Business of Baseball Reportby Brian Borawski
September 28, 2005
New York Yankees Set American League Attendance Record
The Yankees closed out their regular season this past Sunday with their 43rd consecutive sellout. The crowd of 55,136 fans put Yankee Stadium’s total attendance for the 2005 season at 4,090,696, a new American League record. The previous mark was set by the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays, who drew 4,057,947. The major league record was set by the Colorado Rockies in their inaugural season; they drew 4,483,350 in 1993.
Marlins Stadium Supporters Take New Angle
Weston, Fla. mayor Eric Hersch is coming to bat for the Florida Marlins in their quest for public financing for a new stadium. His proposal has nothing to do with baseball, and everything to do with the recent hurricanes that have wreaked havoc on the gulf coast.
Hersch’s big idea is to help fund the Marlins’ new stadium, but to also make sure the ballpark has a dual purpose. By building a category 5 hurricane-proof stadium, the facility would be able to double as a shelter in the event of a major hurricane hitting the area. The stadium would be stocked with emergency supplies and generators, and the storm refuge aspects of the stadium would be just as much of a priority as the baseball aspects. While the state legislature hasn’t taken up the matter, the plan makes more sense than falling back on the myth that a new stadium would provide some kind of imaginary economic benefit to the area.
Players’ Union Answers Bud Selig’s April Steroid Policy Letter
It might have taken him close to five months, but Donald Fehr, the union’s executive director, answered Bud Selig’s publicly announced letter that called for tougher steroid penalties. While Fehr’s response bridges some of the gap between the current policy and what Selig proposed, it’ll be interesting to see whether the baseball commissioner will play hardball and let Congress decide the issue or not.
The union’s proposed penalty would call for a 20-game suspension for a first-time offender, as opposed to the 50 games that Selig called for. They also proposed that instead of a lifetime ban for a third-time offender, the penalty would be mandated by the commissioner’s office “provided it is consistent with just cause.” The union also offered to increase the number of tests from 1,440 to 3,000 and to begin testing that covers amphetamines.
It would be unprecedented for the union to reopen the collective bargaining agreement for a second time, but that’s exactly what they’re offering to do. In the face of the two-year bans for first-time offenders and lifetime bans for second-time offenders that Congress is proposing, they probably feel that they need to keep the issue within their control.
Angels, Anaheim Court Date Pushed Back
The city of Anaheim was set to have its day in court on November 7, but that date has now been pushed back to January 9, 2006. Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter Polos set the new date because he feels that trial preparations could not be completed by the initial date. Polos also ordered the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s team president Dennis Kuhl to answer questions that team attorneys prevented him from answering during his deposition.
It’s been a while since I reported on this, but the city of Anaheim is fighting the Angels’ name change from the Anaheim Angels. They’re alleging the name change violates the lease that the team signed with the city, which says that “Anaheim” must be in the team’s name.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays of St. Petersburg?
St. Petersburg City Council member Bill Foster has sent a written resolution asking the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to consider changing their team name so it includes the city where their stadium is located. He’s frustrated about reading erroneous newspaper articles that place the team in Tampa instead of St. Petersburg. Pinellas County residents have shown enthusiastic support for the resolution, as they too feel slighted that most people associate the team with the city of Tampa and not St. Petersburg.
Team officials have felt lukewarm about the idea, and their contract with the city allows them to pick their own name. David Auker, the Devil Rays’ senior vice president of business relations, also said that the current name illustrates the team’s regional appeal by associating itself with an area and not just one city.
Nationals’ Sale Price Set
Major League Baseball finally set the price of the Washington Nationals last week. The final number was the $450 million figure that was expected and with the assumption that the sale closes, it will be one of the highest sticker prices for a major league baseball team. The league sent out detailed purchase agreements to each of the prospective bidders with no set due date on when they should be returned.
While Bud Selig has stated that he’d like to pick a new owner before the playoffs start on October 3, there is one major sticking point. The league has stated that they will not pick the prospective owner until after the district approves the lease governing the new Washington, D.C. stadium that’s set to open in 2008.
“Mind Games” Preview
I had a chance to take a sneak peek at Baseball Prospectus’s upcoming release, “Mind Game,” and I’m thoroughly impressed. The book is in part a history lesson on how the Red Sox got to where they were before finally winning the World Series in 2004 and is mostly a narrative on how the Red Sox built a winning franchise to finally best their archrival the New York Yankees and win the World Series.
I’m not finished with the book yet, but what I’ve read has been both intelligent and interesting. The book also does a good job of incorporating Baseball Prospectus’s advanced statistics into the text while making it all understandable to someone who might not be as familiar with the website’s statistics. Most impressive was the great job editor Steven Goldman did in tying the book together. Each chapter was written by a different person (or persons), but Goldman did a fantastic job tying it all together so it reads as if it were written with a common mind.
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.