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That Forbes “Astros are the most profitable team ever” story is eviscerated … by Forbes

Aug 29, 2013, 11:32 AM EST

astros logo new

Actually, by Biz of Baseball’s Maury Brown who frequently writes for Forbes.  Today he totally eviscerates the story Forbes ran three days ago claiming that the Astros were the most profitable team in baseball this year and may be the most profitable ever. It’s a real work of art, so go read it and get hipped to a lot of the ins-and-outs of baseball finance that is oh-so-often overlooked in most reporting on such matters.

And while we’re at it: unless you see actual audited and certified books laid out by a team, don’t believe most of what they say about their own finances either. Most teams are run like family owned muffler shops. They don’t have to show their books to anyone and don’t and even when they talk about it, there is all kinds of silliness going on that distorts the real economic picture.

In other news, some advice to Forbes: have Maury write about baseball finances more, other people less.

  1. number42is1 - Aug 29, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    “They don’t have to show their books to anyone and don’t and even when they talk about it, there is all kinds of silliness going on that distorts the real economic picture.”

    My brain hurts from reading that 10 times and still not making sense of it……

    • unclemosesgreen - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:21 PM

      I’ll give you a clue. If you go into negotiations to buy a restaurant, you usually want to make sure that you get to look at both sets of books.

      As with most corporations, baseball teams have complicated overall financial pictures that are made more complicated by a variety of local municipal tax dodges among other factors. For a lot of companies you would need a dedicated forensic accountant to really understand the whole picture. They aren’t lemonade stands.

  2. Detroit Michael - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    Makes one wonder whether Forbes was worried about liability for the claims made by the original article given that it is running Brown’s story so prominently. That’s a pretty complete rebuttal run by the same company.

  3. drunkenhooliganism - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    Brown mentions several times that CSN Houston is losing money and is having a hard time finding carriers. What does the stability of CSN Houston have to do with how much money the Astros make this year? Do the Astros own a piece of the network? Is the $80 Million only an estimate based on potential ad revenue?

  4. stex52 - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    This rebuttal makes a lot more sense to me. Anyone who lives in the Houston area knows the RSN deal is in big trouble right now. The local cable providers are balking at the price that CSN wants and most of the area doesn’t have coverage. 60% of the area is unable to see the Astros online. And the quality of the product is not helping close the deal.

    And yes, “drunken”, the Astros are part owners of the network. I think it’s 45%. If there is a cash call, then they have to participate.

  5. sabatimus - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    Moral of the story (and countless other stories): believe nothing.

    • paperlions - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:44 PM

      Dang it…now what am I supposed to think? The Astros must not be the most profitable, but they also must not be not the most profitable.

  6. hairpie - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    Thats great, now if anyone knew what “eviscerated” means.

  7. yankeepunk3000 - Aug 29, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    I’m pretty sure Yanks Redsox and Dodgers have made more money just on an educated guess there bub

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