Business of Baseball Reportby Brian Borawski
June 01, 2006
Anaheim Appeals Angels Name Change Decision
Back in February, a jury ruled in favor of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and decided that their name change from the Anaheim Angels was valid under the stadium lease with the city. It’s been nearly four months since that decision, and Anaheim’s city council decided on Tuesday that they were going to appeal the decision. The measure was passed 4-1 and the lone dissenter, Councilman Harry Sidhu, stated that most appeals are unsuccessful, it would further increase the bill to the taxpayers for the entire mess, and that at all stages of the lawsuit, the city has been shot down in its attempt to get the name changed back.
The city is claiming that Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter Polos made several errors during the trial, including not rejecting the testimony of a former executive of Disney, the owner of the team at the time that the lease was signed, who said that he thought Disney might add a second city to the team name at some point in time, but could then never recall when he told the city negotiators who finalized the lease. In the end, it looks like this is more about money though.
The Angels are seeking $7 million of legal costs from the city because of their victory in court and negotiations haven’t gone anywhere. This appeal now calls the Angels' hand, and unless they’re willing to buck up and pay for another round of legal proceedings, they might just have to cave on the cost reimbursement. Lost in all of this as well is the further deterioration of the relationship between the city of Anaheim and the Angels. These two parties have to live together well into the next decade, and as it stands, it's a pretty adversarial relationship at the moment.
Devil Rays Keep Name Through 2007 Season
Late last year, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays were given permission by the league to explore a name change. Because a name change offers a ton of complications, including changing the team’s uniforms, logos, stadium signage, apparel and merchandise, the league requires teams to finalize their name change by May 31 of the year before they want to implement a name change.
Faced with the deadline, the team decided to forgo changing the team's name for another season, so through at least the 2007 season, they’ll still be the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. There’s been a lot of speculation surrounding the name change, and rumors have included taking “Devil” out and changing the name to the Tampa Bay Rays. Another rumor has the team including St. Petersburg, where the team actually plays its games, into the name as well.
Dayton Moore Signs on to be Royals General Manager
After a month of speculation, Kansas City Royals general manager Allard Baird was fired yesterday. Dayton Moore, the assistant general manager for the Atlanta Braves, was given the job in his place. This situation got really messy late last week when it became public that the Royals were courting Moore, while Baird was basically working for a team that he knew was ready to fire him. Baird issued a statement on Monday saying he’d like the whole matter to be resolved, and it looks like he received that resolution.
Baird was criticized for everything from poor drafts and trades to not being able to manage the small budget Royals effectively. Even this year, with an increase in the payroll, the team has been just as bad, if not worse, than in previous years. In his defense, he had a ton of holes to fill this past season and even the increase in the payroll couldn’t make up for it. Then again, a lot of those holes could be blamed on him, which is why he got the boot.
Contraction Off the Table
Late last week, MLB commissioner Bud Selig announced for the first time publicly and in clear terms that contraction wouldn’t be an issue in the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement discussions. In 2001, the league attempted to contract the Minnesota Twins and the Montreal Expos but faced some stiff resistance from the union.
Probably the biggest reason for this is that the Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals recently secured deals for a new stadium and for major renovations, respectively. The Florida Marlins are still looking for a home, and the Tampa Devil Rays linger near the bottom of the attendance rankings, but it appears that Selig is willing to give them a chance to get their houses in order. The Twins proved that if you fight long enough, you’ll wear down the opposition and eventually get what you want, which would give the Marlins some hope. And the Devil Rays have a new owner, so it looks like Selig is willing to give him some time to right that ship despite some pretty poor attendance numbers.
D.C. Puts Battle With Comcast on Hold
Earlier this month, the Washington, D.C. city council passed legislation that would require cable giant Comcast to begin airing Washington Nationals games by Wednesday, May 24, 2006 or the city would renegotiate its contract with the cable company. That deadline came and went, and the word from the council was that the city was unlikely to do anything until after the Memorial Day holiday.
The issue revolves around Comcast’s refusal to air anything related to the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) because of an ongoing disagreement with the Baltimore Orioles and how the team pushed Comcast aside when MASN was created. Under their original agreement, Comcast was allowed an exclusive negotiation period with the team, although that never really happened because the Orioles were then given ownership of MASN, which also broadcasts Nationals games. Comcast had filed a lawsuit over the matter, but it was dismissed by the Montgomery County court.
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.