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Old 09-21-2010, 11:56 AM
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Default Debunking myth of baseball's demise

I thought this was a good article that responds to some of the media folks predicting baseball's demise. While I do think MLB needs to make some changes, Caple makes some great points.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2...L&sportCat=mlb

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A lot of people say that baseball is no longer our national pastime. And they're right. That's because the new national pastime is bashing baseball.



At least, that's the media's favorite pastime, apart from keeping as many people as possible as scared as possible as often as possible. No matter what happens, the media trashes baseball, while lavishing a man-crush of praise on the NFL. No matter the facts, the storyline is always that baseball is as hopelessly irrelevant and stubbornly out-of-date as dial-up connections, VHS tapes and intelligent political debate. Critics throw so many beanballs and cheap shots at baseball that you practically need to don batting helmets and protective cups just to listen to talk radio or read a column.



Meanwhile, the media slobber like an overheated Saint Bernard over the NFL, overlooking the appalling way the league treats both its players (no guaranteed contracts in a violent sport where injuries shorten careers and careers shorten lives) and fans (overpriced tickets, blackouts, shameless franchise shifts back in the 1990s, etc.). For the NFL to receive bad publicity, a star quarterback pretty much needs to run a dogfighting ring.



This is how the media go after the most important, far-reaching topic in the NFL:



MEDIA: There are some medical studies showing a high level of concussions in your sport which can lead to long-term brain damage. How do you respond?



NFL: Look, a shiny object!



MEDIA: Really? Where?



Meanwhile, this is how the media cover baseball:



BASEBALL: The Padres are in first place despite a payroll of $38 million, second-lowest in the game. The Rangers are in first place despite a payroll lower than all but 25 teams. The Reds are in first place despite a payroll lower than two-thirds of the league. The Rays were in first place Monday despite a payroll lower than 60 percent of the majors.



MEDIA: No one has a chance except big-market teams! The Yankees win every year! And Roger Clemens is a liar! What sort of example is he setting for our youth? Fortunately, none of them care about baseball anymore because the sport is dying! By the way, what's the line on the Jets-Patriots game?



Enough already. It's time to go beyond the media hype and compare the real popularity between baseball and the NFL.



Media Fallacy No. 1: Baseball is dying but the NFL is thriving.



I think blowhards began claiming that baseball was dying even before Bob Sheppard's voice changed, yet the game stubbornly persists, growing revenues, adding fans and drawing crowds at near-record levels. Yes, attendance has been down during this recession -- by less than one-half percent this year. That's a whopping 128 fans per game in one of the worst economies in recent memory. The Brewers are 12 games below .500 and play in about the smallest market in baseball, and they're averaging nearly 35,000 per game. Meanwhile, NFL season-ticket sales are down for the third consecutive year.



Baseball is dying? Right. Amazing how it took in a record $6.6 billion last year from its death bed.



Media Fallacy No. 2. Young fans don't watch baseball anymore.



If this is true, then why are there always so many kids standing ahead of you in the line for helmet sundaes or spilling your drink as they constantly go to the bathroom?



If you need to see a lot of kids at a sporting event, you can either go to Travis Henry's annual family touch football game, or you can go to any major or minor league baseball game. Every Sunday, the Mariners and many other teams allow fans to walk on the field, and there is such a parade of kids it's as if they were giving away free candy and video games. And the kids aren't there because their parents "dragged" them to the games. I mean, c'mon -- what kids are made to do anything they don't want to do these days? Besides, the kids I see at games are smiling and shouting so happily you would think they just canceled school for the rest of their lives.



Media Fallacy No. 3: Every team has a chance in the NFL but only big-market teams have a chance in baseball.



If the NFL is so fair and equitable to one and all, how come my boyhood team, the Vikings, haven't gone to the Super Bowl in 33 years? Good lord, the Pirates have won a World Series since Minnesota last reached the Super Bowl (and the Twins have won two World Series).



In the past 10 seasons, the NFL has had seven different champions. Baseball has had eight. In that same period, the NFL has had 14 different teams play in its championship game. Baseball also has had 14. If baseball's playoffs started today, half the teams would be new from last year (San Diego, Cincinnati, Tampa Bay and Atlanta) and half would be from small markets (San Diego, Cincinnati, Tampa Bay and Minnesota). (No doubt the Giants and Rockies also would be shocked and very upset that the final two-and-a-half weeks of the season were inexplicably canceled.)



