Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Selig: Baseball in D.C. "working out well"

PHOENIX -- It's been nearly seven years since Major League Baseball brought the sport back to Washington, and the road has featured plenty of bumps along the way.

But as the Nationals begin to see positive results on the field and throughout their farm system, the franchise is beginning to receive positive reviews from the man who orchestrated its relocation from Montreal.

"That took a long time, and I think the Washington situation is working out well, I really do," MLB commissioner Bud Selig said today. "I'm glad that all happened. It took a long time. We went through a lot. It seems like every year or two you have some thing that you wished for, but it worked out well. It's working out well."

During his annual All-Star break Q&A session with members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, Selig was asked what lessons he learned from the long process that brought baseball back to the
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natsfan1a said...

Yeah, thanks, Bud. My ladylike decorum (what are *you* laughing at, bub?) prevents me from posting my opinion of the MASN deal.

On another note, in addition to the Oakland/SFO situation, did anybody happen to ask about the LA Dodgers situation? To me, that's comparable to the Nats early situation as regards the potential taking over of a team by MLB (or have they already done that?).

"Now, we had to work things out with Baltimore. That was painful. But it all worked. It all worked out well. And we're better off as a result for it."

RickH said...

How much closer can Oakland get to San Francisco???

N. Cognito said...

Based upon Bud's assessment, I'd say we're pretty much screwed.

natsfan1a said...

RickH: Yeah, they're right across the bay from each other. I think the issue is that Oakland wants to put a new park in what SFO considers to be its territory. I'm not up on the latest, but I believe that at one point they were looking at San Jose (where SFO has a minor league affiliate), as well as at an East Bay location.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

I think they are getting further apart by a few millimeters a year, in fact.

Sunderland said...

SofaKing - you're good.
And yeah, I thought OAk was aiming towards San Jose with the Giants holding claim to that geography.

See, I think kinda the opposite of Bud. Baltimore got hurt by allowing the Nats into town. Placing the team in Virginia would have been better for the O's. Nat's got hurt by having MLB dis-assemble their minor league system. Nat's got hurt by the MASN deal. Nat's got hurt by placing a decent stadium in a lousy neighborhood. This could have been done much, much better. But whatever, Bud, like the rest, spins positive, as he should.

JD said...

Another brilliant dissertation from the used car salesman. If he asks to shake your hand you better make sure your wallet is still with youi after he leaves.

Luqman Sh-Hersi said...

I totally agree about Selig wanted to expand the postseason, because it gives better competition around all teams, example the Yankess and Red Sox facing the Indians, and the Rangers/Angels. It gives the Nationals and Orioles an opportunity to compete every night until the end of the season, because they can at least have something to play for. I am a big avocate for baseball expanding replays other than Homeruns. They needs to expand on bang-bang plays like double plays, controversy calls, and beating the play at the plate, etc. It needs to be fair. The NL needs to have the DH, because pitchers are use to pitch NOT to hit. The DH will bring excitement to the sport for both conferences. This is a pitching game, a DH will help them out.

Unkyd said...

How long does the MASN deal last? I assume the Nats wil, SOMEday be the Masters of Their Domain....

Stranded_in_Philly said...

I've never been clear on the MASN deal overall, and was wondering, like Unkyd, how long it lasts.

Anybody (or Mark?) got any details on it?

Sunderland said...

Luqman Sh-Hersi, the NFL has instant replay. Lots of it. Boring, slow, stupid. Coaches call for replay just on the off chance maybe the replay will catch something and help his team.
Officals have slow whistles because they need to let play run in case replay overturns something. Hate it.
And has their instant replay reduced the number of controversial calls? Not at all. Has it increased fan, coach and player satisfaction with officiating? Not at all. Do we have better offiated games now? No. Is officiating more fair now? No.
And don't let me get started about the DH....

Anonymous said...

"The NL needs to have the DH, because pitchers are use to pitch NOT to hit."

Tell Babe Ruth that.

Tcostant said...

It's funny when the deal was first done with Angelos, we all thought that the Nationals got screwed. But the reality is Angelos is the one who got screwed:

- DC having a team has hurt Baltimore attendance. I know I use to get to a least 5 games in Baltimore a year; not I get to one or two tops. I know their product has hurt too, but the place has tumbleweeds blowing though it on non Red Sox/Yankees games.

- The MASN deal has been bad for Angelos. He had to pay the Nationals $27 million a year in rights fees each of the last six years; most of it with less than 10,000 viewers a night.

Ironic, isn't it.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Sunderalnd..... I'm with you all the way on the DH. Baseball needs to be baseball, not 10 man softball.

