Business of Baseball Reportby Brian Borawski
June 14, 2006
All-Star Game Rule Still in Limbo
After the tie game debacle that happened at the 2002 All-Star Game, the previous three All-Star Games have “counted.” While the rule is still controversial, the league that won the All-Star Game received home field advantage when the National League and American League locked horns in the World Series.
With this year’s All-Star Game just a month away, the league and the players union have not yet reached an agreement that would extend the rule. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig appeared optimistic and said the rule was good for the game. The original rule was put in place for two years, but it was extended a year to cover the 2005 All-Star Game.
Personally, I think it’s kind of a farce. You have differing agendas at the All-Star Game and you could potentially have a team and a manager that’s out of it potentially determining whether the current contenders will receive home-field advantage. Interleague play and a lack of enthusiasm by the players have created a watered down All-Star game that, when I was a kid, was a huge deal even though the game didn’t “count.”
Former New York Mayor Not Interested in Chicago Cubs
Last week there was a rumor floating around that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was interested in buying the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s name has been connected with a group that’s interested in buying the Chicago Cubs from the Tribune Company. It appears that Giuliani’s firm, Giuliani Partners, hosted a meeting with former Cubs star Ernie Banks, and it just so happens that Banks approached the Tribune Company about purchasing the Cubs in late May.
Now it appears that there’s been some backpedaling. Giuliani’s firm has come out publicly and said that they weren’t looking to purchase the team. Banks apparently met with the team back in late May but didn’t make much progress. And now the media giant has said that the team isn’t for sale.
Seattle Stadium Bonds Could be Paid Off Early
Despite the Mariners' sagging attendance, the city of Seattle appears to be doing just fine. Back in 1999 when Safeco Field was being built, King County issued $325 million worth of bonds to subsidize the project. The bonds were expected to be paid off by 2016 from three different sources, a half percent tax on restaurant purchases, a two percent rental car tax and a 0.017 increase in the sales tax. Now just seven years later, it appears that the county is way ahead of schedule and could pay off the bonds as early as 2012.
While all three sources of revenue are ahead of schedule, the primary reason for the windfall has been the half percent restaurant tax One reason for this is that food prices have gone up because the area’s minimum wage has increased over 50%. The other reason is that restaurant demand is much higher in the area since the nationwide recession earlier in the decade.
Wrigley Field Bullpens Now Equipped With Cell Phones
Outside of the Boston’s Fenway Park, no team has played in its stadium longer than the Chicago Cubs have at Wrigley Field. Wrigley was also the last stadium to install lights, finally added in 1988. Day games are still much more prevalent than night games at Wrigley, but that won’t stop Dusty Baker and the pitching coach from using high technology to communicate with their bullpens.
Both the home and visiting dugouts and bullpen will be equipped with brand new Motorola i580 wireless phones so coaches will be able to contact their bullpens with a touch of a button. Cubs senior vice president of marketing and broadcasting John McDonough came up with the idea when he was watching a playoff game last season and noticed that the manager was having a hard time with the traditional phone. The phones meet military standards for blowing rain, dust and vibration and the phones were modified specifically for the team’s use.
Congress Looking For Blood
The whole Jason Grimsley situation has caused quite a stir both in the baseball world and on Capitol Hill. For those of you who don’t know, Grimsley, a former pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks, had his house raided for human growth hormone and amphetamines last week. He’s since been released by the Diamondbacks and the league has suspended him for 50 games. While this by itself isn’t a huge deal, it appears Grimsley has some dirt, and while he wasn’t willing to sell other players out back in April, he appears be ready to use what he knows now in order to get out of jail for free.
Now Congress is getting back into the mix. After forcing the hand of both the league and the players union to enact more stringent performance-enhancing drug penalties, it looks like they’re going to mix it up with baseball again. Apparently, they’re not satisfied with the current rules yet again, so they’re now “suggesting” the league institute mandatory blood testing for human growth hormone.
I’ve said this before, but you’d think Congress would have more important things to do. One House member went as far as saying that baseball has “put us to the sword again.” So it’ll be interesting to see if the union bends over yet again on the “steroid” issue or whether they say enough is enough since blood testing carries it with it some heavy privacy issues.
Royals Pull Rug Out From Under Two KC Reporters
Bob Fescoe and Rhonda Moss work for competing sports talk radio shows in the Kansas City area. The Kansas City Royals announced late last week that they’d be revoking both reporters' press credentials for “unspecific reasons.” Reports indicate that both reporters grilled Royals owner David Glass about how Allard Baird’s firing was handled during the press conference where Dayton Moore was announced as the team's new general manager. This Associated Press report indicates that “Glass appeared irritated” and later told Moss that her conclusions were wrong.
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.