Sunday, November 27, 2011

Billy Beane is Lying to You

Billy Beane is lying to you.

In a recent S.F. Chronicle article, Susan Slusser wrote:

Oakland lost money for the first time this century, with an expected shortfall of several million dollars, according to Beane.

This is totally untrue and easily refutable. Oakland lost money? Really? Objective sports economists and journalists disagree.

Like Forbes Magazine, which revealed that last year alone the A's turned a $23 million profit. Also, the A's have averaged a $23 million annual profit for the past three years.

Slusser also blames the A's "woes" on the fact that they raised the team payroll $15 million in 2010. But again, that doesn't add up -- literally. It's as simple as 23 minus 15 equals 8, as in: If the A's are profiting $23 million each year, as Forbes says, then a $15 million payroll bump still leaves them with an $8 million profit. In one year alone.

Or look at CSNBayArea sportswriter Ray Ratto's recent column:

There is nothing particularly new about Billy Beane’s interest in the Athletics’ stadium issue. He’s been telling this one for awhile now ... we can assume that once again, John Fisher and Lew Wolff didn’t actually lose real money ... Why this fiction continues is a marvel of modern mythmaking ...

Then there's this September column where Ratto all but accuses Beane and Wolff of lying:

The A’s are clearly playing the extort-a-ballpark game yet again ... We’ve never believed that, and we never will. The A’s are deliciously profitable every year because of the revenue sharing pixie. ... Nice try, but the smart folks aren’t buying.

Plus, if Beane blows an extra $15 million on players and the team still stinks, isn't that Beane's fault? C'mon, the Tampa Bay Rays have had a lower payroll than the A's for years and the Rays made the playoffs three of the past four years and had a World Series appearance, which Beane's teams have never accomplished.

We're also perplexed why Beane thinks that claiming the A's lost money in 2011 for the "first time this century" makes his point. Assuming he means the first 11 years of the 21st Century ... We have to ask, if the A's have been profitable that whole time, then why have they constantly whined about money and talked about moving the team in that time period? Because a lot of teams would love to have turned a profit each year for the past decade.

Also, consider this ...

From 1995-99, the Giants averaged $20 million annual losses and lost about $97 million combined. That investment paid off beautifully for the Giants, of course, once they moved into AT&T Park in 2000 in their longtime hometown.

Wolff and Beane could do the same thing with the A's in Oakland if they were, you know, actual businessmen willing to invest, instead of what they really are: shady guys playing a fixed economic game, like gambling addicts rigging MLB's equivalent of a casino roulette wheel. It's a dirty game in which exactly two things always lose: the fan and integrity.

Since 1995, Oakland A's fans have put up with a lot of abuse from the team's owners, but few things are as painful to watch as seeing Beane –- a guy we once admired for his perceived loyalty and integrity -- turn completely into a dishonest sellout.

As Ratto wrote: "Nice try, but the smart folks aren’t buying."


Larry Medina said...

In addition to the money mentioned from revenue sharing, what about the lucrative deals with Japan for broadcasting AND advertising thanks to Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui?

Many articles have been written about how Matsui's reduced "projected value" could still result in profitable signing with Japanese revenue.

Truly weary of all the lies and crocodile tears over losses due to the venue... it's not the venue, it's the record and the bad National press due to owner and GM comments that keeps players from supposedly not wanting to sign. I've NEVER seen ONE player say "I don't want to play in Oakland because of their stadium"... opposing players don't want to play here because it hurts their numbers.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: 4 World Series, 1 All Star Game, 6 AL Pennants, 14 AL West Division Titles, ! Wild Card... ALL in the Oakland Coliseum (or whatever the money grubbers call it this year). How many others can say this about a multi-purpose stadium that has been in existence for 43 years??

If these guys DON'T want to keep OUR TEAM in OUR CITY, then sell it to someone who does, or turn it over to MLB and take the money and GET LOST!!

