November 20, 2003

Goddam Brewers.: Ulice Payne is leaving. Uecker gives a mixed message about the ownership. The politicians want answers. We haven't had a winning season in twelve years, and haven't been to the playoffs in more than twenty. Can anything be done to save Milwaukee baseball?

posted by rocketman to baseball at 10:44 AM - 22 comments

Sell the team. No way they have a winner with the Seligs in charge.

posted by billsaysthis at 10:47 AM on November 20

Bob Uecker: "I don't understand why people have gone after the Seligs." Gee, Bob, do you think it might have something to do with the fact that the public financed a $400 million ballpark for Selig's team and he has responded with $10 million in payroll slashing and is planning similar cuts this year, such as the trade of Richie Sexson?

posted by rcade at 10:50 AM on November 20

One more example of why public taxpayer money shouldn't ever be used to buy a wealthy family a stadium.

posted by dusted at 11:00 AM on November 20

But the Seligs won't sell. The Seligs have zero interest in selling. Even when Bud became the commissioner, he gave control to Wendy. And even though we're frequently told that he has no role in day-to-day operations, it's easy to conclude the opposite. I have a lot of family in Minnesota, and they're all fond of complaining about their baseball team's ownership. Talk about greener grass, fences, etc. People are fond of dissing Steinbrenner because he will stop at nothing to win. At least he's trying to win. Here in Wisconsin, we have the opposite: ownership that is committed to losing. I feel so incredibly sorry for Doug Melvin and Ned Yost.

posted by rocketman at 11:03 AM on November 20

Rocketman, you can't feel sorry for people who were stupid enough to take jobs with bad bosses. That's their own fault.

posted by wfrazerjr at 11:37 AM on November 20

I don't think it's accurate to state that any owner is committed to losing. Selig, like Bidwell in Arizona and the Browns in Cincinnati, has been unwilling or unable to spend the money that's necessary to compete in their sport. It wouldn't be a problem if we had relegation. These owners would've gone down to the minor leagues with their franchises.

posted by rcade at 11:39 AM on November 20

Relegation would help force the owners to improve (or if not, force them out of sight). I'm sure there are a few minor league teams that could compete with the bottom-dwelling major league teams. Particularly with revenue-sharing the way it is set up now, bastards like Selig have absolutely no incentive to spend money.

posted by dusted at 01:20 PM on November 20

We should set up a campaign urging American major leagues to adopt relegation. Not for the NFL, there aren't really any promotion-level minor leagues, but would be especially good in MLB and MLS.

posted by billsaysthis at 01:43 PM on November 20

Never work baby - good idea that won't happen in as collusion-happy an environment as MLB. These guys claim millions in losses at the high league level. Like they'll ever adopt a self-imposed strategy of losing more through relegation. It would mean that Detroit and San Diego would be relegated, right? No way. Total dream. Fans would totally abandon them. They'd die. We ain't Europe, people.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 02:16 PM on November 20

Well, the current system sucks, so why not look to Europe for an alternative? You're right that the MLB is "collusion-happy" and crooked, but that doesn't mean the fans have to accept it. Relegation would be a strong incentive to field a competitive team. Fans would totally abandon them. Exactly.

posted by dusted at 02:22 PM on November 20

Selig, like Bidwell in Arizona and the Browns in Cincinnati, has been unwilling or unable to spend the money that's necessary to compete in their sport. It's just really frustrating, from a fan's standpoint, to see the Brewers generate some badly-needed positive momentum as they did last season, and then the ownership steps in and on it. We have a can-do manager and a GM committed to bringing quality players to the team. By the end of the year, the Brewers were still in the basement of the division, but not the league. They were better. They had an All-Star first baseman in Sexson and an All-Star outfielder - elected on the efforts of the fans, no less - in Jenkins. They had a ROY candidate. After seeing them play last season, I was genuinely excited about the team. They were rebuilding. It was a breath of fresh air. And then this. This big steaming pile™ from the Seligs®. Maybe they're not committed to losing, but from a fan's standpoint, it's very difficult to see it as anything else.

posted by rocketman at 02:48 PM on November 20

i don't think that our system can operate in the same vein. Europe and National leauges in Europe benefit from having disparity in proportion, whereas the disparity between the ML teams and AAA teams is so vast that a AAA all-star team basically has no hope of beating the worst ML team. Relegation would likely be the bane of one city for a long time, flip-flopping with an AAA team that cannot possibly compete. If your not going to go that route then you would basically have to set up 2 leagues out of the existing 28 MLB teams. That would mean an initial 'relegation' of 10-14 teams at once. Try bargaining the appropriate criteria for this with the owners and get back to me in a decade or two. Not that it isn't a good idea in principle, but my feeling is that it just won't have the desired result in practice.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 03:27 PM on November 20

