Splash hits: Cactus League edition
Brady Singer loses in arbitration, Ned Yost wins in the Royals' Hall of Fame, Bally's Sports is going bankrupt and I'm feuding with John Cleese.
It’s been a while since I emptied the digital notebook and the start of spring camp is as good a time as any. So you get thoughts today on Brady Singer and the Royals going to arbitration, the impending bankruptcy of the Royals RSN, how the Royals Hall of Fame needs to have more inductees, photographs of larger bases and my feud with John Cleese.
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Brady Singer lost his arbitration case.
They argued over $375,000.
Anne Rogers had Singer’s reaction:
It sounds like Singer is handling it well and it also sounds like he’s prepared to go before the arbiter three more times. Good for him and his representatives to come up with a number and sticking with it.
Anyway, with that unpleasant business cleared off the calendar, we can better guestimate the Royals payroll for the upcoming season. They have around $77 million committed to 15 players. (Salvador Perez is responsible for $20 million. This is a payroll that is severely unbalanced.) If the remaining 11 players on the Opening Day roster are earning around the major league minimum of $720,000, that will push the payroll to around $85 million, give or take.
That’s an embarrassingly low figure for a team that carried a payroll of over $140 million back in 2017. Sure, circumstances are different these days, but still…The revenue can be there if you don’t screw around and rebuild for seven years.
In March 2022, Forbes estimated the Royals franchise was worth $1.1 billion.
On Thursday, the Royals announced former manager Ned Yost was elected to the team Hall of Fame. He will be inducted on September 3.
There’s a 75 percent threshold to gain entry to the Royals’ Hall. Yost earned 88 percent. I’m not going to shake my fist and damn the 12 percent who have no clue how to fill out a ballot, but if you’re going to have a Royals Hall of Fame without Yost, you may as well tear down the building. By the standards in place they should also retire his number 3 and probably put up a statue. The man won two American League pennants and a World Series title.
My issue with the Royals Hall of Fame is it feels just a bit too exclusive. Since 2007, there have been two players enshrined. Two! (Kevin Appier in 2011 and Mike Sweeney in 2015.) I understand the decades between World Series appearances were completely barren and there’s also going to be a deluge of deserving candidates in the next few years, but the lack of wider inclusion in a team Hall of Fame is a bit disappointing.
This year’s ballot featured Carlos Beltrán, Billy Butler, Johnny Damon, Jason Vargas and Yordano Ventura.
Beltrán, by any measurement, belongs. He has the eighth-highest bWAR among position players in franchise history and is among the top 10 in slugging percentage, OPS, runs scored and stolen bases. He won the Rookie of the Year award in 1999. Beltrán was one of the better all-around players to suit up for the Royals and is part of the lineage of outstanding center fielders in franchise history.
I can make the same case for Butler, who is in the Royals’ top 10 for batting average, hits, total bases and RBI. His 119 OPS+ as a Royal ranks eighth in franchise history. Butler isn’t going to show up on any franchise WAR leaderboards because he couldn’t play defense, but lordy could he rake.
The lack of success of the franchise as a whole doesn’t mean there haven’t been some fine individual performances. In order to truly represent the franchise, the Royals Hall of Fame electorate needs to loosen the criteria just a bit.
‘Tis but a scratch…
I’m just an Old Etonian who would like to continue my journalistic career at The Athletic. (Seriously, call me.) And these days, I’m anything but grumpy. It’s spring and there’s new blood in charge of this team. It’s a time for optimism!
I’m confident Mr. Cleese and I can sit down over a pint and clear up this whole misunderstanding. I’ll keep you updated.
Diamond Sports Group, the arm of Sinclair Broadcasting that owns the Bally’s regional sports networks, missed an interest payment of around $140 million on their debt on Wednesday. That triggered a 30-day grace period where they will need to make good on that payment or bankruptcy proceedings will begin.
What does this mean for the Royals, who are broadcast on Bally’s Sports Kansas City, to those lucky few who are able to actually receive the channel? Well, for the next 30 days, not much. Their first broadcast will go off as scheduled on February 25. They have five more TV games scheduled up until March 15. What happens after March 15, if Diamond Sports Group triggers bankruptcy? Nobody knows.
It’s possible Diamond Sports Group is so insolvent they could fail to make payments due to the teams they’re broadcasting. If that happened, teams could terminate their contracts.
If contracts between teams like the Royals and Diamond Sports are broken due to non-payments, commissioner Rob Manfred said the league is ready to jump in to produce those broadcasts. That’s all well and good, but how would they get clearance for said broadcasts? I suppose they could broker deals with cable operators and streaming services like YouTube TV, but that could take some time. MLB obviously operates MLB.tv and could, you know, decide to lift blackouts. That’s something Manfred seemed to hint was a possibility.
“You could go in and you can buy out-of-market games like you always had, but you could also have the option to buy in-market games, something that a fan has never had before, which I see as a huge improvement for fans.”
Yeah, being able to stream Royals games in Kansas City on the MLB.tv platform would be a huge improvement. One that fans have been begging for for years. If that’s a byproduct of Sinclair overextending their wallet and MLB doesn’t use it as an opportunity to soak their fans for extra cash to access MLB.tv, this could be a rare instance where baseball could expand its reach and benefit the fan at the same time. There’s a win-win potential here. Let’s hope they figure out how to make this work.
Of course, there’s the potential loss of revenue to teams like the Royals if they lost their broadcast partner. Diamond Sports has debts of over $8 billion and owes close to $1 billion in right payments due in the first quarter of this year.
This is a mess that’s going to take some time to sort out. There’s a good chance fans will get caught in the middle.
There’s been a bit of chatter about the new rules in baseball and how we’re going to see quite a few episodes of a shitshow this exhibition season as players get used to everything. I’ll embrace the chaos and figure that everything will be mostly hunky-dory by the time real games start.
Meanwhile, this may be my favorite:
There is absolutely no way you’ll be able to notice the change in size of the bases when you’re watching a game. If it bumps the stolen base total, I’m all for it. Let’s run!