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Astros Plan to Announce Fri. Whether Colt .45 "Pistol" Uniforms to Be Worn PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 08 March 2012 15:04

Will this Astros approve the original Colt .45 logo...?

... or this alternative on Friday?

Let’s all agree to something before we get started: guns in the hands of the wrong people are a bad thing. Let’s also agree that (within reason) highlighting traditionally historical themes within the sports framework is good. Going back to the deadball is bad. We can certainly debate whether the Cleveland Indians “Wahoo” characterture is offensively racist. And, we can debate whether the Astros should be allowed to wear the original Colt .45 uniforms that have a gun on them as part of the Astros’ 50th anniversary celebration this year.

To the credit of the Astros, that’s exactly what they’ve been engaged in for several months with MLB, and this past week with fans.

According to a release by the club, when they approached MLB about whether they should or should not use the original uniform design with the Colt pistol on it, the league is deferring to the Astros to make the decision. The uniforms will be worn as part of their “Flashback Fridays” promotion that will highlight a different uniform each month with the team wearing that jersey for each Friday night game. Part of the program includes the iconic Colt .45s jersey that the team will wear on Tuesday, April 10 vs. the Atlanta Braves (commemorating the first game in franchise history) and on Friday, April 20 vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Astros plan to announce tomorrow (Friday) whether the “pistol” design or the alternative jersey that would only have the Colts name on the front of the jersey will be used.

As we said upfront, guns in the wrong hands are bad. As this is really about wearing the historic uniforms for two games, and the fact that the Astros are moving to the American League next season, it would be a nice tip of the hat to history if the original design with the pistol was approved.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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MLB Approves Expanded Playoffs For 2012, Still Lowest of Big-4 Sports PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 02 March 2012 16:07

Wildcard

It took an extra day, but as anticipated, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association today agreed to a 10-team format that includes two additional Wild Card Clubs and an elimination game in each League prior to the Division Series for the 2012 season, as opposed to waiting till next year. The format will see a second Wild Card would be awarded in both the American League and the National League; and that a single Postseason game would be played between each League’s two Wild Card Clubs, with each winner advancing to compete among the three division champions from each League in the Division Series. If the format had been in place last year, the Rays would have played the Red Sox in the American League while the Cardinals would have played the Braves.

The change, which was endorsed by the Commissioner’s 14-member Special Committee for On-Field Matters, marks the first amendment to the Postseason since MLB adopted the six-division, eight-team Postseason structure in January of 1994.  The first Postseason to be played under that format occurred in 1995.

Implementing the format change did not come easy, and will have a wrinkle in it for 2012 that will change going forward, beginning in 2013.

The difficulty in having the extra games this season has been that the 2012 schedule is already finalized. The issue has been to try and squeeze in the new Wild Card games the day after the regular season ends, deal with any potential regular season tie-breaker games that would have to be played before then, the League Division Series, and the League Championship Series and account for time to allow rainouts, all into a three-week window from Oct 3 to the start of the World Series on Oct. 24. Those concerns by the players were addressed as part of the discussions.

An interesting twist will be for this season only, the five-game Division Series will begin with two home games for lower seeds, followed by up to three home games for higher seeds.  This one-year change will eliminate a travel day prior to a decisive Game Five of the Division Series and was necessary because the 2012 regular season schedule was announced before the agreement on the new Postseason was reached.  Next year, the Division Series will return to the 2-2-1 format used in previous years.  The league and MLBPA said that, “Details on the scheduling of the new elimination games between each League’s Wild Cards will be announced in the near future.” That last time MLB saw the 2-3 format for the LDS was 1997.

“I greatly appreciate the MLBPA’s cooperation in putting the new Postseason format in place this year,” said Commissioner Selig in a joint statement. “The enthusiasm for the 10-team structure among our Clubs, fans and partners has been overwhelming. This change increases the rewards of a division championship and allows two additional markets to experience playoff baseball each year, all while maintaining the most exclusive Postseason in professional sports.”

Michael Weiner, the Executive Director of the MLBPA, added, “The players are eager to begin playing under this new format in 2012 and they look forward to moving to full realignment in 2013.  Our negotiating committee and the owners’ representatives worked hard to develop a schedule that should make for fairer competition and provide our fans with a very exciting season.”

Why the Urgency?

As to why there heavy push to implement the changes this year, as opposed to waiting till 2013 when the Astros move to the AL West and the schedule can be properly addressed, the feeling was, “Why wait?” The clubs pushed for it as it adds the extra potential to reach the postseason, which translates not only into added revenues for those 5 seeds in each league that now make the postseason, but the season ticket sales that accompany that in the following year of making the postseason. The clubs also felt that it made winning the division much more important now than in years prior. To add, MLB will see additional revenue when details of who will be broadcasting the new games is reached closer to the upcoming postseason, and could be parlayed into an even larger payday for the league when national broadcast deals begin being negotiated in early 2013. The current deals with FOX, ESPN, and TBS expire at the end of 2013.

RELATED: Expanded Playoffs in MLB Announced Friday, But Broadcast Deal Still Up in the Air

For those that think that MLB will be diluting the postseason with added teams, one needs to look at how many teams make the postseason in the other Big-4 sports. The added teams now means that one-third of MLB’s 30 clubs have a shot at the playoffs. That remains the lowest percentage of total teams when compared to the NFL, NBA, and NHL. The following shows the number of teams per league that make the playoffs each season, along with the percentage of the total.

League

Total Teams

# in Playoffs

% of total

NBA

30

16

53%

NHL

30

16

53%

NFL

32

12

38%

MLB

30

10

33%

Biz of Baseball Research


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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JetBlue Adorns Plane in Red Sox "Uniform" PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 10 February 2012 12:43

Red Sox JetBlue 

No, there wasn’t a player signing at Boston’s Logan International Airport, but there was a uniform unveiling, of sorts.

Red Sox sponsorship partner JetBlue unveiled an Airbus A320 in Red Sox colors today marking the first time a commercial airliner has worn an MLB “uniform”. The unveiling was done with JetBlue’s Senior VP of Marketing and Commercial Strategy Marty St. George, Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino, Red Sox Exec VP/COO Sam Kennedy, Manager Bobby Valentine, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and a “cast of hundreds” that included  JetBlue crewmembers and Wally the Green Monster.

The jet’s design was inspired by the Red Sox road unis – gray with blue wing tips, and a gray tail featuring the dangling red socks. Also included in the paint scheme is the logo for Fenway’s 100th Anniversary.

The jet begins service today flying to, where else, Ft. Myers, FL where the Red Sox host Spring Training at the new JetBlue Park at Fenway South. Customers on the flight were greeted with hats and jerseys on their seats for the maiden flight.

The jet has the number 605, which according to sources with JetBlue has no particular significance. No word as to whether “Number 605” will make the 40 man roster for Spring Training.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Busy Day in Beantown Betrays New Budget Conscious BoSox PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Joe Tetreault   
Sunday, 22 January 2012 10:54

Dan Shaughnessy, who long ago did his heel turn, had already blasted the club’s ownership for the penny pinching ways, when Red Sox GM compounded the complaints with a text book salary dump sending designated starting shortstop Marco Scutaro to the Colorado Rockies for righty Clayton Mortensen.

The move perplexes Rob Neyer. And the overall tenor of the offseason has largely upset legions of Red Sox Nation. The acquisition of Andrew Bailey being the primary positive among a sea of head scratchers.

But the tactics are not designed to construct a playoff roster. They are designed to avoid the newly sterner luxury tax penalties as spelled out in MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement. The Biz of Baseball’s Maury Brown touched on this topic when the new CBA was announced in November:

The Competitive Balance Tax (CBT), or as it’s commonly known as the Luxury Tax that has been part of MLB, stopped at the end of the season. It’s back in the new agreement, with some undefined tweaks. In a sign that the players are happy with where the model currently is, the soft cap for the league will see no changes in the threshold from the 2011 season -- $178 million based on end-of-year salaries

The quiet offseasons that both the Red Sox and Yankees have overseen suggest both clubs find the new provisions onerous enough to pull back from their free-spending ways. The Yankees big splash came in two pieces just over a week ago. First they dealt Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi for Michael Pineda and minor leaguer Jose Campos. Then they announced an agreement with Hiroki Kuroda on a one-year contract for the budget conscious price tag of $10 million.

Still, the Red Sox and Yankees both face the prospect of exceeding the tax threshold in 2012. The Yankees certainly will. Boston is working like crazy to prevent that.

Speculation centers around Roy Oswalt. The Red Sox would not have been able to sign the veteran right handed starter, even at his reduced salary demand of one-year and $8 million unless they moved some salary. Thus exits Scutaro.

Among the agida inducing activities Cherrington continues to deal with is the club’s full slate of players facing salary arbitration. And with David Ortiz seeking $16.5 million the Red Sox were looking at an even greater cash crunch.

They settled one of their cases last night, with an announcement sent out minutes after the trade was officially announced. Right-handed reliever Daniel Bard agreed with the team on a one-year deal for the $1.6125 million. The two met int he middle between Bard’s asking price of $1.825 million and the club’s offer of $1.4 million. The contract represents a raise of 219.3% over his 2011 salary. He qualified as a Super Two player.

Bard is a candidate to start for the Red Sox in 2012 after serving as the club’s primary set up for Jonathan Papelbon since joining the team in mid-May of 2009. He and Alfredo Aceves, who is also poised to go to an arbitration hearing, are both looking to shift from the pen to a starting role. Picking up Oswalt would ensure one, if not both, would be back in the bullpen next year.


Joe TetreaultJoe Tetreault is a contributor to the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball

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Complete 2012 Spring Training Schedule Released PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 17 January 2012 10:31

2012 MLB Spring TrainingThe first 2012 Spring Training exhibition will be held on Wednesday, February 29th in Clearwater, Florida, where the Philadelphia Phillies will host Florida State University, while the first Cactus League game will be in Phoenix, Arizona on Friday, March 2nd, when the Seattle Mariners will visit the Oakland Athletics in a preview of Japan Opening Series 2012, Major League Baseball announced today.

Five Grapefruit League games and four Cactus League games are scheduled for Saturday, March 3rd.  The Boston Red Sox will debut JetBlue Park at Fenway South in Lee County, Florida on Sunday, March 4th, when the club hosts the Minnesota Twins.  The first full slate of action in both Arizona and Florida, involving all 30 Major League Clubs, is Monday, March 5th.

The Mariners and the A’s will complete their Cactus League schedules on Wednesday, March 21st.  Major League Baseball will open its regular season in Tokyo for the fourth time when the A’s and the Mariners participate in Japan Opening Series 2012, a two-game set scheduled for March 28th and 29th.  Japan Opening Series 2012 will be dedicated to assisting in the rebuilding efforts across Japan.

Select exhibition games at Major League and Minor League ballparks will be played from Saturday, March 31st through Wednesday, April 4th.  The Miami Marlins will host the inaugural regular season game at their new downtown ballpark on Wednesday, April 4th, when they will welcome the 2011 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals at 7:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPN.  Six games are scheduled for Thursday, April 5th and 10 games are scheduled for Friday, April 6th, with the first full slate of regular season games on Saturday, April 7th.

SELECT READ MORE TO SEE THE COMPLETE 2012 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE (Subject to change)

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Settlement Between Dodgers and Fox Smooths Way For Sale PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 11 January 2012 16:48

DodgersThe legal dispute between FOX Sports and the Dodgers over media rights has been settled in a Delaware bankruptcy court. The Dodgers had been looking to put the media rights for the Dodgers up for sale ahead of the expiration of the current agreement the LA club has with FOX. That contract has FOX having the rights to bid first as early as Nov. of this year, and does not allow for other broadcasters to negotiate for those rights until early 2013. Dodgers owner Frank McCourt argued that by adding in the media rights now as part of the sale of the club, more money would be secured for creditors as part of the sale, set to occur before April.

“The agreement with Fox clears the path for the Dodgers to sell the team on schedule and to maximize the value of the debtors’ estate,” said Sid Levinson, and attorney for the Dodgers to bankruptcy judge, Kevin Gross.

The case had large implications to the broadcast industry. Ostensibly, a ruling in the Dodgers’ favor would set a precedence by which other broadcast deals could be nullified in advance of expiration if a sports club were to enter bankruptcy.

But, that was likely to not be the case. While Judge Gross ruled in favor of the Dodgers, an appeals judge noted at hearing that Gross had erred in his decision, thus setting the stage for a reversal. The settlement was the outcome of that looming over the case.

The sale, which sees a star studded collection of bidders from groups with Magic Johnson, Mark Cuban, Joe Torre, Steve Garvey, Fred Claire, and others, could fetch in excess of $1.2 billion. The amount of cash in the deal will weigh heavily in the court’s decision as it allows the creditors to be quickly paid.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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SEE IT: Yorvit Torrealba Suspended 66 Games for Striking Umpire PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 26 December 2011 18:20

Imagine if this happened in MLB. Texas Rangers backup catcher Yorvit Torrealba has been suspended 66 games Venezuelan League for striking the homeplate umpire after striking out swinging. The total game count means he will miss the rest of this season, and all of next season in the Venezuelan League. The suspension does not carry over to MLB. He shoved the umpire in the mask, forceably driving him backward.Torrealba is currently playing for Leones del Caracas in the Winter Ball league

 


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Report: A's Granted Permission to Relocate to San Jose PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Saturday, 24 December 2011 17:11

Oakland A'sThe Oakland Athletics will be allowed to relocated to San Jose, according to a tweet from USA Today’s national baseball reporter, Bob Nightengale.  “All signs and top MLB sources say that the Athletics will be granted permission by Feb to move to San Jose,” said Nightengale. He added later, “The Athletics have received private assurances from MLB [but] can't speak about it publicly.”

According to the San Jose Mercury,”[Billy] Beane said he was unaware of any such news when reached by phone Saturday and didn't want to comment further. A's co-owner Lew Wolff could not be reached for comment, and team spokesman Bob Rose said the team continues to wait for Major League Baseball's report on the A's stadium situation and would have no further comment until then.”

