Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Archive for the ‘rob manfred’ tag

Why do people think Montreal is a viable baseball expansion market?


Don't think we're seeing Youppi's return anytime soon. Jpg via Youppi's tumblr page (yes it exists).

Don’t think we’re seeing Youppi’s return anytime soon. Jpg via Youppi’s tumblr page (yes it exists).

Rob Manfred was caught on mike talking about expansion at this year’s all-star game.  He reminded us that Montreal drew 91,000 fans to two exhibition games prior to this season’s start.

Before we even talk about all the other roadblocks to expansion in the current MLB landscape (RSN deals, geographical ownership issues, the lack of actual viable cities, the lack of the cascading downstream need for an additional *twelve* minor league teams/twelve appropriate minor league cities to support two more MLB teams, etc), lets talk about Montreal as a baseball host city.  Because we have plenty of evidence already telling us whether that city really can host professional baseball.

Here’s a table showing Attendance and ranks within the NL for the Franchise:

Year Tm Lg W L W-L% Finish Attendance Rank in NL Capacity Attendance as % of Capacity
2015 Washington Nationals NL East 48 39 0.552 1st of 5
2014 Washington Nationals NL East 96 66 0.593 1st of 5 2,579,389 7th of 15 41,418 76.89%
2013 Washington Nationals NL East 86 76 0.531 2nd of 5 2,652,422 6th of 15 41,418 79.06%
2012 Washington Nationals NL East 98 64 0.605 1st of 5 2,370,794 9th of 16 41,418 70.67%
2011 Washington Nationals NL East 80 81 0.497 3rd of 5 1,940,478 14th of 16 41,418 58.20%
2010 Washington Nationals NL East 69 93 0.426 5th of 5 1,828,066 14th of 16 41,418 54.49%
2009 Washington Nationals NL East 59 103 0.364 5th of 5 1,817,226 13th of 16 41,418 54.17%
2008 Washington Nationals NL East 59 102 0.366 5th of 5 2,320,400 13th of 16 41,418 69.59%
2007 Washington Nationals NL East 73 89 0.451 4th of 5 1,943,812 14th of 16 45,596 52.63%
2006 Washington Nationals NL East 71 91 0.438 5th of 5 2,153,056 11th of 16 45,596 58.30%
2005 Washington Nationals NL East 81 81 0.5 5th of 5 2,731,993 8th of 16 45,596 73.97%
2004 Montreal Expos NL East 67 95 0.414 5th of 5 749,550 16th of 16 45,757/18,264 24.17%
2003 Montreal Expos NL East 83 79 0.512 4th of 5 1,025,639 16th of 16 45,757/18,264 33.07%
2002 Montreal Expos NL East 83 79 0.512 2nd of 5 812,045 16th of 16 45,757 21.91%
2001 Montreal Expos NL East 68 94 0.42 5th of 5 642,745 16th of 16 45,757 17.34%
2000 Montreal Expos NL East 67 95 0.414 4th of 5 926,272 16th of 16 45,757 24.99%
1999 Montreal Expos NL East 68 94 0.42 4th of 5 773,277 16th of 16 45,757 20.86%
1998 Montreal Expos NL East 65 97 0.401 4th of 5 914,909 16th of 16 45,757 24.69%
1997 Montreal Expos NL East 78 84 0.481 4th of 5 1,497,609 13th of 14 45,757 40.41%
1996 Montreal Expos NL East 88 74 0.543 2nd of 5 1,616,709 11th of 14 45,757 43.62%
1995 Montreal Expos NL East 66 78 0.458 5th of 5 1,309,618 10th of 14 45,757 39.75%
1994 Montreal Expos NL East 74 40 0.649 1st of 5 1,276,250 11th of 14 45,757 48.93%
1993 Montreal Expos NL East 94 68 0.58 2nd of 7 1,641,437 13th of 14 45,757 44.29%
1992 Montreal Expos NL East 87 75 0.537 2nd of 6 1,669,127 10th of 12 45,757 45.03%
1991 Montreal Expos NL East 71 90 0.441 6th of 6 934,742 12th of 12 45,757 25.38%
1990 Montreal Expos NL East 85 77 0.525 3rd of 6 1,373,087 10th of 12 45,757 37.05%
1989 Montreal Expos NL East 81 81 0.5 4th of 6 1,783,533 10th of 12 45,757 48.12%
1988 Montreal Expos NL East 81 81 0.5 3rd of 6 1,478,659 11th of 12 45,757 39.90%
1987 Montreal Expos NL East 91 71 0.562 3rd of 6 1,850,324 9th of 12 45,757 49.92%
1986 Montreal Expos NL East 78 83 0.484 4th of 6 1,128,981 11th of 12 45,757 30.65%
1985 Montreal Expos NL East 84 77 0.522 3rd of 6 1,502,494 8th of 12 45,757 40.79%
1984 Montreal Expos NL East 78 83 0.484 5th of 6 1,606,531 8th of 12 45,757 43.61%
1983 Montreal Expos NL East 82 80 0.506 3rd of 6 2,320,651 3rd of 12 45,757 62.61%
1982 Montreal Expos NL East 86 76 0.531 3rd of 6 2,318,292 3rd of 12 45,757 62.55%
1981 Montreal Expos NL East 60 48 0.556 2nd of 6 1,534,564 3rd of 12 45,757 62.11%
1980 Montreal Expos NL East 90 72 0.556 2nd of 6 2,208,175 4th of 12 45,757 59.58%
1979 Montreal Expos NL East 95 65 0.594 2nd of 6 2,102,173 4th of 12 45,757 57.43%
1978 Montreal Expos NL East 76 86 0.469 4th of 6 1,427,007 7th of 12 45,757 38.50%
1977 Montreal Expos NL East 75 87 0.463 5th of 6 1,433,757 6th of 12 45,757 38.68%
1976 Montreal Expos NL East 55 107 0.34 6th of 6 646,704 11th of 12 28,456 28.06%
1975 Montreal Expos NL East 75 87 0.463 5th of 6 908,292 9th of 12 28,456 39.41%
1974 Montreal Expos NL East 79 82 0.491 4th of 6 1,019,134 9th of 12 28,456 44.49%
1973 Montreal Expos NL East 79 83 0.488 4th of 6 1,246,863 9th of 12 28,456 54.10%
1972 Montreal Expos NL East 70 86 0.449 5th of 6 1,142,145 9th of 12 28,456 51.46%
1971 Montreal Expos NL East 71 90 0.441 5th of 6 1,290,963 8th of 12 28,456 56.36%
1970 Montreal Expos NL East 73 89 0.451 6th of 6 1,424,683 6th of 12 28,456 61.81%
1969 Montreal Expos NL East 52 110 0.321 6th of 6 1,212,608 7th of 12 28,456 52.61%


