Eric…Hits The Ball Real Far

‘He’s a comic book hero with a prep school education.’ That is what Adam Karen, Eric Thames agent was told by the Korean representatives as they were in pursuit of Thames for the NC Dinos in the Korean League. A graduate from Bellarmine Prep, a private Jesuit school in San Jose, California, then majored in Integrated Marketing at Pepperdine University, Mr Thames was drafted in the 7th round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2008. In 2011 and 2012 he was a platoon player while appearing in 141 games and batting .257 with 15 HRs and 48 RBI. On July 30, 2012, he was traded to the Seattle Mariners for Steve Delebar. In Seattle, he appeared in 40 games during batting .220 with 6 HRs and 15 RBI. On June 30, 2013, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for Ty Kelly and did not appear in a single game. Then on September 5, 2013, he was selected off Waivers by the Houston Astros. In the field, he only had 5 errors. Disappointed, but not discouraged, he went and played in the Venezuelan Winter Ball league in December 2013.

By this time, the Dinos understood a couple of things: Eric Thames was covered in tattoos and had a big personality while in 633 at bats in the major leagues, he had hit 21 HRs and driven in 54 RBI, had an on base percentage of .296 and a slugging percentage of .431. He was not afraid to travel to other countries to play ball. They understood what this would translate for their fans in Southeastern Korea.

According to Jerry Crasnick, ESPN Senior writer (11/29/16), ‘After signing with the Dinos, Thames bought the Rosetta Stone Korean program and dove head-first into learning the language. “When you look at this as just a paycheck, that’s when you struggle,” Thames said. “The key is to enjoy the ride. Fully embrace the experience. [The] Hangul [alphabet] is pretty easy to learn, so I was able to pick it up easily. I am not fluent by any means, but speaking like a baby is better than not knowing any at all.”

As Thames immersed himself in the Korean culture and began clearing fences with regularity, he developed an ardent following. He patiently signed autographs for long lines of fans at Masan Stadium, and he grew accustomed to having meals interrupted by fans in search of selfies. “Going anywhere with him is insane in that country,” Karon said. “It’s like going out with the Beatles. Girls are crying and people are trying to touch him and get pictures. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

In Korea he put up cartoon numbers. In 2015, Thames won the MVP award and a Gold Glove at first base, became the first KBO player to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in a season, logged a .391/.497/.790 slash line and became the first player in Korean baseball to hit for the cycle twice in the same season. In 2016, Thames regressed slightly, but he still hit 40 homers and logged an OPS of 1.101 for the Dinos, who lost to the Doosan Bears in the KBO final, known as the Korean Series.

According to Crasnick, ‘Thames showed a strong work ethic in Korea and was popular with his teammates. The natural question was how his skills would translate to the majors. Could he adjust to higher level of competition and bigger ballparks in the majors? Thames has more of a line-drive swing than loft power. Could he catch up to 94-95 mph fastballs after feasting on 89-91 mph heaters in the KBO? “He’s very aggressive at the plate and on the field, too, for that matter,” a scout said. “He’s a first-ball fastball hacker, boy. He’s trying to hit the ball hard. Sometime you see guys who are happy to make contact and put the ball in play. That’s not him. He’s gonna hurt somebody someday.”

Thames’ defense in the outfield was considered below-average in Toronto. He moved to first base in Korea and would most likely be viewed by MLB teams as a combination first baseman-corner outfield-DH candidate. A National League front office man said he wouldn’t be surprised if teams were willing to give Thames a multiyear deal to return to the States. “You have an element that’s going to be skeptical,” the executive said. “He’s already played over here, and he wasn’t a tremendous success the first time. But you have to ask yourself, ‘Is this guy a late bloomer?’ “Look at some of the money that Cuban players have gotten. What’s the difference here? I think somebody is going to bite, and he’ll get a contract for two years and $12 million, or three years and $15-18 million.”‘

So far, through Saturday, he has appeared in 23 games, hit 11 HRs, driven in 19 RBI while batting .350 with an OPS of 1.312.

What an April. What a month.

Will it last?

#watchingattanasio⚾️

Play Ball!

Who We Picking?


We now have three weeks under our belts and some of the divisions are upside down. But what we see through the crystal ball is that the creme will always rise to the top.

