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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Grantland: The sad, financially successful legacy of baseball commissioner Bud Selig

This column never would have happened if baseball had a salary cap….

In many ways, Selig will be reckoned as one of the great commissioners of baseball. This is because, in the universe of baseball enthusiasts, the commissioner’s office always has been the repository of what Lewis Lapham once referred to as the American “wish for kings.” It was the commissioner’s office that threw out the Black Sox but winked at gamblers in other cities. It was the commissioner’s office that established the color line — thanks, Judge Landis! — and enforced it until Branch Rickey went rogue. It was the commissioner’s office that was the bulwark of the reserve system, defending it right up until the moment an arbitrator kicked it into the Hudson. Even afterward, when successive commissioners attempted to gain back de facto the control they had de jure, the commissioner’s office was central to nearly two decades of labor strife that reached an absurd peak with the collusion strategy of the late 1980s, which ensured another decade of labor strife that culminated in the landmark moment in Selig’s tenure in office — the cancellation of the 1994 World Series….

In all of this, and because my customary baseball agnosticism leaves me incapable of looking at him as anything more than a uniquely empowered career bureaucrat, Bud Selig has been the perfect man for this peculiar job. He is just authoritarian enough to please the people to whom he must truckle in order to keep his job. What the hell. It’s a living. And a nice one, at that.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 01, 2014 at 01:20 PM | 102 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bud selig, grantland

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   1. cardsfanboy Posted: July 01, 2014 at 07:47 PM (#4741533)
As a general rule, if you are complaining about the tie all star game in your evaluation of Bud Selig, your opinion to me is utterly useless.

Basically this article says "Bud cemented the role of commissioner as the force for the owners and not the bridge between management that some people envisioned it should have been."

I think that ultimately Bud ended up doing what was best for baseball's profit interest, both on the players and owners side of the equation.(and ultimately the fans.) Not 100% sure everything was in the best long term interest of the sport, but for the most part the things that happened under his watch(after the Expos fiasco) has been positive...prior to that, he was in charge of a series of utter foul ups. I would argue the new system of free agents competitive offers system has failed in execution, but the number of people hurt by it is relatively minimal.
   2. cmd600 Posted: July 01, 2014 at 08:04 PM (#4741543)
both on the players and owners side of the equation


I've got the players making 42% of revenue in 2013. I can't find a number for 1992, when Selig started, but have seen 56-60% going into the 1994 strike. Maybe you don't like those numbers specifically, but I don't see how it's not pretty obvious that players are pulling in a significantly lower percentage of total revenue than when Selig gained control.

How much of the jump to +$8 billion in revenue due to Selig? How much would have happened naturally with the advances in watching games online and DVR making live sports such a demand for TV networks? That's hard to capture, but I don't think it's so certain that Selig has been great for the players. And considering his history regarding collusion, I would guess he's been a real hindrance to money finding its way into their pockets.
   3. cardsfanboy Posted: July 01, 2014 at 08:05 PM (#4741545)
I've got the players making 42% of revenue in 2013. I can't find a number for 1992, when Selig started, but have seen 56-60% going into the 1994 strike. Maybe you don't like those numbers specifically, but I don't see how it's not pretty obvious that players are pulling in a significantly lower percentage of total revenue.


Yea...I don't get that argument. Who cares what they make relative to revenue, it's what they average, mean and minimum...add in when they start to see real money that matters to me. If anything, they need to up the money paid to the minors, not really seeing a problem with what the MLB players with over 3 years service time are earning.

I honestly do not care, nor will ever care, how much the players get relative to revenue of the league.
   4. Bhaakon Posted: July 01, 2014 at 08:19 PM (#4741559)
I've got the players making 42% of revenue in 2013. I can't find a number for 1992, when Selig started, but have seen 56-60% going into the 1994 strike. Maybe you don't like those numbers specifically, but I don't see how it's not pretty obvious that players are pulling in a significantly lower percentage of total revenue.


To be honest, I think this is largely the MLBPA's fault. They appear to have centered their strategy around driving up and protecting the contracts of elite veterans while allowing younger players and minor leaguers (who aren't represented, I know) to continue to labor under, essentially, the reserve system that existed 40 years ago. They're so frightened of the spectre of a salary cap limiting star-level contracts that they've done their damnedest to avoid anything resembling a reasonable salary floor.

If anything, teams are stupid for taking so long to realize that they should be exploiting the hell out of low-service-time players and using the leverage of team control to lock them up to below market extensions.
   5. Joey B. Posted: July 01, 2014 at 08:47 PM (#4741583)
Seven words: labor peace for nineteen years and counting.

Everything else pales in significance to that fact.
   6. JRVJ Posted: July 01, 2014 at 09:04 PM (#4741598)
Seven words: labor peace for nineteen years and counting.

Everything else pales in significance to that fact.


This.
   7. Bhaakon Posted: July 01, 2014 at 09:09 PM (#4741601)

Seven words: labor peace for nineteen years and counting.

Everything else pales in significance to that fact.


There's labor peace because the owners tried to enforce their will in '94 and lost badly. By the time they'd licked their wounds and where ready try their luck again, revenue had grown to the point that there was no impetus for another strike or lockout. All they could manage was the threat of contraction, which no one took seriously.

Nobody wants to risk a fight when times are fat and happy.
   8. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 01, 2014 at 09:24 PM (#4741609)
As a general rule, if you are complaining about the tie all star game in your evaluation of Bud Selig, your opinion to me is utterly useless.


And if you don't see that as a failing on the part of Mr. "This Time It Counts", then your opinion to me is utterly useless.
   9. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 01, 2014 at 09:27 PM (#4741611)
Who cares what they make relative to revenue...


Well, for one, the players probably care about that, since they're deriving a proportionally smaller share of the fruits of their labors.

It's also bad for baseball's long-term interests, since lower player salaries make a career in professional baseball less viable when compared to other professional sports for top amateurs with the ability to succeed in more than one sport. Lower player salaries will over time decrease the quality of the game on the field.
   10. Bruce Markusen Posted: July 01, 2014 at 09:45 PM (#4741625)
Putting aside the issue of players vs. owners, Pierce's article has a glaring error. He contends that "it was the Commissioner's office that established the color line."

This is not true. The color line was established in the early 1880s and was a "gentlemen's agreement" among minor league and major league owners not to sign any more black players. It was an unwritten rule that predated the advent of the Commissioner's office by a few decades. Landis certainly promoted and cemented the color line, but it wasn't his idea to begin with--not by a long shot.
   11. cardsfanboy Posted: July 01, 2014 at 10:37 PM (#4741644)
And if you don't see that as a failing on the part of Mr. "This Time It Counts", then your opinion to me is utterly useless.


I see it as a moderate improvement on a previously ridiculous system. In the end it really doesn't matter. I just do not get people being upset with a meaningless game ending in a tie. It was an exhibition game that ended in a tie... it happens, it's not a failure on part of the commissioner of baseball.
   12. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: July 01, 2014 at 10:41 PM (#4741647)
I see it as a moderate improvement on a previously ridiculous system. In the end it really doesn't matter. I just do not get people being upset with a meaningless game ending in a tie. It was an exhibition game that ended in a tie... it happens, it's not a failure on part of the commissioner of baseball.

I agree, but I assume what Vlad meant was Bud's overreaction to the criticism of the tie (making the ASG "count" next time) is what he should be faulted for.
   13. cardsfanboy Posted: July 01, 2014 at 11:05 PM (#4741655)
I agree, but I assume what Vlad meant was Bud's overreaction to the criticism of the tie (making the ASG "count" next time) is what he should be faulted for.


It went from one arbitrary method to another. I don't see any problem with it. I would prefer it to be based upon interleague records, but logistically that isn't completely feasible.
   14. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: July 01, 2014 at 11:27 PM (#4741666)
Everyone who ####### about Selig remember how awful a tie All star game was and other horrors when the next commissioner takes a hard line on a salary cap and we lose an entire baseball season.