Some salient points in time for context (lots of the history stuff is from the wikipedia page for the Expos):

  • From 1969 to 1976, Montreal played in “Parc Jerry,” with a capacity of just 28,456 for baseball.   For the first few seasons, the team drew decently, averaging nearly 50% capacity.  They bottomed out in 1976, going from a 75 win team to a 55 win team.
  • In 1977, the team rebounded in both performance and attendance timed with the move to Olympic Stadium; their attendance more than doubled from 1976 to 1977.  From 1978 to 1983, the team was successful on the field and in the stands, routinely placing 3rd or 4th in the league in attendance and placing 2nd or 3rd place in the division.  This also included the Montreal franchise’s sole playoff appearance, a 3-2 NLDS loss in 1981.
  • Suddenly after 1983, fans stopped showing up and the team stayed mediocre; they went from 3rd or 4th in the league in attendance to 8th at best, 11th out of 12 at worst.
  • In 1991, the team was sold to a new ownership group, and a new wave of players made the Expos very competitive very fast (94 wins in 1993).  However, fans remained ambivalent; even after the 1993 season as the team sat in 1st place for all of 1994 (the season eventually cancelled), attendance went from 44% of capacity to 48% of capacity.  After the players strike, ownership and fan interest began to dwindle.
  • Jeffrey Loria acquired the team in 1999; he failed to get media deals done for the 2000 season, failed to negotiate a new stadium deal, and attendance and fan interest showed: in 1998 the team was dead last in attendance and never left last place of the NL.
  • Baseball attempted to contract Montreal (and Minnesota) in 2001, further adding insult to injury for the remaining Montreal fans.
  • In 2002, MLB negotiated the 3-way transaction of Boston, Florida and Montreal, leaving the Expos as a ward of MLB.  From 2002 to 2004, the franchise was plundered of its staff, its infrastructure, and its willingness to compete.  Furthermore, to “combat low attendance” the team played a quarter of its “home games” in Puerto Rico at a stadium a fraction of the capacity of Montreal’s stadium.
  • In their final seasons in Montreal, the Expos were averaging just 17-20% stadium capacity (not counting the two years traveling to San Juan).  By way of comparison, the Nats first season was at 73% and their last three have not dipped below the 70% capacity marker.

Some quick summary points:

  • The Expos absolute best cumulative attendance season was 1983; the Nats have already drawn more than that on four different occasions.
  • The Nats worst attendance season (2009), was still better than 31 of Montreal’s 36 seasons.
  • The Nats already have the 5 best attendance as a % of capacity seasons.
  • Montreal was dead last in NL attendance for their last 7 seasons in Canada.   You have to go back another 14 seasons before you even find a time when they were in the upper half of the league of attendance.

Montreal was asking for a new stadium as early as 1999-2000, and ran into roadblocks to get public funding in the amount of $150-$200M.  Now new stadiums routinely cost 4-5 times that.  Why would anyone think that Montreal would finance something now?

So, again, considering the known attendance and stadium issues, and not even addressing the RSN and currency issues, why again does anyone think that Montreal is a viable city for Baseball right now?  Yes its a large city (it’d be ranked somewhere in the 10-15th largest city range if it acquired baseball), and yes its a “wealthier” city since its Canada and it houses their seat of government.  But, they *had a team* for 30+ years and didn’t support it, refused politically to build the infrastructure to keep it, and had no local ownership interested in keeping it.

Sometimes I hear about other international expansion sites.  Puerto Rico?  Mexico City??  Do people not understand the financial needs to support a professional baseball team?  You need *wealthy* cities, not places where the median income is a fraction of what it is in the USA (by some measures, Puerto Rico’s is about 30% of the US and Mexico is just 10-15% of the US).

Portland?  San Antonio?  Charlotte?  Virginia Beach?  All nice mid-sized American cities, in some cases already hosting AA or AAA teams.  All *smaller* than some of the smallest markets already hosting MLB teams and struggling financially (places like Milwaukee, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Tampa, etc).  So I’m not entirely sure how these are great expansion alternatives.  The last two times baseball expanded, it was to major, growing cities that were mostly deserving (Denver, Miami, Phoenix and Tampa).

I dunno; every time I hear about expansion in baseball I laugh.  We still havn’t even come close to figuring out the most recent franchise relocation issues (aka, Washington-Baltimore’s RSN mess) and Oakland & San Francisco can’t agree on who “owns” a city that’s basically equidistantly far away from both stadiums (San Jose).  Now we want to shoe-horn in two more franchises onto a landscape map that’s 100% spoken for?

The reality of the situation is this: the two places it makes the most sense to put an additional team are the two largest cities in the land.  New York and Los Angeles.  Stick a team in Brooklyn and in Riverside and carve up the massive markets in those two cities.  And it’ll never, ever happen.


Written by Todd Boss

July 15th, 2015 at 12:03 pm

Ask Boswell 3/23/15 Edition


Scherzer is your 2015 opening day starter.  Photo via Scherzer's twitter account.

Scherzer is your 2015 opening day starter. Photo via Scherzer’s twitter account.

So, I’ve been quiet on the blog front lately.  Not much to write about right now, other than the injury bug that seems to be going around camp.  Max Scherzer named the opening day starter; I guess that’s news for a Monday.

Lets peek at today’s Tom Boswell 3/23/15 chat to see what kind of questions he fielded.  Despite it being post-March Madness, there’s still some baseball talk going on.  As always, I answer here before reading Boswell’s answer and edit questions for clarity.

Q: Say the Nats are under .500 after a couple of weeks. Will a full-scale panic start, or are team and fans’ nerves stronger than that?

