By Timothy Guerrero, Opinion Writer
It was a cold, brisk September evening right off the exits of LaGuardia Airport. The Braves were in town taking on the New York Mets. Right upon first pitch, there was an elephant in the room. It was unsurprising, yet still disappointing. Thousands of green seats laid unoccupied as I was seemingly lonesome in the sparse crowd cheering on the Mets on this night. Again, this isn’t necessarily a shock. The Mets and Braves were amidst abhorrent seasons. It was freezing. Ticket prices were still egregious. Who would ever want to spend hard earned money on a garbage product? You’d think this would send alarm bells to management – terrible baseball in front of an empty Citi Field just two seasons removed would be humiliating, and irk them into bettering this situation, right? Think again. Baseball incentivizes losing. It’s a problem that has plagued many teams in the league. And to be blunt, it’s ruining the game.
To better understand why empty seats, poor ratings, and an overall seemingly disinterest in a club doesn’t matter at all, you have to look at how franchises make their money. Surely, ticket revenues, concessions, etc., all generate earnings, that add to the revenues of the club. However, the big money comes from TV deals and sponsorships. Take my beloved New York Mets for instance – Sportsnet New York pays $52 million a season for the rights to broadcast the Amazon’s, and this doesn’t even take into account that the Mets own 65 percent of SNY. And this pales in comparison to other clubs around the game – the Los Angeles Dodgers just signed a 25-year, $8.3 billion extension for their respective television rights. Make no mistake that regardless of the buzz or popularity surrounding your team is far from the determination of how much profit the club makes, and this is what makes the on-field product suffer for teams who lack talent or incentive to win.
Although I can point frustrations with the Mets and their pathetic ownership for countless hours, I feel the need to stress how this culture of revenue generating has ruined the game. Perhaps the epitome of such is what has transpired to the now Derek Jeter owned Miami Marlins. Jeter and Co. have essentially traded or released any and all fan-favorites and talent on the Marlins already mediocre club. Stanton, Yelich, and more, all fan favorites, and all wearing other colors. This has brought down the payroll for this upcoming season to $97.3 million according to Baseball Reference. For comparisons sake, the ever so glorious New York Yankees have a payroll of $162.2 million, with a lineup prime to win a World Series. However, regardless of the Marlins approach to unload and cut costs, they still generate massive revenue, and the club is still worth $940 million according to Forbes. So tell me, why should Jeter feel pressure to win? Remember that sports is a business, and regardless of the on field woes, clubs like the Marlins still win.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, January 30th print edition.
Contact Timothy at