SPORTSBIZ -- JOEL HAMMOND
As the Twins falter, a cautionary tale for the Indians
2:50 pm, July 18, 2012
The Minnesota Twins long have been one of the best-run franchises in Major League Baseball, and in 2010, they stood to get a significant boost with the opening of glistening new Target Field. Lin-sanity? Yeah, if the Knicks had signed him
The revenues from a new stadium, long proven to be a major financial windfall for teams, would help support deals given to homegrown stars Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer: Morneau signed for six years and $80 million, while Mauer signed for eight years and $184 million.
And yet the Twins now are in a tough situation: Those players' performances have dropped precipitously, fewer fans are coming and there appears to be little help on the horizon.
The Twins' attendance is down 11% over last year, to 34,889 per game, and the team has the worst record in the American League. Morneau has suffered from concussion issues and now is a .250 hitter with 11 homers, far from his 118 homers in four years form. Mauer, meanwhile, has rebounded to hit .333 this year, but played only 82 games last year and hit three home runs. He's paid $23 million each season.
The Cleveland Indians, of course, can relate: They spent on Travis Hafner and Jake Westbrook, and suffered a similar fate when Hafner's production went way down and Westbrook had Tommy John surgery. For a team like the Indians, such misses are tough to take.
The Twins, on the other hand, have that new-stadium crutch that allows them some financial leeway, but how long will it last? The Indians' boost from then-Jacobs Field lasted years, but more recently, teams — such as the Pirates, who admittedly have struggled much more and longer than Minnesota — have had the new-stadium smell wear off far faster than others before them. Does it happen in Minnesota?
According to The (Minneapolis) Star Tribune, the Twins, like the Indians, will have to rely on guys already in the majors to play better, because there's a mild dearth of talent in the team's farm system. As the Dolans found out, if the fans stop coming and the stadium doesn't lure them anymore, payrolls can get out of whack in a hurry.
I agree with fans and others who say the Indians would benefit from a big-name signing; I happen to think a so-called name would bring more excitement and more fans. But is it sustainable? What if that name doesn't perform? The contract becomes an albatross, and Hafner and Morneau are perfect examples.
Let me get this straight: The New York Knicks are foolish for not paying a guy who's played 25 games in his career $25 million? Because Jeremy Lin helped the team's marketing department and popularity?The debate rages on
They're the New York Freaking Knicks! They play in the most popular basketball arena in the world! They need Jeremy Lin to sell stuff? I have no doubt his emergence helped move the meter, but if the reason for the Knicks to pay the guy $25 million was to sell merchandise, the Knicks would have been far more foolish than they have been in the past with their money matters.
Not re-signing Lin was the prudent move, especially given the third-year “poison pill” the Rockets inserted and the inflexibility it would have imposed on the Knicks, who long have been known for their willingness to pay everyone everything.
Forbes agrees: “The Knicks' Shocking Fiscal Sanity Ends Linsanity Era In New York.”
The Lin contract was structured to pay the point guard $14.8 million in the third year, which would have triggered a luxury tax of as much as $28 million in the 2014-15 season for the Knicks. Apparently $43 million for one year for a point guard that has started 25 games in his career was what now former teammate Carmelo Anthony was referring to when he called the Lin contract “ridiculous.”
WhatIfSports.com says the 1992 Dream Team would kick the snot out of this year's Olympic team, an issue debated wildly after Kobe Bryant said this year's team could beat the first U.S. team to use NBA players.
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