A: Maybe the media’s panic will set in, but probably not the fans.  If the team is sub .500 after two months … you’d have to start asking some questions.  Same kind of questions we asked basically all of 2013.  Of course, that being said, the Nats’ early-season calendar isn’t exactly challenging:  10 of their first 11 series of the year are against teams that were sub .500 last year.  Now, we are expecting some of these teams (especially Boston, San Diego, Miami) to be much improved from last year … but the point remains.  The team has no excuse to not come out of the gates firing.  Boswell notes that if all the current injured Nats remain hurt on 4/1 … that fans will expect a long April.  He then goes on a long tangent about how screwed up the Dodgers are right now.

Q: Notwithstanding Taylor’s excellent weekend; I don’t understand why Williams would bat him lead-off (regardless of Taylor’s leadoff “skills”) but wouldn’t bat Harper higher than sixth.  Does Williams have a double standard for prospects not named Harper?

A: A good question.  Certainly some people have questioned Matt Williams‘ ongoing public criticisms of Bryce Harper.  Why call him out, in the media, for his supposed transgression of baiting the runner into trying for second?  Dude; its the 2nd week of March; it isn’t a big deal.  Except by calling him out in public, it *becomes* a big deal since Harper is such a lightening rod in the National media (deserved or not).  My two cents: there’s no lack of evidence coming out of the Arizona Diamondbacks organization over the last few  years about the institutional bull-headedness concerning “the right way to play” and other old-school baseball idioms, and it seems to me that Williams has continued his dogged old-school ways as the on-field leader of the Nats.  Is this a good thing?  Probably not.  Harper is talented enough to back up his actions (see last year’s NLCS when Harper was one of only two Nats hitters to bother making the trip to SF).  But will this conflict become a distraction?  Will it drive Harper from this team eventually?

Sorry for that tangent.  To answer the question at hand; with Denard Span out, *someone* has to bat lead off, and if you’re an “old school” guy who do you pick?  Do you pick the skinny, fast center fielder?  Or do you take a smarter look at your hitter capabilities?  I guess we’ll see.  Boswell says that Taylor batted leadoff in the minors, so he’s ok there.  Uh; the bush leagues playing infront of a few hundred people isn’t quite the majors.  Oh, and Boswell conveniently “explains” why Harper was batting 6th too.  Williams, the old-school manager for the old-school baseball writer Boswell.

Q: Why is Pete Rose back in the news with regard to reinstatement?

A: Because new commissioner Rob Manfred was dumb enough to engage Pete Rose‘s request?   The Dowd report was a pretty galling chronicle of Rose’s activities.  I think Rose appears as a sympathetic figure because of the ardor to which former commissioner Bart Giamatti pursued his penalty.  I too was sympathetic to Rose, feeling like baseball went far out of its way to rid themselves of him at the time.

But, now with time and retrospection, Rose’s sins were pretty bad.

I think the best way for baseball to deal with the likes of Rose, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens and perhaps others will to eventually create a special election with large caveats to their enshrinement.  Yes these players were among the best in the game … but broke cardinal sins against the game.  Imagine a veteran’s committee designed to create a permanent special exhibit in Cooperstown dedicated to great players who have clouds surrounding their names.  I dunno.  The cynical part of me says that the museum based in upstate New York has no incentive to *ever* stop the rhetoric surrounding these guys.  It gets tiresome to argue about the *same things* over and over … but we do it anyway, year after year.

Boswell coincidentally advocates for Rose for the HoF but not an active role in the game. 

Q: With the Nats celebrating ten years in the District, do you have any random memories that stand out since they’ve been in town?

A: I put out a post periodically that talks about “Best games” in Nats history.  This question kind of feels like the games captured in this post and in the comments.   No need to re-answer.

Q: Who deserves the opening day start?

A: You can make a pretty cogent argument for any of the three of Strasburg, Scherzer or Zimmermann.  Strasburg since he’s gotten three straight such starts and normally you don’t replace the home-grown “Ace” of a team.  That’d be my choice and my argument, coincidentally.  Zimmermann b/c of his no-hitter last year and generally accepted stance as the “actual” best hurler on the team.  But its now known that Scherzer is getting the nod (not a real big surprise once you saw how the rotation was laid out starting from early spring).  For me (as noted in the prior thread’s comments), Scherzer is the only guy with a Cy Young to his name, so it isn’t surprising that players’ manager Williams goes with the veteran with the most career accomplishment in that ceremonial spot.  Works for me; we just bought our opening day tickets (we’re in section 131 I think) so I look forward to seeing him pitch.  Boswell says that Strasburg’s sore ankle cost him the spot.  BS. 

