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Brewers owner, Yankees president having a delicious little spat

Apr 6, 2010, 4:15 PM EDT

In that USA Today salary piece I linked yesterday, Brewers’ owner Mark Attanasio complained thusly:

“We’re struggling to sign (first baseman Prince Fielder) and the Yankees infield is making
more than our team.”

Yankees’ President Randy Levine fired back today:

“I’m sorry that my friend Mark continues to whine about his running
the Brewers. We play by all the rules and there doesn’t seem to be any
complaints when teams such as the Brewers receive hundreds of millions
of dollars that they get from us in revenue sharing the last few years.
Take some of that money that you get from us and use that to sign your
players. The question that should be asked is: Where has
the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue sharing gone?”

Seems like a rather prickly and, well, downright mean comment from Levine, doesn’t it? I mean, Attansio may have been a bit whiney, sure, but he was merely describing a reality in payroll disparity, not indicting the Yankees. At least from what I can tell.

And to be fair: the Brewers do take revenue sharing money — reportedly about $30 million this past year — but they also have an $85 million payroll, so it’s not like they’re pocketing the money, which is the implication of Levine’s comment. The Brewers also play in a market with a population less than one-tenth the size the Yankees do, and a decent chunk of that is lousy with Cubs fans.  I think the Brewers do a pretty good job all things considered. Seems like it would call for a more politic response from Levine than the rebop he gave.

In other news, what happened to the idea of Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman doing all the talking for the Yankees and the rest of the royal court keeping the heck out of things? That has seemed to work pretty well these past couple of years.

  1. Perry - Apr 7, 2010 at 2:35 PM

    Let’s say you are partially right in your comment the teams are “entities of Major League Baseball” they are still individual businesses. Let me give you a better analogy then Coke “vs” Pepsi at least from the standpoint that sometime the parts are not equal to the whole. Dairy Queen & Burlington Northern are both BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY INC. Companies can you honestly say that each of these entities are equal. Do you think the president of Dairy Queen makes the same as the president of Burlington Northern. For that matter do you think the employees of Dairy Queen make the same as the employees of Burlington. Of course not. Yet all their entities are part of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. One other thing I’m fairly confident that I can say if any one of the Berkshire Hathaway companies or management teams doesn’t hold up their own weight they are gone or closed up.
    Let me make one final comment on what some of the post say about Yankees management “rubbing it in” or that the Yankees brass are “whiners”. I don’t consider it rubbing it in or whining when you are responding to someone. Very seldom if ever do you hear the Yankee brass bringing up their payroll, etc… it’s usually some other team owner complaining or a media person whining about how baseball is unfair to the small market teams, to which a member of the Yankees management responds.

  2. phillymike - Apr 7, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    Comparing a railroad company and a soft serve ice cream company isn’t exactly comparing apples to apples. Of course a train conductor will warrant a higher salary over a storefront clerk. And yes if Buffett noticed that one of his companies was not holding its own weight changes would be made very quickly.
    The problem with comparing this to baseball is that every MLB team is selling the exact same product. If baseball did not have any type of revenue sharing and all teams were free to spend what they make for payroll the Yanks could easily spend $300 million on players. No other team could come close to that number, not even the Mets. Now at first this may sound great to a NY fan, but in all actuality this would ruin the product MLB is trying to sell you. If no other team has a chance to win people in those markets would stop buying the product. Which will eventually lead to teams dissolving the the league collapsing in on itself. Baseball as a whole needs to be sold to the masses. Teams need other teams to play for there to be a sport. So MLB has to control their entities to maintain a sellable product.
    In business the ultimate goal is to crush any competition that sells a like product. If the entities of a sports league does this it only hurts themselves in the long run.

  3. Perry - Apr 7, 2010 at 4:00 PM

    The bottom 11 teams in the major leagues each drew less then 2M in attendance for their home games for the year. While home attendance isn’t the only factor in determining if a team is competitive it’s a pretty good indicator of what it’s fan base thinks. I’m sure it wouldn’t be to hard to guess who they are (at least most of them). Maybe it really is time for baseball to contract. Maybe that’s the answer to more teams being competitive. It will also get rid of the marginal players the position players that hit 210 average and make hundred of thousands if not millions of dollars, and pitchers that go 4 and 10 and file for arbitration and want 200 and 300 percent raises. But the players association will never let that happen. I just don’t see the answer as penalizing the strong teams. I think the more appropriate answer is to weed out the weak teams.

