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Friday, December 09, 2011

Verducci: Winners and losers from a wild week at the Winter Meetings

What are you wearing, Tom from MLB Network?

uhh…khakis.

Winners

Regional sports networks. Twelve months ago Moreno was complaining about Carl Crawford money (seven years, $142 million.) What changed? He lined up a new local TV deal that could pay him almost twice the current annual rate of $50 million—even with the second-worst ratings in baseball. Sports programming is hot. It provides loads of content and, most importantly, content that is DVR-proof. Most sports programming is consumed live, not time-shifted, and that’s increasingly valuable to advertisers who prefer their ads actually be seen and not zapped. There is a reason the Rangers, who were in bankruptcy a year ago, and the Angels, who kept coming up short on free agents, are now superpowers—they lined up state-of-the-art massive TV deals. Once it was new ballparks that created the hierarchy of spending power in baseball. Now RSNs are the new oil wells. Next up at the TV windfall game: the Dodgers.

Sandy Alderson. The Mets GM had the two best lines of the meetings, first, in response to Reyes whining about not being wooed by the Mets, said, “Maybe I should have sent him a box of chocolates,” and then later, noting two of the three biggest contracts in baseball history (Alex Rodriguez and Pujols) were handed out at the same Dallas hotel, said, “There must be a strain of Legionnaire’s disease here.”

Losers

St. Louis fans. They don’t get to watch Pujols chase records and burnish his legacy as a Cardinals icon. But don’t blame the ballclub or even Pujols. Pujols essentially became too good and too expensive for the size of the market—particularly one that hasn’t cashed in yet on the new RSN boom like the Angels and Rangers. St. Louis still has six years left on its local TV deal. They could also start their own RSN, paralleling what the Yankees and Red Sox have done, but St. Louis ranks 24th out of the 30 media markets measured by Neilsen. The Cardinals might not have enough eyeballs for the TV calculus to work.

Hanley Ramirez. He was a problem when he was playing the position he wanted, shortstop. Do the Marlins really believe he will go peacefully to third base? Don’t rule out the possibility of a trade.

Repoz Posted: December 09, 2011 at 07:07 PM | 45 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: announcers, business, media, television

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Bob Evans Posted: December 09, 2011 at 07:41 PM (#4011633)
The trading of a young closer, Sergio Santos, under six years of control surprised many baseball people.

Did it really? The Sox are lousy, why do they need Santos?
   2. GregD Posted: December 09, 2011 at 07:43 PM (#4011636)
Sandy Alderson. The Mets GM had the two best lines of the meetings, first, in response to Reyes whining about not being wooed by the Mets, said, “Maybe I should have sent him a box of chocolates,” and then later, noting two of the three biggest contracts in baseball history (Alex Rodriguez and Pujols) were handed out at the same Dallas hotel, said, “There must be a strain of Legionnaire’s disease here.”

Some teams win the games, some the Winter Meetings, some the comedy open-mic.
   3. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: December 09, 2011 at 07:45 PM (#4011639)
Did it really? The Sox are lousy, why do they need Santos?


Agreed, but they're still in the AL Central, where you don't exactly need to set the world on fire to compete.

It would be fun to be a Tigers fan right now. You can't assume anything, but on paper, they seem well suited to repeat as ALC champs without too much fuss.
   4. Dr. Vaux Posted: December 09, 2011 at 07:47 PM (#4011642)
Something will go wrong.
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 09, 2011 at 07:49 PM (#4011644)
Did it really? The Sox are lousy, why do they need Santos?

They also have Thornton.

If they're smart, they'll let him close to build up his value for a deadline deal.
   6. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: December 09, 2011 at 07:52 PM (#4011647)
Sports programming is hot. It provides loads of content and, most importantly, content that is DVR-proof.

Guess again. People with lives don't have time to sit through six pitching changes and twelve conferences at the mound. Zap, zap, zap.

Football is nearly perfect of course as the 'skip fwd' button is nearly the perfect amount of time for skipping the between play milling around unless they go no huddle.
   7. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 09, 2011 at 07:54 PM (#4011651)
Sports programming is hot. It provides loads of content and, most importantly, content that is DVR-proof.