Q: With the likelihood of multiple starters starting the season on the DL, how do you see that effecting the bench players on the roster.

A: We’ve talked about this before, but clearly it means that at least one, perhaps two NRIs are getting opening day jobs.  And it means that some options-limited guys are getting shots too.  If Span is out a month, Werth can’t make opening day, if Rendon is down and out, if Escobar can’t get enough reps … that’s a lot of spots to fill.  For me, just guessing, i’d say the team heads north with Tyler Moore, Tony Gwynn Jr, Michael Taylor and maybe Ian Stewart to start the season.  Dan Uggla?  Numbers are good; lots of walks.  But he can’t play 3B (not well, presumably) and its 3B where the team might need some cover.  Boswell is more bullish on Uggla, thinking he’d be a huge steal.  I dunno; can’t play SS, doesn’t bat lefty. 

Q: Are there going to be any longer-term impacts to demoting Tanner Roark to the bullpen?

A: Maybe.  Is it a coincidence that Roark has the worst starter stats of any pitcher this spring?  Probably not; spring training NRIs have a tendency to be uber aggressive, and minor league defenders aren’t always adept at catching the ball when playing out of position.  Maybe not; Roark’s attitude has sounded great, and he’s hopefully being told that he’s first in line and likely will get a big number of starts filling in for the inevitable injuries.  He’ll have his rotation spot back next year for sure.   Boswell doesn’t think so.

Q: If the Nats don’t make it out of the first round of the playoffs this year (assuming they will make it), do you think the fans develop the same anxiety that Caps fans have over the years?

A: Yes.  Two playoff appearances, two “best record in the majors” and two impotent first round exits to wild cards.  If the Nats fail in 2015, then  yeah we may begin to wonder what’s going on.  Boswell points out that the Caps have one of the worst track records in professional sports.

Q: What is your opening day lineup (including who leads off) given the injury spate?

A: If it were me?  If we assume that everyone who is  hurt is *not* making it to opening day, I’ll go with something like this:

Escobar-Desmond-Harper-Zimmerman-Ramos-Moore-Frandsen-Taylor pitcher.  Escobar at 2B, Moore in LF, Frandsen at 3B and Taylor in CF.  Not a great lineup.

A better assumption is that Rendon and Werth will make opening day, which makes the lineup a lot easier.  Escobar-Rendon-Harper-Zimmerman-Werth-Desmond-Ramos-Taylor-pitcher.  When Span returns, put Escobar at #8 and that’s that.

Boswell doesn’t give a leadoff-suggestion, but using induction by reduction, he’s likely pushing for Escobar at lead-off too.

Q: Is it time to cut the cord on Espinosa?

A: Not until you find someone else who can play short stop in a pinch who isn’t already slated to start.  Boswell gives a non-answer too.  I don’t feel bad.


One day on the job … three dumb things already said or done



Out with the old, in with the … same? Photo via

So, I see that new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is picking up right where the oft-clueless Bud Selig left off.   On his first week on the job, he was quoted as saying two rather ridiculous things and doing something even dumber:

1. He’s open to “banning defensive shifts

2. He thinks baseball will eventually return to Montreal.

3. He appointed Fred Wilpon to be the head of the sport’s Finance committee.

I don’t think I need to go deeply into why #1 is a ridiculous statement; plenty of others in the blogosphere have done that already.  I’ll just say this: there’s a reason defensive shifts work, and its because batters have become far, far too one-dimensional at the plate.  There’s a very simple, easy method for defeating defensive shifts; bunting.  Watch Robinson Cano bunt for a casual double against a shift in Boston: he barely tried to get the bunt down, just essentially punching the ball towards a vast gap left open by the too-clever Boston infield.  There’s not even a fielder in the camera’s field of sight by the time the ball runs by the bag.  I didn’t see this game live, but i’ll bet Boston didn’t try this shift on him again.  If they didn’t, and I’m the starting pitcher … I’m probably not throwing another pitch until I see a conventional infield again.  As far as Cano goes … its a line-drive in the books right?

