Same as the old boss: Fox may bid for the Dodgers

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Michele Steele of Bloomberg Television reports that, according to some people in the company, Fox is interested in bidding on the Dodgers when they’re auctioned off in bankruptcy.

As Steele later tweeted, this would simply be about the costs of programming, not about actually, you know, wanting to buy a baseball team.  She notes that the network could spend as much as $3 billion over 17 years for the TV rights to the Dodgers, as bid against other potential competitors for those rights.  But if they bought the team they could spend somewhere between $800 million and $1 billion now for the team and guarantee themselves the TV rights. Not for free, of course — media right holders who also own the team have always paid themselves something for the privilege of broadcasting — but it’s a way lower number than the network would have to pay by itself, bidding against other networks.

For those of you who can’t remember life before Frank McCourt, Fox was the previous owner of the Dodgers. And one of the biggest reasons they sold the team in 2004 is that they are a broadcasting company, not a sports management company, so they lost money on the team. Which they only really had for the broadcast rights anyway. Sound familiar?

Yes, the world of team-owned media outlets (or media-owned team content providers) has grown far more sophisticated in the past several years and, yes, it’s possible that Fox would take a totally different tack if they were to take over the Dodgers again.  But really, should they even be given the chance?  Their bailing on the team last time gave us Frank McCourt to begin with.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.