MLB’s biggest problem in the last few years is that too many teams have not really cared about whether their teams win or lose. They’ll say all the right things, and maybe make just enough signings or trades to fool their idiotic portion of their fanbases into buying tickets or for a new Carlton Fisk jersey (White or Red Sox? Up to you!), but it’s all a ruse. Thanks to revenue sharing, national TV deals, sponsorships, and local TV contracts, the money rolls right in before teams ever have to sell a ticket. And they’ve acted like it.
The last part of that equation may be drying up.
Sinclair subsidiary Diamond Sports Group restructuring debt
Diamond Sports Group, the subsidiary of Sinclair broadcasting that’s been running their sports RSN after they picked them up from Disney which picked them up from Fox, looks to be gearing up for an $8.6 billion debt restructuring in bankruptcy court. There are a lot of business and financial terms and policies to work through, but the long and short of it is that DSG is likely going to skip an interest payment it owes, which should be enough for them to get to the bankruptcy claim they’ve been rumored to be after for a while now.
Should they go that route, all their contracts with the MLB, NHL, and NBA will essentially disappear into the night. According to Bloomberg, if Diamond, which operates under the Bally Sports brand, files for bankruptcy, it could potentially put at risk crucial broadcasting-rights revenue for the likes of MLB.
MLB TV contracts
No league has used their TV contracts as the crutch like MLB teams. For instance, the St. Louis Cardinals are currently bagging some $66 million a year from Bally from their 15-year, $1 billion deal they signed with Fox Sports in 2015. While the Cardinals are one of the better-supported teams in the league via attendance, you’d have to think $66 million going disparu would certainly be something they might notice. The Texas Rangers — you may remember them from such episodes as handing Jacob deGrom, Corey Seager, and Marcus Semien their own Caribbean islands in cash — inked a $1.6 billion, 20-year contract in 2010. There are 17 other teams on Sinclair/Diamond local TV deals, all of whom are going to have angry accountants when that local TV money goes to hang out with Harvey the Rabbit.
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The buzz has been that the leagues themselves will end up purchasing the distressed rights out of bankruptcy, though it’s not quite that simple and involves a lot of processes that make me go blind when I read about them. But it might allow MLB to perhaps finally do away with its Byzantine and moronic blackout rules for its MLB Extra Innings package if it ends up owning teams’ local TV rights themselves. Still, that would be a pooled fortune, not the overvalued total that teams were collecting from Bally for their local TV rights. It’s hard to see the Cardinals collecting $60 million from that sort of setup every year. Which would hopefully mean that they and a host of other teams might actually have to care a touch more about ticket sales, which generally are connected to how a team does in the standings.
NBA and NHL teams will certainly feel the pinch, but none of them have used the local TV deals quite like MLB to justify their inertia in improving their teams. It’s not the major revolution that MLB probably needs, but it’s at least a start. Or it may just turn out that simply fans in Iowa can actually watch a live baseball game on TV instead of being drawn and quartered by the local right of the Cubs, Cardinals, and Twins. Baby steps to the elevator.
Jack Edwards gets his
Every so often, we get to enjoy watching or reading about someone who gets exactly what they deserve. In the grand scheme of things, Jack Edwards having to answer for his juvenile and nonsensical fat-shaming of Pat Maroon during a Lightning-Bruins game isn’t going to throw the world off its axis, but any level of comeuppance is welcome.
Last night was the first game the Bruins have played the Lightning since, and Edwards went to apologize, which was the right step. Which doesn’t mean Maroon has to accept it automatically, and it sounds like he very much didn’t. And to be fair to Edwards, as much as I have to, it sounds like he stood there and took it knowing that’s exactly what he had to do. Even from the picture circulating on Twitter, you can tell Maroon doesn’t really have much time for whatever Edwards had to say.
Edwards got what was coming to him, which is all any of us could have asked for. Sometimes, it all just works out.