He's far from perfect but despite some missteps I think the overall ledger is positive.
   15. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: July 01, 2014 at 11:28 PM (#4741667)
And truthfully the fact that the ASG decides home field in the World Series is really not something I like but baseball survived a very long time with "ah #### it, let's just alternate" as a decider that I can't get worked up.
   16. KJOK Posted: July 01, 2014 at 11:33 PM (#4741670)
Well, for one, the players probably care about that, since they're deriving a proportionally smaller share of the fruits of their labors.

It's also bad for baseball's long-term interests, since lower player salaries make a career in professional baseball less viable when compared to other professional sports for top amateurs with the ability to succeed in more than one sport. Lower player salaries will over time decrease the quality of the game on the field.


There are a lot of things you can fault Bud for, but revenue just isn't one of them. 42% of 100 billion is better for the players than 60% of 50 billion (numbers in billions made up for illustrative purposes only)
   17. cardsfanboy Posted: July 01, 2014 at 11:41 PM (#4741677)
There are a lot of things you can fault Bud for, but revenue just isn't one of them. 42% of 100 billion is better for the players than 60% of 50 billion (numbers in billions made up for illustrative purposes only)


Exactly, in 1995, minimum salary was 109k a year, it's 500k a year now, average salary was 1,071,000 and it's now 3,386,000.
   18. shoewizard Posted: July 02, 2014 at 02:08 AM (#4741724)
To be honest, I think this is largely the MLBPA's fault. They appear to have centered their strategy around driving up and protecting the contracts of elite veterans while allowing younger players and minor leaguers (who aren't represented, I know) to continue to labor under, essentially, the reserve system that existed 40 years ago. They're so frightened of the spectre of a salary cap limiting star-level contracts that they've done their damnedest to avoid anything resembling a reasonable salary floor.

If anything, teams are stupid for taking so long to realize that they should be exploiting the hell out of low-service-time players and using the leverage of team control to lock them up to below market extensions.


I agree with this comment, and really this is the magic bullet for the long term health of the sport. For the vast majority of players it takes at least 3 years of college and 2-3 years in the minors to develop the skills needed to play the sport at the highest level.

For high school kids they typically spend at least 5-6 years in the minors before being able to start their arb clock.

The pre free agency and minor league wages and time required to get to the bigger paydays are a deterrent for 95% of elite athletes who have a choice of which sport to specialize in. Now granted, your average 12 year old is probably not thinking about this, but your elit 14-15 year athletes are more than likely being steered by parents and coaches towards the quicker paydays available in other sports.

If the salaries in minor league baseball managed to get up off the matt from minimum wage and below, and if the salary distribution between younger players and veterans was distributed more equitably than it is now, it would have the effect of driving more top athletes into the sport, and help sustain the long term health of the support.

This is not a "end of baseball" post. But there is nothing wrong with continually trying to seed and build for the future, and in fact there is everything right with that approach. Just like American society as a whole, the gap between the have and have nots has just grown too large. (Ooops...I shouldn't have gone there, should I ?)
   19. cardsfanboy Posted: July 02, 2014 at 02:29 AM (#4741728)
If the salaries in minor league baseball managed to get up off the matt from minimum wage and below, and if the salary distribution between younger players and veterans was distributed more equitably than it is now, it would have the effect of driving more top athletes into the sport, and help sustain the long term health of the support.



This is a thing I could get behind, colleges pay their athletes what amounts to about $60,000 or more and basically four years of free raping....I imagine that baseball should be somewhat compatible with that. Especially since they don't have to deal with the ridiculous NCAA rules.

Let them play college baseball and be drafted, give them a slightly above expectation wage and you might convince a 6th round basketball/football athlete to stick with baseball.
   20. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: July 02, 2014 at 07:44 AM (#4741738)
Seven words: labor peace for nineteen years and counting.

Everything else pales in significance to that fact.


Three words: Canceled World Series.

Everything else pales in significance to that fact.

I mean, this argument in the perfect analogy to "Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?"
   21. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: July 02, 2014 at 08:00 AM (#4741740)
Revenues in baseball are way up under Selig, but revenues are way up for the NFL, the NBA, the SEC, the Pac 10, the Big 10, the English Premier League (in America specifically), MLS, the Olympics and on and on. There seem to be an awful lot of geniuses in sports these days...
   22. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 02, 2014 at 08:32 AM (#4741747)
greg

remember he worked (and works) for the owners. the hard liners were calling the shots back then and bud didn't have the favors to call in then like he does now to help broker deals. jerry reinsdorf got bud the job, jerry and his inner circle were willing to do what it took to get what they wanted and selig knew that this was part of the deal.

not excusing selig. but if not him it would have been somebody else with a high probability of the same result.

it happened on his watch so as you kids say, 'he owns it'. but i think there are a lot other things on selig's resume worth criticizing before one gets to the 1994 world series. starting with the stadium extortion racket
   23. bunyon Posted: July 02, 2014 at 08:45 AM (#4741751)
As a general rule, if you are complaining about the tie all star game in your evaluation of Bud Selig, your opinion to me is utterly useless.



And if you don't see that as a failing on the part of Mr. "This Time It Counts", then your opinion to me is utterly useless.


Let's face it, pretty much everyone here's opinion is utterly useless to everyone else here.
   24. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 08:46 AM (#4741752)

Well, for one, the players probably care about that, since they're deriving a proportionally smaller share of the fruits of their labors.

It's also bad for baseball's long-term interests, since lower player salaries make a career in professional baseball less viable when compared to other professional sports for top amateurs with the ability to succeed in more than one sport. Lower player salaries will over time decrease the quality of the game on the field.


I think this impact is likely trivial.

What are you going to lose? A half dozen two-sport athletes? 90% of whom will wash out in the minors. I can't think this moves the needle on the overall MLB talent level.

The rewards to success in any pro-sport are so large that teenagers are going to pick the sport they are best in/like the most. They're not doing expected value calcs.
   25. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 09:03 AM (#4741757)
Everyone who ####### about Selig remember how awful a tie All star game was and other horrors when the next commissioner takes a hard line on a salary cap and we lose an entire baseball season.


Yeah, the next commissioner might provoke an unnecessary and un-winnable confrontation with players, and end up cancelling the World Series.

Selig would never do such a thing, except for that time when he, y'know, did it.
   26. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 09:12 AM (#4741758)
There are a lot of things you can fault Bud for, but revenue just isn't one of them. 42% of 100 billion is better for the players than 60% of 50 billion (numbers in billions made up for illustrative purposes only)


Which would be a better point if Bud had anything to do with that increase, but he didn't. MLB's success under Bud is largely the result of external factors (such as the increased value of sports programming in a world where people don't watch much other live TV) over which he had little or no control. He was just lucky enough to be the captain when the rising tide lifted all the boats.

He's not a visionary. Was MLB the first major pro sport to start its own TV channel? No, that was the NFL. Was MLB the first major pro sport to post video of its games on the internet? No, that was the NBA. Was MLB the first major pro sport to televise its draft? No, that was the NFL again. MLB is an innovator in the field of moronic blackout restrictions, though, so at least it's got that going for it.
   27. Jeltzandini Posted: July 02, 2014 at 09:17 AM (#4741760)
Contraction was the worst thing he tried to do, worse even than the WS cancellation. But he didn't actually succeed in doing it, so I'm not sure how to score him there.
   28. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 09:17 AM (#4741761)
I think this impact is likely trivial.

What are you going to lose? A half dozen two-sport athletes? 90% of whom will wash out in the minors. I can't think this moves the needle on the overall MLB talent level.


