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Friday, March 20, 2020

’42 AL All-Stars Do Double Duty

Most seamheads will recall that once upon a time (namely 1959 to 1962) there were two major league All-Star games. The reason – no surprise – was to make more money. But it was for a good cause, the Players Pension Fund, so griping was minimal. The same was true in the war year 1942 when the American League played two All-Star games – on consecutive days – for a good cause.

The regularly scheduled major league All-Star game was played on Monday, July 6 at the Polo Grounds in New York, with proceeds going to the Army-Navy Relief Fund and the Bat and Ball Fund (a charity that provided baseball equipment for servicemen). As with every All-Star game, before and since, it was well chronicled. The second game, for the benefit of the same charities, was played the next night at Cleveland Stadium. Better known as Municipal Stadium in later years, cavernous Cleveland Stadium had already hosted the 1935 All-Star game and would do so again in 1954, 1960, 1963, and 1981.

The presence of Indian All-Stars Ken Keltner, Lou Boudreau, and Jim Bagby on the AL squad doubtless attracted the Cleveland faithful, but the hometown heroes’ appearance was not assured until the conclusion of the Polo Grounds contest, as the winner of that game would move on to Cleveland for the second game. The competition in that game would be provided by a team of former professional players who were serving in the Army and Navy. This second game was not as well chronicled as the “official” All-Star Game but it drew almost twice as many fans.

As it turned out, the Polo Grounds game was something of a quasi-last hurrah for serious All-Star competition, as 14 of the 50 players on the two squads would be in the military when the 1943 game was played in Philadelphia. The game itself was not one of the more memorable contests in All-Star history. The AL scored three runs (a solo homer by Lou Boudreau and a two-run shot by Rudy York) in the top of the first inning and never looked back. Final score: AL 3, NL 1. A pinch-hit homer by Mickey Owen (he hit none during the regular season) accounted for the only NL run.

 

QLE Posted: March 20, 2020 at 01:03 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: all stars, american league, charity, cleveland, service team

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Can Cleveland Afford Francisco Lindor?

I think it’s fair to say that the city of Cleveland has an image problem. I don’t know how far back this issue goes, but they’ve been late-night joke fodder for as long as I can remember. I suppose flyover country plus rust belt plus the depiction of the city and baseball team in the movie Major League adds up to a less-than-stellar perception of the city. That attitude often transfers over to the baseball club, particularly in terms of what the team can and cannot do when it comes to spending. This perception is central to the debate about whether the Cleveland baseball club can afford a massive contract extension for Francisco Lindor. However, perception isn’t always reality.

There are two principal arguments against Cleveland offering a big contract to Lindor. The first is that Cleveland is too small of a market with meager revenues, and signing Lindor would push payroll too high. The second is an offshoot of the first: If Cleveland were to sign Lindor to a huge contract, they would have their ability to compete constrained because Lindor would cost too much to keep payroll in line with typical levels. Both arguments are worth exploring.

Last season, Forbes ranked Cleveland 25th among franchises for valuation purposes at $1.15 billion. Twenty-fifth place feels pretty close to 30th, and it’s true that Cleveland’s valuation by Forbes was just $150 million higher than the last-place Marlins. It’s also true that Cleveland is closer to 18th-ranked Arizona Diamondbacks than they are to Miami. Cleveland’s market certainly isn’t the biggest in baseball, but it has close to the same number of households as Denver and is significantly ahead of places like St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, San Diego, Cincinnati, Kansas City, and Milwaukee. It’s not just market size and valuation where Cleveland is closer to a middle-of-the-pack team than a cellar-dweller.

When it comes to attendance, Cleveland has been in the bottom third for the past three years, but again, they are closer to the middle of the pack than the bottom. For the 2018 season, Forbes estimated Cleveland’s revenues amounted to $282 million, ranking 17th in the sport. The club’s local television contract isn’t one of the richest, coming in at between $40-50 million under a deal set to expire at the end of 2022, but it isn’t among the worst, either. Plus the team received more than $200 million when they sold the television network in 2012 (when the current television contract was created). Over the last decade, Cleveland has received television money in total that resembles something more like a mid-tier-to-nearly-upper-tier market. Cleveland might “feel” like a small-market team, and their success on the field over the past few decades with mostly homegrown stars and a smartly run front office probably contributes to that feeling, but they aren’t the A’s or Rays or Marlins. They have touted their own growth to the middle and have more in common with the Rockies, Diamondbacks, Padres, and Tigers than they do to the handful of teams with significantly lower revenues.

On the one hand, Cleveland didn’t seem that bad to me the time I visited- on the other hand, it was in the off-season for baseball…..

 

QLE Posted: February 26, 2020 at 01:18 AM | 42 comment(s)
  Beats: cleveland, francisco lindor

 

 

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