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Tuesday, February 07, 2012


I didn't even know Brummett was a Venezualan name.

So THAT'S where Weitzel has been!

Whatever happend to Trevor May is he still ours?

Andy: Brummett is Spanish for "organizational filler."

I was always a big Pablo Ozuna fan. Thought he should have gotten more consideration as a utility guy over Juan Castro a couple of years ago.

clout - Funny; I thought that was "Rizzotti."

RK: May is the Phillies best prospect in a diminshed farm system.

Andy: No, that's Italian.

Also, on the last thread, some posters argued that the Nats' ticket policy of only selling to local customers should be challenged legally somehow.

But I don't really get why. Companies give exclusive deals to preferred customers all the time. It's not harming competition--if anything, the company is restricting its own ability to raise prices by limiting demand (if they limited supply, like some teams do by closing off parts of the stadium, that would raise more concerns.)

True, we generally want completely open markets, but here the benefits for the Nats (building a local fan base, getting more consumers involved who are likely to be repeat customers) seem to clearly outweigh any harm that could be done.


It is a shame that the Nats were forced to restrict sales like that all because of Ryan Howard's contract.

clout: Got it. I presume "Ruf" is Dutch?

I am in constant awe of JW's list of phormers. Can't imagine anyone other than Bobby Livingston himself knew he was a Phillie at one point.

lorecore, Bobby who?

Jack - I tend to agree with you. As someone said earlier, this deal is no more illegal than a standard tying agreement for tickets. A lot of seasons the only realistic way to see, for instance, the Phils play the Yankees is to purchase a ticket on the condition that you buy at least one other ticket as well (usually two I think). If a NY fan wants to see Phils-Yankees at CBP his chances are diminished by the 3-game package that many such tickets come in just as the non-resident is struck by this presale.

In some contexts, a tying agreement can be such that it does substantial economic harm but these normal, MLB ones are common practice and, as you suggest, occur for valid, sometimes competition-friendly reasons (which is why they are not per se illegal). This presale doesn't appear much different to me. But I admit I don't know a ton about it.

Thank God, a new thread header! Raul Valdes is now my longshot pick to make the big team via a good spring training.

Jack: As the one who first suggested that the Nats' plan could be legally challenged, I will chime in.

On a purely personal level, I agree with your analysis. But we live in a litigious society and the U.S. Supreme Court has said that, if a state imposes durational residency requirements on a particular benefit, it violates the Fourteenth Amendment's right of interstate travel. The Nationals aren't a state, but they're selling tickets to a stadium that was 100% government-funded. And they're not just giving a preferential rate to Washington residents; they're (at least potentially) completely excluding any non-resident from attending. There is certainly a plausible argument that the policy is illegal & I would not be surprised at all if some irate Phillies fan were to challenge it. There have been far dumber lawsuits.

Just as there's a difference between a state and a pro baseball team, there's a difference between a durational residency requirement and a plain-old state residency requirement for the purposes of the analysis you're talking about, isn't there BAP?

The Nats aren't price discriminating between DC-area residents based on the duration of their residency ($5 if you were here before 1959; $10 if before 1969, etc..). They're simply requiring buyers to be residents. The standard issue with durational residency requirements is that they inhibit newcomers (welfare recipients or those in need of state-paid medical care), but if you wanted to up and move to VA tomorrow, this presale would play no role in dissuading you: you can enjoy its benefits the minute you establish residency.

The discussion appear to contemplate a two count federal complaint:

1-- Sherman Act antitrust (tying contract)
2-- Constitutional tort -- equal protection/freedom of travel between states

What about a RICO claim?

b_a_p and Sophist -- good arguments, all; actually it's kind of fun to speculate how badly a (Phillies? Nationals?) fan might get ramped up over this. However, I simply cannot get excited about the Washington Nationals on any level. Until they're up 5 with 4 to play (yikes!).

not joking, but I thought Michael Martinez was on the DR team?

BAP: They aren't completely excluding Phillies fans, they're just giving first right to their fans. In fact, I assume that they aren't even making all of the single game tickets available under this promotion. Besides, given that MLB has expressly blessed stub hub as a secondary market allowed to sell their tickets, as a practical matter, this isn't inhibiting people's ability to go, it's just basic price discrimination and as I've already pointed out, the benefits of it seems to outweigh the harms.