American League

Eastern Division
Baltimore Orioles
They have an excellent manager and it is time for Buck to win a pennant, divisional, but a pennant none the less. The best third baseman in the American League, plus JJ and one of the three best outfielders in the AL today in Jones, make this the team to beat in the East.

Central Division
Cleveland Indians
They have an excellent manager and based off of last year’s performance, they are hungry and talented, plus great starting pitching. Oh ya, they have a sensational second baseman.

Western Division
Texas Rangers
They have a battery of All-Stars and Vu. If they can find solid relief, they could win it all.

Wild Cards
Detroit Tigers
While they lead the league in day games in the first two weeks, their pitching has been solid and they have Miggy.

Chicago White Sox
For four years, I have suggested this is the team to watch. Now, without their star pitcher, they have a chance to succeed.

What’s the matter with the rest?
Tampa Bay just doesn’t have the pitching.
New York Yankees have tradition, an excellent manager and a couple of dopes for owners.
Boston lost their soul to retirement.
Toronto needs a change in managers. Their team is not performing up to their high level of competency.
Minnesota is breathing rarified air. That bubble will burst but be much better than last season.
Kansas City is wandering in a wilderness of ‘what happened?’ with a lack of pitching and timely hitting.
Houston was a flash in the pan. Too many trades with Milwaukee will do that to a team.
Oakland has become the biggest thing in the East Bay and for good reason. They have an exciting team that can win if they have Khris in left. He has no arm.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will never win with Socscia. He has a penchant for making everyone mad. No pitching. But they have the star-of-stars on their team in center. Hello, Mr. Trout.
Seattle is all talk and Cano. If the King dominates, they still need a lot of help.

National League

Eastern Division
Washington Nationals
They have an excellent old-school manager, a brilliant pitching staff and a guy in right, one of the three great outfielders in the National League.

Central Division
Chicago Cubs
They have an over-imaginative manager, and a batting line-up to die for. If you are an opposing pitcher, this is a nightmare to face. They can outhit everybody to win regardless how their pitching holds up this season. Unless they get complacent or suffer a batch full of injuries, they will be in the October Classic.

Western Division
Los Angeles Dodgers
In a division that all of a sudden got weak, they have Clayton and some guys who can hit.

Wild Cards
New York Mets
They are the talk of New York City…the belle of the ball…with a great pitching staff.

Colorado Rockies
The only problem this team has is that it plays in thin air. It has all the hitting in the world and a shockingly good relief corps to go along with it. Plus they have Cargo and the human vacuum cleaner at third.

What’s the matter with the rest?

Miami lost their star pitcher. Yet have one of the most exciting players in the game, Giancarlo Stanton, one of the three great outfielders in the NL today.
Atlanta is a couple of years away as they are rebuilding.
Philadelphia just doesn’t have the guns yet as they are rebuilding.
Pittsburgh doesn’t have a great manager nor the purse strings to finally make it happen. Now they are beginning to fall out of contention … early.
Cincinnati is yet in another rebuilding program. If they hang their hopes on Scooter to take them to the top, they are in for a shocking surprise.
Milwaukee is a AAA team, with a great young manager, a more than tight owner, a kid GM and one of the three great outfielders in the National League as Ryan Braun is the only All-Star on the team today.
St. Louis became blind to what a great team is all about. Too many star players walked away because they want more money. Yet they have the best catcher in baseball behind the plate.
Arizona loves to over perform with the craziest owner in the game today, outside of Miami. But pitching will do them in. But they have the best first baseman in the game today. Goldy gives the D’Backs hope. But not that much.
San Diego. Nope.
San Francisco has a great manager but has not figured out how to secure a starting pitcher to replace a fading group, a relief pitcher who can shut the other team down nor a left fielder of dominant abilities. Unless they fix this right now, they are on a long slide out of grace.

OK. How do you see it?

Play Ball!

No May Day

braun
‘The wind is tossing the lilacs,
The new leaves laugh in the sun,
And the petals fall on the orchard wall,
But for me the spring is done.’ Sara Teasdale

April showers bring May flowers but not in Pigsville.

On May 24th, 2007, Ryan Joseph Braun came up to the Majors. By that date next season, he will no longer be wearing Blue…Milwaukee Blue as in True Blue Brew Crew.

