadium, current home of the ball club, with the savings going to street repairs, a recreation facility and a medical facility.
While former D.C. mayor Marion Barry hasn’t endorsed anyone, he did appear impressed with how Brown was trying to distinguish himself in the mayoral race. Brown expects the savings between building the new stadium and renovating RFK to be upwards of $400 million. The fact that MLB might pull the team from Washington, D.C. if the new ballpark isn't built was never addressed.
Roger Maris – Homerun King?
Roger Maris is back in the limelight. With Barry Bonds marching towards Henry Aaron’s all-time home run record, Senator Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, has sponsored meaningless legislation that would recognize Roger Maris as the single-season home run champ. With performance-enhancing drug rumors surrounding Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, all players who have eclipsed the mark of 61 home runs set by Roger Maris in 1961, Dorgan feels that Maris’ record should still stand.
What’s not addressed is that Philadelphia Phillies slugger Ryan Howard is coming up on Roger Maris’ old record as we speak. He currently sits at 56, and nobody has said whether Ryan Howard is a worthy successor to Maris or not.
Of course none of this means anything. MLB has the ultimate say in all of this and as of now, commissioner Bud Selig appears intent on leaving the current records intact.
Oakland A’s Favor Coliseum When it Comes to Fielding
While the Oakland Coliseum is likely to be replaced with a stadium in Freemont, Calif., players on the team speak fondly about the current stadium's smooth playing surface. A lot of it has to do with Oakland’s solid defense: only 65 errors have been called at the Coliseum, which is the lowest number of any ballpark in the league. Even more impressive is that the field appears to be just as good now that the football season has started and the grounds crew has to get the field ready after the Oakland Raiders tear up the field.
Just as impressive is the parity that the scorers show at the Coliseum. The Boston Red Sox lead the majors in fielding percentage (the Athletics rank third), but they’ve only been called for 18 errors at home versus 50 errors being called for the visiting team at Fenway Park. While some of this can be attributed to the odd dimensions at Fenway Park, things are a lot tighter at the Coliseum. Thirty errors have been called on the A’s at home versus 35 for the visiting team.
SlingBox Has MLB Annoyed
There’s a new technology that’s being made popular by a company called Sling Media, Inc. The device, called a SlingBox, allows a person to view on his or her computer whatever that person is able to watch on a home television. MLB Advance Media (MLBAM) takes offense because it allows owners of the SlingBox to watch baseball games on their computer without going through MLBAM. Imagine that.
In a very well written column, Maury Brown at Baseball Prospectus goes through the legalities of the situation. I found it equally interesting because the SlingBox advertisement has been on the radio station I listen to here in Detroit. I’ve heard the advertisement upwards of two dozen times, but still didn’t understand what the device did. Now I do, because it’s described in the column.
Wrigley Field Hosts Smallest Crowd in Four Years
The Chicago Cubs have hit rock bottom. Just three years removed from their National League Championship Series appearance and their first playoff series win in almost a century, the Cubs now find themselves in dead last in the National League. The end result has been a blow at the turnstile. While the Cubs have sold 2.7 million tickets to date, an impressive number for a lot of teams, most of those were sold before April 19, 2006. Last Thursday, the smallest crowd since September 26, 2002 showed up at the popular ballpark with an announced attendance of 27,105. This is still a far cry from the 20,032 that showed up that day in 2002 but it wouldn't surprise me if the Cubs flirt with that by year end.
Brian Borawski is a member of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee and writes about the Detroit Tigers at his own website, TigerBlog. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail.