Marty McFly: Wait a minute, Doc. Ah... Are you telling me that you built a time machine... out of a DeLorean?
Dr. Emmett Brown: The way I see it, if you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?
The dream of looking into the future has always been a tempting one. Admit it, if you had one of those goofy “Magic 8-Balls” when you were a kid, you asked about it (“Will I ever be World Series MVP?...<shake>... “Are you out of your bleepin' mind?”). But, when you get into making predictions of any substance, and then publish it… Well, you can get labeled a buffoon.
Playing the part of the buffoon, for each of the past two years (here is 2009 and 2008), I’ve made some predictions as to what the upcoming year in Major League Baseball might hold… off the diamond. Since I’ve done it twice, why not shoot for #3?
The Rangers Will Be Sold to Greenberg/Ryan – Let’s start with the easy one… Would seem like a lock to predict, given that Tom Hicks has selected his group to be in exclusive negotiations to make the purchase, but Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan will wind up owning the Texas Rangers… rumors of difficulty lining up all the funding, or not.
More In-Market Streaming – Last year, it was announced that (for a price) you would be able to get around that nasty blackout restriction and catch games online; in-market game streaming with an assist from MLB Advanced Media. It started with the Yankees and then went to the Padres. With MLB president and COO Bob DuPuy and MLBAM CEO Bob Bowman saying that this model would be expanding in the future, it seems a near given that this year there will be more. But, given how the lion’s share of revenues from the in-market deals goes to MLBAM, some clubs may go into launches more apprehensive than you might think.
The Status Quo: MLB Blackout Policy – This one will be short: don’t expect much (if any) changes to MLB’s blackout policy. It’s been 3 years since Bob DuPuy said the league would be addressing the television territories. Expect that to move to “year 4”.
More Streaming MLB Network Online – This one is a near given. Why? MLB Network CEO Tony Pettitti and MLBAM CEO Bob Bowman confirmed it when I asked about it at the winter meetings in Dec. Don’t expect the network to be streamed 24/7 but it seems very possible that content that ties in with MLB’s premium games (think, All-Star Game, playoffs) could be a possibility.
More Improvements to “At Bat” for Mobile Devices – It’s been an incredible bit of development since its launch, but the “At Bat” application for many mobile devices including iPhone, iPod touch, Blackberry, and Android is bound to have more coming. What could that be? We haven’t heard of anything on the horizon, but a wish list item? Some form of increased metrics, such as is seen with Pitch F/X. Defensive metrics, anyone?
More Games on MLB Network – MLB has to be careful not to undermine its position when contract renewals with ESPN, TBS, and FOX roll around, but there’s little doubting that MLB Network will continue to slowly show more live games this year than last during the season. It’s not here, yet, but playoff games are a want for the new network. Once again… the balancing act of devaluing the renewals for MLB’s broadcast partners is critical.
World Series Champ vs. Japanese Champ? Not This Year – Bud Selig met with Ryozo Kato, the commissioner of the Nippon Professional Baseball of Japan to discuss the notion of a meeting of MLB’s World Series Champs against the champions in the Nippon league – MLB’s best against the best from Japan. Chances of that happening in 2010? Zilch. Why? The issue needs to be agreed upon by the MLBPA given travel, and the fact that the game would need to be played in the off-season. With the current CBA expiring in 2011, don’t expect this issue to get resolved this year.
Mark It On the Calendar… Snow at the New Ballpark – Maybe the Twins will luck out, but given that the club is opening their new Target Field ballpark without a roof, could Opening Day (or thereabouts) spell a snowout? Chances seem likely.
Speaking of Cold, The NHL Winter Classic Will Be Played At… I know the Mets have interest in having the NHL host the Winter Classic at Citi Field, but I’ll say that it is the other New York club (the Yankees), that will host the NHL’s hot ticket that ties in with MLB ballparks. Just a hunch. Nothing more.
Huge Contract Coming For Pujols – We’ll end with this equation: Matt Holliday (7/$120 million) + Mark Teixeira (8/$180 million) + Jeter’s 10/$189 million deal ending this year = Albert Pujols will become close to, or the highest paid player in MLB, this year (there will be pressure to get the deal done before Jeter is renewed which could work as yet another variable in the Pujols contracts negotiations). In related news, this will absolutely kill the Cardinals in terms of payroll flexibility (Holliday’s huge deal, coupled with the even larger deal Pujols will land) in future years.
Remember, this is all in fun. But, I have to say, I've gotten more right than wrong. (check what I said last year).... jinx.
Maury 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 is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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