Monday, August 10, 2009
A Couple Pieces On Sports Economics
- First, via BTF, a New Yorker interview with Andrew Zimbalist. Excerpt:
What kind of effects are we seeing in Major League Baseball?
Attendance is down about five per cent this year. That news comes on the end of a string of thirteen years where attendance went up and revenue went up at a clip of eleven per cent per year. That was the average annual growth of revenue in baseball since the strike of 1994-95. Now that growth has stopped, and we’re probably seeing a reversal.
At Yankee Stadium and Citi Field they have less capacity than they did at the old stadiums, and they’re still not selling out. A lot of sponsors have dropped out. Certainly the automobile sponsors are disappearing in baseball, as they have in other sports. Of course, the sport that has been hit most acutely by the recession is NASCAR—they depend most heavily on the automobile industry.
- Second item: via David Pinto, a Kansas City Star piece on the next big thing in MLB (and NFL) labor relations: the end (?) of compensatory draft picks for departing free agents, and the complaints of the unionized against the about-to-be unionized.
Baseball’s draft has long been broken, with teams often drafting players based on bonus demands instead of talent. The highest bonuses in the last two drafts have gone to the No. 5 picks, and two years ago, stud pitcher Rick Porcello slid all the way to the 27th pick -- where he signed a total package bigger than No. 1 overall pick David Price.
Michael Crabtree, you may have heard, is attempting to pull off something similar. Formerly the stud WR at Texas Tech, Crabtree was taken 10th overall by the 49ers but wants to be paid like he was selected 7th overall by the Raiders -- who made Maryland’s Darrius Heyward-Bey the first receiver selected.
Crabtree is said to be willing to sit the entire 2009 season if he’s not paid like the best wide receiver in the class. It’s a move pulled straight out of the Scott Boras playbook for baseball picks, synergizing two sports that have little in common except a broken system of draft pick compensation.
The players in both leagues are not only noticing, but they’re starting to speak out. The latest was 49ers tight end Vernon Davis putting Crabtree on front street to ESPN:
“He needs to get his butt here and help this team out…He should take what he can get and get here.”