Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Not One Dime Of Profit

That's going to be a hell of a farm system!

With ticket prices in the upper echelon of Major League Baseball teams and attendance likely to top 2.5 million a year, the Nationals are expected to boost revenue by as much as $50 million, according to some estimates. And with a favorable stadium deal and strong interest from sponsors, the team should find itself among the more financially stout teams in baseball...

Meanwhile, industry sources said the Nationals' deal with Centerplate, the stadium concessionaire, could be one of the most lucrative in baseball, giving the team more than 50 percent of regular concession revenue plus a share of any money taken in from catering.

Good thing they assured us that the owners aren't going to be making any profit off this operation.


  • Those must be some incredible chili nachos you're always going on about Chris!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/26/2008 11:15 PM  

  • They better let us continue to bring our own food into this Taj Mahal on Half Street. I can't afford a second mortgage for their $10 burgers.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/26/2008 11:25 PM  

  • All that money better go to sign that Latin shortstop.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/27/2008 12:02 AM  

  • Hey, those chili nachos are worth $50 million. I missed them last year.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/27/2008 12:06 AM  

  • ::reads title, winces::

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/27/2008 9:03 AM  

  • Thanks, Mr. Dictionary!

    I'm good at the making people wince thing.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/27/2008 9:05 AM  

  • By my count, the $450M purchase price plus $20M in stadium improvements mean it will be at least 9+ years (@ $50M per season) before the ownership will be making a net profit on the team. Not what you meant, I know...

    By Blogger Nate, at 3/27/2008 11:35 AM  

  • Equity isn't profit?

    Is their franchise value going down?

    Debt service doesn't put money into their pockets?

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/27/2008 11:37 AM  

  • I am new (well, newish) to your blog and I have found the constant harping on the cheapness and profit taking of the Lerner's more than a little frustrating. You refer to things that were said about what they would or would not do, or the money they would or would not spend, with an implication that they are cheap and dishonest when it comes to money.

    Some of my issues with how you portray the Lerners may be due to my own ignorance on the issues. I would love to see some kind of recap of your issue with how they spend money and what your issue is with their making a profit on owing and operating the team. I am full season ticket holder, so I certainly do care about the prices at the ballpark, the prices of the tickets, parking, etc., but your comments do not always strike me as fair, especially when I consider what I see regarding how they operate and spend money. Like I said, that may be ignorance on my part and I am more than happy to be educated, but that is how it strikes me.

    By Blogger RedBee, at 3/27/2008 11:47 AM  

  • My basic issue is this:

    I have doubts that the Lerners are going to run this team like the large market franchise it is. The revenues this stadium and market should generate will put it on par with Philly and the other teams in the second tier behind the Boston/Yankees stratosphere.

    I can't point to any single reason for this, other than various statements, and data points from time to time. It's just my gut feeling, and it's entirely possible that I'll be proved wrong.

    Kasten has said previously that the team won't take "one dime of profit" (maybe it was nickel?)

    Well, where's the money going then? Revenues are up. So are expenses, but someone's making money somewhere along the way.

    That's fine. It's their right. It IS a business. But often, their statements are trying to give an impression that they don't have as much money to spend as they do, or that a million bucks saved this year, is going to be applied to future year's payrolls. Both of those are likely misleading.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/27/2008 11:55 AM  

  • did they actually spend that $20M in stadium improvements? i thought we saw recently it was closer to 5-6, with the signature addition being bigger cherry trees in the OF.

    the point chris tries to make through his "constant harping," if i may, is that this team talks small market like they are the KC Royals but will soon be raking in money like the beverly hillbillies.

    fans like chris (and myself) want to see some of that money going into the product on the field. which, by all accounts, will once again be subpar but, this time, at big market, top dollar prices. you know, to recoup all the costs of moving into the stadium they received for free.

    bottom line - talking and acting like KC but raking in money like LA strikes many of us (another full s/t holder here) more than a little disingenuous.

