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Baseball and the Recession

I'm quickly running out of time, so this will be short.

Baseball is feeling the uneasiness of the economic times.

The national recession has thrown Major League Baseball a curve along with the rest of the economy. No one would compare MLB's pain to that of mainstream America, but the crunch is causing off-the-field layoffs, plans to reduce ticket prices and a depressed market for trades and signings.

"What's going on is much bigger than the game of baseball, and for people to think it does not impact baseball is wrong,'' Marlins President David Samson said.


Major League Baseball Advanced Media, the company that runs the sport's highly successful Internet division, laid off 4.5 percent of its staff last week.

And Fox-TV might economize by dropping its regular-season pre-game show and firing its hosts, Kevin Kennedy and Jeanne Zelasko.


May I suggest to Fox-TV, if you are going to drop anyone it should be Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.  Save some money and put Kevin Kennedy along with Jeanne Zelasko in the booth, they would do a far better job of calling the game.

Moving along.

Donald Fehr, executive director of the players' union and a natural advocate for higher salaries, argued that baseball will weather the downturn without great difficulty.

"Historically, baseball has always been resistant to recessions. It's been on a roll for quite a number of years," he said. "What we know for certain is that the way you win and attract fans is put the best possible team you can on the field."


Super-agent Scott Boras, who has secured some of the richest contracts in baseball history, recently said he didn't think the economy would affect the free-agent market.

That generated this memorable reply from Bill Neukom, managing general partner for the San Francisco Giants:

"Scott Boras said everything's fine. He came down from Mars last week and, I guess, he'll go back up and work on his stats.''


It is true that in the depression of the late '20s and  '30s that baseball did reasonably well, as all entertainment did.  In a deep recession or depression people are always looking for ways to forget their problems, but this time there is one big difference.  Back in the late '20s and '30s television basically didn't exist.  Today, there are many alternatives, and some of them cheaper than attending a baseball game, competing for the entertainment dollar.

Baseball will feel the pinch.  Which really isn't important, what is important to the health of the game is how they react to it.