Since my last piece examined the state of the NBA on the decline, I figured that it would be fitting to give an assessment of the MLB during the financial crisis . Baseball is in the beginning stages of seeing exactly how bad the country’s unwillingness to spend is affecting them. We’ll know exactly what is going to happen with 19 teams within 6 games of first place in their divisions. As the July 31st trade deadline approaches, will any teams make any big moves adding money to their payroll? Baseball is facing their biggest financial hurdle since they came back from the 94 strike, but this time they don’t have the influx of steroids to save them. Even the rich teams are feeling the financial crunch as the powerhouses like the Yankees and Red Sox are even seeing declining ticket sales.
With teams struggling to get fans through the turnstiles, they’ve turned to alternatives to lure people to the games. In Arizona, they gave away an unprecedented amount of 41 season tickets to 14 different families which was worth approximately $100K. The Marlins are giving away $2,500 towards a mortgage or rent payment for 11 Saturday’s this season. They are also giving away free tickets on Monday night games to any person with proof that they were laid off. Baseball, more than other sports, is driven by ticket sales, and this year has shown that even the mighty Yankees and Red Sox aren’t immune to the recession, as many games aren’t selling out the way they have over the past decade and a half.
Last year there were many big names swirling around before the deadline like CC Sabathia, Mark Teixiera, Manny Ramierez, Jason Bay, Rich Harden, and Joe Blanton. Like many years past, all of the marquee names found a new home for the 2nd half of the season to help their respective teams during the playoff push. Maybe last year’s market had more top dogs than most, but this year you can hear a pin drop around most camps with teams trying to find ways to save. I haven’t heard one intriguing rumor for any player that would make a significant impact on a team pushing for a playoff spot. As we approach the July 31st trade deadline, it’s the time of the year when teams have to decide if they are a buyer or a seller. This year it seems as though everyone is a seller, and every team has players on the block as they just want to clear salary. It doesn’t seem like teams even want to improve in this bizarro situation that is mirroring the NBA. Are Mark Derosa and Eric Hinske going to be the biggest names we hear moved this year? So far it’s shaping up that way. The Red Sox, Phillies, Giants, and Mets seem like the only teams that are willing to take on a significant amount of salary. The economy has made GM’s much more cautious. Even if there are trades made, I doubt it will be much more than a 7-9 hitter or a 4th or 5th man in the pitching rotation. I hope we see some fireworks from one or two teams before it’s all said and done. I need something to look forward to, since my A’s were placed on the sellers list a month ago by positioning themselves firmly in last place in the AL West. Hopefully they can get a few parts via trade, that can be immediately inserted into their D rated offense for one of their proven players (their old guys or Holliday).