Business of Baseball Report

Israel Starts Baseball League

A big deal was made out of trips that have been made to both China and Africa, but baseball appears to be expanding just about everywhere. Last week, it was announced that a six-team league would start up this summer in Israel. Major leaguers Ken Holtzman, Ron Blomberg and Art Shamsky will be three of the managers in the Israel Baseball League, and former Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette will be the league’s director of player operations.

The league has already held tryouts in eight different countries, including the United States, but the ultimate objective is to nurture baseball within Israel. The hope is that when the World Baseball Classic rolls around again in 2009, Israel will be able to field a team.

Twins Stadium Deal Still On Shaky Ground

I talked about the whole land issue with the prospective stadium for the Minnesota Twins a couple of weeks ago; now it looks like Hennepin County has gone back to the team with two choices. Option one is for the Twins to pony up some more cash to help pay for the land at the original site; option two is to pick a new place to build the stadium. The county proposed six new sites that could potentially serve as an alternative to the downtown Minneapolis site.

The bulk of the construction was planned to start in August, but now that time table is in jeopardy. The Twins also postponed the unveiling of the design pictures of the stadium because they could very well change with a new site.

Donald Fehr Says Players Have Choice in Steroid Probe

Union head Donald Fehr came out last week and said that it’s up to the player as to whether they should cooperate with former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell’s probe on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. He also said that the players’ association would offer the player the best advice that the union provides. This was in response to Mitchell’s allegation that if the lack of cooperation continues there will be a greater chance that the government will stick its nose back into the issue.

MLB to Test Everyone for Drugs

Well, maybe not everyone, but definitely employees Maury Brown has been up on this development, and he has a copy of the memo from Bud Selig so be sure to stop by to check it out.

Group Led by Michael Eisner to Buy Topps

A group led by former Disney CEO Michael Eisner has agreed to buy baseball card manufacturer Topps Co. The venerable Topps is synonymous with baseball cards and the sales price is a touch over $385 million. Apparently it’s not a done deal though because one of the company’s board members is opposed to the deal. Topps didn’t shop itself out to the highest bidder, so there still might be a chance that someone can come in and buy the company for a higher price. In the meantime, shareholders got a nice little bump in the stock price.

I collected cards throughout most of my childhood. I remember my first baseball cards were the ones you used to get on the bottom of Hostess products and figuring I started “collecting” when I was five. I still have a decent collection, and I’ve been keeping up with the sets and I even remember buying some packs last year. Nothing is more therapeutic than opening up a box of baseball cards, flipping them over and checking the stats and then sorting them to see if you have a set. Although one thing I noticed with this year’s cards is that they got a lot more expensive.

DirecTV/MLB Deal Grinds On

Things have gotten very interesting with regard to the deal between MLB and DirecTV. It still hasn’t been formally announced, but DirecTV has said the deal is in the works but isn’t yet final. That hasn’t stopped the FCC from saying if the deal ever goes through, they’ll have a look at things; there are even rumors floating around that the deal will soon die. And in the meantime, MLB commissioner Bud Selig is basically saying we’re stupid if we don’t understand why the deal is a good one. Once again, this is “to be continued.”

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