As far as the travel argument, I agree with Sophist, and I also don't think the taxpayer-funded stadium gets you very far. Simply put, the Nationals are a private actor and can basically do what they want. And Sophist, I don't think the argument is from the point of view of a Phillies fan who wants to move to VA-- their right to travel isn't inhibited. The person best qualified to bring the case whose right to travel is inhibited is the Nationals fan who has to move to PA this month and now can't buy tickets because of it.

Anyway, it's clearly the doldrums of the offseason here. Don't you lawyers have work to go do?

On a separate (but Natinals related) matter:

I'm waiting for someone here to post how much better Mark Teahen is now that he's on WSN. He's suddenly become the difference making UT that we didn't get in Wigginton, right?

Jack - I'm no expert, but I don't think the loss of benefits from state A due to moving to state B is usually what's relevant. That would be a continuing residency requirement, not durational, and a different question, I think.

You lose all kinds of state benefits when you move. That Nationals fan also can't get free public schooling in VA anymore (if VA has/had such a law) and that would be no problem. Philly had a law upheld that required city employees to be and remain city residents, for example. When you move from Montana to Idaho the cost to hunt in Montana goes up, but the MT licensing which price discriminates between residents and non-residents aren't unconstitutional for that reason (or any reason actually).

My knowledge of any of this stuff is pretty superficial, though. I'm mostly just curious why people think this isn't allowed and thought there might be something more plausible.

So...when do Pitchers and Catchers report?

Sophist: I don't think there's really a case to be made either way, so I don't really disagree with you.

NEPP- not soon enough.

For OAK and SEA, Pitchers and Catchers Day is this Sun. Feb. 12.

For all other teams, Pitchers and Catchers Day is next Sun. Feb. 19.

That said, I bet the Aces and Tuffy are already working out in Clearwater.

Sophist: I'm no expert on interstate travel law either and I'm not saying this argument would win (I really don't know); I'm just saying it's plausible.

Residency requirements, or preferential treatment for residents, are usually fair game. But, in a sense, this IS a total exclusion based on residency; at least it will be if they're able to sell out all their tickets.

Jack: I think the taxpayer-funded stadium does potentially make a difference. The Nats are private but they are selling a product that the taxpayers essentially created. Granted, it was the D.C. taxpayers, which might be what makes this kosher. I don't know.

The only RICO I know is Carty! Plus, I really thought Karim Garcia was going to be another Jose Canseco.. Turned out he was a lot more like Ozzie Canseco Lotsa hype in LA, then He moved on to AZ I believe, then became a pure journeyman.

BAP - You seem to be changing your original point so I'm a bit confused at this stage. Seems we're reaching the point of diminishing returns on this line of conversation, though.

Some Philly area law firm will file suit, the publicity will be great for the Nats, the law firm, and sites like this, and the promotion will be over before anything happens.

They think their lawyers. Aww how cute?
Nobody is going to file a suit.

Sophist: I really don't have strong feelings on the issue. My original point was simply: some litigious fan will probably file a lawsuit & there is at least a plausible basis for doing so. That's pretty much it.

Don't the Phils(and probably every other ML team) do the same thing every year when they have a pre sale making opening day and select other games avaliable to only season ticket holders?

Anyone with insight into ESPN's selections of their Sunday Night Games? I see 3 games that are listed as TBD as of now.

8/5 D-backs
8/12 Cardinals
9/23 Braves

But yet none of their games are originally listed as 8pm starts. Does ESPN not schedule Sunday Nights until it gets closer or do they have games that already pencilled in for the night game?

later in the season, these are "flex games". If the game means something in the standing they will be night games. ESPN basically will choose from a handful of TBD games.

the phillies are usually pretty good with letting you know when the schedule has changed. And will email or text you the change.

Preferred definition of a lawyer: A person who enters the field after the battle is over in order to bayonet the wounded.

I think the Nats ticket policy for the Phils series is great P.R. It will likely make a nice buck for secondary ticket sellers and, would be hilarious if their stadium still resembles Citizens Park South for those games.

You don't have to be a lawyer to know that BAP's "it's a taxpayer funded stadium" argument would get laughed out of court.

It's still hilarious that the Nationals organization feels compelled to do it at all, however.

And it was only 2010 when the Nats team President was on WIP pleading for Phils phans to come to DC to watch games.

"GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said the Phillies don't really have room for Oswalt,'s Todd Zolecki reports. 'We have five, six starters, and our resources are about where we want to be right now,' he said. 'I think he wouldn't mind coming back, but I don't know that's feasible or a real possibility.'"

I vote to hurry up and shop Blanton to someone so that we can reacquire Oswalt before someone else snags him, but that's just me. I guess the question is, though, who would take Blanton off our hands?

I have to believe that RAJ would offer up a vital organ for a team to take Blanton and his salary if it meant upgrading to Oswalt. He's been trying to give him away for a year. The fact that he hasn't gotten a buyer yet speaks volumes about the feasibility of such a deal.

Muuurgh, to me, it's a question of whether they'd want to take a risk on Blanton's elbow or take the risk on Oswalt's back.

The problem is trying to move Blanton, and based on the way he pitched last season and the elbow issues he has had, it's a tough sell. He pitched well in September, but the longest stint he had was 2 IP, so he's a big unknown right now. If they were able to trade him, they'd probably have to eat most of his salary, which might not leave financial room for Oswalt anyway.

That's a thought...are there any black market organ banks that would take Blanton off our hands in exchange for paying his salary?

Maybe Selig would look the other way.

Seriously though, Blanton might actually be an effective pitcher this year. It would be nice to see what he has in ST before we dump him for pennies on the dollar.

NEPP, one positive note:

It's a CONTRACT YEAR for Blanton, so he'll have every motivation to pitch well.

He looked healthy in Sept.

I bet that Blanton wouldn't even pass a physical for another team at this point. He's literally untradeable. You just hope he can give the Phils at least 25 GS with an ERA around 4.00 that translates somewhere to around ~2.0 WAR.

I will be happily stunned if Blanton gives us a 2 Win season like that.

Good article here including commentary on how TV deals are impacting clubs, the Dodgers' pending sale, and what teams stand to benefit in the near term.

"According to Chris, the “tipping point” for the value of media rights for live sports occurred in 09/10 when the threat of the so-called OTT services became real to the $150 billion per year cable industry. The cable industry concluded that live sports programming was THE offering which would differentiate them from the OTT alternatives and, in turn, rights fees skyrocketed. Chris describes a transformation of the MLB ownership model with “..teams becoming media companies..”, maximizing on the value of media and IP rights"

MLB Teams are Media Companies

State of the Braves including revealing why it sucks to have a public-traded parent company for a baseball team and the Braves local TV rights are locked up for the next 25 years.

With that revenue stream becoming increasingly important in MLB, it does not bode well for future Braves payrolls or value over the long-term.

As Nelson would say, "haha"

My favorite on Wren and Fredi's overutilization of the bullpen last year:

“We played so many extra-inning games and so many close games, and that was largely a function of our offense. It’s a tough thing [regarding the use of relievers]: You’re trying to win every game you play. I think Roger [McDowell, the pitching coach] and Fredi made a conscious effort to try to rest guys the second half of the season.”

Not what Linebrink had to say this offseason including that nearly everybody in their pen had a dead arm by Labor Day nor the stats which included a bullpen with an ERA north of 4 in Sept when Venters/Kimbrel really didn't pitch well.

If I were Wren, I would be horrified at the prospect of letting Fredi handle the very talented young arms that are currently on the club and will soon arrive over the next 2-3 years.

MG, that's a great article, but hit the link to the Bevilacqua interview. It's very informative.

If you look at the ratings that the Angles generate vs. what the Phillies generate, and you understand the point Bevilacqua makes about cable distributors being threatened by other programming sources and NEEDING local sports programming on regional RSN's that are available on cable only, and add in the point he makes about it being not just about the ratings but about the multi-channel SUBSCRIPTION FEES that the cable operators will be trying to preserve, do not be surprised to see the Phillies get a TV deal in excess of the one the Angels just signed - 20yr/$3B - $150MM AAV per year.

