Friday, July 1, 2016

Follow the money

A few notes about baseball finances, particularly as it pertains to the minor leagues:

This week a pair of congressfolk, one a Republican and one a Democrat, introduced legislation grandly entitled Save America’s Pastime that would preempt a lawsuit in California that argues that minor league players are paid less than minimum wage.

The news release announcing the legislation implies -- falsely -- that minor league teams bear the burden of player salaries. They don't; it's the major league organizations. And the bill was so roundly mocked on Twitter by people who actually understand the economics of baseball that the sponsoring Democrat abandoned the legislation the next day.

After her defection, MLB (which had been hiding behind MiLB) put out a statement defending the paltry pay most minor leaguers receive as proper for "short-term seasonal apprentices." This hardly quells the critics:


Major League Baseball on Thursday sold a chunk of MLB Advanced Media (specifically its web streaming operation) to Disney -- which also owns ESPN -- for $3.5 billion, and Disney also gets an option to buy the majority of Bam Tech. I won't pretend to understand what this means for us fans, other than knowing that it's added evidence that Disney/ESPN is worried about the slippage of its business model (as it should be). But even divvied up among the 30 teams, $3.5 billion is a pretty sizable windfall.

And yet the commissioner's office goes into convulsions at the thought of a Class A player having a livable income.


The Twins switched their Double A affiliation a couple of winters ago from New Britain (Conn.) in the Eastern League to Chattanooga in the Southern League. At about the same time, the New Britain club announced it was moving operations to a as-yet unbuilt park in neighboring Hartford and rebranding as the "Hartford YardGoats."

The stadium project has been a complete mess, and work on the stadium was halted about a month ago as the city and the contractor fought over responsibility for the fiasco. It appears that the YardGoats won't actually play a game in Hartford all season. Meanwhile, the city is spending more than $6,000 a day to post a fire department detail on the unfinished stadium to make sure it doesn't burn down (it lacks a working sprinkler system).

The Twins got out of that on just in time.

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