Guess again. People with lives don't have time to sit through six pitching changes and twelve conferences at the mound. Zap, zap, zap.
The point is that lots of people want to watch sports live. If you don't mind watching sports on tape, then you can use your DVR. Enough people want to actually watch it live, and see value in watching sports as the games happen, that advertisers see more value in the model.
   8. Bob Evans Posted: December 09, 2011 at 07:59 PM (#4011654)
In aught-eleven, Guillen didn't have an anointed closer coming out of spring training. Santos sifted out as The Chosen One during the season. Calling him a capital-C closer is rather presumptuous.

If they're smart, they'll let him close to build up his value for a deadline deal.

In other thoughts, wonder how Ventura proposes to handle this closer-less situation.
   9. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: December 09, 2011 at 08:05 PM (#4011663)
The point is that lots of people want to watch sports live.

They will come around. Games are so padded out with advertising, meetings at the mound, and replays it's inevitable. Just start an hour into it. You'll finish live and you will get an hour of your life back you would have spent staring at inane beer and auto insurance commercials.
   10. McCoy Posted: December 09, 2011 at 08:13 PM (#4011672)
You'll finish live and you will get an hour of your life back you would have spent staring at inane beer and auto insurance commercials.

And TV viewers would do what with that extra time? Watch "How I Met Your Mother" or "The Big Bang Theory"?
   11. AROM Posted: December 09, 2011 at 08:22 PM (#4011688)
I occasionally watch the games on DVR. But it's hard as I have to make efforts to not know what happened already. Otherwise I have much less interest.
   12. ?Donde esta Dagoberto Campaneris? Posted: December 09, 2011 at 08:28 PM (#4011697)
Just start an hour into it. You'll finish live and you will get an hour of your life back you would have spent staring at inane beer and auto insurance commercials.

I have trouble seeing how that works in Manhattan Beach. I know that in Hermosa Beach- and Newport, and a lot of places besides- when there is a Laker playoff game on, unless you wear ear muffs, there is no way to avoid what's going on in that game. A huge percentage of TVs are watching it live and you'll have trouble avoiding that unless you are watching it in a sound-proof environment. Some of the LA/OC burbs avoid that problem, but it's still an issue. I would imagine in really dense environments (like NYC) there is no way that you can delay watching a big Yankee game unless you work very hard to avoid the outside world until you're done.

The DVR definitely can work for sports, but there are limits to its value. It can be very hard for a sports fan to drive home and avoid the score of a game if he wants to watch it two hours after it starts. And, of course, a lot of people like to watch games in groups or in bars where it has to be live. Sports are really the only programming where a delay can wipe out one's enjoyment of the program- even if it doesn't necessarily do so. In a DVR-world, that means sports are going to have a lot more value than they used to. It's not that you can't avoid commercials in sports broadcasts, it's that there are some good reasons not to. For episodic programming, there's virtually no reason to watch it live.
   13. McCoy Posted: December 09, 2011 at 08:35 PM (#4011708)
I've tried to DVR two football games since I've gotten a TV and both times I've discovered that people feel compelled to tell you about the game even when you explicitly tell them you don't want to hear it. Both times I had to be at work so I would miss the game so I told everybody I didn't want to hear about the game and both times I was able to not watch or hear anything about the game until I was about to go home. At that point some douche would come up to me and think it was funny to crack a joke about the outcome of the game. I even had one arsehole continually restart the joke as I tried to talk loudly over the top of what he was saying so I wouldn't hear what he was saying and so he would get the point that I didn't want to hear it. The guy started and stopped the same joke something like 6 times and at the end of it I just went off on him for 5 minutes about what a arsehole he was. Both of them would respond with that they were just joking at that wasn't the outcome. To which I would reply oh so they lost then? I just don't understand why some people think 3 seconds worth of self-chuckling is all that great. This Sunday I'll be making a third attempt at DVRing the game.
   14. The Yankee Clapper Posted: December 09, 2011 at 08:37 PM (#4011709)
Sandy Alderson . . . in response to Reyes whining about not being wooed by the Mets, said, “Maybe I should have sent him a box of chocolates,”

I don't think that line will make Mets fans more likely to spend money propping up an increasingly illegitimate Wilpon regime.
   15. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: December 09, 2011 at 08:40 PM (#4011713)
The DVR definitely can work for sports, but there are limits to its value.