And that’s all it will take.  If every pull hitting lefty would just punch a couple of bunts towards the vacated third base position, the defensive shifting probably would drastically reduce.

If you’re *for* the banning of defensive shifts … how exactly would you do it?  Put dotted lines on the field and make players stay in their positions until the ball is pitched?  We’re talking about a game that’s existed for decades without such a need.  How would you police it?  How would you account for players running out of position to cover bunts?  When the pitcher is up, is the 3rd baseman allowed to creep in?  How much?  What if someone fake-bunts and suddenly players are out of their “zones?”  If someone cheats out of position, do you just give the player a ball or a base?  How does that change the decades-old score keeping?  That’s just a few of the implementation questions that would make this a non-starter to realistically force-feed into the game.

Look; if you want to tilt the power back to batters (and that’s what this is really about, right?  Offense is down, strikeouts are up), then do what they did back in the late 60s.  Lower the mound.  Shrink the strike zone (actually … don’t shrink it, just frigging call it like it should be called and stop giving guys who throw 100 a ball off the outside corner).  Or work the ball a little bit so that it plays better (wind it tighter, make the seams lower, etc).  I don’t think you’re going to be able to turn back the clock on match-up relievers, power arms out of the bullpen, etc, but there are things you can do to keep the game on a level playing field.

As far as baseball returning to Montreal … I just can’t see how it would work given the current state of finances in Baseball.   Yes Montreal is a huge city (Just to mention a couple of non-insignificant barriers:

  • RSN TV markets: currently the entirety of Canada’s TV market is “owned” by Toronto, though the area where Montreal sits is “shared” with Boston.  So that means that, much as the Nats had to make concessions with Baltimore to move to Washington, that a franchise would have to buy out these teams’ interest in the Montreal market.
  • Canadian dollar values; this was one of the main reasons the Montreal franchise began to struggle in the mid 1990s; Toronto hasn’t been relevant in nearly the same amount of time.  Why does anyone think this situation will ever change?
  • Montreal as a franchise had some of the best talent in the game in the early 90s but couldn’t escape the generations old Olympic stadium.  Modern baseball franchises depend on modern stadiums; who is going to commit to building a billion dollar stadium in the near-socialistic political climate in Quebec?
  • Oh, and there’s this: the Montreal Expos were dead last in attendance every year between 1998 and 2004, when they finally departed for Washington.  Even in 1994, the year they were 74-40 and were dominating the NL … they were just 11th out of 14 teams in the NL in terms of attendance.   In fact, you have to go all the way back to 1983 before even finding a season where the Expos were not in the bottom THIRD of attendance in the NL.  They don’t draw in Montreal; they never have.  Why would anyone think it’d be any different now?
  • Perhaps there’s relocation possibility to Montreal (in today’s climate, likely from Oakland or Tampa).  But if you’re the Oakland or Tampa owners; are you going to be any better off in Montreal than you are today?  You’d be going to a WORSE stadium situation and would struggle with RSN issues.
  • If you’re going to expand the game to go to 32 teams so you can put a team in Montreal (and its tempting; Montreal is a big city, it would rank just between Phoenix and Seattle in terms of MSA sizes of US cities), then where would you put the 2nd team?   The two biggest cities w/o a major league team right now are Portland and San Antonio … creating a team in Portland would revisit en masse the same Baltimore-Washington RSN issues we’ve already talked about, San Antonio isn’t exactly a metropolis itself, and both team areas would immediately be in smaller markets than places like Kansas City and Cincinnati, teams that struggle to compete because of their own small markets.  Or you could argue that NY or LA should support a third team … yeah good luck with that RSN fight.
  • Not to mention that a 32-team league drastically changes the playoff situation, likely forcing an NFL-like structure where four divisional winners and two wild-cards make the playoffs … thus also implying that two divisional winners have to play coin-flip play-in games against wild-card winners, eliminating the advantage of winning your division and essentially the whole point of the second wild-card as we know it now.

Just don’t see a return to Montreal.

The last point (appointing Wilpon to head the finances committee) is a joke that writes itself.  Multi-millionare owner of a franchise born to mint money in the NY media market has to run his own team like a small-market franchise thanks to hundred-million dollar civil suits against him and is dependent on tens of millions of dollars of bridge loans to keep his team afloat.  Yeah; that’s the guy I want involved with *anything* related to finances.

