If I were a man who frequently donned a tinfoil hat and blurted out unintelligible nonsense in public on a regular basis, I might be led to believe that the Rangers and Giants getting into the World Series was all some elaborate plan to buttress the two teams financially. After all, the Greenberg-Ryan group paid $100 million more than they expected for the Rangers, and a World Series appearance or win for the Giants could certainly salve any wounds related to having to relinquish the South Bay. (Note: Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux jokingly agrees with some of this.)
Thankfully, I am not such a conspiracy theorist. Thing is, it’s that kind of thinking that is only slightly less crazy than “OMG! If the Giants do well the A’s will loose the South Bay forever!!!!!” talk I’ve been hearing.
Calm down. Relax. As eternal douchebag Jeff Kent once said, “Enjoy the game more!”
The Giants are going on an all-out marketing push in the South Bay. Part of it surely has to do with strengthening ties to the area, but it mostly has to do with trying to capitalize on the Giants’ on-field exploits. Going into this season, the Giants’ season ticket roll stood at 21,000, down from the 25,000 peak of the Bonds era. According to Matier and Ross, the team has already sold 3,500 new season tickets, thanks to the Giants’ recent success. Sales of full plans have cascading effects on the team’s business model, such as:
- Better positioning for higher-priced sponsorships, because more people are guaranteed to be in the park
- Higher baseline prices for dynamically-priced seats due to lower inventory
- The upfront cash and ability to project a higher payroll for the 2011 season
There’s always a need to strike while the iron’s hot, and if we’re being honest, I wouldn’t do anything different from what the Giants are doing this year business-wise. While the Giants may feel that they are fundamentally entitled to T-rights to San Jose, the best way to give a team higher revenues is to ensure that the team is competitive, which the Giants haven’t done the previous seven years.
Of course, it’s hard enough to get to the playoffs, let alone get to and win the World Series. Success is often painfully fleeting. That’s why the Giants’ run and the accompanying media hype can’t be construed as more than a blip. Maybe the blip last for several years, but it’s still a blip. On a related note, that’s what the Bash Brothers era was for the A’s: another memorable blip.
MLB can’t be run on blips, not for a single team at least. It’s run on a collection of blips over time, with the hope that each team can get its blip to germinate into serious baseball culture, or maintain what already exists. Over time, the league gets better national TV deals, better ballparks, greater merchandise sales – all things to create a rising tide to lift all boats. At the local level, who knows? Tim Lincecum may become the next Sandy Koufax. Then again, he may bolt for Seattle or New York, or like Koufax, retire early because of health issues. MLB can’t really afford to determine long-term planning and strategy on blips. It has to go on whatever the team’s financial fundamentals are. It puts mechanisms in place to help teams that help themselves, such as the stadium expenses deduction. It provides examples of teams diversifying to supplement income. Beyond that, you’re getting into the area of playing favorites. While Bud Selig can be criticized for many, many things, playing favorites is not one of them. Witness the low-revenue WS matchup (ratings down 25% from 2009). Or the lack of playoff appearances by his beloved Brewers. Or Lew Wolff’s continued frustration that his frat buddy has been stalling on a decision to allow him to move the team.
So to suddenly undo 19 months of “study” just because the Giants are doing well would most certainly be playing favorites. And it would run counter to how business is done within MLB, which is a slothlike, conservative structure to say the least. The Giants can and will certainly make a claim that the South Bay is valuable because of what happens when the team is good, but that only means that in bottom line terms the Giants have a lot of bandwagon fans, and a lot of them live in the South Bay. And the East Bay. And the North Bay. Sure, the Giants could get greater compensation in the end, it may even be likely. If you’re expecting some life-altering, earth-shattering, 180-degree change, you don’t really know MLB that well.