Christ. There's such incompetence on display here. Put aside, for a moment, the on-field product. The club's government relations, media relations, and management hierarchy is so messed up that it should be enough to land them in hot water. Selig may well have a strategic reason for wanting his team to appear to be losing money. I can't imagine a reason why he would want it to look like he is incompetent.

posted by roger at 04:59 PM on November 20

... a AAA all-star team basically has no hope of beating the worst ML team. You do know the Tigers are in the Majors, right? The disparity in skill between the Majors and AAA is an effect of the lack of relegation. Bring that system in, and you'd quickly see the gap close between the most well-run and talented AAA franchises and perennial sad sacks like the Brewers.

posted by rcade at 05:14 PM on November 20

Someone fill me in here before I start pontificating — do the upper soccer leagues in England own the lower soccer leagues? Do they pull their players directly from those teams at their will?

posted by wfrazerjr at 05:27 PM on November 20

wfrazer, you make a good point--no, the EPL teams don't own the Nationwide ones--but because of the transfer system, it seems pretty easy to effect movement as desired. OTOH, there are only 38 league matches in a year and fewer players needed, plus players are often bought in from other countries as much (more than?) from lower division teams. Probably would require some work on the ownership level but nothing that couldn't be accomplished with some elbow grease and interested investors. Also, perhaps if MLS and/or NHL implemented this first, baseball would eventually come around.

posted by billsaysthis at 06:07 PM on November 20

I need to look into this more. Here are the problems I see: 1) If you relegate the Tigers, who's going to play in Comerica Park? You can't charge $20/head for minor-league ball, and one season of loss like that would sink the franchise permanently. 2) How would you keep players from leaving? They sign major-league contracts. If you take the team out of the majors, I assume that would void the contract, thus disbanding the team's roster. 3) Let's say San Diego is relegated. Who is better that will come up? The Padres' Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas might win 20 games all season. Contrary to what may be thought, there is a vast difference in levels at the top end of baseball. Isn't the same true in footy (ha, I got to say it!)?

posted by wfrazerjr at 06:19 PM on November 20

I used to respect the Brewers they had great teams back in the 80's, they also had great fans and it was a good time at the ballpark it's a crying freaking shame how Selig screwed the team up.

posted by jbou at 10:16 PM on November 20

People who know relegation from their sports could answer your questions, wfrazerjr, but they're probably not reading this. As I understand it from a friend of the recently relegated Sheffield Wednesday football team, you inevitably lose some players when you drop a league -- I'm guessing there are contracts that free a player in this event. I don't think the Padres' Triple A affiliate would replace the Padres -- under relegation, the winner of the league under the Majors would be promoted. It's a complex change that doesn't map well to the existing structure of baseball, but I think our pro and minor sports leagues would be much improved to adopt it. Bad owners would have to perform; you wouldn't have any more Bidwells coasting along in the NFL for decades.

posted by rcade at 08:05 AM on November 21

One big thing you are missing here in the whole relegation discussion. The players on all the minor league teams (except for a few small teams) are all under contract to the currently existing major league teams. For example, the owners of the Chattanooga Lookouts have nothing to do with the players. They don't pay them. They can't refuse to send them to Cincinnatti should the Reds want them. The owner of a minor league team only controls the marketing and promotions, and their only profit comes from the gate and licensing the team name (jersey sales, etc.). This entire system would have to be remade from the ground up. All that aside, I think it would great for the game.

posted by trox at 09:24 AM on November 21

That's the point I was making, Trox ... you would have to have completely independent second and third leagues, which I think would just end the minors. I'm not sure exactly how everything is set up (and I need to learn this), but I would assume that without the financial backing of the New York Mets, there would be no Tidewater.

posted by wfrazerjr at 09:42 AM on November 21

Go Tides! I used to watch them while I was in grad school. I agree with your assessment (which I somehow missed first time through). One result of setting the minors up as independent league would be a massive lowering of salaries, which are currently all paid by the major league club, regardless of where the player is actually playing. Thus, the Mets cover ALL of the Tides onfield labor expense (coaches, players, etc.). If they were paying the players themselves, you can bet the salaries would be much lower.

posted by trox at 12:59 PM on November 21

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