    By Blogger DCPowerGator, at 3/27/2008 11:58 AM  

  • Great question, and answer(s).

    Given that...would you guys, who think the ownership is somehow tricking everyone, rather have an owner like "Dannyboy" Snider who rakes in the cash (with the most profitable team in the NFL)then just throws money at every problem?

    We haven't had a decent football team since he's been here.

    Is it possible to have a balance? Where can one effectively draw the line?

    By Blogger Ray Firsching, at 3/27/2008 12:26 PM  

  • There's definitely a middle ground.

    I have NO problem with the minor league development. That's exactly what Baltimore and even the 'Skins have lacked. They didn't focus on those things to help build a core, and they don't have the right leadership (free from meddling) to make proper long-term decisions.

    The Nats CLEARLY do that right. I've never objected to that.

    But the Nats have done a good job of presenting it (or having their surrogates present it) as an either/or proposition.

    You can't have free agents because we have to invest in the farm. You can't have an increased payroll because we're not ready, etc.

    Now, no FA is going to turn a coonhound into best of show, but given all the ABs we've wasted these last few years on players like Fick, Langerhans, Clayton, Byrd, etc, or IP we've thrown to dregs like Bacsik or Ortiz, there's room for improvement at the margins.

    Improvements at the margins wouldn't have turned 90 losses into 90 wins. But it could've turned 90 losses into 81.

    and the key is that they could've done it WITHOUT harming the long-term fortunes of the franchise.

    There's definitely a line. Signing Carlos Silva for 4/$40 is ridiculous. But don't you think this team would be better off with Kyle Lohse? And he signed for one year at around $4 million.

    Not all free agents are bad. Not many free agents are truly good either!

    The Nats have generally done good with buying low, and turning over those rocks. But they've only done that when it has required a minimum of expense... a minor-league deal. It'd be nice to see them make a move to patch some of the holes the team has, even if it costs a few bucks more. They've got the money!

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/27/2008 12:35 PM  

  • good question ray - how about an admittedly simplistic "somewhere in the middle" for my answer?!?!?!

    seriously, the only thing i object to so far is poor-mouthing and over-stating. meaning, a $ saved today is NOT an extra $ available tomorrow, it's just a $ not spent today (and if it's not spent at all, a $ that did not improve the team today or tomorrow).

    and i'm sick of hearing about the money they've allegedly spent on the stadium ($20M keeps getting thrown out there) when much less has been spent TO DATE. if more is planned, great, tell me all about it. but don't act like it's already been spent! the post enables these guys by reporting their press release bullets ($20 MILLION!) as gospel truth.

    big picture - i think they're on the right course. i hope so anyway. but give it to me straight and don't talk about such nonsensical notions as "not a nickel in profit" and "a dollar saved is a dollar available tomorrow."

    By Blogger DCPowerGator, at 3/27/2008 12:35 PM  

  • (or what bill said!)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/27/2008 12:36 PM  

  • chris - sorry i keep tripping over ya! we must be on a similar schedule today.

    By Blogger DCPowerGator, at 3/27/2008 12:38 PM  

  • Repetition is good!

    Plus people know I'm not using a sock puppet in comments! :)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/27/2008 12:39 PM  

  • chris - going to opening day, er, nite? if so, we're getting in when gates open, you've earned a beer or three from my season ticket crew! if not, feel free to redeem at a future game!

    By Blogger DCPowerGator, at 3/27/2008 12:40 PM  

  • One of these years, I'm going to call in all the beers people have claimed they'd buy me... then I'll die in a gutter in a pool of my own vomit.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/27/2008 12:41 PM  

  • LOL, beers transferrable into any concession besides sushi and veggie burgers!

    thought of you the other day. reading a blog re my other baseball club, the cleveland indians, which was (naturally) bitching about something we ostensibly haven't been able to do right recently and, in doing so, they used "The Plan" in quotations and capital letters! needless to say, i about fell out of my chair.

    apparently, the Indians "The Plan" started in mid-2002 with, what else, the bartolo colon trade. very eerie (no, not the lake) how my "The Plans" are so inextricably linked, isn't it?

    regardless, i won't tell these guys about you as I'd hate to see you have to pay royalties for use of "The Plan" on the worldwide intergoogle!

