A REMINDER FOR BREWERS FANS

Just in case Milwaukee Brewers fans thought that they had overcome the curse of being fans of a small payroll baseball team, the smart people are now saying that it’s time that they get rid of Prince Fielder, the youngest player in MLB history to hit over 50 home runs.

The Brewers don’t have enough pitching. They also, because they’re paying so much for Fielder, don’t have enough money to sign any big name free agents or make a trade for a highly paid pitcher.

Just one more example of the stupidity that is MLB. The examples are everywhere and still I have posters telling me that “if the Pirates had produced players like McCutchen in their last five drafts, they’d be contending right now.’

That supports the argument that I’ve been making for years. It’s not about whether it’s possible for the Pirates to win a division. Of course it’s possible, but it will take a miracle (like 5 spectaculr drafts in a row) to do it and no league that I am willing to take seriously can force a good percentage of its teams to strive for miracles in order to compete.

Michael Hunt is a long time sports columnist in Milwaukee and he has finally said what has to be said: The Brewers can no longer afford Prince Fielder.

Feilder had New York, Boston or L.A. written all over him from the day he showed up in Milwaukee. It’s only a matter of time.

How’s that decision by the Brewers to go with an $80 million payroll looking right now?

The Nutting family will spend $40 million less this season. That’s why they’re the smartest team owners in sports.

  • Ochotexto

    Hockey let’s all those teams in the playoffs because the sport can’t survive on it’s own. The league HAS to generate excitement and keep interest in a lot of those cities. The game itself doesn’t have enough broad appeal. People will go to a baseball game just to catch a game., there doesn’t always have to be something at stake. No comparison, ones a fad the other an institution.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      Yeah, hockey’s a fad. The NHL has only been around about 90 years. Kind of hard to shoot off fireworks in an arena.

    • Chuck

      No, ones an exciting uptempo game and the other is well mostly dull and boring…

  • victor surma

    John, Just saw where the Brewers released Suppan & have to eat 14 1/2 million dollars. FOURTEEN AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS!! Something isn’t kosher for a man to be paid like that for doing absolutely nothing. Hell, you could buy a teachers union for that much money.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      He’s a mediocre pitcher, too.

      • InTheMiddle

        They didn’t have to pay him. Stupid decisions like that come back and bite teams like Milwaukee. Anyone who understood one thing about baseball knew that Jason Kendall’s 60 mil deal was completely insane for the type of player he is/was. Yet, the media spun it as “with PNC Park opening, the Pirates had to do it”. Huh? Decisions like that forced other decisions like Burnitz, etc., in a rush to win in a new stadium. You win and build a franchise through the draft. If you draft well, you have a chance to compete. If you don’t you are screwed. The New Yorks, Bostons, Chicagos and LAs can afford to screw up and buy off the other franchises’ stars. That is a flawed system that will never change. But to say the buccos can never win is flawed as well. Drafting well is a start.

        Dutch is 100% correct above also.

        • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

          A legitimate league does not stack the deck against a large number of teams. The Pirates shouldn’t have to overcome all the obstacles that everybody says they can overcome. The obstacles shouldn’t be there. If the current economic system had been in place 40 years ago we wouldn’t be having this discussion because there would be no no such thing as the Pirates. If it had been in place 50 years ago none of us would be baseball fans because we would have stopped paying attention 35 years ago. Don’t bore me with the details about all the teams that have overcome the stupidity. I have no patience for the stupidity. There are 25 year old guys running around here right now who have no idea what it’s like to have their baseball team playing meaningful games in August and September. They have not grown up with baseball the way you and I did. Eventually, the fireworks and the bobbleheads won’t get people out to PNC Park. The young fathers won’t have the same feeling about taking their kids to a game that my dad and your dad had. The details won’t matter. Pittsburgh is dead as a MLB city. The body just hasn’t been buried yet. I’m not interested in going to the viewing.

        • Dutch

          Inthemiddle wrote

          “Anyone who understood one thing about baseball knew that Jason Kendall’s 60 mil deal was completely insane for the type of player he is/was. Yet, the media spun it as “with PNC Park opening, the Pirates had to do it”.”

          So very true. I can remember the articles on how the Pirates must sign Kendall to show the fans they are serious about winning in the new park.

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            How about all the stories saying that PNC Park was going to make the Pirates competitive. The scary thing is that if Kendall. at the same age, with the same numbers, was in the same situation today, the Pirates would have to pay him 12-15 million to keep him.

  • Ochotexto

    The Nuttings only profit due to the public funded ballpark which is attracting the fans., and the fact they’re cheap. Not out of any ingenuity.
    The Brewers should be faring better., unfortunately the manager ., local guy Kenny Macha will probably take the fall for it soon.

    • Dutch

      Don’t forget about the incredible Revenue sharing check he gets for keeping the Payroll in the bottom 5.

