MLBits: WBC Back-Outs, Expansion Problems, Schedule Oddities, New Kinds of Ticket Packages, More

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MLBits: WBC Back-Outs, Expansion Problems, Schedule Oddities, New Kinds of Ticket Packages, More

Chicago Cubs

Some things to get into from around the baseball world this evening …

World Baseball Classic Roster Changes

Carlos Correa will not be participating in the WBC, and while a new-coming kiddo is mentioned, it reads like it was the Twins making the decision for him:

… what business is it of the Twins whether Correa feels like he can juggle family and WBC needs? Well, ok, I suppose it is literally their business, but that just seems really odd that a team would ask a player not to participate in the WBC because he’s having another kid. The ankle would’ve been a better reason, but obviously nobody is going to say that part out loud.

Insert joke about Team Italy now swooping in at the last minute.

Elsewhere in WBC exclusions, new Pirate Ji-Man Choi isn’t happy with his new club:

If I wanted to represent my country once every four years, and my new team (that I was traded to, not signed with) told me I couldn’t play for my country … I would be quite a bit more than “frustrated.” The report indicates the Pirates cited offseason elbow surgery as the reason, but that surgery was described as minor by the Pirates back when they acquired him, and it’s not like he’s going to sit out Spring Training. So … yeah, I’d be pissed if I were Choi.

Stadium Issues and the Problem with Expecting Expansion Soon

I’ve mentioned many times before that the primary reason I follow the stadium issues in Oakland (not looking good) and Tampa (looking promising) is because Commissioner Rob Manfred has made clear that expansion to 32 teams is not going to happen until after those situations are resolved one way or another (the obvious reason being that you don’t want to commit markets to expansion if they might’ve worked better as relocation threat ammo, and vice versa).

But maybe I’m being too presumptuous on expansion being an obvious future move?

Yes, it’s been speculated about for ten years now, and no one associated with MLB has done anything to quiet that speculation – the massive expansion fees go right to the owners, and theoretical additional markets/revenue streams are just good news for all involved.

Consider, though, the recent Angels’ sale rebuff and the challenge the Nationals are apparently facing in selling their team. Maybe those massive expansion fees aren’t available right now?

And there might be other issues that I hadn’t considered.

Murray Brown writes at Forbes about the myriad issues that would face MLB if they were looking to expand right now. For one thing, the cost isn’t just the $1.5 to $2.5 billion expansion fees (the price to “buy in” to the league, so to speak), it’s also getting a stadium built. That is another $1+ billion (MINIMUM) price tag, and unless you get public money, it quickly becomes a question of whether paying $3+ billion for an expansion franchise is actually worth it. I tend to think the answer is still yes for the ultra-rich, but still, it’s a level I hadn’t really considered.

Moreover, the TV rights problem is going to be a major hurdle right now. Think about how every team fights tooth and nail to protect their “local” broadcast market … or at least they always did when those easy carriage fees were rolling in. What happens in the current era, where RSNs are on the verge of bankruptcy, and the future of TV/streaming dollars are as cloudy as ever, especially if you are an expansion club that can’t carve out a huge market to control alone? And do you think ANY other MLB teams are going to be willing to give up chunks of their home market at a time when those dollars are as diminishing and precious as ever? It’s messy! It’s all very messy! Much messier than I had allowed myself to consider.

So that sucks. Good article from Brown, though.

Speaking of the stadium issues, by the way, the latest on the A’s front is that the Las Vegas casinos are STRONGLY in favor of having the team relocate there to build a new stadium in the area.

Schedule Changes and Weirdness

You know by now that this year’s schedule is extremely different from the one you’ve come to know in recent years (the whole new balanced schedule thing, where every team will face every other team at least once). We are expecting it to be and feel different, mostly for the better.

But Jayson Stark digs down into what the change will mean in terms of team travel, scheduling oddities, and more:

There is much, much more in Stark’s piece. Yup, there’s plenty of oddness, but it’s just the nature of making this kind of significant change (which, again, is for the better: now fans of every team will get to see their club face every other club – and their stars – at least once).

Something I haven’t said explicitly: the schedule is also “balanced” in the scheduling of series. The Cubs, for example, will play exactly two home series against each NL Central team, and exactly two road series. They will play exactly one home series against the remaining NL teams, and exactly one road series. They will play exactly one home series (two games) against their “rival” interleague White Sox, and exactly one road series (two games). And they will play exactly one series against every other AL team, some on the road, some at home. That’s kinda the only part that isn’t “balanced.”

Odds and Ends

  • Outstanding move, and one of the first players included is former Cubs scout and coach (the first Black coach in MLB) Buck O’Neil:
  • The ugly Angelos family lawsuits about team control have apparently been settled:
  • There’s no chance this is not very fun and silly:
  • Clubs are trying to sell more monthly-recurring-fee type structures as they see their season ticket-holder base fall:
  • The best version/idea – not perfectly executed yet that I can tell – would be something like a monthly fee, and it gets you a ticket to (almost?) every home game, but you don’t know where the seat is until game time (which would allow the team to otherwise sell tickets at face for as long as possible). Some games that means you’ll get standing room only, but other games you could wind up with really good seats. Heck, one of the perks could be IN-GAME upgrades on your seat – the system alerts you with a notification that if you want to go ahead and move up to Seat X, that one is yours now. You could get a discount on ballpark food and souvenirs, maybe a special event or two, etc. The team gets predictable recurring revenue, and fans who wouldn’t otherwise buy season tickets get something that might actually be a good value.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.