    By Blogger DCPowerGator, at 3/27/2008 12:47 PM  

  • It was one of the other Nats Blogs that came up with The Plan moniker... damned if I can remember which one though!

    I just contorted it, as it seemed to take a life of its own, bending and stretching to make any farkin' point that the particular writer felt he needed to make, into "The PLAN!"

    No free agent pitching? "The PLAN!"

    Levale Speigner getting beaten up? "The PLAN!"

    Mike Bacsik? "The PLAN!"

    The Soriano Trade? "The PLAN!"

    The Soriano non-trade? "The PLAN!"

    Trying to trade Soriano in the first place? "The PLAN!"

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/27/2008 12:50 PM  

  • I believe a big chunk of the promised $20M the Lerners would spend on stadium improvements went to upgrading that giant HD scoreboard over and above what DCSEC would have provided, which would probably have been the equivalent of the RFK scoreboard - or maybe even the actual RFK scoreboard itself if United didn't object. That ain't spending money just on cherry trees, folks - although the cherry blossoms will probably look mighty nice when they're projected up on that scoreboard in HD.

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 3/27/2008 12:54 PM  

  • You're right on that. They definitely deserve credit for that.

    (I think the other chunk of it went to upgrading the fixtures of the suites, as well as adding individual bathrooms)

    What I found maddening about that whole episode was that they made that big pronouncement last year RIGHT AFTER the series of articles talking about a $20 million reduction in payroll.

    Although they didn't state it, it left the impression that one was because of the other, when that's likely not the case.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/27/2008 12:56 PM  

  • ABM - i was being a little facetious about stadium spending being limited to cherry trees. however, even w/ the mackest daddiest scoreboard in the free world (for the next four months or so) and gold plated fixtures in the suites (kidding, again), i think citypaper or some other actual journalistic entity showed how less than half of the $20M has been spent and that the rest of it seems very hazy.

    i don't even have a problem with that, they can spend what they want! but don't drone on about $20M if the truth is closer to $10M. is that really too much to ask?

    By Blogger DCPowerGator, at 3/27/2008 1:14 PM  

  • At the announcement of the high def scoreboard the rationale for it was that the team could charge higher fees for advertising. Generating higher revenues was pretty much the rationale for most of the stadium upgrades. Nothing wrong with that but it wasn't some humanitarian gift to the fans by the team.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/27/2008 1:43 PM  

  • I think that it is fair to be concerned and skeptical about whether this franchise will make the financial commitments needed to compete with the teams in its division and in the NL.

    The ownership group deserves significant credit for their investment in player development in 2007. The Nats spent more on the MLB draft (in the signing of picks) than any team in baseball, even the Red Sox and Yankees.

    That said, this team has been run a lot closer to the Marlins than the Phillies or Braves on the big league level. What is the biggest financial commitment that this team has made to an MLB player?

    Austin Kearns 3 year deal?

    The example that really gets me is Ryan Zimmerman. This was the first draft pick for Bowden. He is the likely centerpeice for the franchise for the next few years, and the team has yet to sign him to a long term contract instead signing him to the MLB minimum.

    While Zimmerman's agent may have been asking for the moon (I would guess if that was the case such info would've been leaked), the message that came from Bowden was that the Nats offered the market rate based on deals offered to other non-arbitration eligible players. As Chris pointed out, the Nats weren't telling the whole truth as their "market rate" offers were actually not the same if you consider where Zimmerman stands in MLB service time.

