Braves make more money on TV than most people believe

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For years the Braves have been given at least a partial pass on spending decisions because of the state of their TV deal. It has been widely reported to be among one of the worst in baseball, with some estimates going as low as $20 million a year. That’s less than a tenth the size of the Dodgers’ deal and would place the Braves near the bottom in all of baseball in TV revenue. This despite having one of the largest single-team municipal markets in the game and despite their regional reach across the entire south.

It’s hard to find exact figures, of course, and to my knowledge, no one with the team has ever come out and said what the TV dollars actually are. At the same time, no one with the club has pushed back on the often-repeated claim that the numbers are in the low eight-figures. To the contrary, when Liberty Media bought the team they nodded often at the notion that the TV deal was near the bottom and, at best, presented it as “not crippling” because it’s something that they could maybe work around via cost-cutting and other revenue sources. A Brave face, shall we say, being put on a dire situation, but one that always came with the understanding that, because the TV deal was so bad, the Braves didn’t have the ability to spend like a lot of teams did.

Today, however, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves do far better on the TV side than they’ve allowed people to believe: they’ll make around $83 million this year, Liberty Media’s CEO said at a presentation last month, and it will rise to $113 million between now and its expiration in 2028. That’s still not as gaudy as a lot of teams, but it places them far more squarely in the middle of the TV pack than it does near the bottom and paints a far more rosy picture of their TV revenue than previously existed.

This news comes at a time when the Braves, despite spending the past two seasons talking about how their rebuild has given them the “financial flexibility” to “shop in any aisle” for baseball talent, have actually cut payroll. That cut coming despite the fact that the Braves are the defending division champs and, logically, should be in a win-now, talent-acquisition mode. Meanwhile, overall revenues — which includes TV, even if the numbers have not been itemized before now — have gone up from $262 million in 2016 to $442 million last year.

Which is to say that the Braves are rolling in money while cutting payroll and, at least allowing the perception of a sharply unfavorable TV deal to persist. How inspiring for Braves fans.

 

Pujols has 2 more RBIs, Cardinals beat Pirates 8-7 in 10

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PITTSBURGH – Albert Pujols drove in two more runs and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 in 10 innings Tuesday night.

Pujols hit a two-run single in the third inning to push his career total to 2,218 RBIs. That came a night after he broke a tie with Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. Hank Aaron holds the record with 2,287.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol then removed the 42-year-old Pujols at the end of the inning. St. Louis opens postseason play Friday when it hosts a best-of-three National League wild-card series.

Juan Yepez gave the Cardinals the win when he hit a tiebreaking single with one in the 10th inning off Chase De Jong (6-3) to score automatic runner Ben Deluzio.

“Tonight was interesting because you’re fairly scripted in who you want to use and who you don’t want to use and what you want tomorrow to look like so you can get ready for Friday,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It was a good one to still figure out a way to come out on top.”

The Cardinals threw out the potential tying run at home in the bottom of the 10th when automatic runner Kevin Newman tried to score from second base on Oneil Cruz‘s line single off the glove of first baseman Alec Burleson. The ball deflected to second baseman Brendon Donovan, who threw home to catcher Andrew Knizner.

The Pirates challenged the call, but it was upheld on video review.

“I thought we were going to get it overturned,” Newman said. “I just thought he didn’t tag me until he got higher up on the body.”

It was the Pirates’ 100th loss, the second year in a row they have reached that mark.

The Cardinals got two hits each from Donovan, Corey Dickerson, Knizner and Paul DeJong.

Cruz had three hits for the Pirates and Bryan Reynolds, Rodolfo Castro, Jack Suwinski, Ke'Bryan Hayes and Ji-Hwan Bae added two apiece. Miguel Andujar drove in two runs.

Chris Stratton (10-4) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

“They weren’t the prettiest two innings I’ve ever pitched but I got a great play from the defense in the 10th inning to help me out,” Stratton said. “It was a good play all the way around.’

Pujols’ hit put the Cardinals ahead 3-1 but the Pirates answered with six runs in the bottom of the third. Andujar’s run-scoring double highlighted an inning that includes RBI singles by Castro, Suwinski, Ben Gamel and Bae.

The Cardinals then scored four runs in the seventh inning to tie the score at 7-all. Donovan hit an RBI single, Dickerson drove in two runs with a double and the tying run scored on a throwing error by Cruz, the rookie shortstop.

Both starting pitchers lasted just 2 2/3 innings. The Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson was rocked for seven runs and nine hits while the Pirates’ JT Brubaker allowed three runs on four hits.

Brubaker was activated from the injured list before the game. He had been out since Sept. 16 with right lat discomfort.

HELSLEY HURT

Reliever Ryan Helsley, the Cardinals’ closer, left in the eighth inning with a jammed right middle finger. Helsley was injured after catching a line drive by Bae and using his hands to brace himself while dodging a piece of a broken bat.

Helsley said he expects to be ready to pitch Friday.

“I don’t think there was anything super wrong with it,” Helsley said. `Just give it some rest and let it resolve itself.”

ROSTER MOVES

The Pirates optioned right-hander Roansy Contreras to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear a roster spot for Brubaker. They also recalled infielder/outfielder Tucapita Marcano from Indianapolis and optioned catcher Jose Godoy to the same club.

PIRATES AWARDS

Center fielder Bryan Reynolds was voted the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, emblematic of the Pirates’ MVP, by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Mitch Keller won the Steve Blass Award for best pitcher. Former infielder Michael Chavis was voted the Chuck Tanner Good Guy Award.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: OF Tyler O'Neill (strained right hamstring) has been ruled out for the wild-card series but St. Louis is hopeful he can play in the NLDS round if it advances. . 3B Nolan Arenado (left quadriceps tightness) missed his second straight game but could play Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Have not decided on a starter for Wednesday, though Marmol said LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 5.46) and RHP Jake Woodford (4-0, 2.33) are possibilities.

Pirates: RHP Johan Oviedo (4-3, 3.12), who was acquired from the Cardinals on Aug. 1, gets the start.