Josh Hamilton says Dallas is not a baseball town. And he’s right.

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UPDATE: this topic tickled my fancy, so I did a post running down what I think is the alpha-sport in each major league city.

I have not heard the interview yet — and can’t find it — but apparently Josh Hamilton has upset a lot of Rangers fans by saying Dallas is not a baseball town. Or that “North Texas” is not a baseball area. Something to that effect:

Which, sure, I get why that upsets people, but is he wrong? If Dallas/North Texas isn’t football country there is no place on Earth that is football country. Out of the four major sports, the Cowboys have had less overall success over the past 15 years than the Stars, Mavs and Rangers, but they still suck up all of the oxygen. They still have that crazy stadium, fill it up and draw silly TV ratings. It has to be a football town, yes?

This isn’t a slight on the Rangers. I know they draw well and do well in the ratings themselves and that especially in the past few years they’ve really captured the hearts of people in Texas. Rangers fans really support their team. But there’s a difference between supporting one’s team and being a baseball town, isn’t there?

In my mind “baseball town” or “football town” is a zero sum game. You’re one or the other. Maybe the city shows for all of its sports teams, but if the town had to vote all but one of them off the island, which would it keep? In Dallas that has to be the Cowboys. And I think it may be more of a landslide there than anyplace else.

Thing is, there aren’t a ton of baseball towns these days. Off the top of my head I’d say Boston, New York, Cincinnati and St. Louis. Probably San Francisco, though that seems more recent (I’m mostly comparing how nuts the city seemed to go for the Giants in the World Series but not so much for the 49ers in the Super Bowl). Maybe Los Angeles, but my sense is that the Lakers are a bigger deal generally speaking.

Maybe I’m missing some. Occasionally I’ll hear Detroit mentioned, but while Detroit is a very good baseball city, I feel like the Red Wings hold more sway in some intangible way. There are probably people who will say that Boston is more of a Celtics place, but I don’t know.  I’d be curious to hear what people from each town have to say. I’m obviously guessing to a large degree.

But I don’t think I’m guessing with Dallas. That’s Cowboys country. And even if Josh Hamilton saying it is more about him being somewhat dismissive to the city that will now boo him whenever he comes to town, he’s not wrong, is he?

MLB Network airs segment listing “good” and “bad” $100 million-plus contracts

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On Wednesday evening, Charlie Marlow of KTVI FOX 2 News St. Louis posted a couple of screencaps from a segment MLB Network aired about $100 million-plus contracts that have been signed. The list of “bad” contracts, unsurprisingly, is lengthier than the list of “good” contracts.

As Mike Gianella of Baseball Prospectus pointed out, it is problematic for a network owned by Major League Baseball to air a segment criticizing its employees for making too much seemingly unearned money. There’s a very clear conflict of interest, so one is certainly not getting a fair view of the situation. MLB, of course, can do what it wants with its network, but it can also be criticized. MLB Network would never air a similar segment in which it listed baseball’s “good” and “bad” owners and how much money they’ve undeservedly taken. Nor would MLB Network ever run a segment naming the hundreds of players who are not yet eligible for arbitration whose salaries are decided for them by their teams, often making the major league minimum ($545,000) or just above it. Similarly, MLB Network would also never think of airing a segment in which the pay of minor league players, many of whom make under $10,000 annually, is highlighted.

We’re now past the halfway point in January and many free agents still remain unsigned. It’s unprecedented. A few weeks ago, I looked just at the last handful of years and found that, typically, six or seven of the top 10 free agents signed by the new year. We’re still at two of 10 — same as a few weeks ago — and that’s only if you consider Carlos Santana a top-10 free agent, which is debatable. It’s a complex issue, but part of it certainly is the ubiquity of analytics in front offices, creating homogeneity in thinking. A consequence of that is everyone now being aware that big free agent contracts haven’t panned out well; it’s a topic of conversation that everyone can have and understand now. Back in 2010, I upset a lot of people by suggesting that Ryan Howard’s five-year, $125 million contract with the Phillies wouldn’t pan out well. Those people mostly cited home runs and RBI and got mad when I cited WAR and wOBA and defensive metrics. Now, many of those same people are wary of signing free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer and they now cite WAR, wOBA, and the various defensive metrics.

The public’s hyper-sensitivity to the viability of long-term free agent contracts — thanks in part to segments like the aforementioned — is a really bad trend if you’re a player, agent, or just care about labor in general. The tables have become very much tilted in favor of ownership over labor over the last decade and a half. Nathaniel Grow of FanGraphs pointed out in March 2015 that the players’ share of total league revenues peaked in 2002 at 56 percent, but declined all the way to 38 percent in 2014. The current trend of teams signing their talented players to long-term contract extensions before or during their years of arbitration eligibility — before they have real leverage — as well as teams abstaining from signing free agents will only serve to send that percentage further down.

Craig has written at great length about the rather serious problem the MLBPA has on its hands. Solving this problem won’t be easy and may require the threat of a strike, or actually striking. As Craig mentioned, that would mean getting the players all on the same page on this issue, which would require some work. MLB hasn’t dealt with a strike since 1994 and it’s believed that it caused a serious decline in interest among fans, so it’s certainly something that would get the owners’ attention. The MLBPA may also need to consider replacing union head Tony Clark with someone with a serious labor background. Among the issues the union could focus on during negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement: abolishing the draft and getting rid of the arbitration system. One thing is for sure: the players are not in a good spot now, especially when the league has its own network on which it propagandizes against them.