October 19, 2005

A Day Late... and $100 Million Short

I guess Barry Svrluga is filling the time between Albert Pujols's mammoth home runs by checking in with the Nats. The Post comes in a day late with the story of scouting director Dana Brown's 1-year contract extension. The article is mostly a rehash of what Nationals Farm Authority has already covered in considerable detail, but one line stuck out:

"Major League Baseball, which owns the Nationals, has narrowed the field of potential new owners to three..."

This is the first time I've seen it suggested that the other 5 ownership groups are officially out of the running, leaving the Malek-Zients group, the Lerners, and the Dread Pirate Smulyan to duke it out for the top spot.

Speaking of Jeff, he's telling the Times that his experience in broadcasting will help him negotiate a fairer deal for the Nats with MASN and the O's. As much as I'd like to see this jackass and Angelos go at each other hammer & tongs, I'd rather he didn't do it as the owner of my team. Maybe the Malek-Zients group could hire him as a special media consultant.

Farther down in the article Andrew Zimbalist, an econ professor and "expert on the business of baseball" bloviates:

"Ownership is very close to irrelevant. Frankly, I don't think it matters a great deal. Someone who puts up $450 million on an asset will do their best to make it a successful proposition."

That's fine and dandy but it ignores the fact that sports franchises can be financially successful while still being mediocre or worse on the field. I'd rather have an owner who viewed the team as a status symbol and was willing to break even to field a winning club. Somehow I don't think Emmis Communications shareholders would be down with that philosophy.


Basil said...

That's kind of an uncharitable view of Zimbalist's "bloviating," insofar as he was quoted on one proposition (whether a carpetbagger like Smulyan threatened the team's stability) and only one proposition:

Observers of ownership trends said a local owner was more important during times when relocation of teams was rampant. Now, Major League Baseball is more stable and is less likely to approve a move unless a team is truly struggling, like in the case of the Montreal Expos.

Nate said...

I suppose, but Zimbalist has become the sort of Quote-o-matic talking head who trots out every time anyone mentions baseball and money.

My concern is less that Smulyan will try to relocate the team (though he's guilty until proven innocent) and more that he'll try to run it on the cheap, in which case we may as stay wards of MLB.

Basil said...

True, but at least Zimbalist has earned that status. Plus, the reporter asks him a question (I'm assuming more than just this one, but that's the only one that made it, for good or ill). He answers. His answer is, essentially, what the other bloggers are saying: an out-of-towner like Smulyan has little reason to move the team. I'm not sure why that's considered speaking at length in a pompous or boastful manner, but I could just be feeling nitpicky today.

Watson said...

I hate to get off topic here, but what exactly does it mean when people go at it "Hammer and Tongs?" I've heard of tooth and nail but not "Hammer and Tongs"

Watson said...

Also, to back up the argument that you don't want a financially successful franchise with a poor on the field product I point to the Los Angeles Clippers.

hysdavid said...

I hate to get off topic here, but what exactly does it mean when people go at it "Hammer and Tongs?" I've heard of tooth and nail but not "Hammer and Tongs"

It derives from the blacksmith’s forge, where to go at something hammer and tongs is to work hard at shaping the metal.

from here: http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-ham1.htm