Last month we heard about Cincinnati Reds COO Phil Castellini tell the Rosie Reds that he doesn’t believe player contracts should be guaranteed, and that on average 14 teams are “out of contention” when the season begins, and joked that even if the team has good players they “couldn’t keep them”, and that the team was a “non-profit”. He had more feet in his mouth on that day than he has feet. On Thursday, C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic asked MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred about Castellini’s comments.
“When you hear a team president in January say that his team already has zero shot at contending or even being a winning team, what is your reaction and also do you agree with him that a quarter of the teams to a third of the teams have zero shot before we have a pitch in spring training?”
Manfred smirked for a second in the middle of the question.
“I think that most people who pay attention to our game realize that we do have a disparity issue in the game both on the revenue side and consequently in the ability to spend on players,” said Manfred. “I think sometimes in markets that produces frustration to what I regard to be unfortunate comments. Not helpful.”
The Bally Sports debacle
You’ve probably heard about the Bally Sports issues by this point, but if you haven’t, they are on the verge of filing for bankruptcy. They aren’t going out of business, but as a part of their expected bankruptcy they are going to be skipping the big payment due to the teams they run broadcasts for. That’s going to lead to plenty of issues – including some teams not getting expected cash flow. But for fans it creates a question of where to watch games?
Major League Baseball seems to have a plan. Evan Drellich of The Athletic has plenty of details about the plan that MLB has in place if Bally Sports doesn’t come through with their payments to teams and what happens from there.
If the payments are skipped, that would be a breach of the contracts and it seems that MLB would then void those contracts and at least in the short term take over the broadcasts themselves.
“We have taken those preparation efforts really seriously,” Manfred said on Thursday. “We know that we can produce games in the event that Bally is not broadcasting. We know that we can put those games up on in conjunction with MLB.tv digitally. And we are in the process of trying to work out arrangements that will put us in a position to make those games available within the cable bundle as well.”
One thing that opens up if MLB takes over and gets out of their current contracts is that it could allow them to lift blackouts for those teams. And that is something that the league wants to do now that we’re in an era where in many cities around the county there are no real options to even get the regional sports network if you wanted it because companies have dropped the channel from their lineup in a dispute over how much the RSN wants to charge for it.
As for how the league plans to try and at bridge the gap on traditional cable/satellite bundles, the rumors are that they would put the local games on MLB Network (as well as making them available on MLB.tv) while they try to find possible other solutions. That of course runs into a similar problem as the RSN situation does in some areas as MLB Network has been dropped from providers.
Other tidbits and notes
– Christian Encarnacion-Strand’s back was acting up and he had it checked out. This morning manager David Bell noted that he would be fine within a couple of days, reports Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Good news for the third baseman who is coming off of a 32 home run campaign in the minor leagues last season and is looking to make an impression in Arizona and try to win a job on the roster.
– Jonathan India is looking to take on more of a leadership role this season with the Reds. He talked with Charlie Goldsmith yesterday about setting the culture that’s different this year.
I want to set a culture this year that’s different from the past,” India said. “Everyone has the same mindset, no matter who it is. That’s what we need. That’s our ticket to success. Everyone having the same mindset of competing every day no matter the outcome.
It’s a bit unusual for such a young player to try and take on that kind of role, but Cincinnati isn’t exactly a roster full of veterans, either. That’s not to say there aren’t some, though. Wil Myers has a decade in the league, Joey Votto’s pushing two decades, Luis Cessa’s been around the league quite a bit, Curt Casali’s got plenty of time in the big leagues…. but someone’s got to do it and at least for now it seems India thinks he can be that guy.