What was so promising…with him becoming one of the best players in the game, crashed down around him when he was declared out for most of the 2013 season because of prohibited drug use. He lost all respect. He lost all commercial ties. He lost partnerships. He lost friendships. He lost his dignity.

There is a soulless emptiness at the bottom. It is nowhere land. No friends and plenty of enemies. People turn away when you are sighted walking toward you. People, who were once your friends, don’t respond to emails. People who once welcomed your contact, do not respond to phone calls. They are always conveniently out. People whom you have helped when they needed help ignore you. You are persona non rata, literally a person not appreciated. ‘Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.’ stated General George S. Patton. Ryan Braun was on the bottom.

That is what hit Braun squarely in the face. ‘Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.’ Muhammad Ali said. In Braun’s case, it wasn’t even at all. The only thing going for him was his contract which would tie him to the Milwaukee Brewers through 2020.

He was once the Rookie of the Year; he became the third-fastest major leaguer to reach 50 career home runs; in 2008, he reached the 150-RBI milestone faster than any major leaguer since Boston’s Walt Dropo needed only 155 games, in 1949–51; was a starting outfielder for the NL in the 2008 All Star Game, finishing first in player voting; Braun hit his 30th home run, becoming just the second player in MLB history to hit 30 or more homers in each of his first two seasons as he hit 71 home runs in his first two seasons, tying him with Pujols for fourth all-time as Joe DiMaggio topped the list with 75 home runs, followed by Ralph Kiner (74) and Eddie Mathews (72). He was the toast of all the baseball world. Apple released a commercial for a new iPhone, that showed a clip of Braun’s 10th inning walk-off grand slam against the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 25, 2008, which kept the Brewers’ Wild Card hopes alive. Gatorade used the same clip in its November 2008 “League of Clutch” commercial.

But imagine, only behind DiMaggio, Kiner and Mathews. Here was the star Milwaukee was praying for.

In 2009, Braun was named to Sporting News’ list of the 50 greatest current players in baseball, ranking #32. In 2011, he rose to #16. He was named to the Team USA in the 2nd World Baseball Classic. On September 23, Braun hit a three-run, 450-foot home run that sealed the Brewers’ NL-Central-clinching victory. He was named MVP of the National League that season. And in 2012, Braun was awarded the 2012 NL Outfielder Silver Slugger Award, winning it for the fifth year in a row. His five consecutive awards was the longest active streak in the major leagues.

Then the fall.

Silence.

Alone.

Probably afraid.

Like Phoenix rising, he began a comeback. “I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed—all of the baseball fans especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates.” He was seen in around Milwaukee even in the cold dead of winter, in the parking lot assisting in various charity drives, thanking the fans for coming out. He was at every Brewer Fest during the off-season, signing autographs and taking tons of pics with the fans.

However, 2014 was not a good year. With that time off, he was heckled in nearly every ballpark in America. He stood quietly in left field. He took the heat. Fans were angry. Opposing fans were merciless. In spring training, even in Maryvale, opposing fans yelled and screamed offensive insults. During the regular season, if you ever attended a game in Phoenix or Chicago, you heard the raw, cutting insults smashing through the air, mother’s quickly covering their children’s ears. ‘What did you do that for, Ma?’, was the response. On the field he managed to be only a mere shadow of what he had been before. A .300+ hitter, he battled insults and injury coming away with a .266 average and only 19 home runs. But after another off season of rest, he came back and there were bright spots which appeared as he lifted his average .285 with 25 home runs while suffering from a bad thumb and back and once again became an All-Star. Then this season, he finally found his old form, batting well above .300 for the season, often in the top five in hitting, and as of today, reached the 30 home run level with 88 RBI.

They still yell insults at him in a couple of towns, particularly Phoenix and Chicago. But for most good baseball fans, they have stopped the childish insults.

Ryan Braun is back. He is world class in the outfield, back in his old position in left field and is back as a world class hitter. And that is bad for Brewer fans.

The owner now has a valued commodity with which to enrich his pockets, drastically decrease his costs, and is dangling his star player in front of an ownership group where he does business (Los Angeles) like a fresh piece of meat. The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of only six teams that Braun has named as favorable as part of his no trade clause contractual rights. And just as the trade deadline neared, his piece of meat was dangled hard. The Dodgers agreed to trade the oft injured and big time trouble fielder Puig along with a host of injured and players to be named later. The only thing that saved Milwaukee fans from this disgusting trade was their general manager’s inability to agree with the Dodgers on those players to be named later. In the meantime, Braun was in the clubhouse waiting to see if his long career with the Pigsville Nine was over.

