The ballpark of tomorrow

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The Chicago Tribune has a story contemplating what the ballpark of tomorrow may look and feel like. Holograms! Smart-everything! Virtual reality!

Even in the next few years, Santee anticipates noticeable changes at ballparks — video boards with 4K screens, for one. Another is virtual reality clubs that might allow fans to try to replicate that diving stop they just saw J.J. Hardy make, for example.

“You could walk into it and all three dimensions of the room would be part of the game,” Santee said. “You could be the guy in the outfield. One wall is the outfield, you’ve got fans on three sides. You go in there and you feel like you are completely part of the game.”

I love stuff like this. Sure, it may all be wrong, but future-gazing, even if wrong, is fun and a little uplifting even if it’s silly now and will look even sillier when the future one day comes. Plus, it reminds me of the old “World of Tomorrow” cartoons from the 40s and 50s. With the added bonus of there not being anywhere near the level of sick, twisted violence towards mothers-in-law.

But if you can get past that bit, have some laughs:

The Royals are paying everyone. Why can’t all of the other teams?

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Over the past several weeks we’ve heard a lot of news about teams furloughing front office and scouting staff, leveling pay cuts for those who remain and, most recently, ceasing stipends to minor league players and releasing them en masse. The message being sent, intentionally or otherwise, is that baseball teams are feeling the pinch.

The Kansas City Royals, however, are a different story.

Jon Heyman reported this afternoon that the Royals are paying their minor leaguers through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended, and unlike so many other teams, they are not releasing players either. Jeff Passan, meanwhile, reports that the Royals will not lay any team employees off or furlough anyone. “Nearly 150 employees will not take pay cuts,” he says, though “higher-level employees will take tiered cuts.” Passan adds that the organization intends to restore the lost pay due to those higher-level employees in the future when revenue ramps back up, making them whole.

While baseball finances are murky at best and opaque in most instances, most people agree that the Royals are one of the lower-revenue franchises in the game. They are also near the bottom as far as franchise value goes. Finally, they have the newest ownership group in all of baseball, which means that the group almost certainly has a lot of debt and very little if any equity in the franchise. Any way you slice it, cashflow is likely tighter in Kansas City than almost anywhere else.

Yet the Royals are paying minor leaguers and front office employees while a great number of other teams are not. What’s their excuse?