A whole lot more than that, I think. And the ones you'd be most likely to lose are the best athletes of the bunch, since they're the ones with the most options. Missing out on even one Willie Mays because he decided to play football or basketball instead would be a terrible loss for the sport.

The rewards to success in any pro-sport are so large that teenagers are going to pick the sport they are best in/like the most. They're not doing expected value calcs.


That's pretty plainly not true. For example, lots of teenage boys enjoy fighting, but how many would choose a career in the UFC over one in the NFL? The salaries earned by athletes are part of what drives the prestige of a league.
   29. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 09:21 AM (#4741763)
Didn't the Baseball Network happen first (in '94)? I know it wasn't a channel, but it was really the first attempt by the various pro leagues to control the production and the delivery of game broadcasts via the networks.
   30. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 09:36 AM (#4741767)
Didn't the Baseball Network happen first (in '94)?


It happened first, but it's fairer to describe that as an alternate payment structure for a broadcast deal, not an actual network.
   31. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 09:51 AM (#4741783)
Which would be a better point if Bud had anything to do with that increase, but he didn't. MLB's success under Bud is largely the result of external factors (such as the increased value of sports programming in a world where people don't watch much other live TV) over which he had little or no control. He was just lucky enough to be the captain when the rising tide lifted all the boats.

He's not a visionary. Was MLB the first major pro sport to start its own TV channel? No, that was the NFL. Was MLB the first major pro sport to post video of its games on the internet? No, that was the NBA. Was MLB the first major pro sport to televise its draft? No, that was the NFL again. MLB is an innovator in the field of moronic blackout restrictions, though, so at least it's got that going for it.


MLB launched MLBAM back in the late 90's (I was still at McKinsey when they did the strategy study).

They were well ahead of their times, and MLBAM has been a HUGE driver of revenue, and revenue parity (since it is equally shared money).
   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 09:52 AM (#4741785)
A whole lot more than that, I think. And the ones you'd be most likely to lose are the best athletes of the bunch, since they're the ones with the most options. Missing out on even one Willie Mays because he decided to play football or basketball instead would be a terrible loss for the sport.

Maybe, but great athlete more often than not turns into AA washout in baseball.

Baseball doesn't rely on singular great players for its appeal. If Mike Trout had never been born, I don't think MLB revenue would be $1 less in 2014.

   33. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 09:53 AM (#4741787)
I was a teenager, and about to go off to college when TBN started, I remember asking my older brother to explain it to me about 49 times, as he always had an interest and strong grasp for how television rights were structured. I remember comparing to the bad old days of how college football was broadcast when you would get 1, maybe two games, not necessarily the ones you wanted to watch, and if you didn't like it tough titty. Depending where you lived, you didn't get to see one or more of the '95 LDS' because a guy in NYC decided that the rubes in flyover land should watch Braves v Rockies, and when that game ended, that was it, you weren't going to get to see any of the M's and Red Sox.
   34. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: July 02, 2014 at 09:53 AM (#4741789)
Harvey's, I get that, but people can't have it both ways. If he was a driving force keeping the peace for 19 years, then it's a failure that he wasn't able to save the Series. If the owners were forcing the hard line against Selig's will in 1994, then it's the owners that get credit for the peace since then.

And if Selig didn't have the power in 1994 and subsequently gained it, then you still have to ding him for the Series while praising him for the subsequent peace. You can't just say "Peace trumps all". He has to own both.
   35. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 09:55 AM (#4741790)
They were well ahead of their times, and MLBAM has been a HUGE driver of revenue


Perhaps the data is out there, but I'm curious to know what kind of revenues MLBAM is generating in 'non-baseball' related licensing/use of its proprietary material. I often read how so many other organizations and outlets are relying on material created and owned by MLBAM.
   36. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 09:56 AM (#4741792)
Visionary technocrat Bud: "Never sent an email, never will." Bud's biggest contribution to baseball was figuring out he could enrich his cronies at the expense of popular, successful teams and sucker the rubes into thinking he was acting out of principle.
   37. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: July 02, 2014 at 09:56 AM (#4741793)
Seven words: labor peace for nineteen years and counting.

Everything else pales in significance to that fact.


Three words: Canceled World Series.

Everything else pales in significance to that fact.


So you're saying he went too far, but then was good?
   38. tfbg9 Posted: July 02, 2014 at 09:58 AM (#4741796)
Red Sox WS wins under all previous Commissioners: 0

Red Sox WS wins under George Mitch-err...Bud Selig: 3

Bud Selig. Greatest. Baseball. Commish. Evah.
   39. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 10:01 AM (#4741798)
Red Sox WS wins under all previous Commissioners: 0

Red Sox WS wins under George Mitch-err...Bud Selig: 3


Yep. At least you admit it. Plenty of Sad Sawks fans think they won of their own accord.
   40. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 10:03 AM (#4741800)
For example, lots of teenage boys enjoy fighting, but how many would choose a career in the UFC over one in the NFL? The salaries earned by athletes are part of what drives the prestige of a league.


Boxing used to draw heavily from top athletic talent in America, as elite boxers were routinely the highest-paid athletes. The UFC operates under a pro-wrestling-styled "walled garden" model designed to depress salaries, so the financial incentives simply don't exist there.
   41. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 10:08 AM (#4741807)
Red Sox WS wins under all previous Commissioners: 0

Red Sox WS wins under George Mitch-err...Bud Selig: 3

Bud Selig. Greatest. Baseball. Commish. Evah.


Well, when you put it that way, Selig appears to be history's greatest monster.
   42. Bhaakon Posted: July 02, 2014 at 10:11 AM (#4741811)
I think this impact is likely trivial.

What are you going to lose? A half dozen two-sport athletes? 90% of whom will wash out in the minors. I can't think this moves the needle on the overall MLB talent level.


Well, I don't know about "very trivial," but I think it would move the needle less than the draft bonus slotting scheme they've already implemented. Both in conjunction (low-balling elite talent and paying sub-minimum wage to incoming minor leaguers) could very well be driving guys into other sports.

The bigger issues are probably the relative expense and difficulty of organizing baseball games for kids, and parents pushing their children towards sports with more available college scholarships (though many student athletes end up earning degrees of dubious value, if they even manage to finish one).
   43. tfbg9 Posted: July 02, 2014 at 10:11 AM (#4741812)
Bud Selig. Baseball's Trilateral Commissioner.

Sad Sawks? Gold. Pure Gold.
   44. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: July 02, 2014 at 10:14 AM (#4741816)
Harvey's, I get that, but people can't have it both ways. If he was a driving force keeping the peace for 19 years, then it's a failure that he wasn't able to save the Series. If the owners were forcing the hard line against Selig's will in 1994, then it's the owners that get credit for the peace since then.


That's a fair read. For me the thing is not just the lack of a work stoppage but the general lack of drama around negotiations in recent years. Other than 2002 recent CBAs have come and gone with very little excitement.

The reason I personally think the peace is more worthy of credit than 1994 is worthy of blame is I think his influence is greater on the former than the latter. All three other major sports have a salary cap of some sort and it would have been very easy for Selig to follow those within the game who wanted to go that route. That he has been able to manage the process to keep things peaceful is a major plus for him. Given everything that has gone on in the sport there were a lot of ways for this to blow up and it hasn't.

Put another way in my mind 1994 is like a rookie hitting .247 then going on to an All Star career. Yeah that rookie year counts but the body of work is a positive.
   45. Ron J2 Posted: July 02, 2014 at 10:15 AM (#4741817)
I stopped reading when I got to:

It was the commissioner’s office that threw out the Black Sox but winked at gamblers in other cities.


Absolute idiocy.
   46. base ball chick Posted: July 02, 2014 at 11:27 AM (#4741858)
Bhaakon Posted: July 01, 2014 at 08:19 PM (#4741559)

I've got the players making 42% of revenue in 2013. I can't find a number for 1992, when Selig started, but have seen 56-60% going into the 1994 strike. Maybe you don't like those numbers specifically, but I don't see how it's not pretty obvious that players are pulling in a significantly lower percentage of total revenue.