But this is not the end. The Milwaukee Brewers owner is a classic meat dangler. He is a hedge fund man. He knows value of meat…fresh, hard hitting meat that is one of the best pieces of steak on the baseball planet. By next May, Braun’s 10/5 rights kick in. At the end of May, when Braun accumulates 10 years of service time, Braun will gain full no-trade rights, which will complicate any trade the Brewers try to make involving him. Though Braun could waive those for a situation he likes, it’s another factor that has to be worked into negotiations, and one that could further complicate any deal that the Brewers try to make in the future.

Thus this next week, take a look at the magnificent talent playing left field for the Milwaukee Brewers. It may be the last time you will see this quality of baseball player wearing the Milwaukee Blue. Winter is coming and with it, the old meat man will be behind the counter dangling for every team owner to mouth-water over. He has USDA Prime in his freezer. And the owners of the Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Angels, Diamondbacks and Marlins and any other owner willing to part with a bunch of no-name players for a star, are all invited to attend the bidding war in Pigsville.

Once again, Milwaukee will be the loser.

#watchingattanasio

Play Ball!

Banksarelli

gale_wade_autograph
When you live away from Chicago it is guaranteed that you will know someone who is a diehard fan of those crazy Baby Bruins from the North Side. It is part of their heritage. From mother and father down through their children, and their children’s children, these were and continue to be official members of the living Cubs family of fanatic fans. No matter where you go to see a game in the Majors, if the Cubs are playing on the road, there will be a hoard of fans at the visiting stadiums…shouting, screaming and bringing a little bit of Chicago to their new home town.

Living in Wisconsin, there were quite a number. Growing up in the ‘50s, they would trade nearly anyone of their baseball card collection for a Pete Whisenant or an Owen Friend or…you get it. Hobie Landrith was a god to their misplaced youth as were Dee Fondy, Don Hoak, Walt Moryn, Monte Irvin and of course, the one and only Ernie.

Nearly every kid who grew up in the ‘50s knew who Ernie was. But to these devoted Cub Crazies, there were few before and until a season ago, none since that could live up to the legend of Ernie Banks.

One of my friends was devoted to the everyday doings of Ernie. If you happened to have a Sporting News (the bible of ‘50s baseball) beware of my friend. He would grab it and devour nearly every at bat Ernie had the week before. Game for Game, Inning by Inning, Ernie could do no wrong. If you wanted war, just argue who should be in the All-Star game, Banks or Johnny Logan, the shortstop of the Milwaukee Braves, then Wisconsin’s team.

But the one thing I remember most about this devotee was one day he actually believed that Ernie Banks was a relative of his. In arguing with his friends that Ernie was a distant cousin, we scoffed knowing with a large amount of certainty that he probably was not. That made our friend determined. That made him press his argument with his family. At dinner, he proposed to his mom and dad that in fact Ernie was a distant cousin. His dad, holding back a smile, gritting his teeth on his water glass, asked how he determined that. His mom simply said, ‘I never heard that. Is that true dear?’.

Then it dawned on him to pull out a Gale Wade. Now if you haven’t heard, the one Mr Wade, only played in 12 major league games in his entire career in The Show during 1955 and 1956. This was a card that nobody but a Cubs fan would want. It was bicycle spokes material. His mom loved the Wade card. ‘There’s Jeanny’s brothers’ next door neighbor’s cousin on the mother’s side’, she explained.

Maybe it was Wade who was a distant relative.

But no. My friend continued to push the issue of Ernie Banks being some-how related.

’Son…’, his dad said, ‘we are Italian. Ernie, I assume is not. Therefore, if Mr. Banks was related his name would probably have to be Banksarelli. Go ahead. Look at your Topps and see if that is his name on the back of the card.’

My friend quickly looked and it said Ernest Banks, Booker T. Washington High School, Dallas, TX. It showed in cartoon which stated, ‘He played in every game in ’54 and ’55.

Without a word, he got up from the table, excused himself, and was determined to find the family heritage tie between his beloved Ernie Banks and his family.

And that is how the legend of Banksarelli began.

It was 1957 on the East Side of Beloit, WI.

