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Derek Jeter envisions substantial attendance spikes for Marlins, somehow

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The Miami Herald began a five-part series yesterday about the plans and financial projections new Marlins owners Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter have for the team. Or, at the very least, had for the team around the time they purchased it.

Reporter Barry Jackson has obtained an early draft of “Project Wolverine,” the payroll-cutting, revenue-raising white paper Jeter and Sherman circulated to potential investors late last summer and into the fall. It’s the plan, you may recall, that Commissioner Rob Manfred claimed he had no idea about until challenged, at which point he backtracked.

Part of it was already known: Jeter was promising to slash Marlins payroll. The team will obviously suffer as a result, but the payoff for owners and investors would be substantial profits projected over the next few years. Particularly in 2018, when the Marlins will get a check cut to them for between $50 and $65 million as a result of BAMTech’s sale to Disney.

But it’s not just payroll savings and one-time windfalls that Jeter says will drive profits. It’s increased ticket and television revenue. Revenue projections that seem . . . markedly optimistic.

For example, Jackson says the document projects a big spike in attendance revenue in 2018, but it strains credulity that the Marlins attendance or ticket revenue will go up after the team has shipped off all of its star players and sets off on a course seemingly assured of 100 or more losses. Likewise, the document Jackson has — the August version of Project Wolverine — contains an internal projection that Fox will give the Marlins nearly $50 million in up-front payment as part of a renegotiated TV deal. As Jackson notes, “[t]here’s no indication if the Marlins at this point believe that will happen.” At present the Marlins have the worst TV deal in baseball. There’s no suggestion I’m aware of that that’s going to change in the near future.

As Jackson says, the documents has been amended since the version he has was written. As such, perhaps these apparently unrealistic expectations have been purged from the documents now being circulated to potential investors. If they have not been radically changed, however, and if Jeter still thinks the course he has set the team on thus far in his reign will be one characterized by a spike in ticket sales and media companies fighting with one another to pour money into the team’s coffers for broadcast rights, he’s a lot more optimistic than anyone has a right to be.

 

 

Battle of the Aces: Max Scherzer takes on Clayton Kershaw tonight

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I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.

Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.

This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.

Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.