Alex Moronda said...

It's long been known that MLB team accounting is, uh, shady at best. Good to see someone call out Beane's involvement. Ever since he got an ownership stake things seem to have taken a turn.

I think anybody even half-informed can see that Wolff/Fisher/Beane ownership group has been trying to destroy the fanbase in Oakland as much as possible. I highly suspect that the San Jose project is not going to move forward and that MLB intends to take over the team and market them to another area. Getting the A's out of the SF Bay Area has been the goal all along, as it allows the creation of another "super franchise" ala the Red Sox and Yankees.

With the entire Northern California market all to themselves the San Francisco Giants can become a major powerhouse.

As for the A's, the question has always been "where would they go?" I think the dark horse is actually Montreal. The market is quite large (3.8 million metro), and the issues with the Expos were not really specific to the market, they were ownership, stadium, and currency related. What has changed in Montreal is the presence of a potential new ownership group, part of a media powerhouse that is launching a major sports network in Canada. This is the key revenue stream for them that makes a baseball team very valuable. With the Canadian dollar at parity with the US dollar and the large fanbase and market size you have a compelling case. There is also an existing temporary facility (Olympic Stadium of course) if needed while construction proceeds on a new ballpark.

I actually favor this possibility, as clearly MLB has no interest in the Oakland fanbase and the San Jose talk is truly insulting. I'd prefer the best future for my team, in a real market, not the undersized reality that is the Silicon Valley (2 million).

Jeff and Rebecca said...

You realize that the Forbes list came out in March, before the season started right? Also, the money for revenue sharing hasnt even gone out yet, so you cant really use that as an argument against the team losing money. If you were to look at the books right now, the team would have lost money. So its not really lying.

gojohn10 said...

I appreciate the passion, but how about providing readers with the pertinent facts rather than distorting them to support your agenda? BTW, how's that Victory Court EIR coming?

Larry Medina said...

@Alex- SF a "major powerhouse"? SERIOUSLY?? Not in my lifetime... if they were the only MLB in the Bay Area, as they were pre-1968, I'd start rooting for someone else again. Or traveling to Stockton or Sacramento to see minor league ball again, rather than SF.

@Jeff- What makes you think anything is going to change when the hard numbers come out? If the patterns of 2009 to 2010 continues into 2011, there will be no difference. If you don't like the term 'lying' how about "annoying prevarication"? =)

@Gojohn- I don't think this is an agenda- there are plenty of earlier data points to support the comments that the owners have not negotiated in good faith with Oakland, worse yet, that prior to buying the team, Wolff/Lewis were talking about buying it with the intent of moving it. Whether it's building a stadium on the quadrant bordered by 50th Ave/66th Ave/880/San Leandro Street or Jack London Square or 19th and San Pablo there were plenty of viable options... they even had a shot at the 580/680 interchange in Dublin at one point. ALL OF THESE are close to public transit and freeways, they all lent themselves to remaining in the community, but none of them were seriously considered. The concept that the $$ in SJ are better than those in Oakland is a ruse- if there is Corporate money to be had, why would a Bay Area business be any better served by having the team in SJ?

What is an "agenda" and "distortion" its the concept that the City of Oakland would EVER HAVE BEEN ABLE to provide direct revenue to support the building of a stadium or financing of the team- do you KNOW Oakland? I was born and raised there. Have you SEEN the infrastructure or even the quality of the streets? Are you aware of the situation with the public schools? Do you know how many police officers they had to let go because of their financial state?

Cities don't finance baseball or other sports, corporations do. Fans provide the ongoing revenue to sustain the teams, but not if the owners continually dilute the quality of the product placed on the field. For the past 3 years, the A's have been 2 or 3 players away from a playoff berth, but nothing has been done to achieve this and as this blog post pointed out, they HAD the money to spend and STILL remain profitable.

Physical location won't change any of this if owners aren't willing to open up their wallets and enrich the product on the field.

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