To be honest, I think this is largely the MLBPA's fault. They appear to have centered their strategy around driving up and protecting the contracts of elite veterans while allowing younger players and minor leaguers (who aren't represented, I know) to continue to labor under, essentially, the reserve system that existed 40 years ago. They're so frightened of the spectre of a salary cap limiting star-level contracts that they've done their damnedest to avoid anything resembling a reasonable salary floor.

If anything, teams are stupid for taking so long to realize that they should be exploiting the hell out of low-service-time players and using the leverage of team control to lock them up to below market extensions.


this is REALLY REALLY true

it is beyond obnoxious that they pay starvation wages to young players and that the rich few who get the enormous contracts support that.

- this is a lot like college graduates having to "intern" - or work without pay and i guess live under dumpsters/eat out of them in order to work.
   47. alilisd Posted: July 02, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4741869)
I think that ultimately Bud ended up doing what was best for baseball's profit interest, both on the players and owners side of the equation.(and ultimately the fans.)


Best for the fans? No way. Selig has seen to new parks being built on the backs of fans, iow through huge tax levies and sweetheart deals for owners, both of which come at the expense of fans (and non-fans for that matter). Ticket prices and concession prices in these new parks are astronomical. More than one team has signed a lucrative TV deal which didn't even cover the geographic area of its fan base, and baseball did nothing to help rectify this. Selig allowed Moorad to "purchase" the Padres, then allowed the owners to give him the boot when he sought to complete the purchase, which extended an already too long period of ownership neglect. Loria (edited for typo), Montreal, Miami; disgraceful! There has been no labor strife, true, but Selig has raped the fans; there's no denying that even if you are happy with the state of the game on the field.
   48. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: July 02, 2014 at 01:07 PM (#4741950)
Best for the fans? No way. Selig has seen to new parks being built on the backs of fans, iow through huge tax levies and sweetheart deals for owners, both of which come at the expense of fans (and non-fans for that matter). Ticket prices and concession prices in these new parks are astronomical. More than one team has signed a lucrative TV deal which didn't even cover the geographic area of its fan base, and baseball did nothing to help rectify this. Selig allowed Moorad to "purchase" the Padres, then allowed the owners to give him the boot when he sought to complete the purchase, which extended an already too long period of ownership neglect. Loria (edited for typo), Montreal, Miami; disgraceful! There has been no labor strife, true, but Selig has raped the fans; there's no denying that even if you are happy with the state of the game on the field.

All of which is pretty much true, but hardly surprising, since Selig's priorities are in the order of

1. The owners

2. The players, particularly the big name players who draw the great bulk of attention

3. The networks who bloat the coffers, along with the sponsors

4. The corporate season ticket holders

5. Whoever's left over, including the ordinary fan

You might call it trickle down concern.

The main benefit to the average fan has come much more through the technology that enables the Extra Innings package, the MLB network, and the MLB website than it does from anything particularly innovative on Selig's part.
   49. Jeltzandini Posted: July 02, 2014 at 01:15 PM (#4741955)
The next guy or the one after him will be dealing with the beginning of clubs wanting to replace their mallparks. Which I guess already happened prematurely with the Braves.

There is a strong movement against the megasports industry going on right now with the World Cup and the Olympics having trouble drawing bids from prosperous, democratic cities. Hopefully that movement carries forward to baseball cities telling owners to stuff it in re: new parks, but we'll see.

   50. cardsfanboy Posted: July 02, 2014 at 01:27 PM (#4741967)
Harvey's, I get that, but people can't have it both ways. If he was a driving force keeping the peace for 19 years, then it's a failure that he wasn't able to save the Series. If the owners were forcing the hard line against Selig's will in 1994, then it's the owners that get credit for the peace since then.


I defend Bud, but I agree with that he owns the failure of no 94 world series(when he was acting commissioner). Bud has a terrible first 10 or so years of his legacy as commissioner, with his two biggest being the lost 94 season and the destruction of Montreal baseball and subsequent allowing Loria to retain any power in the league. He's made up for it with how he's pretty much handled everything since, and including the fact that MLB management is nimble enough to make changes on the fly, (i.e. the Spiderman bases, drug testing and changes made this year to the catchers collision rule, the transfer rule etc)

I fully admit that I support Bud because I agree with 90% of the things he has ushered in...soft salary cap, increased revenue sharing, no franchise relocations(except the Expos), no hard salary cap, interleague play, a better way to determine the homefield advantage of the world series, a cap on draft picks, wild cards, expansion, even number of teams in both leagues/all divisions, 19 years of labor peace, last two cba's being so well negotiated that there wasn't even a hint of a possibility of a strike/lockout, increased number of games on TV, the strongest web presence of any sport, instant replay, no(or very few) rules designed to take the fun out of the game(i.e. a dress rule for travel days or totalitarian rules on celebrations) etc..

There are still a few things I dislike about his time in office, such as his extortion of new stadiums, but generally his tenure has been aboveboard, and willing to listen to the masses. (and I really do find it silly that there are still people who think his contraction plan was legitimate...it was never ever going to happen, it was a negotiating ploy)


   51. cardsfanboy Posted: July 02, 2014 at 01:44 PM (#4741982)
Perhaps the data is out there, but I'm curious to know what kind of revenues MLBAM is generating in 'non-baseball' related licensing/use of its proprietary material. I often read how so many other organizations and outlets are relying on material created and owned by MLBAM.


According to wikipedia is responsible for all of ESPN online streaming content, and
MLBAM also runs and/or owns the official web sites of Minor League Baseball, YES Network (the television broadcaster of the New York Yankees), SportsNet New York (the television broadcaster of the New York Mets), the World Championship Sports Network,[5] Guns N' Roses, and rehearsals.com.[6] It also provided the backend infrastructure for The Blaze TV, CBS Sportsline's March Madness on Demand service, The WWE Network and the WatchESPN service.[7][8]


Decent article on MLBAM from 2011 but doesn't really separate their revenue streams.

or another one

basically it boils down to, if you are watching a live streaming event, there is a good chance MLBAM is taking a cut off of it.
   52. Mark Armour Posted: July 02, 2014 at 01:54 PM (#4741991)
Let them play college baseball and be drafted, give them a slightly above expectation wage and you might convince a 6th round basketball/football athlete to stick with baseball.


The problem is that colleges give relatively few full scholarships for baseball. The NCAA limit for Division I is 11.7 total scholarships, and there are 25-30 players on a team (they need a lot of pitchers). Most great programs will give out a few full rides, a bunch of .5 scholarships, and further slicing it down the line. Football has 85 full rides per team. Recognizing that there also issues getting kids into baseball at younger ages, the fight for 18-year-old athletes between baseball and football is not an even one.
   53. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 02:40 PM (#4742026)
There are a lot of things you can fault Bud for, but revenue just isn't one of them. 42% of 100 billion is better for the players than 60% of 50 billion (numbers in billions made up for illustrative purposes only)


This just shows the flaw of pure utility theory. By this logic, if we both chip in to buy a lottery ticket and win $1 million, and I give you $10 and pocket the rest, you have no cause to complain.
   54. cardsfanboy Posted: July 02, 2014 at 02:54 PM (#4742038)
This just shows the flaw of pure utility theory. By this logic, if we both chip in to buy a lottery ticket and win $1 million, and I give you $10 and pocket the rest, you have no cause to complain.


This example just shows a flaw in negotiating on one part of the equation. If we both put in money and don't agree to split it 50/50 then the flaw was in the agreement, not in utility theory.