It has since shifted to Bonita Springs, FL.

Play Ball!

P.S. Gale Wade is now one of the 100 oldest living players. Is this the year he gets to see his former team win?

There Ain’t No Pitching In Pigsville


On the 400th anniversary of The Bard’s death, when the buds of Spring state ’Now is the Winter of our discontent’, two teams met near the Johnson Cookies sign atop the factory that produced the legendary Johnson Cookie cards of ’1953, ’54 & ’55, exactly two seasons removed from a time when they ruled the Senior League. On Saturday in a Park called Miller, with a roof over thine selves, they came out of the dugout dressed in togs alike Major League uniforms taking the field as though they were the real, genuine version of those teams not so long ago. ‘There is some ill a-brewing towards my rest’ said the merchants wence I answered ‘Why, though hast put him in such a dream, that when the image of it leaves him he must run mad.’ This was not Sir Toby Belch but a fellow named Anderson, once removed from the team of D’Backs in the land of Sun, who is to say politely in a crowed of boisterous fans, is not the best of pitchers. He is not a Sir. He is not a Toby. But he does make us belch.

On this night, not the ‘Twelfth Night’, but the Eighteenth night of the new season’s play, two pitchers decided to set back time and proceeded to throw 59 pitches in the first inning where there were more 3-2 counts than the master of liver pills could provide. ‘If it be thus to dream, still let me sleep!’ said ol Sebastian. I wanted it to be a nightmare. The game became unwatchable as that first inning lasted nearly an hour. And they wonder why the younger women and men do not grasp the game as their parents and grandparents do. The home team with the funny logo on its cap, however, had fans in the stands, young and old, mostly older. ‘It is the cause’, they said. It certainly was not the pitching. When this many come out to witness such trivial play where the three basic tenants of the game of ball is played…pitching, fielding, hitting (‘You are three men of sin’)…is not in evidence, then in the stands they say, ‘I must eat my dinner.’ Ah, The Tempest. But after all, this is one place where you don’t have to ask another if they want to grab something to eat. After all, this is the land of beer and cheese for butter or wurst.

‘Alas poor Counsell’, the fans sympathetically murmured. No matter what he did, the more he changed pitchers, the more he knew this would be a long season of discontent. He has no pitching except for the horse from Klamath Falls, OR. Of the eighteen games this season, in just the first three weeks of the dream of the impossible, this team, our team…the team of our hearts and of our youth, languish near the bottom of quality starts. In a world filled beyond the a cup full of stats, quality start stats measure the strength of a team. As for the Cream City nine, they rank 29th out of 30 teams with with only 4 quality starts as that horse, James Jacob Nelson, has three. Without quality starts, the bullpen is soon to wear out. As Craig of Whitefish Bay must say, ‘O, reason not the need.’. ‘Hey, David of the House of Stearns. I need some pitching!’

If this season is to be measured by the owner’s need for being competitive in each and ever game, the team named after the monk’s brew of Miller, shows promise. On Saturday, they came back, time after time to give hope. As late as the bottom of the eighth, a fellow on the Crew, another from his former team of D’Backs named Hill, drove a ball which dreams are made of…flying up and up…with hopes of bringing in the leading runs, fell into the hands of that cheesesteak fellow up against the fence in left.

The fans were perplexed. Flummoxed, if you will. In the stands they were heard to say, ‘Once more unto the breach dear friends’ to which the fellow named Romeo yelled out, ‘Dreamt a dream tonight.’ His seat mate, Mercurio, stated ‘That dreams often lie.’ Everyone of the lads laughed. Sitting behind the dugout on first, the only place to watch a game, the lads continued the banter of the moment, Hammy said, ‘A dream itself is but a shadow’. Caliban stated, as the home team took to the field in the top of the ninth, ‘Who I waked, I cried to dream again’. Give me another brat. And some mustard. Now standing, glaring at the pitching mound, he yelled, ‘Did you hear that new pitcher from the pen of bull, some mustard on that ball…now.’

