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Thursday, August 14, 2014

King of Blackouts: Why one candidate for MLB commissioner keeps fans from watching games

When the lords of baseball take to a Baltimore boardroom today to vote on a new commissioner, the least-heralded candidate will carry into the election a most unbecoming title: King of the Blackouts. Much of Tim Brosnan’s candidacy, in fact, rests on his turning baseball into a $9 billion-a-year monolith as executive VP of business on the back of fat television contracts that leave fans all over the country unable to watch the very sport he’s in charge of selling to the public.

The fact that baseball owners revere this – that a sport hemorrhaging young fans actively chooses to black out local television games across the country in order to protect the supposed sanctity of the local TV deals that go into the billions – speaks to a certain tone-deafness. Consider the hilarity of the rogue candidate for commissioner, Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, selling himself as the person who will spread the game best. The impetus behind Werner’s candidacy is the Red Sox want to tilt the revenue sharing of their huge TV deal even more in their favor….

Surely, of course, baseball could find a way to package all of its games to all of its fans in the sort of fashion that eventually brings back whatever business it might lose in the short-term. The league’s gravy train chugs along too well for MLB to actively derail it.

So it’s going to take some fans and a judge who believes the current rules are anticompetitive and that “clubs in each League have entered an express agreement to limit competition between the clubs – and their broadcaster affiliates – based on geographic territories. There is also evidence of a negative impact on the output, price, and perhaps even quality of sports programming.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 14, 2014 at 10:59 AM | 33 comment(s)
  Beats: commissioner, media, television, tim brosnan

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Owners want a debate, not inevitability that Rob Manfred will succeed Bud Selig as MLB commissioner

Manfred, man: Why should we not?

Whether it was Peter Ueberroth in 1984, Bart Giamatti in 1988, Fay Vincent in 1989 or Selig in 1992, all the [recent] previous baseball czars ascended to the top job by unanimous vote of the owners.

You would have thought that would be the case this time as well, with Rob Manfred, Selig’s No. 2 man, waiting in the wings after having been the point man for the most impactful commissioner ever…

And apparently, for the vast majority of owners, it is.

But a few, most notably Selig’s longtime closest friend in baseball, Chicago White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, don’t think Manfred is the right man for the job. They haven’t said why. They only say they want someone else, in this case Tom Werner, a part-owner of the Red Sox, or possibly Tim Brosnan, MLB’s vice president of business… And so there will be debate. The search committee, headed by St. Louis Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt, has presented the owners with the three candidates — Manfred, Werner and Brosnan — and on Wednesday, the candidates will make their cases before the owners. Then on Thursday morning, the owners will split into three groups of 10 each for question-and-answer sessions, followed by the vote…

An informal survey of owners has Manfred with 21 likely votes — the Yankees, Mets, Orioles, Indians, Royals, Tigers, Twins, Rangers, Mariners, Marlins, Phillies, Cubs, Pirates, Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants, Padres, Rockies, Astros, Braves and Rays. Werner has seven — the White Sox, Red Sox, Brewers, Angels, Blue Jays, A’s and Diamondbacks. And Brosnan has one — the Reds — because of his close friendship with Cincinnati owner Bob Castellini. The Nationals owners, who owe their stake to Selig, are also believed to be leaning toward Manfred.

Reinsdorf has to know Werner could never be elected. (“We would really hold ourselves up for ridicule and embarrassment,” said one team exec in regard to Werner.)

But if Reinsdorf is able to hold seven teams in place and force a stalemate, that would serve his purpose just as well… If no one is able to secure the necessary 23 votes for election, the process could get put off until the next owners’ meeting in November, giving Reinsdorf’s group additional time to come up with an alternative candidate…

the stakes are just as high here for the outgoing commissioner.

As another club exec said: “If we don’t come out of there Thursday with a new commissioner, it will be absolutely devastating for Bud.”


 

 

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