But the replay thing is different. I want a 5th umpire in the booth that IMMEDIATELY calls down and says "you're wrong" on all obviously blown calls (and there are ALOT of them). Those not so obvious can be reviewed by the REPLAY umpire in the booth for no more than 30 seconds and then the call can be made.

Sunderland said...

When MASN was formed, MLB retained 10% of the ownership, with a contract that would extend this to a 33% share over 20-some years. When the Lerners bought the Nats, the MASN stuff conveyed. So the Lerners own 10+% of MASN, and by 2030-ish will own 33% of MASN.
I guess this is a long way of saying that the Nats will be on MASN for a long time.

Kevin Rusch, Section406 said...

Well, I think not having a halfway-decent team in Baltimore has hurt Baltimore attendance way more than the Nats' existence has.

Sunderland said...

NatsJack, I would love nothing more than to sit at a bar and have this out with you one drink at a time!
It's not a bad vision, but the implementation is impossible.
The goal just can't be fixing a few bad calls. That doesn't accomplish anything. It doesn't make the game better officiated or more fairly officiated. (evidence - NFL)
Because every little thing in baseball is just as important as any big thing. Was his foot out of the batter's box on a sacrifice bunt is just as important as was that home run foul. And was that slider at the knees or below the knees is just as important as did he slide under the tag.
Buy a case of beer, call me, and we'll get this solved!

Sunderland said...

What we need is a new contract for umpires / umpire union that bonuses all umpires on quality. Motivate the umpires to be at their best every day. Motivate the umpiring managment to promote good umpires and demote / release bad umpires. These guys have too much job protection and too little motivation to be great at their jobs.
And this would be way easier and cheaper than instant replay, and way better for the game.

Dismantling soapbox now...

Dave said...

I agree with you, Kevin. I don't think you can say whether the Nats have hurt the Os until both teams are competitive.

Unfortunately for Baltimore fans, Angelos thinks his problem is the DC baseball team, not his own substandard team.

natsfan1a said...

Yeah, when I lived out there my east coast relatives were all the time telling me how the entire state was going to fall off into the ocean one day (though I believe that plate moves north-south).

Sunderland, can I borrow your soapbox kit? I want to give a little dissertation regarding the DH. Eh, maybe not. It's too dang hot for that. :-)

And isn't Angelos' problem, well, Angelos?

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

I think they are getting further apart by a few millimeters a year, in fact.
July 12, 2011 3:52 PM

FS said...

I think using replay is something either you completely allow it or not allow it. Otherwise, give each team certain number of reviews, say 2 for each team. Let the manager decides when he wants to use it. Does he wanna use it to check Berkman's swing with two outs or does he wanna check Galarraga's last out? Too many reviews and our game will be slow. Without replays, we can lose crucial games. NFL already uses that system I think so why not implement in MLB as well?

I think division realignment is a more complex issue. Simply moving a team or two is not going to balance it out. You know each league can't have odd number of teams because that will cause scheduling headache unless interleague play is used throughout the season, which does not make any sense to me. We are competing for the division title first, then league championship so logically speaking we should play division rivals mostly and avoid any interleague games. Right now I would add two team to AL instead of moving any NL team to AL. Make four divisions of four team each in AL and NL. Four division winners and a wild card from each league. It makes sense to me.

jd said...

Sunderland, NatsJack,

I actually agree with both of you (especially about the beer). I like the concept of a mechanism which reverses obvious bad calls quickly although I'm not sure who covers the extra cost.

I am really more concerned about the overall attitude of the umpires. I hate when they pick a fight with a player or manager when one can be avoided; I hate how the strike zone magically increases on getaway days and other such issues.

I don't believe that umpires are held accountable for their performance and it could very well be that the profession is under payed and attracts less competent individuals.

FS said...

Oh and definitely no to DH.

RPrecupjr said...

I'd love a piece of that meeting, Sunderland & NatsJack. I'm of the opinion that balls and strikes should be removed from the umpire. Every broadcast now has PitchTrak or whatever, as well as the system they've installed in every stadium to "grade" the home plate ump. Plain and simple, the strike zone is specifically laid out in the rule book and there are too many umps out there who think it is open for "interpretation". Most of them also seem to have the same problem, the close outside pitch, because of where they position themselves between the catcher and the batter. Watch closely the next few games and see where the questionable calls are.

As for replay, you say the implementation is impossible to have a 5th ump in the booth. Why is that impossible? We all already see when a call is blown within 5 seconds with replay on TV. The 5th ump should only be consulted once in each half inning and only on plays where there is a question by one team, i.e. safe or out at the plate. There is NO need for the four guys on the field to get together, talk about it for five minutes and THEN go to the tape. The guy in the booth can do it in 30 seconds or less, the same way we all do it at home.

