Short blasts…then sounds of silence

It was a surprising verbal blast followed by a happy blast that stunned most fans…..then it will be the sounds of silence in a few weeks!
…Bill DeWitt Jr, owner of the Cardinals, got the attention of many Cardinal fans on the Frank Cusamano show when he said in an interview, “the baseball industry “isn’t very profitable, to be quite honest. And I think (the players) understand that. They think the owners are hiding profits and this and that and I think there’s been a little bit of distrust there”. Well….I’m NOT a multimillionaire….or even close….but I imagine everyone else was as shocked as I was at that statement…..DeWitt bought the Cardinals for $147m in 1995. In 1996, the Cardinals actually lost $8m for the season. In late 1996, DeWitt & his partners sold the garages for $75m to Central Parking Corp despite the garages $12m in revenue & an estimated $8m in operating income. Fred Hanser, president of the group that bought the Cards, indicated that it would reduce dramatically the debt which was estimated to be $90m prior to the sale. Over time, DeWitt became the sole owner of the Cards. DeWitt has ‘watched his margins” closer than most MLB owners, has fielded strong, championship teams, provides a safe, pleasant environment @ the Ballpark and now sees his franchise worth $2.2B. After that’s approximately 20x over his purchasing price.
…Revenue for the Cardinals has risen significantly also….in 2001 it was $123m..by 2018 it was $356m. Again, kudos must be given to the owners for their wise handling of the team over this long period of time. But…nonetheless .. it has been VERYL profitable and is it REALLY all of the income tied to the Cardinals? Some may think that you’ve formed several “pots” of income around the Cardinals into smaller companies…like–Ballpark Village activities, Fox Sports, stadium rentals, FredBird rentals, Danny Mac-Cardinal appearances, etc. that are not listed directly as Cardinal income on the balance sheets.
…As I write this on Friday, the negotiations between the union & mgmt. representatives have narrowed… just a bit…so the MLB may invoke the clause that mandates that the games begin
It would be a much shorter season with possibly a bit longer playoff system. At the last moment, in hectic, frantic, negotiations , it MAY lead to a 1 year settlement. From the fans view, GET IT TOGETHER!! You are turning off baseball fans….who may turn to other activities permanently.
…then there was more concise, verbal blasts coming on Thurs & Fri in the MLB Draft. The Cards using the theory developed in 2014 by MO is “When you think of our long-term strategy, you sort of look at the depth we already have and determine the direction you want to go,”First and foremost, we try to draft the best player available.” The Cards pick of Jordan Walker, 3B, HS player clearly is seen in the “best player available” mode. His father already indicated that he’d bypass his Duke baseball scholarship offer to sign. It seems a bit strange to me that the Cards picked another 3b in the 1st round. They did the same thing in 2018 (just 2 years ago) in Nolan Gorman. The Cards MUST be convinced that he can hit and play 3B. One draft “expert” said about Walker,” one of his top selling points is his power potential. Even more predictably, there are concerns he’ll have to move away from the hot corner due to his size. A team who believes he can play third and hit in the middle of the order could pop him in the first round.” If both can hit, it’s easy to assume that one will end up on the other side of the infield @ 1B. Sooo….is Gorman or Walker going to be moved to 1B soon?
…When play DOES resume, it’ll be the sounds of silence. Down the road, we’ll probably have testing & tracking happening….maybe …maybe an effective treatment….further down the road a vaccine will become part of our yearly checkup. This year it’ll be very, very slim crowds (if a crowd is permitted).. maybe 1/10 capacity with most seats “x’d” out for fans. It’ll be like NO crowd at all! There probably won’t be concessions or other amenities. The income for the teams is estimated to be 50% of 2019. Then comes the sounds of silence Excitement at the games will be at a minimal level with only a token number of fans. It’ll be the sounds of silence. Lebron James may have expressed the players point of view best when he said, ““What is the word ‘sport’ without ‘fan’?” James asked. “There’s no excitement. There’s no crying. There’s no joy. There’s no back-and-forth. “… That’s what also brings out the competitive side of the players to know that you’re going on the road in a hostile environment and yes, you’re playing against that opponent in front of you, but you really want to kick the fans’ ass too. “So to get back on the floor, I would love it. I’m not going to sit here and say nothing. Like, if it’s get out there and get back on the floor 5-on-5 … but like, we can do that in scrimmages. Let’s just go to each other’s practice facility, put out a camera, just scrimmage and livestream it. … I just don’t know how we can imagine a sporting event without fans. It’s just, it’s a weird dynamic.” I realize that the 1 on 1 matchups in basketball are far more noticeable to the fans but….isn’t EVERY baseball batter having a 1 on 1 matchup with the pitcher? Stealing a base is basically the runner challenging the pitcher/catcher. Isn’t that what made Vince Coleman, Ozzie, Willie, etc era so good….we knew the challenge was going to take place ….and so did the other team…but the Cards did it anyway!
The players this seaon can’t feed off the fans, will NOT have that stimulus. It’ll be closer to the excitement & noise of a High School baseball game. I believe that this will impact the players much more than they realize. Their adrenalin won’t be rushing through their system. The “rush” from standing ovations( oh wait, that only happens in the Lou) The games will be pointed solely towards TV entertainment. Performing for the screen would seem different to me than reacting to live applause, cheering, etc. Further, if the games are played in just a few locations…say–Arizona, Florida, California…there can be only so many prime time games. Can they players get pumped for these off-hour games with no fans? They can’t all play at the SAME TIME unless they use 15 different MLB stadiums simultaneously!! On the flip side– the TV revenue is far and away the primary source of income for the teams, how much will advertisers pay for a 2:00pm mid-week afternoon game? or other similar, non-attractive times? TV, in a normal season, is said to be about 60% of the team’s income. Will that number hold?
…watching sports is a habit…..it’s 7:00pm time for Cardinal baseball….or it’s 1:00pm on Saturday, time for Mizzou football, etc. Currently many habits have already been dropped, changed dramatically, or forgotten by the virus, could it happen to baseball? One of my relatives, an avid baseball fan for decades, just told me that he’s done with baseball—it’s just too much about the money. There are probably others like him. However, both sides seem so stubborn about clinging to their “points”, they don’t seem to realize that those past habits could float away also..while new ones formed—without baseball. I’ve never seen so many of my neighbors walking the subdivision, or riding bikes…or walking their dogs (sometimes 2 or 3x/day!). Or… will people will be so anxious to watch baseball again? Will baseball satisfy their need as they seek something LIVE and fresh and bring them back OR has the separation and interests in other areas made the comeback of viewers too wide? Thx for the read!

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