  4. JudyJ - Apr 7, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    Both you and Phillymike have very good points. I think the American way (or in a perfect world) is to get a business, grow the business and reap the rewards of the business. In baseball, every owner has a different definition of the “rewards” and in keeping with that philosophy, well, no team should be critizing the other for salaries or budgets – everyone has a fair chance to make money and reap the rewards as they see fit. Some owners reinvest in their teams to make even more money, other teams pay minimum to put a product on the field. So there is no real answer to this – the system works a certain way. I, personally, have no problem with there being more elite teams and less teams overall. I seriously do not enjoy watching a mismatched baseball game ever. It’s boring and believe me, I am a true fan of baseball. The Brewer’s owner deserved to be dressed down.

  5. phillymike - Apr 7, 2010 at 5:04 PM

    “everyone has a fair chance to make money and reap the rewards as they see fit.”
    In a normal business yes, in baseball it is a little more complicated then that. On average people that live in NY make more money then people in Milwaukee. It is simple cost of living. NY is the infrastructure hub of our economy. Therefore there are many very high end positions available there. That allows the Yanks to have box seats in their stadium that go for $1,000’s a game. NY has 10 million people living in the city. That creates much more merchandise being sold to people that automatically become fans because that is where they were born. No matter how good the Brewers are as a team they can never come close to amount of money the Yanks generate.
    Now if you were a business you would say we need to push our product in NY over Milwaukee because that is where the money is. A baseball team cannot do this. They are restricted to the land area their team resides in.
    This is why there is profit sharing. There needs to be teams to play each other. But they all can’t be in the top 10 major cities. The Yanks management should be happy they are where they are and hand over the millions to the smaller market teams with a smile, not dressing them down.
    I do agree that contraction would help baseball. But like you said Perry, MLBPA will never let this happen.

  6. Perry - Apr 7, 2010 at 5:30 PM

    Are you serious, do you honestly believe the Yankees management or any major market team should be happy to hand of millions of dollars to smaller market teams. If the Yankees made some poor player decisions or the YES network went belly up and they happened to loose a bunch of money but still had to pay the luxury tax do you think the “small” market teams would feel bad for them and refuse to take the luxury tax money – NO. So I don’t see why the Yankees or any of the large market teams should feel sorry for any of the small market teams.

  7. Perry - Apr 7, 2010 at 6:25 PM

    Please everyone go read Tim Brown’s article on Yahoo Sports “Brewers can’t cry foul over Fielder and then tell me why anyone should feel sorry for the Brewers.

  8. MilwDave - Apr 8, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    If the Yankees are so upset about paying the luxury tax to small market teams they can choose not to pay it. All it would require is to compete on equal footing with teams like the Brewers. Put together a roster with an $85 million payroll and let’s go at it.
    The Yankees have been the biggest example of team mismanagement in all of baseball for decades when you take the size of payroll into account.
    (OK, the Cubs may be worse!)

  9. tim - Apr 13, 2010 at 12:07 AM

    until there is TRUE parity, there can be no justice in baseball.
    or until someone convinces Diddy, or P Diddy, or puffy, or Puff Daddy, WTF ever his name is TODAY, that he should wear hats from another team (thus creating MILLIONS if FREE marketing to the target team (hint to small markets, ‘hire that guy as you marketing whore’))
    captcha; President guevera

  10. Tommy - Apr 18, 2010 at 7:17 PM

    @ JudyJ and Perry
    Arguments that revolve around gate receipts are pointless. As you mention, there are a limited quantity of seats available for every home game, so each team is sort of (not really, as explained by phillymike) on even standing in that instance. But that does not mean the Yankees are better at managing their on-field product with a similar amount of resources as other teams. The majority of every team’s revenue comes from their media contracts, which in the Yankees’ case dwarfs those by any other major league team. Other big market (and that’s what big market means, big “media” market) teams also have large tv and radio contracts. This creates the financial disparity around the league, and allows big market teams to calculate more risk into free agent signings and trades that small market teams don’t have the financial flexibility to do.

  11. Randal E. - Apr 20, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    I’m a Brewer fan living in N.Carolina. The 7-11 Has a display of Yankee merchandise on sale, before you hit Nags Head, N.C.. I demanded equal space for my Brewers. Didn’t get it though. How many homeruns did the Yankees infield hit compare to the Brewers?

  12. lol people think contracting the league is a good idea - May 13, 2010 at 6:24 PM

    To say the Brewers haven’t been spending their money on the team is a farce. You guys are clearly retarded. Look at the payroll expansion under Mark Attanasio. Things have been done to the park and the team budget has more than doubled while ticket prices have not been going through ridiculous increases year to year. Check yourself, dipshits.

  13. Frank Nardello - May 17, 2010 at 10:35 AM

    I have a great idea. Lets disdane all the small market teams, and then see where the asshole Yankees are!

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