The larger question is, what will the San Francisco Giants receive as compensation?

As we wrote in 2004:

The Giants control most of the Bay Area. Their territory includes San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Monterey and Marin Counties, plus Santa Clara County with respect to another major league team. By comparison, the Athletics' territory includes only Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

When Bob Lurie was looking to get out of Candlestick Park in the late 80’s, baseball expanded the Giants territory to include Santa Clara County where there were efforts to pass funding to build a new ballpark in San Jose. The voters in Santa Clara County rejected tax hikes to fund the stadium in both 1990 and 1992, yet baseball reaffirmed those rights when Peter Magowan purchased the team in 1995 and built PacBell Park.

From an indemnification issue, the Giants will likely receive something, but what “something” is unknown. It’s possible – however extremely unlikely – that through the league appointed committee that was formed in March of 2009, the league could simply push the relocation through based on the A’s controlling the market prior.

That may spark outrage, but based upon the MLB constitution, clubs are forbidden to sue league, but rather resolve disputes through arbitration. Watch the news, as it seems more likely that some sort of payoff to the Giants would be in play.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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MLB, Union For Players to Begin Discussions For International Draft PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 15 December 2011 16:55

While it wasn’t completed in time for the new collective bargaining agreement in Major League Baseball, the league and the MLB Players Association agreed that further discussions around the development of international players – including a worldwide draft – would begin, no later than January 15 of 2012.

Today both sides announced the “International Talent Committee” that would negotiate to try and reach a deal. MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner and MLB Executive Vice President for Labor Relations and Human Resources Rob Manfred are co-chairs of the committee. Joining Weiner on the committee are MLBPA Director of Player Relations Tony Clark, MLBPA Senior Advisor Rick Shapiro and MLBPA Special Assistant Stan Javier, while Kim Ng of the Commissioner’s Office, Sandy Alderson of the New York Mets and Andrew Friedman of the Tampa Bay Rays join Manfred.

There’s several items that the sides look to discuss. Per MLB and the MLBPA in a statement, they are:

  • If there is an international draft, whether international players should be part of a single worldwide draft (including players currently covered by the Rule 4 Draft) or a separate draft (or drafts).
  • The appropriate age at which international amateur players should be signed to professional contracts.
  • If there are to be multiple drafts, whether players from Puerto Rico should remain in the Rule 4 Draft or instead be part of an international draft.
  • The development of appropriate country-by-country plans for playing and development opportunities for players prior to draft eligibility.
  • The development of appropriate plans to provide undrafted or unsigned players (including players age 18 to 21) from Latin America with an opportunity to continue their development, including the creation of a new league or leagues, or the addition of centrally-operated Clubs in the Dominican Summer League (“DSL”).
  • Whether and how regulations should be put in place regarding representation of international amateur players (e.g., “independent trainers” and agents).
  • Improving the education and acculturation programs of Clubs at their international academies.
  • What safeguards should be established in relation to any signing bonus payments made to international amateur players.
  • The laws of the countries from which international players are signed and how those laws should affect the actions of the parties.
  • What actions are necessary in order to achieve the negotiation of a revised agreement between MLB and the Mexican League that allows players greater choice of where to play and promotes a fair and open system of player movement.
  • What actions are necessary in order to achieve the negotiation of revisions to the protocol agreements with the Korean Professional Baseball League, the Japanese Professional Baseball League, and the Taiwan R.O.C. League to accommodate a draft.
  • How Cuban players should be treated under an amateur talent system in light of the legal and political factors that affect their signability.

Several of these address issues that have been a thorn in the league’s side.  On the issue of “safeguards should be established in relation to any signing bonus payments made to international amateur players”, it addresses skimming of bonus money from young talent in the DR and Venezuela. “Buscones” or a type of street agent have independently developed players in which they have players agree to hand over 20% or more of a signing bonus. But, it goes further. The White Sox organization saw their senior director of player personnel David Wilder and others in the organization fired over skimming, while former Nationals GM was forced out of the organization when the FBI investigated him for skimming bonus money as far back as during his time as GM of the Reds. The Angels fired Clay Daniel who headed scouting in Latin America over scouts skimming signing bonuses.

In discussions with both Michael Weiner and Rob Manfred last year, just as labor negotiations for the CBA were beginning, the top representatives for the league and players both said they were in favor of an international draft, but that the execution of that process would be difficult. As these points from the league and MLBPA show, they were certainly telling the truth. Whether parts or all of this transpire is unknown. Nothing is to say that meeting may not make an international draft and supporting policy system happen, but the sides are clearly further along than in 2006 when the sides failed to reach an international draft agreement as part of that CBA. In that case, the committee never convened and the international draft topic withered on the vine until it was resurrected as part of the latest labor negotiations.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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