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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Morosi: Baseball won battle with A-Rod, but is losing bigger war

I bet more money was bet on Cam Newton vs. Colin Kaepernick than Le Batard vs. the BBWAA.

MLB remains wildly successful as an industry, particularly in the areas of advanced media and local television, but the past few days have underscored the need for a cultural shift.

The juxtaposition in sports is striking, between the traditional national pastime and present national infatuation. Football has its vices and ills — concussions, brutality, gambling, and, yes, PEDs — but they hardly overshadowed the excitement for the BCS or NFL playoffs. With baseball, the disillusionment comes baked into the crust.

Think about it. When you talked baseball with your friends over the past year, which were the biggest topics? Jose Fernandez’s remarkable story of defecting from Cuba and winning Rookie of the Year? Red Sox postseason heroes Koji Uehara and David Ortiz? Or A-Rod, the deceitful Ryan Braun and the PED-induced angst over the Hall of Fame ballot?

If you’re a teenager who followed sports news over the past week, which debate sounded more interesting to you — Cam Newton vs. Colin Kaepernick, or Le Batard vs. the BBWAA?

The media deserve some blame for this. Maybe we buy into the notion that baseball, with its unique place in American history and folklore, should be held to a higher standard than football. MLB has a more stringent and publicized drug-testing program than the NFL. But when it’s effective against high-profile users such as Rodriguez and Braun, the focus on the problem only intensifies. MLB could adopt a less aggressive approach, but then we’d all accuse Commissioner Bud Selig of taking us back to the summer of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa that fooled us all.

...If there’s one negative consequence of no salary cap and two decades of labor peace, it’s that superstars have become corporations of one. Some are so self-aggrandizing that they have forgotten owners and fellow players are their business partners. Unlike peers in the NFL, NHL and NBA, they’ve had no recent labor strife as a reality check.

The pot of available money appears limitless. Better numbers mean more money for me, but not necessarily less money for you, so it’s fine if I bend the rules. Most of today’s stars know better, but Rodriguez and Braun have operated out of the same selfish playbook. They don’t care what they do to the sport or its reputation, as long as their lawyers and PR flacks spin a story that wins a few more believers.

Repoz Posted: January 12, 2014 at 08:20 AM | 31 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business, mlb, yankees

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   1. vivaelpujols Posted: January 12, 2014 at 09:42 AM (#4636808)
If you’re a teenager who followed sports news over the past week, which debate sounded more interesting to you — Cam Newton vs. Colin Kaepernick, or Le Batard vs. the BBWAA?


This is really ####### stupid. For one it's the offseason on baseball and the playoffs in football. What the #### do you think people are going to be talking about?

Also I personally find Le Batard more interesting than the other one because I like baseball and don't like football. People are going to have those preferences no matter the amount of marketing or no matter the controversy. Football's simply a more exciting sport to watch and has momentum among young people. They have cheerleaders for ##### sake while baseball has dudes dressed up as sausages. There's nothing wrong with being the second most popular sport in the country - baseball's still highly profitable.
   2. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: January 12, 2014 at 11:11 AM (#4636825)
When I talk about baseball it's about baseball. Any "problems" baseball has are being driven by the media choosing which stories to run. I feel bad for Morosi if his conversations about baseball automatically steer toward the negative.
   3. john_halfz Posted: January 12, 2014 at 11:26 AM (#4636831)
[1, 2] Your points are made from your perspective as lifelong fans of baseball. Whether Morosi is saying it artfully, or whether it's even what he's trying to say, I think it's a valid point that MLB seems absolutely determined to deal with internal issues as messily and incompetently as possible.

I know that Bud is all consumed with metrics like attendance and TV revenues (both of which have little to do with his stewardship of the game, and the latter of which I think is a totally unsustainable bubble). But I think the sport is doing a very poor job of maintaining and cultivating a fan base in a sustainable way.

If I were new to the sport, why would this clown car be drawing me in?
   4. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 12, 2014 at 11:33 AM (#4636834)
It's not all sunshine and rainbows for the NFL, either; concussion awareness is going to threaten the NFL's position atop the sports hill, if not its existence, as we look a few decades down the road.
   5. TerpNats Posted: January 12, 2014 at 11:36 AM (#4636837)
Eventually the overemphasis on quarterbacks will take its toll on pro football. It's become a rather boring, ridiculously one-dimensional game, as bad as the "chicks dig the long ball" era of baseball. If the NFL wants to bring me back as a fan, find a way to restore the balance between running and passing.

It's not all sunshine and rainbows for the NFL, either; concussion awareness is going to threaten the NFL's position atop the sports hill, if not its existence, as we look a few decades down the road.
Linemen will be replaced with robots, since no one really cares about those players anyway.
   6. Howie Menckel Posted: January 12, 2014 at 11:55 AM (#4636850)

"If the NFL wants to bring me back as a fan, find a way to restore the balance between running and passing."

Tom Brady has thrown fewer passes in his last 3 games than in any 3-game stretch of his entire pro career. Welcome back, TerpNats!
   7. McCoy Posted: January 12, 2014 at 12:00 PM (#4636854)
It always amuses me to find that one person or so that found "chicks dig the long ball" to be boring and that baseball needs to change to become popular again or in this case bring them back. One one hand you have 20 million fans and on the other hand they have two fans. They don't care if you don't like a passing dominant game or a home run dominant game because the numbers quite obviously show that lots and lots of people do like it.
   8. Sean Forman Posted: January 12, 2014 at 01:07 PM (#4636882)
I know that Bud is all consumed with metrics like attendance and TV revenues (both of which have little to do with his stewardship of the game, and the latter of which I think is a totally unsustainable bubble). But I think the sport is doing a very poor job of maintaining and cultivating a fan base in a sustainable way.


Are you saying that the NFL isn't chasing every last dollar? It's societal I think. Football just appeals to the current fan more. It just does.
   9. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: January 12, 2014 at 01:11 PM (#4636887)
It's not all sunshine and rainbows for the NFL, either; concussion awareness is going to threaten the NFL's position atop the sports hill, if not its existence, as we look a few decades down the road.


I'm not sure about this. No one watching football thinks that it's a safe sport. By this point, everyone knows that football players die younger and that concussions are bad and it doesn't seem to have made any dent in viewership. I don't think quantifying the effects of concussions is really going to change anything. I suppose that it might get people to stop *playing* football at lower levels, resulting in decreased talent, but as in any sport* I'm not really sure the average fan would notice or care about decreased talent (there might be the occasional case of a two-sport athlete prominently giving up football, but that's not going to move the consciousness).

* - This is at the top level -- obviously the skill difference is very different between the NBA and WNBA and it matters, but if the skill level of the top league declined over time, I'm not sure anyone would notice or care.
   10. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: January 12, 2014 at 01:19 PM (#4636893)
Football just appeals to the current fan more. It just does.


Culture with a highly embedded, unquestioned military fetish gloms onto a militarized game of war over a idyllic game of peace. Shocking?
   11. vortex of dissipation Posted: January 12, 2014 at 01:50 PM (#4636907)
If you’re a teenager who followed sports news over the past week, which debate sounded more interesting to you — Cam Newton vs. Colin Kaepernick, or Le Batard vs. the BBWAA?


Football has its own scandals. As someone who doesn't follow football, I have no idea which team Cam Newton plays for, or even that he's now in the NFL. The only thing I know about him is that he was accused in a huge scandal about taking money to play while still in college...
   12. BDC Posted: January 12, 2014 at 02:07 PM (#4636918)
No one watching football thinks that it's a safe sport

I grew up with both football and baseball, and aside from maybe horse racing, they're my two favorite sports. But my interest in baseball is absolute and unquestionable; it never varies. Football I've gone around in cycles of greater or less interest, and I'm sure I'll continue to. It's been high the past few years, but seeing the (endlessly replayed) hit by the Steelers' Garvin on the Bengals' punter Huber a few weeks ago shook me: and I don't think I've ever been naïve about violence, intentional or incidental, in the NFL. My taste may have peaked for now. (I'll still watch the Super Bowl, of course.)

But I reckon there are at least as many fans who feel inversely about football and baseball, and as Athletic Supporter says, the continuing culture of the sport is not going to drive them away from football: while steroid nonsense and 4-hour games might drive them away from baseball for a while.
   13. Sonic Youk Posted: January 12, 2014 at 03:25 PM (#4637023)
If football has proven anything over the last decade, it's that scandals have zero effect on ratings on attendance.
   14. McCoy Posted: January 12, 2014 at 03:35 PM (#4637040)
No one has ever thought football was a safe sport. It has been in the news over safety concerns for over a hundred years now.
   15. Morty Causa Posted: January 12, 2014 at 03:45 PM (#4637051)
Yes, mention anything about concussions, or that colleges have become breeding farms for the NFl, while themselves making a lot of money off unpaid labor, or any number of tangential social issues, and you get a pause, then they simply continue with what they were enthusing about as if nothing had said. The football fan cares nothing about all that.

As for baseball, if your standard is second is good, too, if you are not trying to expand your market, your market will shrink--maybe, only comparatively, but it will, especially in the mind of collective appreciation. Baseball for decades worked on the principle of constricting the marketability of what they are selling, and as a result it lost its dominance. It's no longer number one, and there's a reason for that--and it's not just, oh, well, what can you do, it just happens, there's nothing to be done.
   16. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 12, 2014 at 03:48 PM (#4637055)
No one watching football thinks that it's a safe sport.

And no one thinks it's clean, either. Go figure.
   17. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: January 12, 2014 at 04:20 PM (#4637084)
It is 100% media driven. Football is populated by gigantic humans running at track like speed, but the media sweeps it under the rug. The reigning NFL MVP is suspended for 25% of the season for PEDs, and there is a newspaper article on page 7 about it, then forgotten. A baseball player hits 5 more HR than his previous career high and the media writes hundreds of articles questioning it.

   18. Morty Causa Posted: January 12, 2014 at 04:36 PM (#4637111)
Football fans don't want to hear about Spartacus's finer feelings. Slit his throat!
   19. Walt Davis Posted: January 12, 2014 at 06:51 PM (#4637233)
Football has its vices and ills — concussions, brutality, gambling, and, yes, PEDs

It goes awry here. Gambling is not viewed as a "vice" or "ill" when it comes to football. Some might even claim its link to gambling is an essential part of its appeal. The other things are at least recognized as negative and swept under the rug. The link to gambling is paraded around for all to see and (many) people enjoy it (more) because of that link, not despite it.

If football has proven anything over the last decade, it's that scandals have zero effect on ratings on attendance.

Baseball's proven this just as well, at least when it comes to attendance and TV contracts and publicly-financed stadiums. Maybe baseball is #2 but nobody in their right mind is complaining about the financial state of baseball at the moment.

It's the most amazing trick of Bud Selig's bewildering career -- that somehow 2+ decades of mostly anti-marketing doesn't seem to have hurt the market at all.


   20. Morty Causa Posted: January 12, 2014 at 09:30 PM (#4637440)
Forget it, Jake, it's Enron town.
   21. Brian Posted: January 12, 2014 at 09:48 PM (#4637459)
The reigning NFL MVP is suspended for 25% of the season for PEDs


I don't follow football anywhere near as close as baseball, who are you talking about?
   22. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 12, 2014 at 10:13 PM (#4637486)
He's talking about Von Miller, the Defensive Player of the Year last year. If last year's MVP, Adrian Peterson, has been busted for PEDs it's news to me.
   23. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: January 12, 2014 at 11:06 PM (#4637508)
He's talking about Von Miller, the Defensive Player of the Year last year.

