[tl;dr] MLB Needs to Protect Alex Rodriguez by Suspending Dempster

This is an unpopular opinion, but frankly, it’s something that needs to be said: right now, Major League Baseball needs to protect Alex Rodruiguez. In light of his first at bat versus Ryan Dempster Sunday evening, MLB needs to suspend Dempster. Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension won’t be decided anytime soon, and while normally I would advocate MLB stand behind whatever on-field decisions their game officials make, Brian O’Nora was wrong to not immediately eject Dempster after the first at bat.

I don’t know if O’Nora was caught up in the moment and theatre of Fenway Park, but he or crew chief Fielden Culbreth should have been active in protecting a player that was clearly thrown at.

O’Nora, a Youngstown, Ohio native, is widely considered one of the games’ best umpires, and most important he makes few mistakes. Sunday night, the second biggest mistake he made was warning the Yankees bench.

For what? Last I checked the Yankees were playing clean baseball, and didn’t intentionally hit any Red Sox players.

Make no mistake, I’m no Rodriguez apologist, but as long as he and MLB are going through the litigation process, MLB needs to give the appearance that they aren’t out to get Rodriguez. If their umpires aren’t willing to protect players as they’re supposed to do, then MLB needs to suspend and/or fine those umpires and suspend the offending players.

211-Games is too long: Alex Rodriguez Suspension is Unjust

The fact that Dempster made no attempt to even put the ball in the first at bat over the plate further aggravates the implication that he intentionally threw at Rodriguez. In looking at that at bat in vacuum, and based on the lack of reaction by Rodriguez, it’s clear Dempster needs to sit at least one start, if not two.

You might think that’s a little too extreme, but the message needs to be sent to all other players who think that by attempting to injure Rodriguez they’re doing a service to the sport and to the fans. They aren’t.

What the players don’t understand is that while we all know Rodriguez violated the rules around PED use he still has the right to play while he’s going through the appeals process. In fact, the players are the ones who insisted on allowing the players the play.

They have to realize they cannot have it both ways, and the only way to get that message across to the other players in the league is to suspend Ryan Dempster for at least one start.

Despites its contentious relationship with Alex Rodruiguez, Major League Baseball needs to protect him from any other player who may wish to “send a message” by attempting to hurt him.

tl; dr is a tech nerd term for too long; didn’t read. the purpose of these posts is to provide a quick summary and analysis of something interesting in the sports world.

Perez, Raburn Highlight the Yin and Yang of the Indians in 2013

I’ll keep this quick, as I have more pressing matters to attending to in life (read: beer and women), but after the series with Detroit, one thing is very obvious about this Indians team: it’s a good team that just isn’t ready to compete with the big boys, and you know what, that’s OK. To be frank, I didn’t watch more than a few innings of the Tigers series, because I didn’t think the Indians were as good as Detroit. The Tribe is just 3-13 in the season series against the Motor City Kitties, and yeah that record is terrible, but didn’t we know they were going to be better than us?

When Chris Perez blew the save on Monday it brought back memories of the Grady Sizemore dropped ball in Kansas City that killed our playoff momentum several years ago. What year was that?

Obviously, there’s a lot going on with Perez, but for the most part his on-field performance has been solid. His Monday let down couldn’t have come at a worse time, and honestly, it’s probably what cost the team the series. While many in the media and fan base think Perez owes them an explanation for what happened Monday, I think it’s pretty self-explanatory: he sucked.

People have bad days at work, but his just happened to come at an important juncture in the season while potentially millions of people were watching. Maybe watching the Bachelorette wouldn’t have been such a bad idea.

As long as Perez addressed the situation with his teammates, and I don’t know if he did, then I’m OK with it. I don’t need words from people to explain their actions, because I always go by what I see people do. In my eyes, all is forgiven with Perez, even though I’d like to see him leave the team. Feel free to call me crazy, you know I don’t care.

Last night, I saw this from Ryan Isley. It’s probably a true statement.

https://twitter.com/Isley23/status/365622650321649665

That’s about the point in which I turned off the Indians game and turned on 24 (yes, with Jack Bauer. I have to be caught up before he returns this fall). During that time, I was looking at my phone and I saw the following Tweet:

https://twitter.com/MLBastian/status/365649949351882752

I won’t lie, I was confused, upset, and happy all at the same time. I know the Indians played 14 innings the night before, but there wasn’t ONE pitcher available to get them through the ninth inning?

