SportsProf

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Guess Which Team is Baseball's Most Profitable Franchise?

I'll give you five guesses. 


Let's start with some of the bellwethers. . .  New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals.  The first four are rather obvious, and, well, the Cardinals just do it about as well as anyone and have done so for a long time.


All are wrong.  Want five more guesses?  Sure, you got 'em. 


New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, Washington Nationals, Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers. 


All are wrong, too.  I put those five in there because I figured that either the size of the city or recent success might figure into profitability.  Or demography, in terms of how large the city is.  You'd be closer there.


The answer, as it turns out, or at least according to one of the best chroniclers of American wealth, Forbes, is the Philadelphia Phillies.  That's right, the team that won it all in 2008, lost in the World Series in 2009, lost in the NLCS in 2010, lost in the NLDS in 2011, was about .500 in 2012 and has been a bit like the shopping cart sliding off the side of the mountain over the past five years (including last night, where they lost 14-4 to the Mets at home, gave up 7 HRs and only put pitchers on the mound whose ERAs exceeded 10).  This means that the Phillies have more operating income than any other team in the majors.


Of course, for the wealthy and rich and famous, winning does count for something.  I'm cure Cubs fans are thrilled with their World Series and could care less about the club's profitability.  That's not to say that their owners would tolerate a huge money loser -- who would or could -- but that they do want to spend money wisely because of two principles -- 1) you can't buy excellence, but you must pay for it and 2) the analytics show that the top teams also are among those who have the top payrolls.  The Phillies haven't tried to buy excellence (in terms of free agents) in quite some time and haven't paid for it in recent years, either, preferring to let big contracts expire without committing to new, big contracts.  As a result, their pitching staff is patchwork, their bullpen is an amalgamation of loose parts, and their lineup is waiting on the prospects down on the farm to deliver. 


What they benefit from is a loyal fan base, a fun ballpark to attend and a large enough demographic to support the team, along with a good TV/radio contract.  Now that this news is out, I'm sure that the sports talk radio hosts are having a field day with it and the fans will become more impatient for progress.  The key for the team know is whether their alleged cornucopia of prospects really bears any fruit. 


The news has to hurt Phillies' fans, as 2008 and the magic that was that season was not that long ago.  But some bad strategy in the front office -- ignoring analytics and letting the roster age without a plan to infuse the team quickly with younger talent -- led to the place where they are now -- one of the bottom third of all teams in the Majors. 


It's good that the team is showing a good profit. 


They now will need to invest that money in the talent to be a good team, one that can contend.


If they do not, the fans will ensure that the profitability drops.


And then they won't be atop any lists.

1 Comments:

Blogger haphar said...

I've been annoyed for years at the castigation of Ryan Howard's last contract. When he was great he was paid virtually nothing. He, more than anyone else (including Rollins and Utley), was responsible for 6 years of sellouts and a huge TV contract.

The contract was deferred payment for services just like big business pays to executives. Now they're the sport's most profitable franchise. They wouldn't be without Howard's contribution. Can the sportswriters please apologize for the treatment they gave him over the last 5 years.

9:56 AM  

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