    The point is that I think if the Nats wanted to reach a long-term agreement with Zimmerman they could've. Instead the chose to pay the league MLB minimum. The Nats stayed away from helping a starting staff that looks dreadful at this point.

    Hope that the Lerners prove me wrong, but at this point, there are valid concerns about the franchise willingness to invest in their product.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/27/2008 2:29 PM  

  • Good points.

    the catch, though, is that we can't hold up Zimmerman (one way or another) as the bellwether.

    If they don't sign him, it doesn't guarantee they're cheap; it's just another data point. If they do sign him, it doesn't mean they're NOT cheap; it's just another data point.

    It's not something you can determine with one move, or with one year. The jury is definitely still out, even if most of us are leaning guilty or not guilty already.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/27/2008 2:33 PM  

  • I think the scoreboard was a nice touch, but from what I'm hearing the whole stadium is supposed to be state-of-the-art. Of course, it's easy to make that claim when we're going to be comparing it to that hulking relic on s.capitol street.
    I haven't been to a brand new big-league stadium yet, but I have been to minor league one(Memphis), and a brand-new college stadium (UVA). Both stadiums were nice enough to distract temporarily from the product on the field, but neither one would make me want to sit through a .400 season.
    Eventually, we need to spend some money on the field.

    On the topic of beer: with the amount of time I've spent (wasted) on your blog Chris, I owe you a whole damn case!!!

    By Blogger Rob B, at 3/27/2008 2:36 PM  

  • I seem to keep coming back to this: an example to me is that the 20-game holders did NOT get commemorative tickets to the opener, like came with the 41-game and full-season packages. They came on regular stock. I e-mailed the team to ask what was up, and their reply was basically "Yeah, we couldn't do that." But that WAS done in 2005 for the first game at RFK, so the only reason I can think of for not doing it was that it would have cost money. It's nickel and dimey.

    So I'll be thrilled to put my generic-looking ticket into my Curly W lanyard on opening night.

    By Blogger Carl, at 3/27/2008 3:08 PM  

  • "i don't even have a problem with that, they can spend what they want! but don't drone on about $20M if the truth is closer to $10M. is that really too much to ask?"

    I don't think the Lerners are done spending money on the stadium yet. There are things in the works that I've read about, artwork and other stuff to make the place look less like an institutional building built by the government, that aren't scheduled to go in until the 2009 season. All those things that Kasten says won't be done until next season? I'd guarantee that it's the Lerners, not the city, paying for them. Five years down the line is when the City Paper needs to tally up the money spent towards the $20M, not six months after they pledge to spend it.

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 3/27/2008 3:19 PM  

  • "If they don't sign him, it doesn't guarantee they're cheap; it's just another data point. If they do sign him, it doesn't mean they're NOT cheap; it's just another data point."

    And it's not even a data point until they reach the first point at which signing or not signing Zimmerman is a discretionary event for the team, which is the year he hits free agency. Which is what, 2012 or something? If you want to use this as a basis for calling the Lerners cheap, then you have to use it also as your basis for calling Zimmerman a money-grubber.

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 3/27/2008 3:26 PM  

  • ABM,

    While I appreciate your voice of dissent on the subject of Nationals' spending, I believe you have over-played the hand the Lerners dealt you.

    (1) As to the issue of the $20 million, the points made above were that the Lerner's had implied that, to-date, they had spent $20 million on the stadium. Though I have no reason to believe that they will not eventually spend $20 million (unlike some doubters in this discussion), the issue raised is the implication that they have already spent the money -- of which there is no evidence.

    (2) As for Zimm being money-hungry, I tend to agree with Chris on this point. If his requested numbers were out-of-line with the market, the Nationals would have leaked the information. And I say that, not because they are evil individuals, but because that is what professional franchises do when presented with an unreasonable demand from a player. Fans have a tendency to connect more with the player's position as it is, so securing a little public outcry at the unreasonableness of the player's demands is a reasonable negotiating ploy. This was not the case here. While I appreciate that you do not fully agree with Chris' analysis on this issue, preferring a wait-and-see approach, I believe that the limited data sample we have shows trends in favor of frugality.

