With the uncertainty in the economy, and with teams watching the bottom line closely (excluding the Yankees), one has to wonder how business will be conducted from here on out both on the field and in the stands.
Love or hate him -- ESPN's Peter Gammons has a great piece on his blog about the future of baseball, player development, the new economy and young players. With most teams focusing these days more on development, drafting, and building a team through trades, most organizations are steering away from signing old, costly, has-been veterans.
In fact, it looks like the Jay Payton's of the world will have a hard time finding work unless they are willing to sign a minor league deal or a minimum MLB deal.
It seems that the young player is now being given a lot of attention opposed to signing high-priced free agents, except in a few instances. The new reality of building a team, not only comes from the success of the Rays, Twins and Marlins, but perhaps because of the sinking American economy.
Team may be moving in this direction, perhaps not because of necessity, but the fact being that most teams expect a decline in ticket sales, advertising dollars, sponsorships, and the all important luxury/sky box lease.
From ESPN: So in 2009, we focus not on the names and the celebrity value of additions to clubs, but what Jay Bruce, Ian Stewart, Dexter Fowler, David Price, Cameron Maybin, Max Scherzer, Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, Gordon Beckham, Adam Lind, Justin Upton, Tommy Hanson and other extraordinary young players will do for their teams. Ask the Phillies and Mets about Florida's Josh Johnson (24) and Ricky Nolasco (26). The Marlins had nearly the best 1-2 punch in the NL East down the stretch in 2008, so where does that take them this season?Peter hits the nail on the head with his analysis -- attending sports in a luxury, and the first thing anyone does when they are in financial trouble is to cut back on ancillary or luxury items.
This season is also the first since the most recent major recession struck the world. Sure, the Yankees could afford $423 million for three players, with a market where two teams each drew four million fans, a management that had tons of money coming off the books and substantial government aid in the building of their Taj Mahal stadium. But January has arrived and there are dozens of good players whispering collusion, and while clubs likely do have an information bank, the economic reality is that the roaring inflationary days of summer may be tempered. From Bernie Madoff to Arizona land prices, several owners have been affected, and in cities like Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis, Houston and Miami (where the average cost of a home is down 30 percent), entertainment dollars are going to be harder to excuse for a while.
With the cost of big-screen TV's coming down, HTDV, and with the clarity they offer, most fans are willing to stay home and defray the cost of attending a game.
Baseball teams realize it and they are operating their business differently. It looks like the reality of the new economy are being felt on the field, and expect it to be felt at the ballpark. I would not be surprised to see teams do all they can to bring fans into the fold, whether it be in the form of discount nights, two-for-one specials, or in case what the Orioles did with MASN -- $1 nights.