Fine. There wasn’t.

Once I figured out what was happening and accepted it (seven stages of grief style), I was proud that Raburn was willing, probably after he was ordered, to pitch. He pitched a perfect ninth inning, and while it doesn’t mean much in the long term, it shows that there are people on the team dedicated to a winning attitude even if that game is essentially already over.

To end this rambling, keep this in mind. There are roughly seven weeks of baseball left in the season, and the Indians are seven games out. Anything is possible, and the remaining Tribe schedule is very manageable. The team can certainly win 90 games and blow away any expectations most had at the beginning of the season. If they don’t make the playoffs, are you really going to be upset? I mean, the team is head and shoulders above where it was at this point last year.

Sit back, enjoy the ride, and wait for that Raburn dude to pitch again. I think that kid has a future in the majors.

Alex Rodriguez Suspension is Unjust

For the record, I’m not defending what Alex Rodriguez or any of the other players ever suspended for drug use in baseball or any other sport, but let’s be honest; isn't the Rodriguez suspension just a little unjust? Normally I would say fair, but I know this is neither a criminal justice system, nor life itself, as neither of those things are fair. So, let’s consider this; in a black and white vacuum, a player who is found to be a first time violator of the Joint Drug Agreement (JDA) is to be suspended 50 games, the second violation 100, and the third being life suspension from baseball. Explain to me where a 211-game suspension fits in?

Under the JDA, this is Rodriguez’s first violation. So, like the other players suspended, he should have been suspended 50 games. Even if you use his previously admitted transgressions as an aggravating factor, you could only justify 100 games. That’s still less than the 211 game punishment he’s been handed, right?

Combine both and it comes to 150 games, that’s still less than 211 last I checked.

Imagine a world in which you are convicted of a crime, and the judge decides that instead of using whatever sentencing table is in effect, he instead sentences you to twice the equivalent plus an extra 50 years, because that judge is leaving the bench. What do you imagine any court of appeals would do?

Overturn the sentence.

Alex and I share the same look of astonishment in his totally unfair suspension.

That’s exactly what should happen in this situation. This is essentially a judge - Bud Selig - deciding that the punishment schedule doesn't fit the crime, and more importantly his agenda.

If Selig wanted to have total control over how many games players can be suspended he should have left that out of the JDA.

What’s the point of having a process if one side can throw it out, and in the process of litigation cause members of both sides of the table spend exorbitant amounts of money when the player would likely have settled for a fair punishment?

In what world would two parties agree to a punishment schedule, that one party can simply set that schedule aside, use a random number, and both sides would be OK with this? If you really dislike Bud Selig, you should like him even less after the Rodriguez punishment.

It’s obvious Selig, et al. aren’t happy that Rodriguez wouldn't settle on some type of plea agreement and move on with life, so they suspended him the remainder of the 2013 season (minus the series vs. the White Sox??) and the entire 2014 season.

For what?

It’s simple, and it’s exactly what Matt eluded to in his column Bye, Bye A-Rod, and the exact reason why I disagreed with him when he suggested it: Bud Selig is trying to make a name for himself as he exits the Commissioner’s Office, and is simply using Alex Rodriguez as his swan song.

Officially, I think at the end of the arbitration process, Rodriguez serves a 100-game suspension. I’m willing to say Rodriguez and the union were willing to go with this, we’ll say as 50 for the violation, and an additional 50 some type of “conduct unbecoming” crap they’d come up with. While MLB is certainly giving the impression it’s attempting to cut out steroids, few actually believe this and suspending Rodriguez for more three times the prescribed sentence does little to actually clean up the sport.

