Here are two freebies from subscriber-based services.
At the WSJ, Science Journal's Sharon Begley looks at some number crunching on the Barry Bonds home run machine. The key issue is the delayed onset of declining productivity in Bonds. His sustained improvement in the AB/HR ratio (and the delayed onset of decline in HR-hitting) is the anomaly that is examined. The bottom line: "Take away Mr. Bonds's statistically suspect homers and he's behind Mr. Schmidt. Add some to reflect his many walks and he's right after Ruth." Interesting, but it doesn't get us very far.
At Sports Business News, Howard Bloom examines the new TV contract for MLB. Here's an extended clip with some historical perspective:
When you remember where MLB was with network television agreements between 1990 and 1995, a look back at where baseball was leaves one to wonder how remarkable the next seven years will be for MLB.
1990-93 -- CBS pays $1.1 billion for 1990-93 rights: $275 million/year for the World Series, LCS, All-Star Game and 12 regular-season weekend games. CBS loses more than $400 million on this contract. ESPN pays $400 million for 1990-93 cable rights to six games/week (Sunday, Wednesday and doubleheaders on Tuesdays and Fridays, plus holidays). CBS Radio pays $50 million for 1990-93 radio rights to a Game of the Week plus ASG, LCS and World Series.
1994-95 -- MLB, ABC and NBC form a joint venture called The Baseball Network. The venture, scheduled to run through 1999, is terminated by agreement after two years. Under the agreement, the networks pay no rights fees; instead, MLB receives 87.5% of the first $160 million/year in net revenues, 1/3 of the next $30 million, and 80% of revenues above $190 million/year; the networks get the rest. CBS had offered $130 million/year to renew its previous contract, and WTBS had offered $40-$45 million/year for rights to another round of playoffs. The Saturday Game of the Week is abolished; regular season telecasts are limited to regionalized night games in the final 12 weeks of the regular season, to be split between the networks. Each year one network gets the All-Star Game and LCS; the other gets the first-round playoffs and World Series. The first-round playoffs and first five games of the LCS are regionalized. MLB also signs a six-year, $255 million contract with ESPN for a Sunday night Game of the Week and Wednesday night doubleheader, and a six-year, $50.5 million contract with CBS Radio.
11 years ago CBS wanted to stay as far away from baseball as it could, and The Baseball Network was one of the biggest single business disasters in the history of the sports industries. It makes the three current national agreements (with one more to come) that much more amazing when you consider where the sport was as a national television property after the 1995 season.
It is good to be
Chauncey Gardiner Bud Selig.