But this will probably never happen, and there's an underlying issue. There is no motivation on the umpire's part to get the call right every time. If a player is playing poorly, he gets sent to the minors to fix whatever the problem is. If an umpire is frequently missing calls (I'm talking to you, Joe West, Laz Diaz, CB Bucknor, Angel Hernandez....) he just keeps on umpiring. He doesn't get sent to the minors to "work it out". If he gets into a verbal or even somewhat physical confrontation with a player or manager, does he get fined/suspended? Nope, the player/manager does. Even if the ump gets "talked to", he's right out on the field the next day, free to screw up again with no fear of repercussions. THAT is the problem, there is NO accountability other than maybe not getting to work the postseason.

Ok, I'm done ranting now....until we start getting the shaft again :)

Nats Outsider said...

Can any of the stat-masters here tell us how much attendance the Orioles have lost since the Nats arrived in DC? I realize the answer is going to be squishy, because the quality of play has declined up there as well.

But Angelos was claiming that the Nats would doom his club, and my sense is that he may have had a point. The fact that the Washington Post stopped covering the Orioles last year is just one more sign that they aren't one of "our" teams. (For those who don't know what I'm talking about, stories in the WaPo about the Orioles's games now come from the Sun papers or from the Associated Press.

I went to an O's game this year for the first time in at least 5 seasons, and I have to say that Oriole's Park is still a better place to watch a game than the Nats have. It feels more part of its city than Nationals Park is. But the best thing about Nationals Park is that the people there play *baseball,* and not that other game known as "American League baseball." :-)

Nats Outsider said...

Watch your email!!

I just got an email from the Nationals, thanking me for voting for Michael Morse for the All Star Game, and informing me that I will be getting a coupon code good for 2-for-1 tickets to a future game. I imagine that a lot of Mark's readers will be getting a similar email.

Harlan said...

Mark, I would have thrown my notebook at Selig if I were you. No one did more to keep baseball out of DC than Bud Selig. I'm glad that almost seven years later he finally figured that our nation's capital deserved baseball.

Sunderland said...

Orioles Per Home Game Attendance, Rank and Winning %.
Draw your own conclusions
2001 - 38,685 (6th) .391
2002 - 33,122 (10th) .414
2003 - 30,297 (12th) .436
2004 - 34,344 (12th) .481
2005 - 32,404 (14th, and Nats in DC) .457
2006 - 26,581 (20th) .432
2007 - 27,060 (23rd) .407
2008 - 25,000 (24th) .422
2009 - 23,545 (21st) .395
2010 - 21,662 (24th) .407
2011 - 21,751 (25th) .409

Nats Outsider said...

Selig's guiding principle for as long as I can remember has been the finanical sucess of MLB. It is not quite fair to blame him for keeping baseball out of DC. Even though that was the practical effect of his policies for years, it was not his intent. As long as there were cities that seemed to have a bigger, more profitable, fan base, he wasn't interested in us.

After all, two franchises had failed here, and the Orioles were doing all they could to incorporate DC-area baseball fans into their orbit. Because of the Orioles, we didn't "need" our own team, any more than, say, Newark needed its own team or St. Paul, MN needed its own team.

But the weight shifted when important people in Congress started talking about lifting MLB's antitrust exemption unless we got our own team. Now, the financial success of the league started to depend on getting baseball back in the capital. And, Voila!! Selig was all for getting a team here. So much so that MLB moved the Expos to DC *without* an owner. That was unprecedented, I believe. But Selig would do anything -- anything! -- to keep that antitrust exemption for the franchise owners.

Is it crass? Certainly. But both opposing and supporting DC were business decisions, and they were probably smart business decisions. That's what he is paid to make. It would be nice if there were a statesman at the head of MLB, just as it would be nice if there were a statesman at the head of Microsoft or Ford. But in all cases, we have business executives there instead.

Nats Outsider said...

Thanks for the stats, Sunderland!! And the precipitous drop after 2005 does appear to support Angelos' theory that the Nats would eat into his business. Of course, lousy playing undoubtedly ate into it as well.

Jim in MD said...

Orioles total attendance (2000-2011):

YEAR ATT. AL Rank Record
2000 - 3,297,031 (2/14) 74-88
2001 - 3,094,841 (4/14) 63-98
2002 - 2,682,439 (3/14) 67-95
2003 - 2.454,523 (5/14) 71-91
2004 - 2,744,018 (5/14) 78-84
2005 - 2,624,740 (5/14) 74-88
2006 - 2,153,139 (10/14) 70-92
2007 - 2,164,822 (11/14) 69-93
2008 - 1,950,075 (10/14) 68-93
2009 - 1,907,163 (9/14) 64-98
2010 - 1,733,019 (10/14) 66-96
2011 - 935,325 (10/14) 36-52

It is easy for Mr. Angelos to lay the blame for declining Orioles' attendance on Washington, but the state of the economy and the state of the on-field product in Baltimore certainly have have an effect.

