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Saturday, February 28, 2004

Goliath, Chained

Jayson Stark's column today goes into round two of what has been hot on baseball's mind for well over a decade now: how to contain the Yankees. While I jokingly suggested that the Dodgers returning to Brooklyn could solve that problem indirectly, the eggheads within baseball have a less elegant plan, albeit one that would ensure the Dodgers stay put in Chavez Ravine. Namely, they want to audit the YES network's books:
The way the Yankees' critics see it, the YES network has been, essentially, a license for the Yankees to print funny money. They're reporting $50 million a year in rights fees. But MLB suspects the true value of YES to this club is actually much higher.

To determine how much higher, sources say that MLB is ready to bring in an independent auditor to determine YES's true market value to the team. If that value turns out to be more than $50 million, the Yankees would have to pay another 40 percent of that difference. Not just this year. Every year. Retroactively.

This doesn't affect the Angels much, a club with one of the worst TV rights deals in the majors, but it most assuredly will affect the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and a whole host of other teams -- including the Dodgers. You think McCourt will scream if MLB tries to get retroactive revenue out of the team? Wait 'til MLB tries to cash that check! It's remarkably bad timing for McCourt, who apparently has such a bad TV deal that he overpromised on the number of games that would be aired in order to conjure up some extra revenue. Earlier, he claimed all Dodger games would air, but it seems that this is a non-possibility thanks to national coverage rules (nationally televised games may not conflict with locally shown games). Promises are cheap, Frank. I can hardly wait to see what happens when the season is halfway through and the team is sunk firmly in the middle of the division -- again.


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