A source recently admitted to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, that Major League Baseball has discussed the possibility of contracting the Rays and A’s and giving the Dodgers to A’s owner Lew Wolff and the Mets to Rays owner Stuart Sternberg. The source admits contraction won’t happen because the league doesn’t want to start a labor war. However, the source does not not rule out the possibility of finding other ways to get two of MLB’s favorite owners in control of two of the league’s cornerstone franchises. [BUSINESS INSIDER]

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24 Comments

  1. Rome says:

    Since when are the Mets a "cornerstone franchise?"

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      I would say since MLB became multi-billion dollar industry, that is centered around the big market clubs. The Mets did draw 4 million fans in 2008. last year they only drew 2.5 million. And it could get worse. Most people in baseball will tell you that the sport is better off when they're big market clubs are doing well.

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      • Carey says:

        That's because "most people" in baseball are greedy, shortsighted idiots.

        Meanwhile the NFL continues (even if they strike) to dance on MLB's grave, laughing all the way to the bank after breaking records with a championship that featured the "massive" media markets of Milwaukee and Pittsburgh. This after the previous records were set by a championship that featured markets MLB wouldn't even look at (New Orleans and Indianapolis).

        Keep it up MLB and you'll soon enough be on the level with Lacrosse in that you will be able to count on one hand the number of states where people actually give a damn about your sport (no offense to Lacrosse, which is actually a really cool sport, but is only popular in a few regions).

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        • Cork Gaines says:

          Very true. But the NFL did get a little lucky because at the time they had Wellington Mara in control of the Giants. He was not greedy and was foresighted enough to realize that sharing revenues evenly would be better for the sport in the long run.

          At this point I can't imagine a scenario in which the Yankees and Mets ever give up that much money. And not many people would.

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          • Carey says:

            I'm thinking this may be a good thing. If they pursue this, surely the Florida contingent in Congress, which is pretty powerful, will push to get congress involved. Threatening the anti-trust exemption (IMO, why Namoli got the team in the first place) always gets MLB's attention.

            In a perfect world, we see the installment of a Stalin-esque new commissioner who completely rewrites the rules.

            Rule 1. All television contracts (existing are grandfathered until their completion) are negotiated EXCLUSIVELY by MLB and not the teams. Money goes in a pot and split 30 ways. F! YOU! Yankees! Don't like it? Barnstorm!

            Rule 2. Since we can now see exactly what the pie represents, maybe MLBPA and MLB can come to an agreement re. salary caps.

            Result: Maybe MLB doesn't have to sweat it when teams outside of the Northeast, Coast of the Great Lakes and California make the playoffs. MLB gets middle America back. As of now, they have abandoned the sport because the sport abandoned them a long time ago.

            And Cork, you know what I love about the NFL? That NY is nothing but a bit player in the championship picture, that Dallas can't go all Yankees on the rest of the league and that Steinbrenner wannabee's like Dan Snyder are absolute failures. The teams that win in the NFL earn it. MLB? Not so much.

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          • Cork Gaines says:

            I like it. One minor correction. The Cowboys have tried to be the Yankees. They actually opted out of the NFL's merchandising contract. You won't see any Cowboys gear through the NFL deals. The only time that is obvious is if there is something with all the team logos on it, like a blanket. It will have every team except the Cowboys. So the Cowboys license their own merchandise and keep all the money. Obviously this has pissed off the other owners. Luckily Jerry Jones can't do the same with the TV deals.

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          • Carey says:

            Cork. Credit must also go to Pete Rozelle, who understood early on that the little box in the living room was the future. When I think of that time, I picture a young, energetic and dynamic Rozelle putting his plans for the future in place while fat, cigar smoking MLB idiots snort like pigs, thinking the farmer will just keep putting the lion's share of the food (money) in their feeding trough forever.

            In a way, baseball's fall to football as the American Pastime/Sport is almost satisfying. Gotta love it when the little guy who uses his brain bashes in the skull of the fat, bloated, arrogant ahole.

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          • MJ says:

            thumbs up.

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        • Derek says:

          Although the 2010 world series was one of the worst in television views, you need to look at total views for all the games. I'd bet that in 2009, the total views of all six world series games is close enough to that of the super bowl. Mlb isn't getting laughed at, or stepped on, due to the sheer number of games they broadcast, and the money they get from advertising over 150+ televised games for each team.