Speaking of Miller, where were the news articles about how Miller's contract should be voided, how he should be suspended for the playoffs, how his award should be vacated, etc? All I saw was how great it was for Denver to be able to get him back because it was going to be so great for their defense.
   24. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 12, 2014 at 11:11 PM (#4637512)
Miller's still on his rookie contract, so voiding it would be doing him a gargantuan favor.
   25. puck Posted: January 12, 2014 at 11:31 PM (#4637519)
Miller wasn't suspended for PEDs.

I thought maybe BLB was talking about Shawn Merriman, who tested positive for PEDs but was named to the Pro Bowl team. (That prompted a rule change for the Pro Bowl.)
   26. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: January 13, 2014 at 02:46 AM (#4637561)
Think about it. When you talked baseball with your friends over the past year, which were the biggest topics? Jose Fernandez’s remarkable story of defecting from Cuba and winning Rookie of the Year? Red Sox postseason heroes Koji Uehara and David Ortiz? Or A-Rod, the deceitful Ryan Braun and the PED-induced angst over the Hall of Fame ballot?

David Ortiz and the Red Sox if not the A's whom I root for or the hometown Cardinals. I've not had a conversation with a live person about any baseball scandal in the past year or several years or maybe ever that I can remember.
   27. bachslunch Posted: January 13, 2014 at 07:53 AM (#4637576)
Gambling is not viewed as a "vice" or "ill" when it comes to football. Some might even claim its link to gambling is an essential part of its appeal. The other things are at least recognized as negative and swept under the rug. The link to gambling is paraded around for all to see and (many) people enjoy it (more) because of that link, not despite it.

Agreed. In fact, when you look at the Pro Football Hall, one sees two differences between it and the baseball counterpart:

-PFHoF voters are expressly forbidden to consider anything other than what happens on the field -- there really is no "character clause." Arguably, it makes things easier. Despite this, there are thoughts that a few worthy possible Senior candidates, Jim Tyrer and Billy Howton, are getting no consideration in part because of post-career black marks.

-that HoF has several members who have ties to gambling/point shaving type issues. Giants owner Tim Mara was a legal bookmaker. Steelers owner Art Rooney was a heavy gambler and no stranger to bookies, including Mara. Paul Hornung was suspended a year for betting on his own team. And there are questions about both Bobby Layne and Len Dawson re bookmakers, point shaving, gambling, etc.
   28. Brian Posted: January 13, 2014 at 08:34 AM (#4637586)
Think about it. When you talked baseball with your friends over the past year, which were the biggest topics? Jose Fernandez’s remarkable story of defecting from Cuba and winning Rookie of the Year? Red Sox postseason heroes Koji Uehara and David Ortiz? Or A-Rod, the deceitful Ryan Braun and the PED-induced angst over the Hall of Fame ballot?


Actually, the talk in the bar where I watched the Bronco's game was AROD and why David Ortiz gets a pass, like 2003 never happened. The people there were nowhere as informed as the BTF crowd but they think it's BS.
   29. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 13, 2014 at 09:27 AM (#4637598)
Actually, the talk in the bar where I watched the Bronco's game was AROD and why David Ortiz gets a pass, like 2003 never happened.


George Mitchell said he was clean. Manny too.
   30. Rusty Priske Posted: January 13, 2014 at 01:51 PM (#4637818)
I have no idea who Cam Newton and Colin Caepernick are.

From this thread, I assume they have something to do with football.
   31. smileyy Posted: January 13, 2014 at 02:21 PM (#4637853)
The Seattle Seahawks will be playing in the NFC Championship game. Over the past 3 years, 7 players have been suspended for PEDs. I'm pretty sure two of those suspensions have been this year. The only hand-wringing I've seen about this is lament(*) that these players won't be able to play and help the Seahawks win.

(*) Or celebration/schadenfreude from opposing fans

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