I short, Albert Ross could clone himself and his Phillies' contract and they'll still probably have enough cash to be competitive. OK, it's a little bit hyperbole but I think you get the point.

If only they could sell Blanton by the pound or trade him in for a spool of Copper. They could take that to Camden or Kensington and trade that for a bag of rocks. Then they could move that to Otis Nixon for cash considerations.

When is the Phils TV deal up for renegotiation?

grandpa, perhaps they could trade Blanton for 'some dudes'.

2015 for the tv deal.

Ay Dios Mio!

I can't believe that Dan Brooks and 2 other guys went back in and hand-coded ~3.5M pitches in Pitch F/x database.

Basically the Braves can draft and develop players to their hearts' content but it is going to be hard to keep them with a team that has around a ~$90M payroll for the next several years.

Scott Graham is on Ch 17 right now calling the Villanova game. I think letting him go instead of McCarthy was worse than acquiring Freddy Garcia and Adam Eaton. It was probably the worst move since the Sandberg trade. The broadcast booth has yet to recover.

Even if the Phils do hit a bump later this decade, what team besides maybe the Nats is really that well-positioned to contend?

Mets are a disaster and will be until the Wilpons are forced out one way or another. Even then, it will take a couple of years to really be able to capitalize on the Mets' financial advantages & rebuild that farm system a bit.

Braves are the best run team in the division and superior at drafting/developing players. They also have a ton of cost-controlled talent along with some really great young pitching. Still, they are hampered by the simple fact that their payroll will be $90-$95M over the next several seasons as long as they are owned by Liberty Media. Hard to compete against a Phils/Mets team that potentially will spend 2x when the luxury tax moves up to $189M.

Fish notably increased their payroll this year but does anyone really think Loria is serious about maintaining it even 3 years from now after the new stadium buzz wears off? In a league filled with owners who cry wolf financially, Loria is the worst. I hope those FBI probes into the Dade County financing deals for their new stadium end up with him eventually in federal prison.

Rays do a lot of contending with a payroll that's been between $40M-$70M in the past 3 years. The Braves have excellent scouting and local resources. Additionally, don't discount the way in which the new drafting limitations benefit teams like the Braves.

You're right that we're not talking about an AL East situation here unless the Mets situation changes and the Marlins actually prove a long-term commitment to winning, but I wouldn't discount the Braves as a force because they don't spend. Their $90-$100M budget looks much better than the Rays, and their player development can't really be questioned.

gobay: i agree, and thats even considering I never liked Graham much either.

Blanton has been working out and is in the best shape of his life.

Hope SE: "What about a RICO claim?"

Rico was already claimed, I think by the Padres.

"You don't have to be a lawyer to know that BAP's "it's a taxpayer funded stadium" argument would get laughed out of court."

Well, smartypants, none other than the U.S. Supreme Court has said that if the government and a private party have a joint enterprise (like, say, a city building a stadium for a sports team and the sports team paying rent to the city), the private party's acts are the acts of the state. There have also been cases saying that high school sports leagues are state actors. And, about 20 years ago, there was a U.S. Supreme Court case on whether the NCAA is a state actor. The argument didn't win, but it managed to make it all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which isn't in the habit of hearing frivolous cases.

So, while you do not have to be a lawyer, you DO have to know something about law to have an intelligent opinion on whether this argument would be "laughed out of court." Not that I would ever expect lack of intelligent insight to stop you from expressing your opinion . . .

gobaystars! - Scott Graham >>> TMac, like Rollins >>> Mini Mart.

After all, Scott has a flavor of Turkey Hill ice cream named is his honor.

Bubba and everyone else here on the site:

TBag, not TMac.


Listening to him broadcast is like being t-bagged?

I'm not laughing at anyone, but it is true that the NCAA case was about Title IX which is specifically tied to Federal funds. Any educational program receiving Federal money can't exclude based on sex. NCAA is exempt because they don't receive any directly. It's a little more straight-forward there since Title IX is going to apply to all kinds of private actors.

Another thing on this note to keep in mind is how easily leagues curb player speech. Think John Rocker or David Stern and Iverson. Stern, another lawyer, literally said in response to the whole thing "the NBA is a private organization ... I have the power to disqualify players who engage in offensive conduct."