This example has nothing to do with labor/management.
   55. Random Transaction Generator Posted: July 02, 2014 at 03:20 PM (#4742064)
(and I really do find it silly that there are still people who think his contraction plan was legitimate...it was never ever going to happen, it was a negotiating ploy)


If someone holds a hostage and threatens to shoot, but in the end doesn't shoot because he gets what he wants, I think the hostage is still allowed to complain about the "negotiating ploy", even if the hostage-taker (or his supporters) say "He wasn't REALLY going to shoot you..."
   56. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: July 02, 2014 at 03:31 PM (#4742079)
Put another way in my mind 1994 is like a rookie hitting .247 then going on to an All Star career. Yeah that rookie year counts but the body of work is a positive.

I get that. I just think that 1994 is big enough that it's like a young player hitting .247 up until age 29 and then having a couple of All Star seasons in his 30's. YMMV. My comment about "everything pales" was simply to point out that you can't say "19 years of peace" and be done. If you're going to comment on Bud's labor record, you can't selectively choose your endpoints. Even if you think that 1994 was part of his growing phase, it still counts.

I think CFB gets it mostly right in #50, although I fall on the other side in some of those. And it's enough for me to give Selig a thumbs down. But there have been worse. And here's the key. I agree with CFB that Bud's first 10 years were a disaster. So while the next commissioner may be considered to have a better overall record by the time that guy retires, it's likely that going from Bud 2010-2014 to new guy 2015 will be a step down.
   57. Random Transaction Generator Posted: July 02, 2014 at 03:37 PM (#4742087)
Put another way in my mind 1994 is like a rookie hitting .247 then going on to an All Star career. Yeah that rookie year counts but the body of work is a positive.


I think it's more like a rookie hitting .247, getting suspended for 50 games for using steroids, and then going on to an All Star career. Yeah, he had a great career, but he's ruined his legacy (for some) in that first year.
   58. Los Angeles El Hombre de Anaheim Posted: July 02, 2014 at 04:02 PM (#4742111)
I think it's more like a rookie hitting .247, getting suspended for 50 games for using steroids, and then going on to an All Star career. Yeah, he had a great career, but he's ruined his legacy (for some) in that first year.
To me, it's more like he killed a man in that rookie season. Canceling the Series and essentially wiping out baseball in Montreal are unforgivable sins. Selig's done some good things then (and a few more bad things), but that 1994 was such an epic horror story, I can't look at Selig's term in any truly positive light.
   59. cmd600 Posted: July 02, 2014 at 04:03 PM (#4742113)
There are a lot of things you can fault Bud for, but revenue just isn't one of them. 42% of 100 billion is better for the players than 60% of 50 billion


But this gives credit to Bud for revenue going from under 2B to over 8B under his watch. Sure, he gets some credit. But the vast majority of that has to do with live sports becoming so damn popular among TV networks. Like was said above, every single sport is seeing huge revenue growths. Bud was just along for the ride at the right time.
   60. alilisd Posted: July 02, 2014 at 04:06 PM (#4742115)
All of which is pretty much true, but hardly surprising,


Agreed, not surprising at all.
   61. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 04:10 PM (#4742117)
I'm always suspicious of assigning very much credit to executives for business growth that likely is attributable mostly to luck, and so it goes with Bud and baseball.

Of the four major U.S. sports, baseball is the only one without a salary cap; baseball is also the one the farthest separated from its last strike/lockout. It seems clear that after the 1994 catastrophe, Bud made a conscious decision--and was able to convince the owners he works for--to stop short of demanding a hard cap, for the sake of keeping labor peace.

Sooner or later, after Bud is gone, the owners will dig in and demand a hard cap. Half a season to a full season will be lost when that happens.
   62. Jeltzandini Posted: July 02, 2014 at 04:13 PM (#4742122)
Like was said above, every single sport is seeing huge revenue growths. Bud was just along for the ride at the right time.


Just like every big city mayor in the 1990s became a crime-reducing genius.
   63. madvillain Posted: July 02, 2014 at 04:18 PM (#4742126)
Just like every big city mayor in the 1990s became a crime-reducing genius.


Ding ding ding. I'm not going to give credit for not running the ship aground during a rising tide.
   64. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 04:44 PM (#4742147)
Ding ding ding. I'm not going to give credit for not running the ship aground during a rising tide.

MLB has grown faster though, over Selig's tenure

MLB revenue in Selig's tenure has gone from ~$1.2B in 1992 to ~$8.3B in 2013, +690%, NFL revenue has gone from ~$1.7B to ~$9B over the same period, +530%. The NBA has gone from ~$1.6B to ~$4.1B, +255%

As well as the NFL has done, MLB has done better. MLB has gone from having less revenue than the NBA to double the revenue.

That's pretty fantastic.
   65. cmd600 Posted: July 02, 2014 at 04:56 PM (#4742158)
As well as the NFL has done, MLB has done better.


If the revenue growth has to do with the amount of live sports, 2430 games compared to 256 should make a huge difference.
   66. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 04:57 PM (#4742159)
If the revenue growth has to do with the amount of live sports, 2430 games compared to 256 should make a huge difference.

Well, that difference was there in 1992 also.
   67. cmd600 Posted: July 02, 2014 at 05:22 PM (#4742189)
Well, that difference was there in 1992 also.


But not realized, as TV contracts were not the primary form of revenue. The combination of the desire for live sports and almost 10 times the amount of games should lead to MLB growing much faster than the NFL.
   68. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 05:24 PM (#4742190)
You think baseball's growth is amazing, look at the UFC over that same period!
   69. Eddo Posted: July 02, 2014 at 05:35 PM (#4742199)
But not realized, as TV contracts were not the primary form of revenue. The combination of the desire for live sports and almost 10 times the amount of games should lead to MLB growing much faster than the NFL.

Anyway, is $1.2B to $8.3B really "growing much faster" than $1.7B to $9.0B? I get that one is +690% and the other is +530%, but considering the absolute gain favors the NFL ($7.3B to $7.1B), I'd probably just say they've grown roughly the same, and leave it at that.
   70. Bhaakon Posted: July 02, 2014 at 05:36 PM (#4742200)
But not realized, as TV contracts were not the primary form of revenue. The combination of the desire for live sports and almost 10 times the amount of games should lead to MLB growing much faster than the NFL.


I don't think so. Yes, baseball games are more numerous, but most of them are happening simultaneously. There's relatively little value added once the number of games exceeds the amount of exclusive broadcast time available, and playing four or five games simultaneously just dilutes the audience. Networks want one big exclusive game to draw in a large rating, they don't want 4 different competing games each drawing a tiny share.

If anything, the increasing portion of revenue from TV vs. actual attendance should have worked against baseball, since they have such a dominating advantage in number of seats able to be filled.
   71. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 02, 2014 at 05:38 PM (#4742201)
Of the four major U.S. sports, baseball is the only one without a salary cap; baseball is also the one the farthest separated from its last strike/lockout.


The NFL had a lockout in 2011 - that lasted from March to July. Nobody cares about off-season lockouts.

The NFL hasn't lost a regular season game since 1987, and has never lost a Super Bowl. In terms of its on-field record, that's a much better record than MLB.
   72. cardsfanboy Posted: July 02, 2014 at 05:42 PM (#4742204)
The NFL hasn't lost a regular season game since 1987, and has never lost a Super Bowl. In terms of its on-field record, that's a much better record than MLB.


Yet every few years we have the threat of a lockout or strike, which is one of the point someone made upthread, that MLB hasn't even sniffed a hint of a lockout or strike since 1994. Add in that the NFL did have scab replacement refs as recently as 2012 and it's easy to see that MLB has done a better overall job. Add in that the NFL salary structure and benefits are horrendously anti-player and I wouldn't look at the NFL as a symbol of anything positive.

   73. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 02, 2014 at 05:42 PM (#4742205)
I don't think so. Yes, baseball games are more numerous, but most of them are happening simultaneously. There's relatively little value added once the number of games exceeds the amount of exclusive broadcast time available, and playing four or five games simultaneously just dilutes the audience. Networks want one big exclusive game to draw in a large rating, they don't want 4 different competing games each drawing a tiny share.


