MLB All-Star Game: AL 4-NL 3: Waking Up the Morning After
Well, the afternoon is here, and I've lamented all that I'm going to lament about the American League's 13th straight win over the NL last night, a 4-3 victory that has had me wondering what you gotta do to get a break.
Let's be honest though—when Carl Crawford jumped the fence to rob Brad Hawpe of the go-ahead homer, you knew it was going to be one of those nights.
Not that I mind all that much, although maybe I would if the Cubs had stronger Series hopes this year.
It's just that you're left to wonder how one league can be so consistently dominated like this: financially, record-wise, and in perception. It's just wrong.
So, I've gotten over it, and as I wait for regularly scheduled games to resume, I thought I'd pass along a few things that you might have missed while watching President Obama drop disses on the Cubs.
Like agents pushing for the MLBPA to file a collusion grievance over last offseason's free-agent contracts.
"There are too many things that need to be explained," said Seth Levinson, who represented nearly a dozen free agents following the 2008 season. "In my experience, there are no coincidences in a monopoly."
Now, we talked about this during the offseason, so if you're asking me, yes, the clubs colluded in curbing free-agent salaries.
Do I believe that they sat in a room and fixed prices? Doubtful.
But let it be known that free-spending clubs would be very unfavorably viewed, and possibly dealt with? Oh yeah, I think so.
Frankly though, in this case I have to say...so what?
Putting aside my main problem, which is that they chose the All-Star game to air this issue publicly—completely in poor taste and brought to you by the same folks who was the architect of the Alex Rodriguez free agency debacle at the World Series a few seasons ago—is the fact that baseball is a discretionary, entertainment product, in the middle of the worst recession in 80 years.
Unemployment? Expected in the teens by 2010.
Home prices? Still falling.
Consumers? Not spending, and faced with the double whammy of an increased tax bill, and lower pricing power on wages.
You really want to air public grievances on why your guy "only got $8 million a year" on this new deal? Seriously?
Labor-management relationships are always contentious, have plenty of friction, and everyone is forever seeking to get the upper hand.
I think some guys took it on the chin last winter—mostly due to the economy, and maybe a bit due to Selig and company. But mostly the economy.
Let it go.
The decline is real, and fans are just not going to side with you on this when too many are considering cutting the cable that they use to watch you on just to make ends meet. And yes, these things are judged in the court of public opinion.
Oh, and if you want more proof, I came across this piece recently, proving what I'd suspected all season: The tickets just aren't moving.
The short answer is that two-thirds of baseball is suffering a drop in attendance—including virtually all the major markets—and overall drop is 5.5 percent.
I'd add anectodally that those lost seats appear to be in the boxes, and premium sections, making the revenue loss that much worse. It's a nice piece from Darren Rovell, who does a good job with sports business coverage, and I hope you'll give it a read.
Good luck to the MLBPA trying to get traction with an anti-trust case with these numbers.
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