There are signs that the media rights inflation may be facing some opposition. In Los Angeles, Time-Warner, who reputedly are paying the Dodgers $7 billion over the next 25 years for their regional rights package, which includes a majority equity interest in their new SportsNet LA channel are encountering resistance from other regional terrestrial and satellite carriers to the $5 per customer carriage charge they want from them. It also has been suggested they want to increase that to $8 over time. Meanwhile in Houston the deal that the Astros made with Comcast, which they share with the local NBA Rockets has failed to lift of the launch pad and the local network has filed for bankruptcy. This also has fostered a big lawsuit by new Astro’s owner Jim Crane against the guy who sold him the team, Drayton McLane, as well as Comcast and NBC Universal Media. Only 40% of the city’s television households could view games this year; because most cable providers in the area did not have carriage agreements. In his lawsuit, Crane alleges that McLane fraudulently boosted the value of the network by falsely representing the subscription fees that providers would pay.
The Mariner’s purchase of the controlling interest in ROOT NW should not be so troublesome, as most regional carriers already distribute it and it includes broadcast rights to most significant sports entities, including the Seahawks, Sounders, Timbers, Western Hockey League and college and high schools football conferences. This gives regional carriers little choice if they want to carry sports content at all, and it is still the best content to get eyeballs on ads, as their advertisers know well. As Howard Lincoln recently indicated to Shannon Drayer at My Northwest, “It will … make the Mariners competitive if you combine the cash flow and the rights fees. It will be competitive with the Rangers and the Angels, and that is a huge thing we were able to put together. It certainly is comparable to putting up Safeco Field.”
It is possible that regional sports networks might follow the MLB Advanced Media business model and emigrate to the Internet at some point in the future. If so the Mariners and ROOT NW will be well positioned to cut out the cable and satellite provider middle men and sell straight to the consumer. Another alternative would be to spin off the Seahawks and Sounders as separate feeds and enable ala Carte sports consumption packages. Being in the Great Northwest they could also add non-sports content for subjects such as hunting, fishing and outdoor life, which could be fed to national and international audiences. Seattle is well placed to reach out to the whole Pacific Rim. maqman
So they said
“I have great concern about the civil liberties of even asking players for their blood and urine, especially without probable cause. So I definitely am worried about the corruptible possibilities of MLB having its own investigators going into dark alleys. We should have a conversation if we are OK with MLB doing the stuff the Rodriguez crew is accusing it of doing — at least the stuff that is provable or semi-provable. But we can’t have that conversation until the A-Rod case is resolved, because emotion wins and logic departs when Rodriguez is involved.” —Joel Sherman at the New York Post
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
Scott Kazmir was nothing more than a scrap-heap flyer for the Indians last season, but he turned in his best fielding-independent numbers in six years. Kazmir struck out more than a batter per inning, whiffed three and a half batters for every one walk allowed, and posted the lowest walk rate of his major league career. He also rediscovered his fastball velocity, which, at 92.5 mph, was his highest average speed for that pitch since his rookie season way back in 2005. Kazmir wasn’t perfect, yielding a 23.1 percent line drive rate that was the 15th-highest among all starting pitchers with 150-plus innings pitched. And his ability to eat innings also remains in question; even in his best seasons, Kazmir often struggled to get through six innings, going deep into counts against hitters and running up big pitch totals early in games.
Still, everything’s relative, how many 30-year-old lefties with mid-90s fastballs and his strikeout-to-walk rate are out there for the taking? If suitors are spooked by the fact that Kazmir is only a year removed from being out of the majors, the asking price could be low in terms of both years and dollars. Source: Jonah Keri at Grantland
One of the three most prominent free-agent starting pitchers–Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana, Matt Garza–seems bound to wind up with Seattle. Source: Buster Olney at ESPN (Personally I’d prefer Tanaka, Kazmir or Arroyo with a side order of Colon or Feldman.)
Joel Sherman at the New York Post tells us that: The Yankees are viewed as the strong favorites to land Carlos Beltran. Multiple executives with whom I spoke said that was the expectation. “I think at this point it would be an upset if he didn’t end up there,” one executive said. The Yanks want to limit Beltran to a two-year contract, but an AL official said, “Beltran wants three years, so I think the Yankees will either go three years or give him a [bleep]-load more on a two-year deal. I think the feeling in the industry is if it comes down to a two-year deal because no one goes to three, then the Yanks will win.” One reason is that Beltran has made it clear this could be his final contract, and he wants to make sure to be with a team with a chance to win it all.
The Royals insist they will pursue Beltran and appear willing, unlike some suitors, to meet his preference for a three-year deal. Club officials believe they can make the dollars work, through subsequent moves, if the bidding doesn’t get too high.
If talks flounder, the Royals will shift sites to other targets. “We’re still looking to, hopefully, find a bat,” confirmed GM Dayton Moore, who received a two-year contract extension Friday through the 2016 season. “But when you look at the landscape, I’m not sure there are many clubs out there that are willing to trade impact bats. There just are not that many, and a lot of people are looking for the same thing.” That keeps leading the Royals back to Beltran. Source: Bob Dutton at the Kansas City Star
The Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Phillies, Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs are among the teams expressing interest in reliever Edward Mujica, according to a source. The Los Angeles Angels also showed serious interest in Mujica, but instead elected to sign Joe Smith, effectively taking them out of the Mujica race. The source notes that the market for late-inning relievers is evolving, and that it will likely peak during the Winter Meetings in two weeks. Mujica is expected to receive a contract similar to the three-year, $15.75 million deal that Smith signed with the Angels last weekend.
As Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports previously reported, the Phillies are willing to give a three-year contract to a late-inning reliever and have had Mujica near the top of their wish list for most of the offseason. The source notes that there is currently no clear favorite in the Mujica sweepstakes. Mujica, 29, was excellent in 2013, pitching to a 2-1 record and 2.78 ERA while notching 37 saves as the Cardinals‘ closer. Source: Chris Cotillo at MLB Daily Dish
I follow this stuff pretty closely, but even I dropped the ball on the Asia Series. Raise your hand if you even know what I am talking about. Anyway, for the record, the victory of the Canberra Cavalry over their counterparts from the NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball), KBO (Korean Baseball Organization), CPBL (Chinese Professional Baseball League), ABL (Australian Baseball League) and the CEB (Confederation of European Baseball), was perhaps one of the greatest upsets in the history of baseball, and yet no one even knows it happened, thanks to the typical indifference, if not outright contempt, shown by the MLB Network towards international baseball. Why broadcast fascinating baseball games from Asia, Mexico and the Caribbean when you can just run an endless loop of Harold Reynolds and Mitch Williams making complete jackasses out of themselves?
Patterned after the Serie del Caribe, which has been a much beloved institution in Latin America since it was first created back in 1949 (the tournament was not held between 1960 and 1970, but was revived afterwards), this new Asia Series currently features the league championship teams from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Australia and this year, Europe, in a round-robin tournament. Canberra’s victory is remarkable, in that the ABL is a winter league, as opposed to its competitors, and is considered to be a lowly stepchild in comparison. Their victory is sort of the equivalent of the Savannah Sand Gnats beating the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, or Great Britain winning the World Baseball Classic. Perhaps next year I can actually report on this event. Until then, good on ya, Canberra! Joseph Gerard at Dr Strange Glove
By The Numbers
Maddux led his league in BB/9 nine times, including his age 41 and 42 seasons. He also allowed just 12 homers in over 400 innings in those years. His 0.811 WHIP in 1995 is the NL record, and 4th lowest mark ever. Source: YCPB You Can’t Predict Baseball