I think you're looking at this backwards. Since 1992, TV viewing has gone from a big-network landscape to a cable/satellite universe with niche stations that want 24-hour programming. The broadcast time available is nearly infinite. That's an ideal landscape for baseball, which has games almost every day going on virtually around the clock. There was much less room for the NFL to expands its broadcast revenue over that time frame.

The most surprising thing is that the NBA had more revenue in 1992 than MLB.
   74. Eddo Posted: July 02, 2014 at 05:51 PM (#4742218)
Yet every few years [the NFL has] the threat of a lockout or strike, which is one of the point someone made upthread, that MLB hasn't even sniffed a hint of a lockout or strike since 1994. Add in that the NFL did have scab replacement refs as recently as 2012 and it's easy to see that MLB has done a better overall job. Add in that the NFL salary structure and benefits are horrendously anti-player and I wouldn't look at the NFL as a symbol of anything positive.

That's not true; the only real threat for the NFL since 1994 happened prior to the 2011 season, when there was an actual lockout.

The point about replacement refs is valid, though.
   75. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 06:09 PM (#4742242)
You think baseball's growth is amazing, look at the UFC over that same period!


UFC found itself perfectly positioned to step into the sizable bloodsport gap left open by the collapse of boxing as a popular sport, fueled by (a) a profound dearth of heavyweight talent and (b) corruption and the existence of 26 championship belts per division. Not necessarily in that order.
   76. Bhaakon Posted: July 02, 2014 at 06:23 PM (#4742256)
I think you're looking at this backwards. Since 1992, TV viewing has gone from a big-network landscape to a cable/satellite universe with niche stations that want 24-hour programming. The broadcast time available is nearly infinite. That's an ideal landscape for baseball, which has games almost every day going on virtually around the clock. There was much less room for the NFL to expands its broadcast revenue over that time frame.


TV is still ratings-dependent, and MLB doesn't draw high ratings because the product is diluted by multiple simultaneous games. Additionally, baseball fans have no drive to watch out of market games when their home team plays virtually every day. I love baseball, but I barely have the three hours of free time every day it takes to keep up with the local squad. There's no way I'm watching some random out of market match on top of that.

Football fans, OTOH, are so starved for action the 6 days of the week when their team isn't playing that they're willing to watch whatever random matchup is on national TV that night.
   77. cardsfanboy Posted: July 02, 2014 at 06:26 PM (#4742258)
You think baseball's growth is amazing, look at the UFC over that same period!


It seems every few years there is a new league that is making tremendous inroads/growth. Early 70's it was soccer, mid 70's indoor soccer, other times it's been x-games, Nascar, Golf, Tennis, soccer a couple more times, wrestling*(a couple of times also), outside of the NBA and to a lesser extent wrestling and Nascar, most of these peter out when their organization gets bigger than the actual fanbases it's capable of supporting. I don't think UFC is going to buck that trend.
   78. cardsfanboy Posted: July 02, 2014 at 06:29 PM (#4742260)
Football fans, OTOH, are so starved for action the 6 days of the week when their team isn't playing that they're willing to watch whatever random matchup is on national TV that night.


One thing that surprised the crap out of me...NFL gets better local radio ratings than MLB.... to me that was a surprise, I don't think I've ever heard of anyone actually listening to an NFL radio broadcast. It's not really a sport that lends itself to radio in my opinion, it's one of the ultimate spectator sports because it's 10 seconds of action and 40 seconds of dead time filled with instant replays. Just don't see how that works as a sport to listen to, but apparently it does.
   79. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 02, 2014 at 06:35 PM (#4742267)
Unless taking office in a crisis any new commish will struggle because he or she has nothing tangible to offer

the owners are rich so unless you can offer more riches or have helped them in some personal way the owners are not ceding control of anything

Selig expended a huge amount of effort positioning himself to nudge things in his direction

I really doubt the next occupant will do the same. Most folks mentioned as possibles will walk in thinking they can immediately do whatever. Doesn't work that way in mlb.

Silver in the nba got a gift in the sterling mess. The owners were delighted to let him be the face of this nonsense and he now has acquired authority that otherwise would have taken years to acquire

   80. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 06:38 PM (#4742272)
There's no need to talk about possibles; the next Commissioner will be Rob Manfred.
   81. cmd600 Posted: July 02, 2014 at 06:59 PM (#4742292)
since they have such a dominating advantage in number of seats able to be filled


In addition to other responses to this, I believe that the number is made up for in cost of tickets. Once you multiply the average cost of the NFL ticket by the number of seats sold, you get close to the same total revenue as MLB tickets sold multiplied by average price. No idea for NBA, but between MLB and NFL, ticket revenue should grow around the same rate.
   82. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 02, 2014 at 07:01 PM (#4742295)
Yet every few years we have the threat of a lockout or strike, which is one of the point someone made upthread, that MLB hasn't even sniffed a hint of a lockout or strike since 1994.


Who cares? MLB spend every January and February talking about a lockout for all I care. Until they miss regular season games, it's a big pile of nothing.
   83. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 02, 2014 at 07:16 PM (#4742302)
MLB hasn't even sniffed a hint of a lockout or strike since 1994


Except, of course, for the period when Bud was threatening to contract teams, at which time the players indicated that they'd strike if a serious attempt in that direction were made.

The owners have pledged not to lock out the players this season or post new work conditions. The union has not reciprocated and last month floated the idea of setting a strike date.

The two sides have five collective bargaining sessions scheduled for this month with the next one this coming Tuesday in New York. -''Contraction likely by 2003'', Barry M. Bloom, MLB.com, 06/05/02
   84. alilisd Posted: July 02, 2014 at 09:40 PM (#4742362)
77: The UFC fan base is worldwide. In the first six months of this year they've had as many viewers in China as they had all of last year, for example. They are currently experiencing an influx of Eastern European fighters, which will grow the fan base there. It will be a while before its growth slows down.
   85. Ziggy Posted: July 02, 2014 at 10:44 PM (#4742392)
I don't know what you guys' (+ BBC) experience was, but I was so angry about 1994 that I completely stopped paying attention to baseball. Cold turkey. For about six years (or so, until whenever it was that I started reading Primer). When I came back to baseball, I was vaugely aware that the Yankees had recently been pretty good, and I had never heard of Alex Rodriguez.

Maybe this isn't entirely rational, but it's going to be very difficult for me to see Selig in a positive light.
   86. Bhaakon Posted: July 03, 2014 at 02:25 AM (#4742464)
In addition to other responses to this, I believe that the number is made up for in cost of tickets. Once you multiply the average cost of the NFL ticket by the number of seats sold, you get close to the same total revenue as MLB tickets sold multiplied by average price. No idea for NBA, but between MLB and NFL, ticket revenue should grow around the same rate.


It's true that the average NFL ticket is close to 10 times the price of the average MLB ticket, but remember that the tickets themselves only account for part of the revenue each butt in a seat provides the team. Football and baseball concessions have a similar price point, but MLB teams have ten times as many opportunities to sell fans $10 beers, $8 hot dogs, and $50 fitted caps.
   87. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: July 03, 2014 at 09:35 AM (#4742516)
It seems every few years there is a new league that is making tremendous inroads/growth. Early 70's it was soccer, mid 70's indoor soccer, other times it's been x-games, Nascar, Golf, Tennis, soccer a couple more times, wrestling*(a couple of times also), outside of the NBA and to a lesser extent wrestling and Nascar, most of these peter out when their organization gets bigger than the actual fanbases it's capable of supporting. I don't think UFC is going to buck that trend.


I was sorta making a joke, the UFC started in 1993, so the 1994-present timeline unfairly favors its growth during that period.