A Very Cleveland Sports June

I’ll be totally honest with you: I haven’t written in weeks because I’ve been busy, and nothing in the sports world caught my attention. I was off Twitter & Facebook for the month of June and I was having too many beers and hot dogs to care about sports. Don’t be offended. I’m back. Since nothing still has caught my eye I’ll give a recap on what I thought of June's Cleveland Sports shenanigans through the eyes of twitterless observer. Obviously the two biggest non-sports stories in June were Paula Deen and the Supreme Court’s Ruling on the Voting Rights Act, but since y’all don’t care about my politics, I’ll move on to sports. There have only been a handful of things to talk about, so let’s dive in.

Aaron Hernandez

What a douchenozzle. Look, I’ve been pretty angry with some people in life, which is why James (@j_cynic) calls me #AngryDamien, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never wanted to kill anyone. If I were going to kill someone, I’d contact OJ and Ray Lewis and get advice from them on killing someone and getting away with it. I’d guess their first piece of advice would be to, I dunno, have someone else do it? Yeah, you could get just as much time in prison for conspiracy, but at least you aren’t a murderer.

And dude, you’re on camera with a gun you own, then you claim you have no idea where it is, but they found a clip for the gun? I don’t predict this ends well for you, and you know what, you deserve everything you have coming to you.

The best thing that happened to you was passing on UConn for Florida, even though most players under Meyer at Florida were thugs, and the worst was signing for the Patriots. Tim Tebow thanks you for opening the door for him. Either way, you give credence to my post earlier this year that athletes shouldn’t be role models for children.

Kraft and Belichick were smart to cut you the day you were arrested. Yeah, they could have saved millions by waiting until camp started, but the bottom line is they don’t want your kind of garbage associated with their team, and even if fans don’t like Kraft and Belichick, they did what many college coaches wont do: distance themselves from idiots who are ungrateful for what they have and commit crimes.

Nothing like throwing away millions of dollars in income and a fiancé because some semi-pro football player pissed in your Cornflakes.

p.s. – good luck on those other two murders you thought wouldn’t come up either.

Cleveland Indians

The Indians are playing quite well. They played terribly for a stretch in June, but teams go through slumps all season. There’s a lot to like about this team. I personally don’t think they’ll make the playoffs this year, but for your sake I hope they do. Let me go on record by saying that securing one of two wild-card slots and being bounced in a one-game playoff doesn’t count as making the playoffs, although Indians front office personnel and many amateur writers will say it does.

It doesn’t. Nice try.

Also, last week the dudes over at Waiting for Next Year wrote up a whole big thing about the Indians ticket pricing structure and how this was and wasn’t fair. I dunno, I had to read it 10 times to figure out. Here’s the bottom line: if the weekend games are too expensive for you, then go during the week.

Your kids are out of school, so take the plunge and go on a Tuesday night. If the only time you can afford to go is on $1 dog night, how about you eat before you go to the game and go on a different night? If everyone who bitched about the price of tickets went to to ONE game during the season, attendance would likely increase by an average of 3-4,000 each night. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s better than having a team in first place and only having 12,000 show up.

For the record, I’ve probably been to 10 games this year. I like baseball, so I go…even if it requires me to suffer through Brohio (worst promotion ever) and $1 dogs (second worse promotion ever) with Hayden.

Cleveland Cavaliers

I don’t watch the NBA. The product is generally terrible, and I’m not a fan of the draft system they use. It’s unneeded drama in so many ways. All that said, I have no idea who Anthony Bennett is, but I can tell you he isn’t worthy of a #1 overall pick. How do I know he isn’t worthy? Because I’ve never heard of him. You can continue to give Gilbert and Grant a pass (like Aaron did Tuesday), but the work those two have done with the team has been shittastic since they took over.

Oh, and stop blaming the departure of LeBron James.

If the Cavaliers don’t make the playoffs this season, then Dan Gilbert is the new Larry Dolan. Argue with me. I’ll wait.

Cleveland Browns

Can we call Chudzinski, Chudzinski? Jesus Christ. How old is this dude, and people are calling him Chud? H

How many people at the Plain Dealer, WTAM, WKNR, WKRK, etc are blowing the people in Berea to where they can’t act like reporters? If someone on MSNBC referred to President Obama with some stupid nickname y’all would be hanging them by his testicles. His name is Rob Chudzinski.

Use it.