I'd say the two leagues are pretty even -- both have their powerful teams and their incompetent doormats. But this perception that the NFL has more parity is due to media hype and the fact that the league allows almost 40 percent of its teams into the playoffs while baseball lets in barely a quarter of its teams. Letting more teams into the playoffs doesn't give you parity, it just allows worse teams into the postseason.



Media Fallacy No 4: The NFL is a ratings monster while baseball is a ratings disaster.



Undoubtedly, the NFL enjoys great ratings and almost obscene national TV revenue. But we're comparing apples to oranges here. If baseball played only one day a week, on a day most of the country's workers and students have off, in a season of the year when most people stay inside to avoid bad weather, we can safely assume the ratings per baseball game would rise dramatically. But baseball's cumulative ratings are still such that some teams have local contracts that, combined with their share of the national deal, approach NFL territory.



The NFL is a ratings monster, no question about it. But when you consider the local broadcast packages, baseball does extremely well, too.



(Oh, and while we're on the subject -- just imagine how the media would portray Bud Selig if he left the nation's second-biggest broadcast market without a team. ESPN would have to add another "Around the Horn" to the programming schedule to express all the outrage.)



Media Fallacy No. 5: The NFL has a strict drug-testing policy while baseball's policy is a joke.



The NFL's "strict" drug-testing policy (which somehow missed several players on the Panthers' Super Bowl team) is widely praised while baseball's policy, which has tougher penalties, is routinely criticized. In particular, baseball takes heat for not testing for HGH in the majors, even though it tests in the minors -- the NFL does not test for HGH at all -- and more importantly, there is no agreement on whether there is a reliable test for it yet anyway.



The more important question, however, is not which league catches the most cheats (neither league really wants to alienate fans by catching too many players) but which league ultimately leaves its athletes healthier. Is it football, where the levels of heart disease, arthritis and brain damage are truly frightening? Or baseball, where there are few, if any, such concerns?



Let me put it this way: Which body and brain would you choose to live with for the rest of your life: that of a former NFL lineman or that of a former outfielder?



Don't get me wrong. The NFL is incredibly popular (thanks in part to gambling and fantasy leagues). But despite what the media would have you believe, so is baseball. The game is healthy and thriving. While baseball has some issues, the ones facing the NFL (concussions topping the list) are far more serious. And we'll find out just how rock-solid the league is next year if there is a player strike or lockout.



Sigh. I guess it could be worse. I could be an NHL fan.
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Old 09-21-2010, 11:59 AM
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Default screw baseball

Screw baseball, it's the only major sport without a cap and small market teams like Pittsburgh are SCREWED year after year trying to compete with large market teams with x10 the payroll. Until that get fixes MLB deserves every ounce of negative media publicity...
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Old 09-21-2010, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by mintacular View Post
Screw baseball, it's the only major sport without a cap and small market teams like Pittsburgh are SCREWED year after year trying to compete with large market teams with x10 the payroll. Until that get fixes MLB deserves every ounce of negative media publicity...
Padres have essentially the same payroll as the Pirates. Maybe it's the organization.
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Old 09-21-2010, 12:33 PM
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the pirates front office were bad there for awhile...but imo they finally have some capable people upstair starting to turn around the team.

caple is being overly harsh on the baseball critics (and exaggerate on some points to make his case). sold tickets/gate receipts/announced attendances are 3 separate things in sports, and even more so in baseball. ironic thing is pirates with their horrible on-field performance is probably making more money than some bigger market teams with revenue sharing/luxury tax thing.
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Old 09-21-2010, 12:45 PM
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I dont believe baseball is doomed but imo its system is horrible compared to leagues with a salary cap. In the NFL with the teams salaries caped it really gets down to having a great coach, good drafting/free agents and the right mix of players both vets and rookies vs. MLB where teams like the Yankees can cover up in drafting mistakes/etc by paying top dollar for the top 3 free agents each year to fill those gaps. That leaves the teams who lost those players badly hurt in future years because they simply could not match the buying power of the better funded teams. This is how normal businesses beat their competition and become market leaders but has no place in a league where competitive balance is important.