MMA as a sport is enormously appealing and captivating to audiences, and as noted in 75 well-positioned to assume the cultural gap left by the decline of professional boxing in sporting circles (boxing, of course, was at one time the premier sport in America). However the UFC is a brand, as unfortunately as goes the UFC so goes MMA as the other major promotions in the sport have fallen to the side. This means the UFC's limitations become those of the sport at-large, something that boxing was able to avoid simply by having multiple promoters competing for prizefights and fan interest. The UFC famously ducked any fights with the #1 heavyweight in the world, Fedor Emelianenko, simply because the undefeated Emelianenko refused to sign the UFC's standard contract which includes complete forfeiture of his image in perpetuity, automatic renewals of his contract so long as he kept winning fights, and an inverse clause that allowed the UFC to terminate their association with Emelianenko at any time regardless of how many fights were left on his original contract.

Several years ago the UFC was enormously popular with many established, reasonably well-known (to the general public) stars such as Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Brock Lesnar, and George St. Pierre. The UFC has made a conscientious decision to market the UFC brand, and most horribly the UFC's obnoxious figurehead commissioner Dana White, moreso than the individual fighters and the results have greatly hindered the expansion of the sport as a whole. There's no reason MMA can't completely fill the gap left in the sporting world by boxing's general marginalization but they've been mismanaged and suffer from a lack of competition and any need to innovate.
   88. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 03, 2014 at 10:00 AM (#4742530)
For the record, I strongly believe that if boxing could be organized around four steps that are simple and concept and near-impossible in execution, to wit:

(1) Implementing only ONE title per division,
(2) Producing, like college sports have, a regularly updated list of the top ten contenders fans can easily follow, probably determined by polling media,
(3) Codifying the pay split as 65-35 (or 60-40 or 70-30; the exact numbers aren't important) in favor of the winner,
(4) Requiring the champion to defend his title against the #1-ranked contender once a year,

It would almost immediately return to major-sport status.
   89. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: July 03, 2014 at 10:36 AM (#4742553)
(1) Implementing only ONE title per division,


I think this would be nice, but not entirely necessary. Boxing fans typically know who the "real" champion is in any popular division - "it isn't the title that gives a fighter credibility, it's the fighter that gives the title credibility." As one example Larry Holmes was clearly acknowledged as the legitimate heavyweight champion of the world while the WBA title bounced around from John Tate to Mike Weaver to Michael Dokes, et al. None of those guys had the cachet that Holmes did, which is reflected in how much money they drew.

Producing, like college sports have, a regularly updated list of the top ten contenders fans can easily follow, probably determined by polling media,


RING Magazine produced the "accepted" top-10 list for years. You may not realize that the generally-acknowledged "real" rankings have been the province of magazines for almost all of boxing's history, starting with Richard Fox and the Police Gazette. How far back was this? Well the last bare-knuckle heavyweight title fight was between the Gazette's "champion" Jake Killrain and the more widely-accepted champion John L Sullivan! The results of that fight essentially determined the first lineal heavyweight champion from which all subsequent champions arose.

Codifying the pay split as 65-35 (or 60-40 or 70-30; the exact numbers aren't important) in favor of the winner,


Not needed and completely ahistorical. Larry Holmes may have been angry that Gerry Cooney negotiated the same $10 million guarantee for their fight in 1982 but fighting Cooney was the only way Larry was going to get a $10 million guarantee, regardless.

Requiring the champion to defend his title against the #1-ranked contender once a year,


I believe all the sanctioning bodies already have mandatory challenger defenses. Codifying it as you suggest would be dangerous because the #1 contender would have no reason to take any fights once he receives his #1 ranking. The #2 contender would likewise we disincentivised from taking any fights until the #1 contender gets his title shot, as he would become the de facto #1 contender and in line for his own title shot in the aftermath, and so on.

Boxing needs to get their best, most interesting fighters off PPV exclusively, and back into the living rooms of casual fans. That's the #1 thing. Of course since boxing is a brutal sport that leaves so many of its practitioners hopelessly compromised afterwards, it's slow death isn't really a bad thing.
   90. Random Transaction Generator Posted: July 03, 2014 at 11:21 AM (#4742597)
The combination of the desire for live sports and almost 10 times the amount of games should lead to MLB growing much faster than the NFL.


I don't think so. Yes, baseball games are more numerous, but most of them are happening simultaneously.


The NFL runs mostly simultaneous games as well.
The 1pm/4pm slots on Sunday have numerous games on at the same time.
The Sunday night, Monday night, and (now) Thursday night games are the only ones that are broadcasted on their own.
That's only 3 out of 16 (or 13 when there are bye weeks) games in a week.
   91. alilisd Posted: July 03, 2014 at 11:32 AM (#4742606)
Several years ago the UFC was enormously popular with many established, reasonably well-known (to the general public) stars such as Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Brock Lesnar, and George St. Pierre.


And GSP only recently semi-retired. Anderson Silva was as big star than any of those you mention and only just lost his title. Cain Velasquez is much more popular with MMA fans, imo, than Lesnar, who never understood the difference between pro wrestling and MMA. Jon Jones is the biggest MMA star in history with endorsement contracts with Nike and Gatorade.

The UFC has made a conscientious decision to market the UFC brand, and most horribly the UFC's obnoxious figurehead commissioner Dana White, moreso than the individual fighters and the results have greatly hindered the expansion of the sport as a whole.


Any evidence of this? The hinderance of the expansion of the sport, I mean. When the sport, though quite young, has seen there tends to be a high turnover at the top (admittedly those champions who are able to string together an extended run at the top become hugely popular, or at least widely known, but they are few and far between) why wouldn't you market the brand?
   92. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 03, 2014 at 11:50 AM (#4742625)
The NFL runs mostly simultaneous games as well.
The 1pm/4pm slots on Sunday have numerous games on at the same time.
The Sunday night, Monday night, and (now) Thursday night games are the only ones that are broadcasted on their own.
That's only 3 out of 16 (or 13 when there are bye weeks) games in a week.


In any given week you can watch 5 of 16 NFL games in their entirety (1PM, 4PM, Sunday night, Monday night, Thursday night), or 31%. On most days you can only watch 3 of 15 baseball games in their entirety (1 PM start, 7 PM start, and a 10 PM west coast game), 20%. Occasionally you get a 4PM game in there, but 4 of 15, 27%, is pretty much the max.
   93. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: July 03, 2014 at 12:10 PM (#4742642)
MLB hasn't even sniffed a hint of a lockout or strike since 1994.


My recollection of the 2002 season is quite different than yours.

(Of course, 2002 is getting to be quite awhile ago, too, so your general point is a good one.)
   94. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: July 03, 2014 at 12:39 PM (#4742668)
Cain Velasquez is much more popular with MMA fans, imo, than Lesnar, who never understood the difference between pro wrestling and MMA.


In terms of who brings the eyeballs and wallets to the UFC there's absolutely no comparison between the two. Just for a quick-and-dirty comparison, let's look at the buyrates for UFC PPVs where either Lesnar or Velasquez were in the main event Data listed here:

UFC 91 Lesnar v. Couture 1,010,000
UFC 100 Lesnar v. Mir 1,600,000
UFC 116 Lesnar vs. Carwin 1,060,000
UFC 141 Lesnar vs. Overeem 535,000

UFC 110 Nogueria v. Velasquez 240,000
UFC 155 JDS vs. Velasquez II 590,000
UFC 160 Velasquez vs Bigfoot II 380,000
UFC 166 Velasquez vs JDS III 330,000

>>UFC 121 Lesnar vs. Velasquez 900,000<<

There's no comparison. Brock Lesnar routinely doubles or triples Velasquez-lead card buyrates. Cain's best-ever buyrate *by far* was against Lesnar; Leanar's *worst* PPV buyrate is pretty much the same as Cain's best non-Lesnar buyrate.