    • Kevin

      Ocho,

      You and I agree on almost nothing but I bet we can find common ground here. I’m interested in your take on ALL of the publicly funded sports facilities in Pittsburgh. Are you for or against using tax dollars to pay for them? Why or why not?

      I’m really interested in having this discussion with you.

      Thanks,
      Kevin

  • Scootermojo

    You constantly bash the economics of MLB and bash the owners and state they need a salary cap to level the playing field…are you forgetting they tried to implement one in 1994? I also remember you criticizing them in ’94 for their actions during the strike.

    I’m not giving anyone a free pass but the fact of the matter is that MLB has it’s hands tied in this matter because the MLBPA will never accept a salary cap and, on top of being the most powerful union in the world, has the legal ground to keep a salary cap out.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      The owners never stood up to the union and lost all their power. The NHL did the only thing it could do. It shut down for a year. The players missed those paychecks. There were also several NHL teams in big financial trouble. They couldn’t survive under the existing system. Bad baseball teams continue to make money because of revenue sharing but way too many teams still can’t compete for the top players. The “fans” who” show up at PNC perpetuate the problem. I don’t disagree with your analysis of why the situation exists. I just know that it exists and it is (or should be) an insult to the intelligence of any intelligent sports fan who knows what the concept of a LEAGUE is supposed to be. The Pirates are a Major League team in name only. They’re not the Pirates you and I grew up watching. I really don’t care whose fault it is at this point. I just refuse to accept MLB as a legitimate “league”.

      • Scootermojo

        the owners did indeed stand-up to the union…but lost at almost every conceivable point. They also took their toughest stand in ’94 but were ridiculed by the media and fans on every angle for “robbing” us of a finale to what was a great season. It also doesn’t help that MLB doesn’t or didn’t have a legal ground to stand on in basically anything they tried to do…so what are they supposed to do? If you are suggesting they should shut down for a season or however long like the NHL did then that would be the death knell for MLB. The NHL was extremely lucky during it’s 2004-05 lockout because since it’s a niche sport the amount of money lost PALES in comparison what would be lost by MLB. Besides, if say, MLB locks out the players for a year then the MLBP will take them to court and win an injunction like they did in ’95 and MLB will be forced to continue under existing conditions. Their hands are tied. So, again, what are they supposed to do? Saying they need to have a salary cap is not an answer because HOW are they supposed to do that without the MLBPA’s consent through collective bargaining.

        • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

          A lot of what you say is true, It’s also irrelevant. However they got to where they are, they’re there and it’s an insult to my intelligence. It’s a poor excuse for a “league” and I have no interest in it.

          • Scootermojo

            well, they you are seriously missing out regardless if the local team sucks it’s still a fantastic sport, the most unique and harder to play skill-wise than any of the other major sports.

            if you have no interest in it then why the numerous blogs about it?

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            it’s baseball season and I’m always trying to win converts. You’d be amazed at how many of the people who used to rip me for being so negative about the Pirates have come over to my side. I’m convinced that the only cure is empty stadiums. I’ll keep selling that idea. I still love the game of baseball. I hate what MLB has done to it.

          • Chuck

            The sport might indeed be fantastic… But the LEAGUE is an TOTAL joke. Andrew McCutchen is going to look great in a Yankee uniform. Prince Fielder will look even better in Boston gear… And that is just plain sad.

          • Scootermojo

            I’d rather support baseball and future Pirates stars being in Yankee or Red Sox uniforms that football. Ben and I’m quite a sure other Squeelers are going to look REALLY GOOD in prison uniforms.

          • Chuck

            Rich people don’t go to prison… Don’t you know that by now.

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            Tell O.J. and Bernie Madoff.

      • Dutch

        Why was spending 80 Million on a payroll such a disaster? The owner said 2 years ago that he could spend 80 million and not lose any money. Cuban said you don’t own a Pro sports team because it is a great investment. Milwaukee had a run with this team. They made the playoffs in 2008. They have averagd 86 wins the last 3 seasons which isn’t bad in this division. Their fans have had hope and have watched some decent baseball over that stretch. And if their window has closed, they actually have real talent in Fielder that could be traded to return real value. Any sports owner in MLB could slash salary to 30 million and make a huge profit. It isn’t like Nutting knows something that they don’t. They are in it to win .Nutting is in it purely for personal profit. The Problem is that living here in SW PA for so long, we have been trained to think that spending 70 million on a baseball team and having a bad season would be the end of the world.

        • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

          People are real good at spending other people’s money. A 70 million dollar payroll gets you fourth place in most cases. I’d rather hae a 40 million dollar payroll and finish sixth,

          • Dutch

            Here are the bottom 10 teams in payroll this year in the NHL

            Colorado
            Stlouis
            Dallas
            Minny
            Columbus
            Tampa
            Florida
            Atlanta
            Carolina
            Islanders

            Only 1 (Avs) made the playoffs. And that was 8th seed. Had this been baseball, even they wouldn’t have made the postseason .

            it is literally impossible to discuss this stuff without mentioning what an owner is spending on payroll.