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          • Cork Gaines says:

            NFL's domination of MLB is sometimes overstated, but NFL had $9 billion in revenues last year. MLB had $7 billion. So NFL's title of most popular sport in America is deserving.

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          • Carey says:

            Derek,

            First off, that is quite a reach (and guess) re. the look ins on the WS. Seriously, the viewership isn't even close. Then there's Cork's numbers. 2 Billion more in almost half the time and a fraction of the games. I think that speaks volumes.

            Bottom Line: The NFL knows what it's selling. It's selling FOOTBALL first and foremost, not specific teams. This is why Super Bowls featuring small markets are of no significance to the NFL. People want their football not just their team's football. Baseball has lost that. Unless you have a rooting interest or are just a baseball head, then you don't care about the rest of it. That's the fact. And that's why MLB sweats it everytime a "small market" team threatens to go deep in the playoffs (God, I love that term. It's almost comical when you consider that many of these "small" markets are cash cows in the NFL). If the Yankees or Sox aren't in the WS, baseball loses. Meanwhile, the NFL kills it with Indy/New Orleans and Milwaukee/Pittsburgh.

            So, yes, baseball makes money, but the model is not good. At some point, the Yankees and/or Sox aren't going to be good. The only cure is the current model, whereas the system protects them and allows them to purchase competitiveness or playoff spots outright. Protecting them with a non-capped system may pay off in the short term, but the problem is that you lose more and more of the rest of America. Meanwhile, the NFL continues to pick up more and more fans in all the states and all the markets. That New York has only 4 SB championships between two teams and Pittsburgh has, I believe, 6 is not a problem for the NFL. In fact, it works out great.

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          • Derek says:

            The only point of yours I'm against is that the MLB is eventually going to fade into the darkness. I'm not claiming that baseball is more profitable or that it is the more popular sport. Outside of 08 and 2010 the numbers for the world series/ super bowl should be close. Pit and Green bay might be in "small markets" but they are about as far as you can get from small market teams. Again, I'm not going to look up the numbers, but I live in northern Virgina, and I see Steelers stuff all the time (before the super bowl too) but my area is considered to be in the Baltimore market. New Orleans was a once in a lifetime story line, that everyone wanted to happen. You can't write a better story, of course it's going to get a lot of views.

            Your best point is there are fans of baseball teams, and fans of football. Me, personally, I love watching baseball, but I understand that's not the norm, it wont ever be. This has more to do with the length of the season and the pace of the game, than it does with with the NFL being great at marketing. (which they are) People can enjoy football because it has action and big moments more often. Where as most "baseball fans" just like a team because that's what is expected of them when they live in that teams market. Marketing isn't why Joe smith doesn't enjoy seeing Roy Halladay throw a no hitter in the playoffs, it's because watching half a game with no hits is "boring" to him.

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  2. Gus says:

    Waiting for Derek to cry foul, here.

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      And if he does, that's ok. He loves the Rays as much as anybody. Besides, I don't want Stu leaving anymore than he does.

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    • Derek says:

      I like that Joel paints such a pretty picture of your team, that article bashes the Rays several times, and you want my reaction to it. I'll give it to you though.

      Twice he calls our situation a losing one. What makes that so? Is it the two Al East titles, the increase in attendance, or the increase of worth of the franchise? Oh, right, he can't get a stadium built tomorrow. That's not really a serious issue. Stu knew about the lease when he bought the team, and he knows it's going to be an uphill battle to get a stadium built. He just wants people to know what he wants, and that he will eventually get it. He has said the right things to get actions down, being passive doesn't get things down in the business world. (I.E. Libya, tell them you'll bomb them, and they might pull back) If MLB steps in at all, they will step in to help get a new stadium.

      This isn't really that news worthy anyways. I mean, it's news that they talked about it, but they realized it wouldn't work. (shocking) The fact remains that this isn't so cut and dry, and even after talking, they have no idea how it would work.

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      • Gus says:

        I agree with you here on one thing: Stu knew of the lease and the stadium when he bought the team, and that was one of the reasons he could buy it so cheap.

        But I also think his long-term eyes have always been on upgrading to a franchise in th NE -- he never moved to Tampa Bay and if he was serious about getting a new stadium, he should expect that being a local taxpayer is nothing if not good politics. He's been following the John Henry marlins to Bosox blueprint here, and the Mets are now there for the taking. This is what Cork and I have been saying all along -- he may not have the $ to swap out his franchise and acquire the Mets, but you have to know that he'd love to do it (just as all of us would love to own the Rays one day) and MLB would love to have a great young owner (from operations side) like him in NYC.