I don’t know what’s going on with Jimmy Haslam, but when your company makes about $40 billion a year and you have $4 billion in debt, you don’t have a cash flow problem. Companies have debt, you have debt, and I have debt. If I make $120,000 per year and have $10,000 in debt, you certainly wouldn’t tell me the sky is falling, so why are you doing the same for Haslam?

Things aren’t well for him, and he’ll probably end up selling the team. I hope he doesn’t because I think he’s a decent dude, and not because he’s from Tennessee (#RockyTop), but because he’s better than the alternative. What’s the alternative? No one knows, and we all know the devil you don’t know is worse than the devil you do know.

If Haslam has to sell, will it go back to Lerner? Anyone know, because I don’t.

As far as Haslam’s background check, he had already been vetted by the NFL when he owned part of the Steelers, and I’m guessing this FBI thing started well after that. No offense to anyone in the NFL, but the FBI generally doesn’t care about you, so they probably aren’t willing to share the details of an active investigation. His potential crimes with his family’s business are a much bigger deal than the Cleveland Browns.

Did I miss anything? Of course I did, so I’ll try and pump out more words for you later this week on the other stuff I missed. Let me know what you think of what I wrote here.

Email me at Damien@morethanafan.net and follow me on Twitter @DamienBowman

Pipe Dream: Season and Lifetime Bans now Appropriate for PED users

We’ll just go ahead and file this column in the “pipe dream” folder. What I’m about to suggest doesn’t apply to just baseball, but to all sports. Why people only want baseball pure, not football and basketball, baffles me daily; but that’s another column.

Anyway, the quickest and easiest solution to baseball’s PED problem is simple: 1st offense nets a season suspension, including playoffs, All-Star, and any award considerations. The 2nd offense nets a lifetime ban. This can’t really be that difficult, can it?

Sure, many current players wouldn’t be active under my suggested punishment schedule, but the fact of the matter is, we are all complicit in allowing PEDs in sports. Yeah, all of us. Players, fans, media, ownership…we’re all responsible.

The players, through what is most likely the most powerful union in the world, gave the impression they care about keeping the sport clean. In fact, they suggested the current punishment schedule to the owners in the last Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Did you know that, because most people didn’t? And, of course, the owners took them up because they figured if the players suggested it, it must be good for the sport. The owners were probably right, but the players left enough loopholes to where we sit with poor policies.

The owners clearly didn’t care about drugs in the past, because if they had, we wouldn’t have seen this problem go unchecked for years, maybe even a generation or two. The owners made massive profits from players like Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, and Jose Canseco. To suggest the owners and the media weren’t aware of what was happening in locker rooms is a slap in the face to anyone who can add 2 + 2.

But, hey, us fans had a hand in this also. We loved the home runs, the battle for the home run king, and all the offensive excitement it provided. In fact, I’ll admit at some point I didn’t care if athletes used steroids. Sometimes I think it’s easier to regulate those drugs once they’re legal rather than making them illegal. For the record, I’m only talking about PEDs, not marijuana.

All that said, if the owners and the players care about the reputation and the public perception of this sport, they will at some point, or in the next CBA, agree on a punishment schedule similar to the one I’ve suggested.

Have I mentioned this is a pipe dream? The players’ union will never agree to a one-step banishment from the sport.

To expand on this idea for a moment – when I suggested the players are banned for life, I mean Pete Rose banned. These players are to never play, coach, or work in the front office at any professional baseball level.

Teams of first time offenders will be able to void the contracts of offended (?) players, which obviously would only have a serious effect on players who have large, long-term contracts, but I would hope that alone would deter anyone from using PEDs.

Voiding the contract not only allows the teams to relieve themselves of base salary obligations, but also relieves them of fulfilling any incentive and escalator clauses that may exist. It also gives the player a second chance with another team, should a team be willing to take that chance.

The only way I can suggest this testing process is fair to not only the league, but more importantly, the player, is to take it out of the hands of Major League Baseball. I say this not because I don’t think MLB can properly manage this, but because if we’re suggesting we ban someone from their primary form of income for life, they should be afforded the most transparent process available.

My only suggested group would be the World Anti-Doping Agency. I’m not suggesting they’re awesome, but I have more faith in that group than in the one that MLB employs right now. By the way, MLB employs themselves for drug testing through a third party that they select.