His friend, Antigonus, harking the vendor for more mustard, looked back and up at Cal said ‘Dreams are toys’. After all, these are the kids who pretend they play in the Major of Leagues. This is the fate of a feigned philosophy called ‘rebuild’. It is false hope for us, the diligent bees of the Crew…the True Blue Brew Crew of 2016. ‘What’s in a name?’ Hammy stated, raising one of Wisconsin’s finest brews, standing up with cup held high in his right hand, foam slipping over the top and dropping upon his bald noggin, ‘To die, to sleep-To sleep-perchance to dream…ay, there’s the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pass.’ To which Mac responded, sitting watching the next action on the field unfold, talking on top of Mac’s soliloquy, ’Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.’ he muttered to no one in particular, showing his disgust for that fellow who weaves the tales for the faithful to follow from afar.

The owner, that fellow from afar, basking in the warm climes of a California so Southern, watching via satellite on his telly, was heard saying he is pleased the team is competitive, no overwhelming losses (except for last Monday or Thursday against a team at the bottom of the Junior Circuit called the ’Twinkie’).

’This is the excellent foppery of the world’.

Playest some ball!

#watchingattanasio ⚾️

Money. Money. Money.


Baseball is one of the best indicator of things to come, particularly when it comes to television. While football may have been made for television, television has made baseball unequally equal. This year there will be more money pumped into the game than ever before. Why? It was decided a few years ago, that ‘LIVE’ television was the key to survival for television networks, whether they are broadcast or cable, to fill the 24/7 programming blocks while the world waits for the next resting place for the millions of eyeballs who are moving through the Millennial stage. Traditionally, television was THE place to reach people. And advertisers, as they always do, flock to wherever the opportunity presents itself to get in front of those who would, could or should buy.

Now, television, especially cable network television, is betting on sports, particularly baseball, to attract the eyeballs of the constantly moving population both via legacy standards at home and most importantly digital/mobile platforms. From April through September, for six solid months, baseball will be front and center. No other sport has the completeness of dominant and ever-changing information as does baseball for this length of time. It is every day news and information. And when you throw in March as Spring Training gets underway, television finds itself gearing up. Take October when the World Series is the ultimate goal, you now have eight months of solid baseball.

Baseball has just finished one of its best hauls in its history. Consider this:
Los Angeles Dodgers $150 million annual rights fees (thru 2038)
Philadelphia Phillies $129 million annual rights fees ($2.5-$3.0B 20-25yrs) +25% SSN Philadelphia
Houston Astros $ 60 million annual rights fees
Texas Rangers $ 80 million annual rights fees +10% FOX Sports Southwest (thru 2034)
Arizona Diamondbacks $ 75 million annual rights fees (2016 to 2036) + %of FOX Sports Arizona
Chicago White Sox $ 72.9 million annual (@$450,000/gm. + 40% of Comcast SportsNet Chicago
Chicago Cubs $ 72.9 million annual (@$450,000/gm +20% of Comcast SportsNet Chicago (thru 2019)
LA Angeles Anaheim $147 million annual rights fees + 25% FOX Sports West (thru 2028)
San Diego Padres $ 60 million annual rights fees +20% FOX Sports San Diego (thru 2031)
New York Yankees $100 million annual rights fees ($367 million in 2042 for 49% of YES)
New York Mets $ 83 million annual rights fees +65% of SNY -25 year contract) (thru 3032)
Boston Red Sox $ 60 million annual rights fees +80% NESN
San Francisco Giants $ 30 million annual rights fees (+ percentage of SCNBA. + 30-33% ownership Comcast SportsNet Bay Area)
Seattle Mariners $115 million annual rights fees (purchased ROOT NW worth $100 million/yrx20 yrs) (thru 2030)
Cleveland Indians $ 40 million annual from sale of SportsTime Ohio ($400 million over 10 years)
Detroit Tigers $ 40 million annual rights fees (thru 2017) FS Detroit
Toronto Blue Jays $ 36 million (adjusted annually) Owned by Rogers SportsNet. No expiration.
St. Louis Cardinals $ 14 million (2016) + $35 million (2017) $55 million (2018-2033)
Baltimore Orioles* $ 29 million annual rights fees +87% of MASN
Washington Nationals $ 29 million annual rights fees +13% of MASN fee reset every 5 years
Minnesota Twins $ 29 million annual
Colorado Rockies $ 20 million (expires in 2020)
Tampa Bay Rays $ 20 million (thru 2016)
Cincinnati Reds $ 20 million (Thru 2016)
Kansas City Royals $ 19 million (thru 2019)
Miami Marlins $ 18 million (thru 2020)
Pittsburgh Pirates $ 18 million (thru 2019)
Milwaukee Brewers $ 21 million (thru 2019)
Oakland A’s $ 43 million (opt out after 2023)
Atlanta Braves $ 20-30 million annual rights fees (through 2031) FS Sports South

In 2013, each team also received $25.53 million as part of the National TV Revenue.