            All Baseball needs to do is shorten the season by 1 month and expand the post season teams to 8 per conference just like Hockey and Pro basketball. Had MLB last year ended the season August 31st, here would have been the 1st round matchups.

            anks vs Minny
            Angels vs Seattle
            Boston vs Tampa
            Texas vs Detroit

            Dodgers vs Cubs
            Stlouis vs Marlins
            Phillies vs Braves
            Rockies vs Giants

            You have small markets, medium sized markets, and Large markets making the post season. And once you make the post season, anyone can beat anyone in a series.

            I’m starting to think salary cap’s are overrated. Just look at all the Penguins players that have left the last three years because of the cap. Now you have people writing that they should trade Malkin because you can’t have the centers because it destroys your cap.
            The Cap isn’t the answer to everything in Baseball. you can win a world seris with an 80 million payroll. And the pirates can afford an 80 million dollar peyroll based on what othr teams in their market size are spending.

          • Dutch

            John do you agree with me that if they just expanded MLB Post season it would cure a lot problems? I mean if the owners will never agree to a cap, wouldn’t post season expansion be the next best thing? Or is this also something that they would never agree to? Because when I look at this it seems to me that the small 4 team per conference postseason format is what really makes the league a stacked deck against teams like the Pirates.

            your thoughts?

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            They have no reason to change. They’re all making tons of money. The NHL only changed when fans stopped showing up and they started losing money. The Pirates and a few other teams are the Washington Generals. We had 36,000 showup to see the Generals play Saturday night. Imagine the discussion if 3,600 had shown up.

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            It’s about more than making the playoffs. It’s about having a CHANCE to make the post season.
            St Louis finished 40-32-10 .
            Calgary was 40-32-10
            Anaheim was 39-32-11
            Dallas was 37-31-14
            Minn. 38-36-8
            Atlanta 35-34-13
            All of those teams still had more than legitimate chances to make the playoffs in April.
            I don’t care about the details, anyway. MLB systematically stacks the deck against a good percentage of its teams. I have no patience for a “league” that does that regardless of the rare occasions when a team is able to overcome the stacking.
            The Avalance made the playoffs and the four teams that finished behind them were within 8 points–or four wins. About 3/4 of a win per month difference.

          • Dutch

            John what you wrote up above is kind of what I’m saying here.

            If you end the season Aug 31st and have same playoff format as NHL, you would have got these first round matchups in the NL.

            Dodgers vs Cubs
            Stlouis vs Marlin
            Phillies vs Braves
            Colorado vs Giants

            Cubs are the eight seed and get in with 65 wins on Aug 31st 09

            Brewers 64 wins
            Astros 63 wins
            Arizona 60 wins
            Mets 59 wins
            Reds 58 wins

            Even if you stop with Arizona at 60 wins, that gives 11 out of 16 teams
            that are realistically fighting for a playoff berth down to the last
            couple of weeks of season. You have a couple of teams that just barely miss out by a game or two.

            Now if you look at the NHL, you had Montreal getting in with 88 points. The next three teams that missed the playoffs were

            NY Rangers 87 points
            Thrashers 83 points
            Hurricanes 80 points

            Now Lets look at MLB again

            Again, Under the same playoff format with the season ending Aug 31st, you have Cubs getting in with 65 points and the following teams just missing the playoffs.

            Brewers 64 wins
            Astros 63 wins
            Arizona 60 wins

            There isn’t much difference at all.

            The more I look at this, the more I believe that it is the shortened post season format that stacks the deck against teams in MLB rather than a hard cap.

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            it’s still going to be about the money. Teams like the Pirates will develop players for the Yankees, Red Sox etc

        • Kevin

          Dutch,

          Owning a Pro sports team IS an investment. It is also a VERY GOOD one. They may lose money on a year-to-year operating standpoint (like Mark Cuban said) but the overall value of pro sports teams only goes up.

          Here’s a good way to look at it, if you could go back to 1995 and invest $10,000 in the Pirates – knowing what you know today – would you do it? You bet you would! I’d mortgage my house and buy up as much stock in the Bucs as possible. Then I’d do everything possible to keep the Nuttings in charge.

          Keep an eye on Mark Cuban, when he sells the Mavericks look how much he paid for the team and how much he sold it for. Then ask yourself if it was a good business deal? You don’t become rich buy making millions of dollars in bad investments.

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            A guy who knows Ogden Nutting well (and who’s worth at least as much money) told me three years ago that “Ogden is so tight, he squeaks.” He also said anybody who knows him knows that there could only be one reason for him to buy the Pirates—to sell them at a huge profit.

          • Dutch

            Kevin

            Point well taken.