That doesn’t seem transparent at all.

All that was a great pipe dream, wasn’t it? So, what would you do if you had the opportunity to change how Major League Baseball handled its PED violators? What do you think of my suggested penalty schedule?

Cleveland Fanhood Questions

tg I don’t know if you noticed, but I haven’t been around Twitter for a while. I actually quit for the month of June and, outside of manning my scheduled shifts on the MTAF account, I haven’t peeked.

Last week though, I did see a few tweets showcasing Cleveland fanhood that piqued my interest, so I thought, maybe since I don’t really have an opinion on anything else, I’d write about what I saw and let you know where I stand.

For the record, and if you’ve known or followed me long enough, I’m not a 100% Cleveland fan. This probably bothers some of you, but it is reality. That takes me to the first part of my story.

I was born in Cleveland and have spent different amounts of time in various places for various reasons. To say I’ve been in more states than most of you is an understatement, so my loyalty is certainly different than yours.

I have loyalty to the Indians, because they were bad when I was little, very good when I was in high school, and have had ups and downs since. As much as I don’t like the NBA, if I had to pick a team, I’d probably pick the Cavs for similar reasons. They’ve had periods of time when they’ve been both good and downright terrible.

That leaves us with one last team, the Crunch.

I’m kidding, that leaves the Browns. This is going to be the deal breaker for a lot of you, but I’m just not a Browns fan. Can you really blame me? The team was gone while I was in high school and have been the worst team on this side of the Mississippi since 1999. They were decent while I was growing up, but I have no real connection to them.

So you might ask, “well, what’s your favorite NFL team?” The honest answer is that I don’t know. I say that because I don’t care. I’m a firm believer that people are more loyal to their college football teams than they are to their professional football teams.

People from Cleveland “hate” Bengals fans on Sunday, but “love” them as fellow Buckeyes on Saturday? Makes no sense to me.

So, I am asking an honest question. If you had to pick between your college football team and your NFL team, which would it be?

If you lived in SEC country, the answer is obvious. Up north, where we’ve had both NFL and college football forever, the answer isn’t so simple.

I think if you live in a state like Ohio, the Buckeyes take the cake over the Browns or Bengals, but it would be up for debate.

If you live in Indiana, however, the choice may be more clear. The Hoosiers aren’t a football power, the Colts have had past success, and, thanks to Andrew Luck, are looking a bright future in the face. Michigan folks have a clear choice as well, as Wolverine fandom overpowers Lions fandom.

Hmm, maybe the answer is obvious?

For some, that assessment isn’t the same, but here’s the thing: you’re allowed to like whichever team you want.

I just turned 31, I’m not married, and I have no kids (thank God), but one thing I’ve learned over my three decades about people in Cleveland is that they’re really passionate about their teams. Maybe to a fault.

I remember seeing a tweet from someone that said, “If I saw the hottest woman in the world and she was perfect for me, but found out she was a Steelers fan, I’d NEVER marry her.”

Let that sink in for a moment. You mean to tell me that you’re willing to pass on Mrs. Right because she happens to be a fan of the team that’s beaten the crap out of your team for 20-plus years? If you were talking about Mrs. Right Now, I could maybe see it.

I said all this to simply say, live a little.

Sports is supposed to be a place to get away from the everyday stresses. They are a place to hide from reality and enjoy yourself.

If your weekend is “ruined” because the Buckeyes, Browns, or Cavs lost a game, you might want to take a step back and reevaluate where you are in life.

If Chris Perez blows a save and your first instinct is to tweet him, call him a horrible name, and wish death upon him, you need to get to the 480 bridge and jump. At that very moment, you’ll realize how unimportant sports is compared to the game of life.

The older you get, the more your temperament should change about sports. If you’re 22 and you want to have 50 beers and argue and spit at Browns Stadium, or whatever it’s called, have at it. Just know, I’m 31 and if I do that, get arrested, and make a trip to the slammer, I won’t have a job Tuesday.

So, guess what I’m going to do?

I’m going to let you call me every name in the book and watch the police escort you out of the stadium.