In 2014, each team also received $51.67 million as part of the National TV Revenue.

*[MASN] was created as part of the deal that moved the Expos from Montreal to Washington, D.C. to become the Nationals. Orioles owner Peter Angelos opposed the move as an encroachment on the Orioles’ exclusive broadcast and commercial region. [This is different from the dispute between the Giants and the A’s over the territorial rights to San Jose and Santa Clara County.] As part of the negotiated settlement between MLB (which then owned the Expos) and Angelos, MASN was created with the Orioles to own 90 percent and the Nationals to own ten percent. The deal also called for the Nationals to be paid $20 million/year in broadcast rights, although that figure would increase by $1 million every season. In 2011, MASN reportedly paid the Nationals $29 million in broadcast fees and $7 million for its now 13 percent share of the network. No matter. Attorneys for the two teams and MASN have continued to launch attacks and counter-attacks. The Orioles think the MLB-sponsored panel was predisposed to rule for the Nationals because the league stands to gain financially the more the Nationals receive as a rights fee. For their part, the Nationals have threatened to terminate MASN’s license to broadcast their games if the panel’s ruling isn’t confirmed.

The MASN mess may shed some light on Selig’s unwillingness to make a final decision on the Oakland Athletics’ proposal to move to San Jose. He might have feared that any resolution of the territory dispute between the A’s and the San Francisco Giants that involves the A’s compensating the Giants could lead to in-fighting for years down the road.

The MASN agreement also includes a re-set provision by which the Nationals can re-negotiate the broadcast fee structure every five years. Early in 2012, the Nationals proposed that MASN pay between $100 million and $120 million per year in broadcast fees. The Orioles countered at $34 million per year. The two sides have been in protracted negotiations ever since. Former Commissioner Selig asked representatives from the Pirates, Rays, and Mets to mediate the dispute. A resolution was expected over the summer but never materialized and the parties reportedly remain far apart.

But all of this is minuscule to the real power of baseball today.

The power is BAM…short for Major League Baseball Advanced Media. In 2000, Bud Selig, then baseball’s commissioner, created BAM as an in-house IT department for baseball which would be in charge of creating websites for each of the teams and consolidated MLB’s digital rights. His feeling was that by pooling resources, he would prevent the bigger teams from outpacing their smaller market rivals. To keep the division honest and efficient, BAM would operate its own company. All of the MLB teams agreed to contribute a combined $120 million, $1 million each over the first four years, with each taking an equal ownership stake. And this is the hidden gem of baseball…and baseball ownership.

Forget the amount of money a team makes from its attendance, concessions, broadcast TV and radio rights, Regional Sports Network rights or any other form of income,. Today, whether it is ‘Magic’ Johnson as one of the owners of the Dodgers or Mark Attanasio, owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, they both are equal owners of BAM. What is that worth? Fifteen years after it was founded, BAM will have a profit this year in excess of $900 million. Any idea how much that is worth today as an asset on the balance sheet? When you figure it out, just divide it by 30 and you will have figured out how much the owner of a small city franchise in Milwaukee is worth today.

One could say it is all due to Ichiro. When he came over to play from Japan for the Seattle mariners, he was an icon in his country. If you can remember, in those days a corps of press came along each and every day to cover Ichiro. BAM decided to experiment with streaming live audio of his games, giving his followers a way to keep up to speed with all-Ichiro all the time. This led to the league consolidating all of their digital rights within BAM. To secure more funding, BAM made a deal with TicketMaster to provide all of their ticketing functions for a $10 million advance so they could push not only audio but video.

A small company called eCommercial had created and implemented compressed video packages used as attachments for email. This small start-up was at the forefront of video delivery as CBS bought one of the first packages from Lance Hanish (LBC Advertising, now CNA|SOPHIS) who presented the technology to Kelly Kahl (CBS) to promote its first reality program, ‘Survivor’. With Les Moonves approval, on May 24, 2000, the first eCom packages were sent out to a list of email users consisting of editors, reporters, publishers and potential viewers. ‘Survivor’ debuted on 30 May 2000 and finished as the #2 program that season. That opened the eyes for video delivery and changed the world of mass communications.

