Yesterday, the social media titan known as Twitter was set ablaze when a report detailing some of the financial losses that baseball suffered in 2020 came out and the Phillies were prominently featured. You can read that full report right here, but the thing that really made every sit up and take notice was the original version that said John Middleton stated the Phillies’ losses were around $2 billion.
the assertion, unchallenged in the piece, that the Phillies lost this much money is mindblowing pic.twitter.com/2IvK5qThfb— Jarrett Seidler (@jaseidler) November 28, 2020
This is an absurd claim on its face since it’s pretty much impossible for any business to lose that much money and be able to keep it quiet for so long. The story was quickly changed after the insane number that the writer quoted the team as stating was changed to something a little more reasonable.
Seeing a number closer to $145 million makes a lot more sense when one considers the overall scheme of things, making that $2 billion assertion all the more unfathomable. The Phillies were very quick to point out that what was reported in that story was incredibly untrue.
Source with the Phillies says the $2 billion isn’t true— Ethan Witte (@ethan_witte) November 28, 2020
It seems for a while that having the story accurately reported with that new number seemed to placate the masses for a bit. The hardest part of this whole narrative is having people comprehend how people worth $3-4 billion are unable to “afford” anything at all, but the financial numbers are not the only thing that should have gotten our attention from that article (that number should have never been taken seriously).
In the original piece, right after the amount of money is reported, we see the next line that is just as damning about this organization. You can see it up above.
“...is not in position to re-sign Realmuto or any other big-ticket free agents.”
That is the line that should be having Phillies fans up in arms. We all know how the baseball business works by this point. Owners are going to base their free agent strategy on how much money they bring in the previous season. They aren’t going to use their personal stash of wealth to entice a player to the city. They’re going to use the cash that fans give them when they buy tickets and merchandise, as well as the television revenue that they get from their deals that have been negotiated. Without the fans in the park, they didn’t make the money they “need” in order to sign a player to help improve the on-field product.
This is the narrative that was begin weeks ago by writers and was continued yesterday. Even within that piece written yesterday, we see the continuation of that same song and dance that is being trotted out.
Every team in baseball had almost zero revenue last year and no idea when they can expect to start generating new revenue next year, or what those revenues will be.
It would be foolish to believe that teams will spend as they did in the past in a year where almost every single corner of the economy has been impacted by the pandemic. The people that own baseball teams are not stupid people. They did not get rich ten times over by being irresponsible with their money. But they must believe the people that follow and report on the game to either have short memories or to lack the brain power needed to comprehend numbers. Don’t you remember June?
Major League Baseball is finalizing a new media rights package with Turner Sports in a deal worth roughly $3.2 billion over seven years, according to industry experts familiar with contract terms....The deal with Turner comes more than a year after the MLB renewed its rights package with Fox, which was valued at $5.1 billion in November 2018. With Turner now complete, the Disney-owned ESPN is the only network yet to renew its MLB package. Octagon’s Cohen expects ESPN will complete a deal using Turner’s same 40% increase. He estimated ESPN would pay roughly $1.2 billion per year to keep the MLB. If that number holds, MLB would receive approximately $2 billion per year, up from $1.5 billion, for its national rights through 2028.
It’s very difficult for us as a fanbase to accept the fact that teams cannot afford players when we are able to see for ourselves that owners are getting money hand over fist when it comes to television revenue. And it’s not likely that people won’t be allowed in the stands at all in 2021. Even teams know that they’ll have people coming - they just aren’t sure when just yet.
As one club exec told me: “Even if there’s vaccines available next month, with all the COVID restrictions there’s no way we’re going to be able to have spring training in February and March.”
More likely, we’re looking at spring training in April and a regular “fannies in the seats” season beginning sometime in May — likely shortened to around 130 games, which will mean more lost revenue for the clubs.
Teams are acknowledging that fans will be coming back, but they continue to slip in those parts about how having fewer fans will means less money, trying to set people up for the reasons why player X was allowed to leave. It’s insulting to the fanbase and only helps further alienate those that have been increasingly frustrated with the actions of this organization lately.
Between a seemingly rudderless baseball operations search and the cries of poor that have been emanating from the offices, the Phillies are at a low point with their fan relations. Already in this offseason, we have seen the general manager removed, the president of baseball operations give a nonsensical press conference about the search for a new general manager, and the principal owner speak to the media and become hostile towards reporters asking perfectly fair questions. Now this report, though originally inaccurate, comes out and people further look at the Phillies and either shake their head in disgust or roll their eyes with disdain.
On a team that seems to not know what it wants to do, having someone in place to help lead the team on the field would be a big help, but instead, we’re left to digest why anyone would want to uproot his or her family in the middle of a pandemic. There has to be a lot of work done before anyone on this team can earn the trust and respect back from the fanbase. Hiring someone with the baseball chops, vision and leadership qualities to help lead the baseball operations would be a start. Not continuously standing around with their pockets turned inside out and shoulders shrugged would also help. But even then, this team needs to show us something that will help turn public opinion around.