There’s a time and place to get upset about sports, but here’s something to think about: why do you get more upset about the outcome of the game than the players? It makes no sense to me. They’re living, breathing, and doing it, and yet, you’re more upset about the outcome than they are.

You should think about that when you’re wishing death upon Perez or turning down Mrs. Right who just happens to be a Steelers fan.

Indians Get Lucky; Selig, MLB Should Do Right and Award Home Run

Last night, Angel Hernandez did the Oakland Athletics and Major League Baseball no favors, but Bud Selig has a chance to correct his egregious mistake. In the ninth inning, a ball, which at first glance didn’t appear to be a home run, was a home run, and the umpires with the assistance of instant replay got the play wrong twice. There is no excuse for this in an era of high definition and instant replay. I’ve written many times before about not being a fan of instant replay, not only because in general I don’t think it holds officials accountable, but because I believe the systems are setup incorrectly.

After the game, Hernandez said he didn’t have enough evidence to overturn the call. There are but two explanations for this statement: Hernandez is blind or the replay system in the umpires locker room at Progressive Field doesn’t have access to the all the video feeds that everyone else does.

If he is blind, which he obviously is not, it is time for him to retire or move to a position as a supervisor. If the feeds he has access to aren’t the same as everyone else, whomever is responsible for that needs to be held accountable today.

Time date of the incorrect call shouldn’t matter, but imagine if last night’s error had occurred during the playoffs? Oh, right it has.

The only obvious solution to this problem, which is one that big three sports leagues need to adopt, is the same one in which NHL uses: move ALL instant replay functions to a central location. This is the easiest solution because the people in the central location have no bias for or against the call they just made, and it takes all the pressure off the on-location game officials and puts it squarely where it belongs: on the league office.

It’s become obvious in the high-stakes, and big money pressure situations that on-location game officials miss these calls when they count the most. Last night’s game in Cleveland was just the latest example, but imagine if supervisors in New York had the opportunity to review the call in Seattle that cost Green Bay on Monday Night Football last season? In both cases, it is almost a certainty the calls would have been reversed and the correct call would have been made.

Along with this, Major League Baseball needs to, through immediate cooperation with the umpires union, make available all disciplinary information on umpires on their game decisions. I honestly, don’t care if umpires goad players into arguments that result in ejections, but more important to me is how accurate their calls are at the plate and bags. Those calls have an effect on every play of every game. Along with making this information available, we need to start to see the transition from unqualified umpires to those who are better and rate higher. Age is no factor in this argument.

If you’re 65 and rate in the highest percentile then you get to keep your job. Make no mistake, some of the worst game managers and umpires are those that are newer and younger. Being a younger umpire doesn’t make you a good umpire.

The bottom line is, Angel Hernandez got last night’s play wrong, and it likely cost the Oakland Athletics the game last night, but as any official will say the most important thing to them is getting the play correct.

[tl;dr] Expanding Baseball’s Instant Replay and Limiting Extra Innings

Monday, while watching Nationals play the Braves I saw an interesting play that I hope will be reviewable when instant replay expands next year. No, I’m not a fan of instant replay for a number of reasons, but this is a situation in which most umpires would hopefully agree review is needed. The Braves were batting in the bottom of the fourth with two outs and runners on first and second. Gerald Laird singles to center, Freddie Freeman scores from second, and Dan Uggla is thrown out by Denard Span while attempting to advance to third. Sounds like a typical scoring play, except in this case it isn’t.

The putout recorded by National’s third baseman Chad Tracy happens almost simultaneously while Freeman scores. Home plate umpire Laz Diaz is in position to see signal from third base umpire Mark Wegner and the tag at home by Tracy, but because of the timing probably gets the play wrong (advance to :47).

Normally, I wouldn’t touch on such a scenario, but at that point the Braves had just tied the game 2-2 and later went on to win 3-2.

Through no fault or lack of effort did the umpires get that play wrong, but did so because of the timing of the play.

These plays are exactly the types of plays instant replay can resolve correctly.

Also on Monday, the Angels and Athletics played 19 innings. The game ended almost seven hours after it started or somewhere near 5am on the east coast. In the regular season, this is unacceptable. Major League Baseball needs to come up with a limit for the number of extra innings. I propose three extra innings for a total of 12 before the game is declared a tie.