Certainly true. It won't work for the SuperBowl. But for grinding through 162 games, it's a huge time saver. Put may daughter to bed at 9:30, go downstairs and zip through nine innings in 1-1.5 hours. I don't know how those of you sitting through these 3-4 hour games every night do it.
   16.   Posted: December 09, 2011 at 08:45 PM (#4011720)
I don't know how those of you sitting through these 3-4 hour games every night do it.


I usually just have it playing on the other monitor while I play video games or something.
   17. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: December 09, 2011 at 08:46 PM (#4011722)
I don't think that line will make Mets fans more likely to spend money propping up an increasingly illegitimate Wilpon regime.


It's the Wilpon/Selig regime now.
   18. 'Spos Posted: December 09, 2011 at 08:54 PM (#4011729)
I don't know how those of you sitting through these 3-4 hour games every night do it.


I use the downtime to mark papers or prepare lesson plans.
   19. My guest will be Jermaine Allensworth Posted: December 09, 2011 at 09:09 PM (#4011752)
In other thoughts, wonder how Ventura proposes to handle this closer-less situation.

I'm assuming he'll name one. Might be Crain, given what happened to Thornton last April. I'm pretty much expecting him to be by-the-book for a while.
   20. Random Transaction Generator Posted: December 09, 2011 at 09:13 PM (#4011760)
Just start an hour into it. You'll finish live and you will get an hour of your life back you would have spent staring at inane beer and auto insurance commercials.

I know a friend of mine had the Olympic gold-medal hockey game ending (overtime winner) ruined because he was still 5 minutes behind the game on his PVR. All of a sudden, in the middle of a 15-second ad break, all of the people in his area started honking horns, yelling and cheering out in the street, and yelling "CANADA! CANADA!"

He was happy, but he felt a bit ripped off he didn't get to experience with everyone else at the same time.
   21. gator92 Posted: December 09, 2011 at 09:24 PM (#4011780)
Not to mention how annoying it can be if the game runs long and you lose the last inning or the last two minutes because your recording stopped on time. And if you don't add to the three hours they allot for a Red Sox - Yankees game, you might lose the last 3-4 innings...
   22. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 09, 2011 at 09:32 PM (#4011791)
I DVR games now because I'm frequently interrupted by putting kids to naps or bed or whatever, but I'm usually an hour or so behind and I usually catch up by the second half/6th inning or so.

I can't imagine people will ever watch games on DVR en masse though. That's why advertisers love sports so much these days, its the one programming vehicle that can ensure that people will watch the ads (not to mention all the ad exposure DURING the games, which is more taboo during sitcoms, but less so for reality shows)
   23. Dr. Vaux Posted: December 09, 2011 at 09:55 PM (#4011807)
Surely they'll eventually start having a strip of ads along the side of the screen or something. I'm surprised they haven't started doing that already.
   24. DA Baracus Posted: December 09, 2011 at 10:01 PM (#4011812)
Surely they'll eventually start having a strip of ads along the side of the screen or something. I'm surprised they haven't started doing that already.


Oh we're getting there. Last night I was watching the Flyers/Penguins game and the Philly CSN popped up an ad during play. Took up about 10-15% of the screen. Incredibly annoying.
   25. The District Attorney Posted: December 09, 2011 at 10:02 PM (#4011815)
I was surprised to see a young closer (and this is Kenny Williams here, not some closer-hatin' stat nerd) who throws 95, strikes out everybody and had an opposing line of 181/282/314 traded straight up for a guy with five games in AA ball. I'm not saying it's a bad move. It totally depends on how Molina turns out. But it is unusual.

