Last month we heard Cincinnati Reds COO Phil Castellini told the Rosie Reds that he doesn’t think player contracts should be guaranteed and that, on average, 14 teams are “out of contention” when it starts. the season, and joked that even if the team had good players they “couldn’t keep them,” and that the team was a “non-profit organization.” That day he had more feet in his mouth than 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 no longer has any chance of competing or even being a winning team, what is your reaction and do you also agree with him that a quarter of the teams to a third of the teams have zero shooting before we get a pitch in spring training?
Manfred smiled for a second in the middle of the question.
“I think most people who pay attention to our game realize that we have a game disparity problem on both the revenue side and the ability to spend on players,” Manfred said. “I think sometimes in the markets that leads to frustration at what I consider to be unfortunate comments. It is not useful.”
The Bally Sports debacle
You’ve probably heard about Bally Sports’ problems by now, but if you haven’t, they’re about to file for bankruptcy. They’re not going out of business, but as part of their hoped-for bankruptcy, they’re going to skip the big payout due to the teams they broadcast for. That will lead to a lot of problems, including some teams not getting the expected cash flow. But for the fans, it creates a question of where to watch the games.
Major League Baseball seems to have a plan. The Athletic’s Evan Drellich has plenty of details about MLB’s plan if Bally Sports defaults on its payments to teams and what happens from there.
If the payments are missed, that would be a breach of contracts and it appears that MLB would void those contracts and, at least in the short term, take over the broadcasts.
“We have taken those preparation efforts very seriously,” Manfred said Thursday. “We know that we can produce games in case Bally is not broadcasting. We know we can put those games together with MLB.tv digitally. And we are in the process of trying to reach agreements that will put us in a position to make those games available within the cable package as well.”
One thing that opens up if MLB takes over and gets out of their current contracts is that it might allow them to lift the blackouts for those teams. And that’s something the league wants to do now that we’re in an era where in a lot of county cities there’s no real option to even get the regional sports network if you want it because the companies have removed the channel from their lineup. in a dispute over how much the RSN wants to charge.
As for how the league plans to try to close the gap in traditional cable/satellite packages, rumors are that they would put local games on the MLB Network (in addition to 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 in some areas, as the MLB Network has been removed from providers.
Other things and notes
– Christian Encarnacion-Strand’s back was bad and they checked it out. This morning, manager David Bell pointed out that he would be fine in a couple of days, reports Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Good news for the third baseman coming off a 32-homer campaign in the minor leagues last season and looking to make an impression in Arizona and try to earn a roster spot.
– Jonathan India is looking to take on more of a leadership role this season with the Reds. Yesterday he spoke with Charlie Goldsmith about establishing a different culture this year.
I want to establish a culture this year that is different from the past,” India said. “Everyone has the same mentality, no matter who they are. That is what we need. That is our ticket to success. All with the same mentality to compete every day regardless of the result.
It’s a bit unusual for a player this young to try to take on that kind of role, but Cincinnati isn’t exactly a roster full of veterans, either. However, that’s not to say there aren’t some. Wil Myers has a decade in the league, Joey Votto is pushing two decades, Luis Cessa has been in the league quite a bit, Curt Casali has been in the big leagues for a long time… but someone has to do it and at least for now it looks like India thinks he may be that guy.