The Cincinnati Reds had a very quiet offseason, which was not a secret to anyone paying even a lick of attention. That season ticket sales remained nearly flat, then, shouldn’t be much of a surprise, even as the Reds were a playoff team last year. Part of the blame for the lack of sales, according to owner Bob Castellini? Bad media coverage. From a ranging and interesting piece by John Fay, here are some of Castellini’s quotes:
“That season-ticket number is the most important number we can generate …. So when you guys start writing right during the caravan about money, the fact that we didn’t add any guys … well, we had all these guys hurt. We knew we wanted to sign Homer. We knew we were going to make some other commitments. It’s not that we didn’t look. It gets written in such a way – ‘Well, the Reds aren’t doing anything’ – that really does affect people buying season tickets.
“Personally, I get a little ticked off. That’s life. But it’s the franchise. [Chief operating officer] Phil [Castellini] and his guys are out there trying to sell 20-game packages. It hurts when [the media is obsessed with money]. It came at the wrong time with the wrong emphasis. That hurts us. If you’re going to write that we didn’t sign anybody, at least write that we had [Johnny] Cueto, [Ryan] Ludwick and all these other guys hurt.”
If I’m a member of the Cincinnati media, or even if I’m a Reds fan, I’m fairly insulted by the implication that it is the media’s job to dance around what was an offseason that saw two important pieces in Shin-Soo Choo and Bronson Arroyo leave, without any replacements brought in. Could the Reds fill those holes internally? Sure. But it would have been bizarre for the media pump up the team back in November/December on the basis that a couple guys might come back from injury and the team might extend a guy who was already under team control for 2014.
The media coverage of the Cubs’ offseason certainly hasn’t been kind, and ticket sales are expected to drop considerably once again this year. I don’t hear Cubs ownership ripping the media for pointing out that the team didn’t do much to try and put a playoff-caliber team on the field for 2014. Sure, I’ll defend the long-term approach, and I understand why 2014 is going to look like it’s going to look. But I’m not going to ignore the fact that it was a quiet offseason for the Cubs.
Other interesting things from around baseball …
- Ian Kinsler is taking some heat for his comments to ESPN the Magazine about the Rangers and GM Jon Daniels. Kinsler, you’ll recall, was swapped out in a deal for Prince Fielder this offseason, and apparently he wasn’t happy about the way it went down. Kinsler called Daniels a “sleazeball,” in part because of what Kinsler perceived to be Daniels pushing Nolan Ryan out, and because Kinsler says Daniels was a glory hound who wanted credit for all of the things Ryan did (in Kinsler’s view). Kinsler also said he hopes the Rangers go 0-162 this year.
- In reaction to the attention his comments are getting, Kinsler said what people always say: his comments were taken out of context. Maybe they were. But ESPN is sticking to its story, and Kinsler didn’t deny the comments.
- (A separate quote from the ESPN piece that got my attention: “I was bogged down,” Kinsler said of the 2013 season. “They wanted me to lead these young players, teach them the way to compete, when the only thing I should be worried about is how I’m performing in the game.” Uh … wha? Not exactly the kind of thing you’d want to hear from a 30-year-old veteran, star-level player.)
- Time Warner is still struggling to get other cable/satellite operators to carry SportsNet LA, the regional sports network it formed with the Dodgers as part of that unbelievably enormous TV rights deal. According to the LA Times, the network is seeking more than $4 per month per subscriber (not per Dodger fan, mind you – per subscriber of any kind), which is absolutely insane. I am obviously hugely in favor of the Cubs eventually getting their big TV deal, but if it comes with a more-than-$4 per month bill to be paid by everyone watching cable or satellite in the Chicago area, regardless of whether they like the Cubs, I’m not so sure how I’d feel about it.
- The Padres’ absurdly bad injury luck continues apace, now with Cameron Maybin set to miss two to three months with a torn left biceps tendon.
- The MLBPA is monitoring the Mets’ payroll, which projects to be about $87 million. Obviously the MLBPA has an interest in seeing large markets spending money, so if they’re keeping an eye on the Mets (executive Tony Clark indicated that the players association, in these situations in general, could sit down with a team to get an idea of what the plan is long-term), they’re probably keeping an eye on the Cubs. The Mets and Cubs’ situations continuing to draw interesting parallels (rebuilding in a major market with a very smart front office, dealing with financial issues), though there was a significant divergence this offseason, with the Mets spending big (relative to the Cubs) to pick up free agents like Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon. We’ll see how well that works out for them.