Verducci's comments on the Cards' finances sound like someone who doesn't really follow baseball, which is weird. Regardless of the size of the actual city of St. Louis, "Cardinals country" is a huge swath of the nation, due to the history of baseball's expansion, radio broadcasting in that era, etc.

Furthermore, even without a RSN to take full advantage of that huge swath, I really don't think the problem was that the Cardinals were literally unable to pay as much for Pujols as the Angels were. They just did not believe it would be worth doing so, I think.
   26. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 09, 2011 at 10:03 PM (#4011816)
I can't imagine DVRing a game. Over 162 games I don't really care if I miss some of the game and then for important games I'm either talking or texting with friends throughout so DVRing wouldn't work because inevitably I'd wind up like RTG's friend in #20.
   27. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 09, 2011 at 10:06 PM (#4011819)
I use the downtime to mark papers or prepare lesson plans.

In other words, no one watches ads even when they watch live.

So much for that theory.
   28. Tricky Dick Posted: December 09, 2011 at 10:12 PM (#4011824)
The spending habits of the Dodgers were particularly interesting because of the expected sale of the team. Los Angeles this winter has signed Matt Kemp, Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, Mark Ellis and Jerry Hairston to creatively structured multi-year deals. They will be paid just $20.75 million combined next season but $42 million in 2013, when owner Frank McCourt hands the bill over to someone else.


Hadn't thought about that. McCourt may have an incentive to backload the contracts. I wonder though if it reduces the value of the club, such that he get a lower sale price?
   29. BWV 1129 Posted: December 09, 2011 at 10:13 PM (#4011825)
I am a huge advocate of DVRing sports events, and something like 95% or more of the sporting events I watch are on the DVR. It allows me to watch every game I want to, at the pace I want to, when I want to. It is easy to avoid spoilers.

It started as a choice -- I'd miss a vast majority of games if I didn't record them. But now I tend to even watch via DVR the small subset of games that I could watch live. It is very liberating.
   30. McCoy Posted: December 09, 2011 at 10:17 PM (#4011829)
Hadn't thought about that. McCourt may have an incentive to backload the contracts. I wonder though if it reduces the value of the club, such that he get a lower sale price?

Didn't seem to hurt the Cubs' sale price.
   31. Swedish Chef Posted: December 09, 2011 at 10:23 PM (#4011835)
Hadn't thought about that. McCourt may have an incentive to backload the contracts. I wonder though if it reduces the value of the club, such that he get a lower sale price?

I don't think McCourt has anything to do with it, he's going away sooner than that.

McCourt must sell the team in spring next year.
   32. Jim Wisinski Posted: December 09, 2011 at 10:40 PM (#4011852)
It's probably because McCourt's meddling with and plundering of the franchise has left the team in poor financial shape even if a well-capitalized owner buys the team (since I assume a new owner isn't going to want to spend all that money on the team and then immediately have to do a cash infusion to keep the bills paid). So payroll has to be lower next season but after a year of non-McCourt ownership things should be stabilized and they can act like one of the largest market teams around again.
   33. The District Attorney Posted: December 09, 2011 at 10:42 PM (#4011855)
Matt Kemp, Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, Mark Ellis and Jerry Hairston... will be paid just $20.75 million combined next season but $42 million in 2013, when owner Frank McCourt hands the bill over to someone else.
Hard for me to envision that package being worth $42 million in 2013.
   34. just plain joe Posted: December 09, 2011 at 10:42 PM (#4011856)
In other words, no one watches ads even when they watch live.


I certainly don't, I change the channel and watch something else, even if it is just one of the music channels or something. I spent years working in market research and had to watch commercials as part of my job; I'll be damned if I watch them on my time. At the very least I put the TV on mute. For live sports I try to DVR at least an hour ahead if I can, much more enjoyable that way.
   35. Bob Evans Posted: December 09, 2011 at 10:43 PM (#4011858)
I'm assuming he'll name one. Might be Crain, given what happened to Thornton last April. I'm pretty much expecting him to be by-the-book for a while.

Agreed on by-the-book. That'll have to be his saving grace, I would think, till he gets his feet under him.
   36. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: December 09, 2011 at 11:00 PM (#4011880)
Agreed, but they're still in the AL Central, where you don't exactly need to set the world on fire to compete.


