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 The Wild Face Of Baseball

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reggie
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reggie


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PostSubject: The Wild Face Of Baseball   The Wild Face Of Baseball Icon_minitimeFri Jul 27, 2007 11:06 am

The Wild Face Of Baseball
By John Clarkson

Question: What was the difference in operating revenue in 2001 between the New York Yankees and the second team on the list, the Seattle Mariners?

(You can find the answer at the end of this article.)

Baseball may be the national pastime, but there has been legitimate cause for years to wonder if Major League Baseball (MLB) is the forum in which America chooses to express her love for the sport.

With minor league attendance up across the country and MLB teams in a battle to remain viable, let alone in their current home city, Bud Selig and company have had some serious financial and public relations hurdles to overcome over the past decade.

welcome to the wilderness

One change meant to usher in a new generation and era of excitement was the wildcard playoff round. For the most part, the experiment has been a modest success. On the one hand, an extra round of playoffs has meant more bonus playoff revenue for owners, for better or for worse.

George Steinbrenner may not miss the cash the first round of the postseason brings, even if the Yankees never advance past the first round, as was the case last year. But for Carl Pohlad, owner of the contraction-prone Minnesota Twins, the wildcard is the best thing since color television.

If you look back since the advent of the wildcard in 1995, many teams, no matter the market size, have been the beneficiaries of bonus playoff money. Remember that since payroll for the players ends with the regular season, postseason income is pure gravy.

A perennial playoff contender like the Oakland Atheltics is a great example of a team that has made some decent dough on the side with the wildcard and extra playoff round. Sure, this is still a team in dire straits, but nonetheless it made almost $2.7 million US in postseason revenue in 2001.

A paltry sum, compared to the $16 million the wealthy Yankees took in, despite their World Series loss to Arizona, but it underscores that the opportunity for more revenue than before is there.
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reggie
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PostSubject: Re: The Wild Face Of Baseball   The Wild Face Of Baseball Icon_minitimeFri Jul 27, 2007 11:07 am

baseball gone wild

You think some of these owners would like the first round to go seven games instead of the current five, and garner more home game gate receipts? You bet. Although one cannot compare attendance figures in the NHL and MLB, I have no doubt some baseball owners look at the playoff structure of the former and salivate.

Of course with baseball, the precious pastime, we have to take into account the "integrity of the game." Which is why change, despite the obvious benefits, is never quick to implement in MLB, whether you talk about the designated hitter, the wildcard, or even integration of the game itself.

But if you look at the cold business facts, and I have to, the wildcard has been a fantastic success. There has been more positive buzz about baseball in the past few years, even in the wake of the 1994 season that saw the mass exodus of fans across the continent.
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reggie
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PostSubject: Re: The Wild Face Of Baseball   The Wild Face Of Baseball Icon_minitimeFri Jul 27, 2007 11:08 am

Although ratings have not been on par with other sports like the NFL and the NCAA tournament in March, they have seen improvements.

More postseason games that showcase some of the best young talent in the game, like Ichiro Suzuki, Torii Hunter and Albert Pujols, to a national audience are a great thing for baseball. And of course, a chance to see major stars like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Derek Jeter, and Nomar Garciaparra wield their potent bats does not suck either.

For me though, the best stories of postseason play and especially the wildcard, where the fate of a series can turn on a single game, are the pitchers.

who threw that?

Look at the first round of the playoffs this year. Kerry Wood. Mark Prior. Pedro Martinez. Derek Lowe. Dontrelle Willis. Andy Pettitte. Roger Clemens. There are so many rich and compelling storylines to choose from among these aces that even the most cynical baseball fan must brush cynicism aside and admit once and for all that the postseason provides spectacular entertainment.

The ratings seem to reflect this so far this year as well. The U.S. rating for Game 1 of the Chicago-Atlanta series got an 8.9 overnight rating, an 11% increase over last year, and the highest for a playoff opener since 1998.

With two of the most legendary playoff losers in the mix for a World Championship this year, people have been tuning in to witness what they hope is history. The hapless Cubs, of course, with the most fervent baseball fans in the world, had not won a playoff series since 1908, when they last were champs.

The Red Sox have had a bit more success of late, with their last title coming in 1918. All in all, it makes for great water cooler conversation to have these two clubs in the hunt, especially with Boston up against their hated rival and the other player in the curse of the Bambino, the New York Yankees.

Sure, the Cubs-Marlins series may not be as interesting to some, but Florida has an electrifying lineup, a solid playoff MVP candidate in Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, and a great young staff of hurlers with rookie phenom Willis and the intimidating Brad Penny.
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reggie
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PostSubject: Re: The Wild Face Of Baseball   The Wild Face Of Baseball Icon_minitimeFri Jul 27, 2007 11:09 am

who's on first?

Throw in the Jeffrey Loria angle, the owner who many in baseball, notably Montreal Expos fans and former minority ownership of that team, contend colluded with MLB to sell the Expos in favor of a sweetheart deal to land the Marlins from John Henry, who then went on to purchase the Boston Red Sox, and you have one hell of a soap opera in which to enrapture fans.

Hey, what is not to like here, with so many angles of interest? Any World Series matchup between the four remaining teams promises to provide enough thrills to get folks to flip on the tube. But anyone with a brain knows that Bud Selig and FOX are dying for a Cubs-Red Sox final. The ratings will go through the roof and undoubtedly break records.

In fact, it could be the series that propels MLB back into the national consciousness in the mold of the NFL.

Question: What was the difference in operating revenue in 2001 between the New York Yankees and the second team on the list, the Seattle Mariners?

Answer: A cool $39.774 million.
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