        Toughest part of the deal would be finding a new owner for the Rays. It took MLB involvement and several years last time.

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        • Derek says:

          I don't agree that he will leave because of the stadium issue though. He knows it's not coming anything soon, but he also knows that the sooner he gets the wheels moving, the sooner he gets a new one. He has the leverage to get things done, and that's why he said the things he said. I know it wasn't the best PR move, but now there are websites dedicated to the stadium issue, there was a group of wealthy individuals who went out and did real research on the topic, so at the end of the day, he said all the wrong things in your mind, but he got exactly what he wanted to get.

          I know it bothers you, and several others, that he lives in New York, but he doesn't serve a purpose down there, so I couldn't care less where he lives.

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          • Gus says:

            If he lived in Tampa Bay (or even owned property in Tampa Bay), he'd be a lot more persuasive in gaining support for a new stadium. If they had gone about it better, the Al Lang plan might have worked. Instead, he came off as arrogant, not in touch with the locals (who actually like going to games in air conditioning, contary to what northern baseball purists say) and everyone in Tampa and St. Pete told him to go back to Rye and be quiet.

            So Stu and his minions can float all the stories they want about how it is all the stadium's fault and the people here will continue to grow discouraged, when instead this team should be a source of enormous civic pride. Stu overplayed his hand in 2007-08, and with the national economic situation collapsing (especially those of local governments), he has no chance of stadium blackmail in the near term. I don't see that he gained anything and instead, he actually lost some goodwill.

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  3. Rome says:

    I know this has been touched on before but, is it not funny both the A's and Rays are wanting new stadiums. Hmm...

    Question: If the Tampa Bay area is so bad for baseball, major league baseball, then why has other baseball teams threaten to their teams to the Tampa Bay area. Can you imagine if the Giants would have moved here back '93 or '94. Baseball in the bay area would have been very different. Any thoughts?

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  4. Ron says:

    If the Rays were contracted by MLB, what would happen to the Trop's lease. Would MLB have to buy it out?

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      I'm not sure. Technically is a contract and not a lease, so the city and the Rays are more like partners than tenant and landlord. If the Rays went out of business I guess the city could try suing somebody (Sternberg, MLB?) to get the money owed, but i don't know what their legal rights would be.

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      • Gus says:

        It is actually called a "Use Agreement" and one of the remedies for the City is that thes get to specifically enforce the covenant to play 81 MLB games there annually. For example, the Rays had to get special permission, I believe, just to play those 3-games series at Disney a few years back. I would suggest that the City would enjoin contraction by MLB so that the franchise would have to play, but then you are in the world of litigation.

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      • MJ says:

        Hmm interesting, I always read lease. Good comments tonight.

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  5. Leanne says:

    Major League Baseball's principle issues, in my opinion, reside on Park Ave. The Major Network Media and even much of the local Media has gone out of its way to make it very clear that they are PRWire with good video. I think that it's disingenuous to the Fans (not just here in SW FL, but Baseball Fans everywhere) to simply assume that most don't see that.. Heck, ESPN rolled over on PlayMakers in a day. IF they have any audience left afterwords that sees them as anything more than entertainment value, I don't know why. Marc Topkin was publicly humiliated by the Rays this past off-season. Seriously folks, is there Anyone Anywhere who doesn't think the Media has prostrated itself at the alter of "access"? Not anyone that I've talked to.

    Bud wants a new Stadium...I think most get that. But many of the owners don't care of the PitBull has a nice eulogy or not. He's their PitBull. He's alienated almost all of the neighbors. But the burglars stayed away. So he gets a nice burial in a year and no lasting tears. On to the next Poochie. (IMO, Bud's successor is the upcoming storyline. Is it another PitBull or a Terrier? THAT is what will affect the Fans.)

    Stu and his SLK buds have brought the Rays organization into some sense of focus. Maybe that's all they're capable of doing. But that's more than happened before. The Mets should be so lucky as to no longer be an organizational 3 Stooges skit. In that market, maybe that's a big part of what it will take to force the Yankees to win the hearts of New Yorkers in ways other than offering the hope of Bling. Here, I think, it mostly takes no longer being a novelty or somebody "else's" toy. Floridians will embrace this Club, Not just this team, when they see it as their own.

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