Pudge, is that you?? said...

THAT is the problem, there is NO accountability other than maybe not getting to work the postseason.

FS said...

WOW nice post Nats outsider.

Tim said...


Those stats present a vicious cycle: diluted revenues + rights pmts = less to spend on salaries = poor team = less revenue...


Realignment - everyone says that it'll be the Astros moving to the AL. IMO, they are more entrenched in the NL. The best team to move into the AL is the team that has the least connection to the NL: the Brewers, who used to be in the AL or... Wait for it... The Nationals. Move us to the AL East with NYY, Bos, Bal, and Tor.

Umpires - needed is a replay ump who can stop play and correct wrong calls, with the exception of balls and strikes, balks, checked swings, and other "judgment calls". Need to get it right. Accountability system needs to be in place, too.

DH - I'm 52 years old. It won't change in my lifetime.

Playoff Expansion - it would make it more exciting for a number of cities in August and September.

Also need to work on season ending earlier. Wearing winter gear in the World Series sucks. Need to play ball in baseball weather. Maybe a neutral site, although I hate that. I just don't see another solution. The season WILL NOT be shortened.

Tim said...

Oh yeah... Move the Dodgers back to Brooklyn.

NatsLady said...

NO NO NO NO DH. You might as well say second basemen shouldn't have to hit as well as play defense and then you have football. AL baseball is SO boring, no strategy and only 9 guys get to play, or maybe a relief pitcher.

N. Cognito said...

Should be either Arizona or Colorado to the AL. That would balance the West teams between the two Leagues/Conferences/whatever.

N. Cognito said...

If the Orioles become good, they'll draw 3 million again.

FS said...

15 teams in a league will result with an inactive team every day unless we allow the 15th team to play the inactive team in the other league. That's interleague play which I dislike as much as DH in the AL.

A DC Wonk said...

Re: Orioles. What I see is a team that is working on its sixth straight sub-.440 season. That is really awful. Really really awful. Shouldn't anyone expect attendance to go down in such a circumstance?

Nat's got hurt by placing a decent stadium in a lousy neighborhood.

Where else was it going to be? In any event, I think that years from now it will be a good neighborhood -- it'll take a while to get there, but it will.

As for DH -- in real baseball, DH stands for double-header!

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

replay: I've probably missed last call here, but the basic idea of having challenges is un-baseball. Having another umpire, OTOH, is nothing new. "Booth ump" is an intriguing idea, as just another umpire. Rotate with the rest of the crew, like they do with positions--I bet the umpire's union would go for that. They would need a signal system, like the umps on the field use--maybe they could have a little silent buzzer in the field umpire's pocket, and if they see a problem, just buzz the ump making the call, kind of like "cough-gethelp-cough"--nobody would even have to know. But don't change the basic nature of the relationship--it's important that the umps are in charge, period.

MicheleS said...


Get an umpire up on the booth, that will speed it up. And the Umps need to be held accountable. Joe West and his crew have been getting away with all sorts of garbage for years. THE UMP IS NOT THE REASON WE GO TO THE GAMES!

Move AZ or CO to the AL West. Both of those fields are perfect for the DH.

Angelos SUCKS and that's why no one goes to those games. He alone has driven that franchise into the ground!

As for Bud and how we got the team. It might not have been so bad had we not be saddled with that Has-Been GM Bowden. Bowden did more damage to this franchise and we are still trying to dig out from it.

Scooter said...

I like how putting "Selig" in the title invariably leads to a calm, rational discussion on the merits. Just like putting "Obama" in a post title over at the Post.

Good times, y'all.

sjm308 said...

Was just talking about how great NL baseball is today with my son. There is absolutely zero strategy in the AL, no worries about double switches, when the pitcher is coming up to hit, sacrifice bunts or anything related to strategy. So happy to be watching NL baseball after driving up to Baltimore during our "time off". Thought after the Nationals arrived that I would still visit Baltimore, we did have season tickets there, but I just fell in love with old RFK and the NL style of ball. I make maybe one game a year and disagree about the stadiums as well. Camden Yards has always been a great stadium but the more I go to Nationals Park the more I think it is just fine. Anyway, NO TO THE DH and I probably would be ok with the instant replay thing.

JaneB said...

Yikes. NO DH! And we stay in the One True League, the NL. I love the Nats but I think imwould love them less if they played in the "ten man softball league" as someone else so eloquently put it.

Okay. Two nights more to rest.

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