But, again, I don't know enough about any of this to laugh anyone out of any court.

Oh man BAP. Found your precedent.

Ludtke v. Kuhn, 461 F. Supp. 86

66. In the 1978 district court case Ludtke v. Kuhn, the court relied heavily on Burton to conclude that because Yankee Stadium received public funding, it could be considered a state actor for constitutional purposes.

In Ludtke, a female sports reporter for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED challenged former Major League Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn's league-wide ban on the admission of female sportswriters to team clubhouses. Ludtke was sent to Yankee Stadium to cover the 1977 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers. After being denied access to the Yankee clubhouse following a game, Ludtke filed suit against Kuhn for sexual discrimination on equal protection and due process grounds. The court concluded that because the City of New York owns the land upon which the stadium was built, used public funds to build and maintain the stadium, and received financial benefit from the stadium's continued operation, Kuhn's policy could be deemed state action.

While this may indeed be the case, more recent Supreme Court jurisprudence seems to indicate that if this case were filed to today, a different outcome would be likely. ... as courts have now explicitly stated that the mere receipt of federal funds in and of itself is not enough to trigger state action. Absent the receipt of state funds, it appears unlikely that the totality of the circumstances presented in Ludike would compel a finding of state action.


Sophist: The free speech issue is a good analogy -- although, to my knowledge, no one has ever challenged a league-imposed fine based on speech.

Lest I haven't been clear enough: I am not saying this lawsuit would win or that I agree with the premise. I'm just saying it would have a fighting chance and would not be "laughed out of court" -- to use Iceman's phrase. I mean, sheesh, I remember coming across a published appellate decision a few years ago in which the plaintiff had been disqualified from a spelling bee for misspelling the word "horsey," and subsequently sued on the ground that "horsey" is a proper alternative spelling. I don't think Iceman quite appreciates how high the threshold is in America for getting laughed out of court.

BAP - I know what you mean. I was just trying to get a sense of where on the plausibility scale this argument sits.

damn, as if we don't have too many lawyers in the country already, you guys bring the legal crap to the pages of BL. Ugh.

I apologize for swinging and missing at the pitch on that 11:46 am joke.

What I should have said was "I presume "Ruf" is Alsatian?

It didn't occur to me until insomnia set in. (BTW when is P&C?)

In re: Blanton
I bet we could trade Kentucky Joe for a Bag-O-Donuts. But then we wouldn't need them.

Ah. And in re: Lawsuits

Some woman just filed suit against the City of New York for $900 trillion.

This just in:Nationals to black out telecast of game to non-democratic republics during the nightly Pres. Race.

Oswalt to Pittsburgh:"Drop Dead!"

Hope none of you guys are comedians in your real life.

BAP- I would have never guessed you'd have been so over-sensitive to criticism of what I'm sure is a vast knowledge of the law. I've never run into an over-sensitive lawyer before.

Yeah, I stand by my statement that if some smart-ass Phillies fan brought a suit to court using your argument, he'd be laughed out of there.

Beard - I'm an accountant for a funeral parlor.

Actually, if there's an argument to be made regarding the WSN ticket thang, one might say that trying to limit which team one is cheering for in a state funded stadium one is definitely denying free speech rights. Really, if a superpac is allowed to spend freely, a fan from wherever should be allowed access to scream epithets at whomever for whatever purpose.

Mighty Yanks being forced to try to move Burnett so they sign Eric Chavez and a left-handed DH (Ibanez, Damon, Matsui) for a combined $3-$4M. He's definitely more untradeable than Blanton at this point.

Got $33M left over 2 years and the Yanks supposedly wouldn't eat more than $7-8M. Yanks won't even be able to move him next offseason either unless they eat a similar amount & he has a bounce-back year to some degree.

Never would have happened with George Steinbrenner was still running the team. Luxury tax hit be damned.

RE: Trading Blanton

Why would anyone take on a year of Blanton at $8.5 mil when Oswalt is looking for almost exactly the same? I know Roy is supposedly limiting himself to just a few teams, but if I needed starting pitching, I can't imagine spending that much on a Guy coming off an elbow injury keeping him from reaching an already-low ceiling. Blanton's a Phil this year, the only question is if he can secure a spot in the rotation... here's hoping he does well enough that he doesn't distract anyone from bitching about Howard's and Papelbon's contracts.

