Today, I am going to bounce around from one sport and one item to another so let me begin in the world of MLB with the reports that Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush are the headliners in a team of financiers who are set up to buy the Miami Marlins. Recall that six weeks ago, the designated buyers were a consortium led by Jared Kushner – – the “First Son-in-Law” of the USA. The current owner is Jeffrey Loria who is hardly beloved in South Florida and the latest evaluation by Forbes is that the franchise is worth $950M. The reported “going price” for the deal on the table is for $1.3B. Here are two things to consider:
- If you believe Forbes valuations, the Jeter/Bush consortium would be paying more than 40% over the “intrinsic value” of the franchise to become MLB owners.
- I read one report that said the Marlins was a money losing franchise. I have a problem believing that is the case unless current owner Jeffrey Loria agreed to take all of his national TV money in wooden nickels.
All of this sounded simple and organized until reports surfaced that the Jeter/Bush consortium denied that it had agreed to pay $1.3B for the team. I am not going to pretend here that I have some sort of “inside line” to the negotiations here but if you want to read about the various stages of this story, you can go here for reports about the sale as originally configured or here for reports about how this is not a done deal.
The Marlins have never been a big draw in Miami. Last year, the Marlins averaged just under 22,000 fans per game; that put the Marlins 25th in MLB in terms of home attendance. To put it positively, they drew more fans on average than 5 other MLB teams – including the Indians who eventually represented the AL in the World Series. However, the Dodgers’ average attendance was more than double what the Marlins drew and the Cardinals’ average attendance was almost twice as high. I have no idea if this new consortium of potential buyers – – or a new ownership group – – can make the Marlins’ games into events that must be seen in person by South Florida residents. If anyone figures out how to do just that, there is plenty of unused capacity in the home stadium to accommodate the crowds.
This story is nowhere near over. My guess is that Jeffrey Loria will indeed sell the team but that decision is not necessarily going to be made nor is the sale going to be finalized any time during the ongoing MLB season.
Since I am on the subject of MLB this morning, let me share with you an e-mail from a friend who is a Dodgers’ fan from back in the days when the Dodgers were in Brooklyn. I have not even considered verifying the statistic he sent me because even though he is a long-term fan, he is also a man of integrity:
“[Clayton] Kershaw has been the starting pitcher for the Dodgers 87 times when the team has gotten him 4 or more runs in the game. In those  starts, his [Kershaw’s] record is 87-0.”
That is what you could call “scary good” …
Switching gears here to talk about the NBA and their ongoing playoffs, the Utah Jazz eliminated the LA Clippers in a 7th game “win-or-go-home” situation. The Jazz did this despite having their single best defender and rebounder – – Rudy Gobert – – on the bench with foul troubles for more than 30 minutes in a 48-minute game. The Jazz are prohibitive underdogs to advance beyond the second round of the playoffs [versus the SF Warriors] let alone to win it all, but they did what they needed to do – and more – to win their first-round series.
Reporters and commentators have taken the opportunity of the Clippers’ futility here to speculate about the future of team president/GM/Head Coach, Doc Rivers, and to consider the possibility that the team may blow itself up and start over with a new constellation of stars in LA. As a general rule, I do not like a situation where the head coach is the teams’ GM; those jobs require a different focus; the GM and the head coach have to work together constructively, but I am not a fan of putting one person into both roles. Obviously, I have no idea how owner, Steve Ballmer will deal with the current situation inside the team but here is a stat I got from listening to Max Kellerman on First Take on ESPN yesterday:
- The Clippers have had the lead in five playoff series in each of the last five seasons and have come from ahead to lose all five of them.
- That is the first time in the history of the NBA such a thing has happened.
Finally, I commented recently about the terminations at ESPN and how the revenue constrictions combined with escalating TV rights’ fees for various sporting events has put the network in a bind. Recognizing the reality of those opposing forces/trends, please consider this item from Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot. Not only is Professor Molinaro’s point completely valid; the underlying events here make you wonder if the budget-mavens at ESPN are awake at the switch:
“Bottom line: On the day ESPN announced cost-cutting layoffs of 100 employees, including familiar on-camera faces, the network had reporter Marty Smith in Rome to cover a visit to Pope Francis by Jim Harbaugh, his wife and Michigan football players. Is that a real story or simply more free publicity for a marquee coach and program that don’t need it?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports ………