SI Vault
 
IS THERE A CEILING?
Jim Kaplan
January 05, 1981
It must have been the Dallas locale. As Bowie Kuhn addressed the annual winter meeting in December, baseball's reserved and formal commissioner was suddenly transformed into a country-music singer belting out a familiar tale of woe. His dirge sounded something like this:
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
January 05, 1981

Is There A Ceiling?

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4

And what if a team has genuine financial problems? "No one should count on new owners coming along to bail out struggling clubs," Kuhn says. Bosh. "They're standing in line to buy franchises." says Lurie. So many buyers were standing in line to buy the White Sox that the owners turned down Edward DeBar-tolo's $20 million bid. The Cleveland Indians are considered one of baseball's worst investments, yet Neil Papiano and James Nederiander are buying 53% of the club's stock for $7.5 million.

The trend won't be toward bankruptcy but toward rich owners selling to richer ones, or to companies, conglomerates or multinationals. If Griffith were to unload the Twins, the Minneapolis business interests who pushed through the $54 million Metrodome over public opposition would buy the Twins and jack them up like a grain elevator on the prairie. And poor old Calvin would retire with a fat profit. The Payson family bought the Mets for $1.8 million in 1962 and sold them for $21.1 million in 1980.

•Kuhn's suggestion at Dallas that in 1980-84 baseball will lose 10 times the "many millions" it has supposedly lost in 1975-79 is based on a questionable projection. Already salary spending is leveling off. Salaries increased 46.7% in 1977 (the first year of free-agent salaries), 31.3% in 1978, 22.1% in 1979 and an estimated 20.2% in 1980. And these numbers are based on management calculations that don't discount deferred payments. Commenting on Kuhn's projections, Miller says, "If you had a very strong dam holding back a lot of water and the dam collapses, you measure the rate of flow for the first four hours when the flow is heaviest. Fair enough. But do you then make a projection for the next four hours that it will flow at the same rate? That's inane."

The other day Cincinnati President Dick Wagner was reminiscing about the minor leagues. "In the Western League we had one club show up wearing seven different uniforms," he said. "They showed up another time with one bat."

It's doubtful the majors will ever be undressed or unarmed.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

1 2 3 4