While this year is shaping up to be the year that spending didnt matter, lets see in 1-3 years when most of these players are free agents and the teams cant afford to keep them. There is no way for a small market team to stay at the top when they cant keep their talent. I would like to see a chart for the last 10 years of payroll salaries vs wins.

I remember when the Pirates were the team to beat in the mid 80's but then they lost Bonilla, Bonds, Drabek and others to free agency and have not won since. The Pirates organization deserves a lot of the blame for the losing, they have sucked, thats for sure but they pretty much have to be perfect in order to succeed and even if they do have a year they make a run, they have little to no chance of staying on top simply by the fact they cant resign any stars they have. The amount of top talent the pirates have lost to free agency over the last 10 years is sad.

The only real chance the Pirates have of being a contender on a yearly basis is the day they get a new billion dollar owner who only cares about winning and can eat the losses to build up the team and farm systems.
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Old 09-21-2010, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by smtjoy View Post
The Pirates organization deserves a lot of the blame for the losing, they have sucked, thats for sure but they pretty much have to be perfect in order to succeed and even if they do have a year they make a run, they have little to no chance of staying on top simply by the fact they cant resign any stars they have. The amount of top talent the pirates have lost to free agency over the last 10 years is sad.

The only real chance the Pirates have of being a contender on a yearly basis is the day they get a new billion dollar owner who only cares about winning and can eat the losses to build up the team and farm systems.
Did you read my previous post about how the current Pirates ownership has purposely pursued a strategy of losing in order to pocket the revenue sharing money they get from rich teams? They take in more from revenue sharing than they spend on their entire payroll. This isn't sad, its a crime against Pirates fans.

All I'm saying is that you shouldn't use the Pirates as an example for why MLB needs reform, they are about the least sympathetic team out there.
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Old 09-21-2010, 01:53 PM
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Sorry I was typing when you wrote those comments. I agree that its very likely they are losing on purpose currently but prior to the current revenue sharing the pirates were still trying to win but losing big money and losing their best players.

That said how can anyone think the current system is fine when a team makes more money losing than even trying.

One thing that gets over looked with a cap is that in most leagues it forces teams to spend a certain amount, without it in years past teams like the Lions, Bengals etc would be doing the same thing by not spending and just keeping the profits.
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Old 09-21-2010, 12:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mintacular View Post
Screw baseball, it's the only major sport without a cap and small market teams like Pittsburgh are SCREWED year after year trying to compete with large market teams with x10 the payroll. Until that get fixes MLB deserves every ounce of negative media publicity...
Many arguments could be made about baseball's problems and needed reforms, but I wouldn't use the Pirates as your sympathy case. It has been well-documented in recent months how the Pirates ownership has been taking all of that revenue-sharing welfare from the richer teams and instead of spending it to improve the team, sticking it in the owners pockets.

In fact, documents leaked to the Associated Press suggest that the woeful Pittsburgh Pirates might have pursued a strategy of losing in order to maximize the team's profitability in the last three seasons.

As I was saying, you may want to make the same argument, but you won't get much sympathy from me for the current group of dirtbags running the Pirates.


http://www.opposingviews.com/i/pitts...iggest-problem

http://deadspin.com/5615096/mlb-conf...-to-see-part-1

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/...economy/61921/
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Old 09-21-2010, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by M's_Fan View Post
In fact, documents leaked to the Associated Press suggest that the woeful Pittsburgh Pirates might have pursued a strategy of losing in order to maximize the team's profitability in the last three seasons.

As I was saying, you may want to make the same argument, but you won't get much sympathy from me for the current group of dirtbags running the Pirates.
same case with those damn carpet-bagging mccourts here in la. they've racked up about 650mil in debt running the team (avg mlb about 150-250mil) while taking out $50mil cash to buy multiple properties. they create organizations to pay their children millions a year, charities that have outrageous overhead and operational costs, charges the dodgers millions every year to rent dodgers stadium (yes they own both), etc etc.

bud selig knew all this going in and he still let these bastards buy the team with no capital and no money while bypassing other more qualified groups. if anything bud selig is ruining baseball.
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Old 09-21-2010, 12:47 PM
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No doubt the McCourts are vey high on the dirt-bag owner list. I still can't believe Selig and MLB let those two own the Dodgers. They bought the team with borrowed money and have been looting the team ever since. A great article on this in bloomberg/businessweek:

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine...2054590968.htm
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