"well enough that he doesn't distract anyone from bitching about Howard's and Papelbon's contracts"

A classic capture of the beerleaguer milieu.

Iceman: You misread me. I'm not being over-sensitive. I'm merely observing that you don't know what you're talking about -- as Sophist proves in his 12:20 and 12:26 posts, which I just now saw.

BAP- I admit I know as much about law as you do about baseball. That is, next to nothing.

Klaw has the Phils 25th in his top farm systems list.

And really, we're getting a prime example here of why there is a perception that lawyers are nothing but a huge drain on society. There are apparently people out there like BAP actually willing to stand up in court with a straight face and argue that a fan (or fans) are being disenfranchised here. To me, that is worse than a fan getting chapped about this promotion and filing suit instead of, you know, buying tickets on StubHub or easily finding another way. At least the fan is willing to pay for his stupidity. The lawyer demands to be paid to clog up the legal system with this frivolous BS.

There are people who are being disenfranchised in this country for one thing or another, and people like BAP, who thinks a suit like this would be anything but laughable and a complete and utter waste of time and money, are worsening the problem.

Baseball can't start soon enough.

Iceman, this is pretty much an academic exercise, and BAP already mentioned he didn't think the idea had much merit. Enough already.

SLO Phan - My Phils' season tickets arrived today. It isn't that far off either with the first exhibition vs. FSU 3 weeks from today.

KLaw is probably pretty accurate with that assessment. We have an incredibly thin system this year unless some of last year's picks (Greene, Greene, Quinn, etc) develop quickly. Even if they do, we're still no better than middle of the pack as we have zero impact prospects right now.

Bill, many people here feel Klaw has an anti-Philly bias. Personally, I never read his stuff so I don't know.

I also don't think it matters much where a ranks a team's prospects preseason. Some prospects will get injured and fall off the chart (Gillies), some will fail miserably at the next level and rarely be heard from again, some will repeat at a level and master it (Worely) and quickly make their way to MLB and succeed, some will do the same and fail at MLB. Some will have breakout seasons and help change the perception of a team's farm system (Singleton). Anything can happen.

BTW, has anybody ever tracked the "success ratio" of the people who rank prospects? I was wondering who (Klaw, BA, BP, etc.) had the best track record, and where everyone else lies.

Iceman: Debating with you is an exercise in futility because I can say 6 times "I do not think X will happen," only to have you write, "BAP thinks X will happen."

For the record, I am not a civil litigator and have never filed a civil suit in my life (either personally or as a lawyer). I do, however, have a pretty fair idea of what kinds of civil lawsuits will or won't fly. Saying that an argument might fly is a far cry from going into court and making it -- though your contempt for lawyers apparently makes you unable to discern the distinction.

NEPP - Pretty much. Its a farm system headed into the year that is bottom 1/3 of MLB with zero impact prospects over the next year or so (not counting Brown at this point anymore as a prospect only).

Iceman: "I admit I know as much about law as you do about baseball. That is, next to nothing"

Iceman reminds me of the fat ginger from The Sandlot trying to come up with the ultimate insult to the other kids.

lorecore: How's your wife and my kids?

Sorry, that was Major League.

BAP- I'd continue the discussion but re-reading my last two posts I realize I was doing my best aksmith impression, so I'd like to declare BL Bankruptcy on the entire argument.

Speaking of 'knowing basbeall" - has anyone watched MLB Network's Baseball IQ show? Its a trivia game, but makes it kind of cool because each MLB team is represented by one of their employees, and face off against one another. I've seen about 4-5 episodes but have yet to see the Phillies guy.

lorecore - Phils were represented on the first episode. He faced off with a Mets guy and lost. Wasn't a very good showing for either.

I'd actually like to declare Beerleaguer Bankruptcy too -- if only because my original post started an entire discussion that had nothing to do with baseball. Hence, I'd like to amend my original post to say, "Erik Kratz should be the Phillies' backup catcher."

The comments to this entry are closed.

EST. 2005

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