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Rosenthal: to fix the Rays, contract the Pirates and Royals

May 14, 2010, 3:15 PM EDT

Rosenthal’s latest is a pretty by-the-numbers “oh, those poor Rays, winning ballgames but not drawing fans” thing. Until the end, anyway, which is when you can tell the exact moment he took a slug from that bottle of Old Uncle Jeb’s Small Batch Crazy Sauce:

Here’s a thought: Contraction. Not of markets, per se, though
unfortunately that would happen.

Of ownerships.

a concept is sheer fantasy, highly impractical, unlikely to ever draw
commissioner Bud Selig’s support. But just think: If the Rays
played in Pittsburgh, they would pack PNC Park. If they played in
Kansas City, they would fill Kauffman Stadium.

So, stick the
Rays in Pittsburgh. Stick the A’s in Kansas City (for old time’s sake)
and leave the Bay Area for the whiny Giants.


management upgrades for the Pirates and Royals. Twenty-eight teams,
less revenue sharing, a greater slice of the pie for all.

I’m not going to slam Rosenthal over all of this because on the most basic level I don’t think he’s serious about it. He makes the points that must be made about the state of the Rays’ franchise, but the contraction plan is kinda nuts and I’ll bet he’d freely admit that. He just wants to get people talking, and I have no problem with that.  In this way it’s much like his realignment proposal from back in February. It’s much like a lot of what I write too.

But apart from their audaciousness, Rosenthal’s posts have something else in common: they’re solutions in search of a problem.  Or at least in search of a problem large enough that it calls for such radical solutions (though it should be noted, Rosenthal obviously thinks otherwise).

Yes, the Rays have trouble drawing, and yes, that makes it harder for them, but (a) as Rosenthal himself notes, their TV ratings are improving (and TV ratings are where the real money is); and (b) it’s obviously not impacting how they’re doing on the field.  No, the Rays are never going to be on an equal financial footing with the Yankees. But no one else is either and baseball seems to be getting along just fine. Competitively speaking they’re doing quite fine, thank you.

It may not make for a big sexy column about contraction or realignment or whatever, but the work to be done to address these problems comes around the edges of the game with revenue sharing and things of that nature.  Not blowing up baseball in Pittsburgh and Kansas City.

  1. KCA - May 14, 2010 at 4:02 PM

    Not that i would like to lose the Royals, but anything to get a David Glass out as owner is a HUGE start. That man is killing baseball in the midwest….actually it is pretty much dead right now. Only thing that is going to to save it is kids named Crow, Montgomery, Hosmer, Moustakos, etc

  2. Levi Stahl - May 14, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    When I saw the headline, I thought he was suggesting contraction as a “kill a hostage” strategy, a way to scare Rays fans and ownership into supporting the team. That would be nuts, but his actual suggestion is even more nuts.

  3. nate - May 14, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    How is that suggestion bad for baseball fans in Pittsburgh and Kansas City? I understand fans in Tampa and Oakland not liking it, but that’s the point of the suggestion. (Not that this would ever happen obviously, but it’s a better suggestion that that floating realignment bit.)

  4. What/WhoCares - May 14, 2010 at 4:50 PM

    Why not let the A’s move to San Jose, KC would suck for them or any other team, Pirates can’t draw fans, contract any team with a stadium over 25 years old that doesn’t draw at least 2.5 million fans per year. Let any team move, no strings attached, to any place they can draw enough fans. Divide the players up from the contracted teams in a draft pool. New York used to have 3 teams. Put the teams where the fans will support them.

  5. funi - May 14, 2010 at 4:59 PM

    Why not contract teh Markins and D’backs! They are 2 out of the 4 of the newest teams, Phoenix has over 4 million people and are lucky to get 20,000 a game and 10% root for the other team! What about Oakland, they draw no one! The Cubs have not won a championship in over 100 years! Get rid of them! Chicago has teh White Sox. Lokk at Seattle, if not for Griffey and Ichiro, tehy might have 10,000 a night! Finally Contact Rosenthal, he knows nothing!

  6. ecp - May 14, 2010 at 5:54 PM

    Why would Kansas City “suck for them (the A’s) or any other team?” A good team would draw like crazy in KC, just like the Royals did in the eighties.

  7. Giraffe Monsoon - May 14, 2010 at 6:17 PM

    Problem with that is that Pirates owner Bob Nutting is a notorious cheapskate. He has the lowest payroll in baseball, and will not sink any money into the team because he is making plenty of money.The apathetic Pittsburgh fans come to the games to see the fireworks after the game, and for the giveaways. There is no reason for Nutting to ever spend a dime on talent when all he needs to do is pay a fireworks company to do their thing after the games.
    Mario Lemieux and a very rich partner already tried to buy the team, and they were flatly turned down. Why should Mr. Cheapo Nutting sell if he’s making money with the dregs of the league playing for him?
    See, its not a management or personnel or scouting problem, its a cheap owner problem, and nothing more.

  8. funi - May 14, 2010 at 6:23 PM

    Pirates beat Cubs for 4th straight time this year! Contract the Cubs!!!!

  9. Joey B - May 14, 2010 at 9:00 PM

    When was the last time Pitt drew a crowd? Even when they were good, they didn’t draw, which is why they lost good players to free agency.

  10. Giraffe Monsoon - May 15, 2010 at 1:54 AM

    What? They havent lost anybody to free agency.
    The don’t needs big crowds to make money. With the lowest payroll in baseball, they they are putting out way less than they are bringing in. They get tons of money from other sources of revenue as well.
    They have hit upon the perfect business model.
    And the locals are too absorbed in the other pittsburgh sports teams to ever notice and do anything about it. and the current generation of baseball fans have never ever seen a winning team, so they are content to have 75 victories a season, since they dont even know what a good team is. Bob Nutting is a genius. Pittsburgh fans are the perfect mark.

  11. E=MCsq - May 15, 2010 at 6:10 PM

    Anyone that sucks now is going to keep on sucking. What will cure those low attendance problems, a change of ownership, a new stadium, a better team; I wouldn’t bet my money on it. When was the last time any of these teams drew 4 million fans; how about 3 million fans.

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