Teams shouldn’t be forced to essentially play and additional unplanned game in one day then be expected to play the next day and have quality pitching or hitting. Baseball isn’t nearly as phsycially taxing as football and hockey, so if the NFL and NHL can agree on ties, so can MLB. NBA, you need to look at this too.

Generally, I’m a traditionalist when it comes to baseball being against instant replay, the designated hitter, interleague play, and limiting the length of games, but the two changes listed above benefit both players and fans and should be implemented next season.

tl; dr is a tech nerd term for too long; didn’t read. the purpose of these posts is to provide a quick summary and analysis of something interesting in the sports world.

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What's The Impact of SportsTime Ohio's Sale?

Rumors had been swirling for the last month or so that SportsTime Ohio (STO), owned by the Dolan family, was to be sold. Some suggested either Fox Sports Media Group (Fox) or Time Warner would become the eventual owner. At the end of the day it was Fox. The media property was sold for $233 million dollars and Fox will pay the Indians $400 million over 10 years for the right to broadcast their games. The current deal between STO and the Indians pays $33 million per year, and the new deal will increase that to $40 million.

The combined total of the deal is $633 million dollars, but remember Fox Sports has a TV deal with LA Dodgers that pays between $7b-$8b for 25 years, or about $218 million per year. Between the Dodgers deal and the minority purchase of the YES Network, the STO deal is peanuts. Remember, Fox is owned by News Corporation; they have billions of dollars to throw in all directions.

If you don’t remember, Fox used to own the Indians television rights through its regional network FOX Sports Ohio until 2006 when STO was launched. Fox also owns the broadcasting rights to the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Cavaliers. At this time it is unknown if the Fox will keep the Indians and Reds on a separate network or consolidate them and end STO.

It is unknown if FSN Ohio and STO will be consolidated at this time because STO has existing contracts with the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA), Cleveland Browns, and the Mid-American Conference. All are important and lucrative contracts Fox Sports will want to keep.

My guess is that Fox will consolidate the Indians, Reds, and MAC content onto one network, and re-brand STO into a secondary network and move the high school tournaments, Browns content and MLL lacrosse content there or some combination thereof.

As far as the Indians broadcasters, Rick Manning and Matt Underwood, both are employees of the Indians both are employees of STO and could be replaced, just as unlike the radio broadcast team of Jim Rosenhaus and Tom Hamilton. Each have contracts with the Indians and STO through at least the 2013 season.

Currently WKYC has over-the-air broadcast rights to the Indians and likely have a contract through at least 2013 that Fox will likely honor. Also, STO has its broadcast facilities in the same building with WKYC. It is unknown if that part will change in the near future.

So, while we know the Dolans are no longer the owners of STO, there is also a lot about the transition that we do not know. It is safe to assume that we will know how this will shake out before Spring Training.

One thing, I do not see happening is the sale of the Cleveland Indians by the Dolans. With the increase in rights fees from both STO and WTAM (Cleveland Indians Radio Network), it makes little sense for the family to sell the team. Yes, they are likely to spend a little more money on the franchise (players), but as I have said repeatedly they will not outspend their revenues. No business person would.

Owning a sports team is no different than owning any other business. The goal is to make as much money as possible.

While it is nice for fans to want their owners to be as passionate about a teams as they are, the owners’ first responsibility is to make money.

Randy Lerner, Dan Gilbert and now Jim Haslam will all say the same thing. Winning is good, but making money, or a return on the investment, is the most important part of owning any business.

Fox Sports Media Group release: http://www.foxsportsohio.com/12/28/12/FOX-Sports-Media-Group-completes-acquisi/landing.html?blockID=840961&feedID=4181

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More Than a Fan Sports Calendar

What time does Ohio State play? What channel are the Browns on? What day is the Daytona 500 next year? Yeah, I cannot keep up with the times or places of most sporting events without looking them up online. So, we created a calendar that you can view on your phone or e-mail client.

We’ll keep the calendar up to date, and you enjoy the games.

