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Michigan stands one win away from College World Series title


We don’t really cover college baseball here, but we still like to make note of the College World Series. Especially when something improbable is on the verge of happening. That improbable thing: the University of Michigan, perhaps, winning it. They’re one win away from taking the best of three final from Vanderbilt after last night’s 7-4 win over the Commodores.

If they do take a second game and win it all it would be Michigan’s first baseball championship since 1962. They would, likewise, be the first Big Ten school to win it since Ohio State did in 1966. The south and the west dominate college baseball, so it would be quite the thing to see a cold weather team take the title.

Last night Michigan jumped out to an early 4-0 lead but Vandy crept back into, brining it to 4-3 to start the seventh. That’s when Wolverine first baseman and cleanup hitter Jimmy Kerr smacked a two-run homer giving Michigan some much-needed insurance. Michigan catcher Joe Donovan would homer for Michigan in the eighth. Wolverines starter Tommy Henry — who tossed a three-hit shutout of Florida State eight days ago — struck out eight while pitching eight and a third here, allowing four, though only three of them were earned.

As the Associated Press gamer noted, Kerr’s story is definitely a good one. The senior, who was a walk-on, is the grandson of John Kerr, who was a member of that 1962 Wolverines club. His father, Derek Kerr, played on Michigan’s 1984 team, which was the last U of M team to make it to the College World Series before this year. I assume Michigan coaches will track Jimmy Kerr for the next 10-15 years to see if he has a kid and then recruit the heck out of him. In the meantime, Kerr will join the Detroit Tigers organization after the Series is over, as he was selected by them in the 33rd round of this year’s draft.

Game 2 is Tonight. If Michigan wins, the Series is theirs. To get it, they’ll have to go through Vanderbilt’s Kumar Rocker, a freshman who threw a no-hitter in the super regionals. If Vandy wins, the deciding Game 3 will be on Wednesday. All games are scheduled for 7PM

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts continues to cry poor

Tom Ricketts
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

MLB owners and the MLB Players Association continue to hash out details, some in public, about a 2020 baseball season. The owners have been suggesting a shorter season, claiming that they lose money on every game played without fans in attendance. The union wants a longer season, since players are — as per the March agreement — being paid a prorated salary. Players thus make more money over the 114 games the MLBPA suggested than the 50 or so the owners want.

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has been among the more vocal owners in recent weeks, claiming that the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing shutdown of MLB has greatly hurt MLB owners’ business. Speaking to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, Ricketts claimed, “The scale of losses across the league is biblical.”

Ricketts said, “Here’s something I hope baseball fans understand. Most baseball owners don’t take money out of their team. They raise all the revenue they can from tickets and media rights, and they take out their expenses, and they give all the money left to their GM to spend.” Ricketts continued, “The league itself does not make a lot of cash. I think there is a perception that we hoard cash and we take money out and it’s all sitting in a pile we’ve collected over the years. Well, it isn’t. Because no one anticipated a pandemic. No one expects to have to draw down on the reserves from the past. Every team has to figure out a way to plug the hole.”

Pertaining to Ricketts’ claim that “the league itself does not make a lot of cash,” Forbes reported in December that, for the 17th consecutive season, MLB set a new revenue record, this time at $10.7 billion. In accounting, revenues are calculated before factoring in expenses, but unless the league has $10 billion in expenses, I cannot think of a way in which Ricketts’ statement can be true.

MLB owners notably don’t open their accounting books to the public. Because the owners were crying poor during negotiations, the MLBPA asked them to provide proof of financial distress. The owners haven’t provided those documents. Thus, unless Ricketts opens his books, his claim can be proven neither true nor false, and should be taken with the largest of salt grains. If owners really are hurting as badly as they say they are, they should be more than willing to prove it. That they don’t readily provide that proof suggests they are being misleading.

It’s worth noting that the Ricketts family has a history of not being forthcoming about their money. Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts got into hot water last year after it was found he had used inaccurate information when paying property taxes. In 2007, he bought two properties and demolished both, building a new, state-of-the-art house. For years, Ricketts used information pertaining to the older, demolished property rather than the current property, which drastically lowered his property taxes. Based on the adjustment, Ricketts’ property taxes increased from $828,000 to $1.96 million for 2019, according to The Chicago Tribune. Ricketts also had to pay back taxes for the previous three years.

At any rate, the owners want to pass off the financial risk of doing business onto their labor force. As we have noted here countless times, there is inherent risk in doing business. Owning a Major League Baseball team has, for decades, been nearly risk-free, which has benefited both the owners and, to a lesser extent, its workforce. The pandemic has thrown a wrench into everybody’s plans, but the financial losses these last three months are part of the risk. Furthermore, when teams have done much better business than expected, the owners haven’t benevolently spread that wealth out to their players, so why should the players forfeit even more of their pay than they already are when times are tough?