Shifting gears from Jose Reyes to the economic crisis, Beerleaguer directs your attention to Fortune's exclusive on how the recession has baseball running scared. From the piece:
"I used to think that we were pretty recession-proof, and now I'm not so sure," Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig tells Fortune. "This is the most significant downturn I've seen in my 40 years in baseball." In years past, such a soft free-agent market might have sparked collusion charges from the MLB Players Association, but so far union boss Donald Fehr is holding his tongue. "Right now I'm not prepared to make any accusation or suggestion of improper activity," Fehr says.
The piece centers around the Arizona Diamondbacks, where the team is looking for new ways to attract fans living in an area where job creation has fallen off dramatically and forclosure rates are among the highest in the country. From Fortune:
"Historically, teams haven't had to go to such lengths because the bond between team and town was so strong. The National Basketball Association grew its attendance during both the 1973-74 and 1980-81 recessions. And Major League Baseball enjoyed record attendance in the summer of 1983, when the U.S. unemployment rate was 10%. 'The old adage is that people need distractions when times are tough,' says sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, a professor at Smith College. 'So they go to ball games." Nevertheless, Zimbalist is one of many sports-business experts who think this recession will be different. Sports leagues today are more dependent on economically vulnerable sources of revenue such as corporate sponsorships, luxury suites, and other premium seating. Even if attendance doesn't nosedive, teams could still find themselves swimming in red ink."
Fears have impacted free agency, where nearly 100 players are still unsigned.
Beerleaguer: Baseball is in for a hard fall. Unlike the banks, who understand how screwed they are, baseball, which acted just as irresponsibly during the boom years, are now coming to terms with this mess, as suggested by the volume and quality of unsigned players.