HTML Link: HTML

ICS: Import into another calendar application Subscribe with your phone using the above link

[google-calendar-events id="1"]

Fixing Baseball's Problems: The Wild Card, Umpires, Interleague Play, and the Never Ending Schedule

This year Major League Baseball expanded the playoffs to include two additional teams and an additional wild card round in each league. These games are essentially play-in games and is very similar to what the NCAA did when it recently expanded its basketball tournament. In my opinion neither is a good idea, if you're a serious fan of sports.

Playoffs, tournaments, championships, or whatever they are called are meant to be played, in basketball and baseball, in a series. Although many Braves fans will argue their team was “screwed” by left field umpire Sam Holbrook on his interpretation of the infield fly rule, the reality is that they were “screwed” by MLB. By MLB, I do not mean Bud Selig, although he seems to be a popular whipping boy, I mean the owners and the television networks that have the most to gain by extending the playoffs. MLB should have added a full, best-of-five series to make this fair to the fans and players.

The more I think about this, or write about this, the more I realize the problem is not the amount of games during the post-season, but the amount of games during the regular season. Baseball has too many regular season games thus making the post-season extend into late October or early November. Money is the only motivating factor to keeping such an asinine schedule.

Sure, if MLB (read: the owners) wanted to play 162 games they could do it in fewer dates. This can be accomplished by playing double-headers on Sundays, reducing the All-Star break, or reducing off-days. The better solution would be to reduce the total number of games played per season.

My personal preference would be to reduce the number of games by 20, but that alone will not solve other problems. Another of the big problem for the owners is attendance in early games in traditionally cold-weather climate cities is terrible. Yes, most fans will show up en masse for Opening Day or weekend, but after that, the majority of fans will not arrive until late April or May.

There is no good reason why teams in cities like Cleveland, Chicago, New York, Boston, etc. should have to suffer through cold and inclement weather in the early part of the season. Reduce the chance for rainouts by having those teams play on the road the first few weeks of the season. Now that MLB (the league) has gone to an unbalanced schedule, more teams can play interleague baseball on Opening Day in warmer cities or locations with domes.

The above suggestions about reducing the schedule do not solve two other long-standing problems with baseball: interleague play and umpires.

Interleague Play: I am one of the few fans of interleague play. There is one fundamental problem with the way it is constructed right now: they are doing it backwards. I live in an American League city. We use the designated hitter. Why, when National League teams come to my stadium do I see them using the designated hitter? When MLB (Bud Selig) sold me on interleague play, he touted it as a way for fans to see teams in the other league play. Except that it is not how they are doing it. When the Reds visit the Indians the Indians should have to play without the DH. As it stands now the Reds have to use the DH; well I already know what the DH looks like. I see it every day. This is an easy fix—when AL teams go to NL cities, use the DH, and when NL teams visit AL cities, no DH. See how easy that was?

Umpires: Additional umpires in the playoffs is a bad idea and we saw why last Friday in Atlanta. The problem with additional umpires in the playoffs is that MLB (Selig) is putting the umpires in positions they have not worked the entire season. Therefore, they are not immediately used to the mechanics even if they have worked the playoffs many times. The quick solution to the problem, or at least preventing last Friday’s call from happening again, would be to only have infield umpires make calls regarding the infield fly rule. The long-term solution, which World Umpires Association would not easily agree to, would be to eliminate the use of the extra two umpires. As long as baseball has the intention of expanding instant replay, there is no longer a need for the two outfield umpires.

The wrong thing to do is to change the rule strictly defining what the infield is or is not. Changing that rule and adding language that can be further misapplied by game officials does nothing but make the rules more confusing for players, coaches and fans. Changing the rule to give a strict definition of the infield introduces rules makers’ least favorite rule: the rule of unintended consequences.

Example: MLB used to have 2-3 format in the Division Series from 1995-1997, Indians fans will remember this specifically, in which the team that hosted the first two games never had a chance to win a series at home. When MLB created the series, they implemented this format because teams did not want to travel more than once for a five game series.

Rule of unintended consequences: the disadvantaged team (not always lower seeded) could virtually never win the series and never had a chance to win the series at home. In its zeal to please owners and players with a “simple” rule change it instead gave an inherit advantage to the wrong team.

Can you think of any other changes Major League Baseball Should make? Tell me about them in the comments below.

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