Worth noting even then that Lesnar didn't even need the heavyweight title to draw a million buys to his cards. There's simply no honest comparison between the two in terms of popularity and marketability.

Jon Jones is the biggest MMA star in history with endorsement contracts with Nike and Gatorade.


Buyrates of Jones-headed cards:

UFC 128 Shogun vs. Jones 490,000
UFC 135 Jones vs. Rampage 520,000
UFC 140 Jones vs. Machida 480,000
UFC 145 Jones vs. Evans 700,000
UFC 152 Jones vs. Belfort 450,000
UFC 159 Jones vs Sonnen 530,000
UFC 165 Jones vs Gustafsson 310,000
UFC 172 Jones vs Teixeira 350,000

Again, the numbers tell something quite different. Jones' biggest buyrates came against established stars - Shogun Rua, the PRIDE open-weight champion, Rampage Jackson, a huge PRIDE star, Rashad Evans, a TUF season winner, and Chael Sonnen, basically a pro-wrestler who uses his mouth to get fights he doesn't deserve. When Jones himself is expected to carry the card, as against relative unknowns like Alex Gustafsson and Glover Teixeira, nobody cares.

Replacing GSP (who has drawn *under* 500,000 viewers only once in 12 headlined PPVs, with a high of 900,000+), Brock Lesnar, and Anderson Silva with John Jones, Cain Velasquez, and anyone else (Rhonda Rousey?) costs the UFC upwards of 500,000 buys every PPV.

Any evidence of this? The hinderance of the expansion of the sport, I mean. When the sport, though quite young, has seen there tends to be a high turnover at the top (admittedly those champions who are able to string together an extended run at the top become hugely popular, or at least widely known, but they are few and far between) why wouldn't you market the brand?


Fans like compelling fighters, and compelling fighters make compelling fights. The buyrate numbers confirm this - the UFC brand may sell UFC t-shirts and UFC supplements but it sells fights to a far lesser degree, and the dwindling buryates reflect that. The novelty of the sport is gone and fans are interested in fighters, not corporate branding.

Plus Dana White is such an overt ######### that the promotion's decision to promote him as the face of the entire promotion doesn't bring in a single new fan. Nobody is going to pay $55 to hear Dana White run his obnoxious mouth. He's not Vince McMahon, there's zero chance of his involvement building to a blowoff with White getting into the ring.
   95. Lassus Posted: July 03, 2014 at 01:19 PM (#4742722)
I think this would be nice, but not entirely necessary. Boxing fans typically know who the "real" champion is in any popular division - "it isn't the title that gives a fighter credibility, it's the fighter that gives the title credibility."

Yeah, but not for casual fans you are attempting to turn into real fans. Those folks need certainty, not "REAL fans know who the REAL champion is." That ain't gonna fly for regrowth. (Although your closing sentence of that post certainly stands.)
   96. alilisd Posted: July 03, 2014 at 02:31 PM (#4742769)
In terms of who brings the eyeballs and wallets to the UFC there's absolutely no comparison between the two.


Yes, I was confusing MMA fans with the general public. Of course Lesnar would be a bigger draw.

Replacing GSP (who has drawn *under* 500,000 viewers only once in 12 headlined PPVs, with a high of 900,000+), Brock Lesnar, and Anderson Silva with John Jones, Cain Velasquez, and anyone else (Rhonda Rousey?) costs the UFC upwards of 500,000 buys every PPV.


Good thing they have about 1 per month now instead of one every two or three months, and that contract with Fox, and the new UFC Fight Card.

Plus Dana White is such an overt #########


I think you're dislike of White is clouding your vision, though you make good points about lower buy rates for PPV events. Overall I'd imagine viewers are way up, and there's simply no denying the sport, or brand if you prefer, is growing worldwide.
   97. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 03, 2014 at 03:02 PM (#4742791)
I would think being an over-the-top ######### would be a feature, not a bug, when marketing MMA.
   98. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: July 03, 2014 at 06:17 PM (#4742886)
I think this would be nice, but not entirely necessary. Boxing fans typically know who the "real" champion is in any popular division - "it isn't the title that gives a fighter credibility, it's the fighter that gives the title credibility."

Yeah, but not for casual fans you are attempting to turn into real fans. Those folks need certainty, not "REAL fans know who the REAL champion is." That ain't gonna fly for regrowth.


I don't know that regrowth is possible at this juncture but I'm merely looking at the issue from a historical perspective. I think you're overstating the issue though - here's a question for you: each of these men currently claims a welterweight championship. Who's the real champion:

1) Keith Thurman
2) Shawn Porter
3) Floyd Mayweather Jr.

I don't even follow boxing anymore but I can guess the answer here, as could most casual fans.

There are really two confounding issues when it comes to general recognition of titles. One, as you mentioned, is the existence of multiple sanctioning bodies, each offering their own version of a division title (occasionally unified but also difficult to keep unified as the varying groups will not always agree on the mandatory challengers). The second, which I consider to be even worse, is the proliferation of actual title-granting weight classes in boxing.

Going back to the turn of the last century boxing recognized three main weight classes: lightweight (~135lb), middleweight (~160lb), and heavyweight (~175 and up). Other classes were added at various sensible intervals: bantamweight (~115lb), featherweight (~125lb), welterweight (145lb), and lightheavyweight (~175lb). That's a fair bit for a fan to keep track of, but it's based on reasonable differences in size. If fighters didn't quite fit in a given division they could find opponents to fight at catch weight; Harry Greb, arguably the greatest fighter in boxing history, had many if not most of his 300 professional fights at catch weight.

Today? Sanctioning bodies recognize 17 weight classes. Super-welterweights to fit between welters and middleweights, super-middleweights to split the difference between middle and lightheavyweight, cruiserweights between light-heavy and heavy, etc. Catch weight fights don't really exist anymore. When you combine multiple sanctioning bodies with 17 divisions you have chaos that nobody can properly follow.
   99. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: July 03, 2014 at 06:24 PM (#4742890)
Good thing they have about 1 per month now instead of one every two or three months, and that contract with Fox, and the new UFC Fight Card.


I don't know that putting on more shows with fewer people watching each show is a recipe for overall growth. The last 3 UFC PPV events combined drew approximately 1 million buys, and I'd postulate there's a large repeat audience there that doesn't replicate the ~1 million buys earlier shows like Forrest Griffin vs Rashad Evans drew at UFC 92. Yes, they're putting big shows on FOX, but look at the same general trend as we see for PPV repeating itself on free broadcast TV:

UFC on FOX 1: 5.70M viewers (3.1 rating)

UFC on FOX 2: 4.70M viewers (2.6 rating)

UFC on FOX 3: 2.42M viewers (1.5 rating)

UFC on FOX 4: 2.44M viewers (1.4 rating)

UFC on FOX 5: 4.40M viewers (2.5 rating)

UFC on FOX 6: 4.22M viewers (2.4 rating)

UFC on FOX 7: 3.70M viewers (2.2 rating)

UFC on FOX 8: 2.38M viewers (1.5 rating)

UFC on FOX 9: 2.80M viewers (1.8 rating)

UFC on FOX 10: 3.22M viewers (1.9 rating)

UFC on FOX 11: 1.99M viewer (0.8 rating)

It's not a growing sport anymore.
   100. cardsfanboy Posted: July 03, 2014 at 06:40 PM (#4742899)
Since you guys are talking about boxing and UFC...I think that a big point that is hurting boxing nowadays, and is somewhat implied by post 88, is that with the UFC you more or less have a central body that fully represents the sport....boxing it's the promoters that are providing the representation, with the body of boxing being more about sanctioning. Centralized league office and control by a commissioner would go a long way to re-legitimatizing boxing...imho among casual fans. Sports fans nowadays are used to a certain level of league oversight/control.


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