*sigh*  The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Oh one more thing I forgot: Baseball also felt the need to disband the “Oakland Stadium committee,” just 6 short years after it started and with seemingly nothing accomplished.

Well, at least Selig is out of the picture.  Oh wait, no he isn’t.  He’s going to serve as “Commissioner Emeritus” and draw a $6M annual pension.  Man!  What a game.  How do I get that job?!

Written by Todd Boss

January 27th, 2015 at 10:29 am

Did the Nationals swing the vote for the new Commissioner?


They did if you believe Murray Chass.  In his incredibly mean-spirited column today, he goes above and beyond to trash White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, details the supposedly-secret voting process that resulted in baseball’s 10th commissioner Rob Manfred, and lists the teams that initially were voting against Manfred.  Though most in the industry have viewed Manfred as the odds-on heir apparent to Bud Selig, the voting process was apparently anything but smooth.

Personally I have no love for Reinsdorf; I feel like he’s a scrooge-like multi-millionaire who has pushed for years and years on all fronts to affect the industry in ways that lines his pockets even more.  He was the ringleader on the massive free agency collusion case and he was the impetus for capping bonus money for amateurs.  I can’t imagine the owners’ meetings being pleasant experiences right now, since Reinsdorf has basically ram-rodded into place policies that eliminated the advantages that small-market teams held in terms of player acquisition.

It was theorized elsewhere that a vote for his competitor (Red Sox chairman Tom Werner) was a vote for less revenue sharing, while a vote for Manfred was a vote for the continuation of Selig’s policies.  But that doesn’t make much sense if you look at the teams supposedly voting against Manfred (which included initially several smaller market teams).

I’ve read elsewhere that the Nats changed their vote and swung the election with tacit promises that the MASN situation would be resolved.  Which makes sense if its true, but I’m not sure how Manfred can do anything about the current lawsuits, injunctions and threats of MASN insolvency if the Oriole-owned RSN is forced to pay still-not-market rates for Nationals broadcast rights.

I have a long-in-draft mode post-morteming Selig’s tenure.  But I wonder if it is worth publishing, knowing that nearly every baseball writer out there will be doing the same, and they’ll be doing it with more time and better contacts in the industry.  We all kind of know the high and low points of his tenure.  A post for another day.

So, Manfred is set to take over in January.  I wonder what his impact will end up being.

Written by Todd Boss

August 15th, 2014 at 4:09 pm

If you didn’t think the A-Rod/MLB fight was slimy before…


A-Rod, in better times. Photo John Munson/The Star-Ledger via

A-Rod, in better times. Photo John Munson/The Star-Ledger via

When I last wrote about Alex Rodriguez, it was in August of 2013 in a semi vitriolic post about how slimy the whole situation seemed to be.

That was before I read the Steve Fishman‘s excellent article in the New York Magazine, published 12/1/13.

Its a good, long-form internet read.  Eight pages/screens.  Plenty of 4-letter adjectives if you’re sensitive to such things.  The article seems to tell the entire narrative in a far more understandable way than I’d ever heard it, tying together the various incidents and episodes that now encompass the entirety of the story.  And the lengths to which MLB has apparently gone in order to go after one player cause disbelief.  As others have said better than I; its hard to make out A-Rod to be a sympathetic figure, but the tyranny of Bud SeligRob Manfred and the entire MLB organization in this situation is just beyond belief.

I think the best part of this entire story was the following. An ex-con stole a flash-drive with copies of the player’s names who were using illicit materials from the former employee who stole it from the discredited doctor Tony Bosch, who owed him exactly $4,000 despite the fact he was making tens of thousands of dollars in untraceable cash from the baseball players.  The ex-con sold this information to MLB for $125,000 in cash, meeting in a diner wearing shorts and a t-shirt … but secretly video-taped the transaction so that he could then sell the video of the transaction to the A-Rod camp for $200,000!  Only in America.

This absolutely has the makings of a movie like The Informant! in its future.  If you have a few minutes to kill, give this story a read.

(Editor’s note: I edited this post and corrected the name of the magazine and one name after posting).

Written by Todd Boss

December 9th, 2013 at 1:11 pm