BOB:  Bud Selig speaks

Selig chats at All-Star FanFest

This has become an annual tradition and MLB commissioner Bud Selig didn’t disappoint in his annual All Star Game “state of the league” chat with fans. The big topics included instant replay and expanded playoffs. He said he’s committed to expanding instant replay to “aid umpires” and he also wants to see the playoffs expanded to 10 teams.

Another idea being bounced around is allowing a designated hitter in National League parks during interleague play. You wonder if this is just something innocent or if it’s a first step toward further unifying the leagues and taking away one of the distinguishing difference between the American and National League. Selig also said that there was no chance of a salary cap as part of the new collective bargaining negotiations.

Selig was pretty evasive about the Los Angeles Dodgers situation, but in his defense, there’s probably not a whole lot he could say. As far as the playoffs, it sounds like an expansion to 10 teams is a forgone conclusion. The question that’s still up in the air is how many games that first round will have.

Dayton Dragons set attendance mark

The Cincinnati Reds Midwest League affiliate has sold out every game since the team was established in 2000. The sellout streak was brought to 815 games earlier this week and that gives Dayton the all-time record for consecutive sellouts. The former record was held by the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers, who sold out 814 games between 1977 and 1995. The team attributes its success to an unconventional approach to season ticket sales and its commitment to customer service.

New York Times sells stake in Red Sox

The New York Times Co. sold more than half of its 700 ownership interest units in Fenway Sports Group, the company that owns the Boston Red Sox. The company sold 390 of its units for $300,000 a share, which was impressive because it paid a third of that when it bought them in 2002. Three separate buyers purchased the units—the new owners weren’t disclosed. This drops the company’s stake in Fenway Sports Group to 7.3 percent.

Dodgers update

You can’t do a report these days without having something on the Dodgers and their drama. The latest has to do with the Dodgers’ demand to depose Bud Selig about how he’s accommodated teams like the New York Mets during their financial woes. They also wanted a bunch of other financially related documents, such as the details of the Seattle Mariners television contract to prove that the Dodgers have been singled out.

Unfortunately for owner Frank McCourt, the bankruptcy judge didn’t see the relevance of these items and he rejected the demands. With that, we now look forward to July 20, where the judge will decide whether McCourt can use his own financing or whether MLB will help right the ship.

Attendance report

I’m writing this while the All-Star Game is on and it’s good time to check on the attendance numbers since the first half is in the books. The Philadelphia Phillies still lead the pack with just over 2.2 million tickets sold. Right behind them are the New York Yankees with 2.17 million. The only other team to average more than 40,000 fans a game is the San Francisco Giants. The Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim round out the top five.

The Florida Marlins are in last place with just over 17,000 fans a game and the team announced that it will be closing the upper deck. Florida’s cross-state rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays, are just over 19,000 fans a game despite their on-field success and they’re actually last in total attendance because they’ve played eight fewer home games than the Marlins. The best of the worst are still the Cleveland Indians. Despite being just a half game out of first place, they’re 26th in attendance with 21,106 fans per game.

The Yankees are the top draw on the road with 35,131 fans per game. Just behind them are the New York Mets at 34,292. The worst road draw is the Baltimore Orioles, with 25,919 fans per game.

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Wait a minute.  Somebody check my math.  If the NYT remaining 310 shares constitute 7.3% that means there are about 4200 shares.  At $300K a share the team is worth about $1.26B?  That seems high in today’s economy, even for one of the most valuable franchises in the league.  The Cubs sold for $845M just two years ago at a time when they were winning and selling a lot of tickets.

Forbes this year valued them at $912M.  Seems like the NYT found a sucker.


Keep in mind, this is for a share in Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Red Sox and Fenway but they also do other things.  They own a soccer team, a racing group and a regional sports network and they also do sales and marketing for other sports.

Hank G
Hank G

The Minnesota Twins are in the top five in attendance? Isn’t this the franchise that Selig wanted to contract out of existence?