The AL Central gets a bad rap. They are no worse, and probably better than the West. The east, because of the Yankees, Rays, and red Sox, are on an entirely different planet. Here are the win totals the Central and West winners would have needed for the last 6 years or so (second place winners totals +1)

2011 C - 81 W - 87
2010 C - 89 W - 82
2009 C - 87 W - 88
2008 C - 89 W - 80
2007 C - 89 W - 89
2006 C - 96 W - 90
2005 C - 94 W - 89

The Central was harder to win in 2 of those years (and one was by one game), the same in 1, and easier in 5
   37. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 09, 2011 at 11:08 PM (#4011888)

Surely they'll eventually start having a strip of ads along the side of the screen or something. I'm surprised they haven't started doing that already.


Some HD channels that are showing non-HD content do this to fill the black margins on the sides.
   38. Karl from NY Posted: December 09, 2011 at 11:35 PM (#4011933)
Seems like a great place to ask this. Anybody know of a good DVR for me? Needs the following:

1. Works with over-the-air antenna reception, so not built into a cable/satellite box or dependent on such service

2. One time purchase, not any subscription model (so not TiVo)

3. Allows record-while-playing (so not a plain old VCR), for the approach mentioned here to start an hour late and catch up by the end of a game

4. Internal storage, not removable media (not consumable blank DVDs)
   39. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: December 09, 2011 at 11:54 PM (#4011960)
I was in Monaco and had someone tape the three games of the ALCS and NLCS that were played before my return to the U.S. I made it all the way through the trip, and all the way back home, without hearing a peep about the games. While filing out of the airport, one of the other people on the trip decided to make some idle conversation, and you can deduce the rest.
   40. Benji Posted: December 10, 2011 at 12:39 AM (#4012013)
Alderson, baseball's greatest humorist. I just thought it was stupidity that explained McGwire for Blake Stein and KRod for the midget Cy Young. But it is his great sense of humor! When they are 22-40 and the 10,000 fans are chanting "Sandy Sucks" he can laugh along with us.
   41. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: December 10, 2011 at 01:08 AM (#4012031)
I was in Monaco...


Gonfalon Bubble. International man of mystery.
   42. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: December 10, 2011 at 01:15 AM (#4012035)
While filing out of the airport, one of the other people on the trip decided to make some idle conversation, and you can deduce the rest

Assault charges pending?
   43. Banta Posted: December 10, 2011 at 03:28 AM (#4012133)
I've been pretty supportive of Alderson, but that quote about Reyes sucks. You know what you could have done, Sandy? Made him a real ####### offer. Now, I know that's probably wasn't up to him, but a quote like that tries to sell the "oh well, we tried" when we ALL ####### know that isn't the case. Just shut your mouth and try and let the fanbase move on.
   44. Chris Fluit Posted: December 10, 2011 at 04:22 AM (#4012193)
You might want to read the full Sandy Alderson quote:


“If you’re asking whether I should have sent him a box of chocolates, perhaps I should have done that. On the other hand, the box of chocolates wouldn’t have cost $106 million either.”


In other words, "whether the Mets were nice enough to Jose Reyes is irrelevant; he was going to take the bigger contract and wooing him with niceties wouldn't have changed that."
   45. Something Other Posted: December 10, 2011 at 05:33 AM (#4012260)
Sandy Alderson. The Mets GM had the two best lines of the meetings, first, in response to Reyes whining about not being wooed by the Mets, said, “Maybe I should have sent him a box of chocolates,” and then later, noting two of the three biggest contracts in baseball history (Alex Rodriguez and Pujols) were handed out at the same Dallas hotel, said, “There must be a strain of Legionnaire’s disease here.

Some teams win the games, some the Winter Meetings, some the comedy open-mic.
And some go from respected baseball exec to Jeff Wilpon's #####.

Anyone wanting to feel at least a little better about Reyes might want to take a look at the photo in the right hand column. What's up with the cartoon Marlins cap?

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