Before YouTube, on August 26, 2002 BAM produced a broadcast of a Texas Rangers/New York Yankees game. It was streamed to 30,000 fans at only 280 kilobytes per second. To those who do not know, this is like dial-up speed. Broadband was not yet happening. But it allowed, later that Fall, to offer a post-season package for $19.95 which was successful and led to MLBtv in 2003. This provided a most unique opportunity. Because FOX held the rights, the first post season video delivery was only to Europe. This allowed for advancements in geofencing and multi-application delivery at scale. BAM obviously had already leaned of high-compression from the eCommercial technology.

Today BAM has as customers, ESPN (it handled the 2014 World Cup), HBO (it developed HBONow), WWE (Yup. It does the streaming of wrestling), SONY (PlayStation) and the NHL (National Hockey League). It not only handles their streaming but distributes the content.

BAM in 2014 contributed $5 million to each team or $150 million in additional revenue.

Now perhaps major acquisition of talent by several of the ball clubs is understandable. The Arizona Diamondbacks threw open their coffers as their windfall from BAM and their new television contract provided them with the flexibility of bringing in Zach Greinke ($34,416,667/year). San Francisco Giants added Jeff Samardzija ($18 million/yr) and Johnny Cueto ($21,666,667/yr) with the same revenue income. Kansas City Royals resigned Alex Gordon ($18 million/yr) and Joacim Soria (8,333,333/yr). Washington Nationals signed Stephen Drew ($3 million/yr) and Daniel Murphy ($12,500,000/yr). Cleveland Indians signed Mike Napoli. Boston Red Sox signed David Price ($31 million/yr). Chicago Cubs signed Jason Hayward ($23 million/year), Ben Zobrist ($14 million /yr) and John Lackey ($16 million/yr). Detroit signed Jordan Zimmerman ($22 million/yr). St. Louis signed Mike Leake ($16 million/yr). Los Angeles Dodgers signed Scott Kazmir ($16 million/yr) and Japanese pitcher, Kenta Maeda (3.125 million/yr-8yrs). Toronto Blue Jays signed J.A. Happ ($12 million/yr) and resigned Marco Estrada ($13 million/yr). Baltimore signed Darren O’Day ($7,750,000/yr). Seattle signed Hisashi Iwakuma ($12 million/yr).

So, what have the Milwaukee Brewers done? They have signed Eric Young Jr. ($1 million/yr), Will Middlebrows ($1.2 million/yr) and Chris Carter ($2.5 million/yr).

That’s called banking it. With a projected revenue in excess of the 2014 figure of $91.68 million in TV & estimated 2015 BAM revenue coming in the door BEFORE attendance gate receipts, concessions et all, their payroll at present is estimated at $98,089,079. With gate receipts of approximately $65 million (per Mar 2015 Forbes numbers), The Cream City Nine has an opportunity to bring in more than the 2015 estimated operating income of $11.3 million. With an attendance in excess of 2.5 million in 2015 (ranking 13th in MLB) or 31,389, with another hapless season, the average dropped from 34,536 in 2014. With few stars in 2016, the drop of another 10%-20% could be expected. Regardless, the value of the team will be approximately $850 million, should someone want to purchased the club and stop #watchingattanasio.

Today, as it has been since the days of Ban Johnson, John Taylor, Charles Somers, George Vanderbeck, Connie Mack and Charles Comiskey, baseball is not about the players or the fans. It’s all about money.

Play ball!

Yogi. Icon.

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“You should always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise, they won’t come to yours.” – Yogi Berra

When you were a kid and you opened that Topps or Bowman pack of baseball cards, and you pulled a Yogi Berra card out, you were batting 1.000. He WAS the catcher of his day. After all, he was THE catcher of the mighty New York Yankees.

Nobody used his card for spokes.

Nobody traded away his card.

Besides Mickey’s card, this was the one to savor.

After all, every kid loved him. He spoke like no one before or since. And somehow, you understood him.

He was one of us…kids from the Midwest or the Northeast or the South or the West. Yogi was us.

He may have passed, but we will never forget him.

We will come to yours, Yogi, just so you can come to ours.

Play Ball!