Braves CEO: we’re not selling the team; and, oh, our TV deal is awful

31 Comments

Braves fans were spoiled when Ted Turner owned the team. The games were broadcast all over the country and they spent on whatever they felt like it because Turner was simply mad. Mad, I say.  Ah, those were the days.

In recent years the team has been owned by Liberty Media Corporation. That has been the opposite of fun. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of emotional investment in the team by ownership. Surprising considering corporations are just like people and everything.

But more to the point, it’s because Liberty Media sets a budget, sticks with it and seemingly has no interest in the Braves doing anything more grand than keeping the corporate balance sheet tidy. Oh sure, I imagine they’d like to see the team win, but not if it meant that someone would have to go back and edit an Excel spreadsheet to make it happen. That would be dreadful. And it may distract from pressing matters in the film or news divisions, and that just wouldn’t do.

Anyway, the team’s Chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk sat for an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently, and it doesn’t look as though the thrilling efficiency that is Atlanta BravesCorp will be changing any time soon:

The Braves have set a player payroll budget of $94 million for this year, leaving them with several million dollars still to spend, the team’s chairman and CEO said.

Terry McGuirk, in a wide-ranging interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in his Turner Field office, also said team owner Liberty Media has expressed no intention of selling the club in the near future.

And on another significant note, McGuirk disclosed that the Braves are locked into 25-year local TV contracts that will prevent the franchise from cashing in on Major League Baseball’s trend toward dramatically higher telecast rights fees.

OK, fine. They have “several million more to spend.” But they seem to have no intention of spending it. And call me crazy, but I bet McGuirk gets a shiny star placed on his annual evaluation if he operates under budget. That’s how corporations work.

The TV thing is what kills me. We’ve seen a lot of teams make crazy-good TV deals recently that have allowed them to substantially increase payroll. The Rangers and Angels are just two which come to mind. Meanwhile, the Braves — owned by a media company which maybe should have seen the explosion in rights fees coming — are going to be locked into 2007 thinking for the next 20 years. Mercy.

Thank God it’s past noon now. I’ll be in the lounge for a few minutes.

Imagine the Cleveland baseball club in green

Getty Images
11 Comments

Everyone talks about getting rid of Chief Wahoo but nobody does anything about it.

Well, that’s not totally true. As we’ve noted, Major League Baseball and the Indians are slowly doing something about it. But the thing they’re doing — a slow phase-out of Wahoo, hopefully in a manner no one really notices — is likely going to anger just as many as it pleases. Such is the nature of a compromise. Such is the nature of trying to do the right thing but being afraid to state the reason why they’re doing it.

A bold move would be a lot more interesting. Not just getting rid of the logo, but totally rebranding the Indians in a cool and exciting way that would inspire people to buy in to the new team identity as opposed to merely lament or accept the abandonment of the old one. To that end, a man named Nick Kendall came up with a super fun and super great-looking redesign and rebranding of the Indians over the weekend.

Kendall, who is not really a big baseball fan but who has spent a lot of time thinking about uniforms and design, went back to 1871 and Cleveland’s first professional baseball team, the Forest Citys (yes, that’s how it was spelled). He took their logo — an interlocked F and C — and built an entire set of uniforms out of it and some aesthetic choices of his own. The new color scheme is a dark green and white. He even includes two alternate, solid-jersey designs. All of it is done in a great looking mockup. Really, go check it out and tell me that’s not cool.

I like it for a couple of reasons. Mostly because the uniforms just look fantastic. I love the design and would love to see a team with that kind of look in the game. We have too many reds and blues. Green is woefully underused in Major League Baseball and it’d be good to see some more green around.

Also, as Kendall notes, and as soccer shows us, the “[city] [mascot]” name construction isn’t the only way to approach team names, and so the name — Forest Citys, or some derivation of it — would be unique in baseball. Maybe it’s be “The Cleveland Forest Citys/Cities.”  Maybe “Forest City B.C.” would be a way to go? Maybe, as so often happened with baseball teams in the past — the Indians included — the nickname could develop over time. It’s certainly preferable to the option a lot of people point to — The Cleveland Spiders — which (a) evokes the worst baseball team in history’ and (b) sounds like something a 1990s NBA marketing team would come up with.

If the Indians are going to get rid of Chief Wahoo — and they are — why not do something fun and new and exciting?