    I have noticed that you have not commented on the suggestion that, ultimately, the Nationals' total salaries should be in the same ballpark as the Phillies and other major market teams. Recognizing the importance of continuing to develop young talent, would you agree that by 2010, if the Nationals' total salaries are not in that ballpark that the franchise is being run frugally? (Please note that if the team is winning because the farm system has produced five all-stars still playing in their first 2-3 years in the big leagues, I can understand why the total salaries may be somewhat lower.)

    The point is that rebuilding a franchise through the draft - though the correct way - requires augmentation through FA and through acquiring veterans at above basement-bargain prices at some point. I believe that 2010 is a reasonable time for such an increased investment to have occured.

    By Blogger OleShu, at 3/27/2008 4:28 PM  

  • Having started this all with my question, I will chime in again.

    I guess it comes down, in some ways, to the benefit of the doubt. When faced with the opportunity to make a significant and long term purchase/investment for the team (player development) they have ponied up the money.

    When given a chance to pay market prices for marginally better players to move us from a 90 loss team to an 81 loss team, they have not ponied up the money.

    I tend to think (brainwashed as I am) that this implies long term thinking. Not getting into a culture of quick fixes but intending to make this franchise solid for a long time.

    Zimmerman will be an important data point and what they do in the future will be watched closely.

    On stadium spending, I am sure they are trying to get every last cent out of DC before they spend money of their own, and as business owners I can't blame them for that. It does not help their standing as civic leaders, but that is not this issue.

    I think Chris, you have come to the point of erring on the side of not giving the benefit of the doubt, while I clearly am still giving it to them.

    BUT - I do think that your "harping" as I called it, still goes beyond the no benefit of the doubt feeling, and you may want to consider that.

    The future will tell, and you may be right, but I hope you are not and I still have not seen enough convince me to think you are.

    Thanks for some thoughtful feedback on my question.

    By Blogger RedBee, at 3/27/2008 7:13 PM  

  • The key, in all of it, is what makes business sense for the Lerners does not always mean what's best for the fans.

    At times there's a tension between the two, and when I bitch, it's one of those times.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/27/2008 7:17 PM  

  • Oleshu, there's nothing wrong with a franchise being run frugally. As I've said before elsewhere (or maybe even here), most fans don't come to the ballpark to watch guys in uniform collect their paychecks (the more outlandish the better), they come to watch baseball. Perhaps you and Chris are not like most fans. Really, player payroll is meaningless as a measure of anything related to the quality of a team. The performance on the field is what counts, as well as the accoutrements in the stands. That's what fans pay their money to see. It's entertainment. Do you choose the movies you go to based on how much they paid the stars? Is that how the Oscars are awarded? No. Until someone can establish an ironclad correlation that says that the more you pay a ballplayer the better he is, looking at player payroll will tell you nothing about how good or bad a team will be on the field in a given year. The way you judge a team is by the won-lost record, so yes 2010 would be a good year to take stock of that. But I don't care how high or low the payroll is to get there.

    Another way to try to pin the frugal label on the Lerners would be to look at the stadium and the whole ballpark experience, and ask yourself how are the Lerners fixing up that big place they've rented out from the city to put on their baseball shows? I'd say that they're not building the Trump Taj Mahal, but they're a long way from being frugal. I'm really looking forward to setting foot in the joint this Saturday and Sunday night! (And no, I'm not Nats320 in disguise.)

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 3/27/2008 7:33 PM  

  • Well then I guess all the professional sports leagues have some crazy misguided notion that salaries are in fact important judging from their implementation of salary caps, taxes, etc with the goofy idea that it helps to insure competitive balance between teams. Why might it be that Santana or Clemens received higher paychecks than Bascik? Could it be talent and quality of performance? And maybe with enough talented players a team has a better chance to win than a team that has less talented players. Nahhh.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/27/2008 8:25 PM  

  • Hey tulsa fan, if salaries are such a great predictor of baseball success or failure, why aren't the sabermetricians all over it? Where are the inflation-adjusted metrics that would predict the exact salary at which you'll get the ultimate in performance from a player, the salary vs. years of experience point at which he's going to start his downward slope, the exact analysis that says how much you should be paying your LOOGY vis a vis your cleanup hitter, etc? Payroll is so irrelevant to performance that no one has even considered conjuring up pseudo-statistics related to it! Payroll, the final frontier for the ultimate stats geek, yet none of them are going there. Gee, I wonder why? Maybe because it's absolutely and totally irrelevant, y'think?

    Why do they have salary caps in football but not in baseball? Hmmm. Maybe because football owners are actually more stupid than baseball owners and think it's possible to spend your way to a championship, perhaps? With owners that dumb, sooner or later more than a few of them will be spending their way into bankruptcy, and that wouldn't be good for the league, would it? Fortunately, baseball doesn't attract as many dumb owners (although there are a few of them, of course).

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 3/27/2008 8:46 PM  

  • ABM, I don't think it's fair to assume that higher payroll does not equal success, just because it hasn't been researched by sabrematricians.
    Does a lack of research into global warming insinuate it doesn't exist?

    I'm not sure I follow your logic here: "Why do they have salary caps in football but not in baseball? Hmmm. Maybe because football owners are actually more stupid than baseball owners and think it's possible to spend your way to a championship, perhaps?"

    Isn't it the opposite? Baseball owners believe they can spend their way to a championship?

    This is completely speculation, but I'd assume that teams with higher payrolls are more successful than non-high payroll teams.
    Can anyone look into the average record of teams with payrolls of $100mil+ vs teams with payrolls in the range of $60-99mil?
    I'd bet that the teams spending $100mil are much more successful than the others. While it may not buy you a World Series ring, it will buy you a playoff spot.

    Again, I'm assuming a lot, but I'm actually very curious if this is truly the case.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/27/2008 9:01 PM  

  • The key is how smart your management is. (We have smart management)

    Teams with a low payroll (A's, AZ, etc) can do well if they have smart management.

    Teams with a big payroll coughoriolescough will do poorly if they have dumb management.

    I'd rather have a small payroll and a smart management than a big payroll with incompetents.

    Still, better yet, I'd rather have smart management with a big payroll (see: Sox, Red)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/27/2008 9:06 PM  

  • "Why do they have salary caps in football but not in baseball? Hmmm. Maybe because football owners are actually more stupid than baseball owners and think it's possible to spend your way to a championship, perhaps?"

    There's a saying along the line that if you don't say anything people won't know how ignorant you really are. Try MLBPA, Miller, and Fehr as the reason there is no salary cap in baseball.

    But you know Chris it's even difficult for smart teams with limited resources to win consistently for any length of time. Beane had to blow up his team and start over because it missed it's small window of opportunity to win. It's tough to do.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/27/2008 9:22 PM  

  • They had a 6-year window. I'd sign up for that.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/27/2008 9:25 PM  

  • Yeah, 6 years is a pretty good run.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/27/2008 9:29 PM  

  • "The key, in all of it, is what makes business sense for the Lerners does not always mean what's best for the fans.

    At times there's a tension between the two, and when I bitch, it's one of those times."

    At the same time Chris, organizations that are consistent tend to stay consistent. To me, the real issue is not what they spend to take us from a 75 win team to a 81 win team, but what they spend to take us from an 85 win team to a 90 or 95 win team.

    On the profit issue, the Lerners are only making a profit when they take the money out. If they re-invest it in the team and organization, it is not profits, it is just revenue. Even if it goes to pay off debt, it is not profit.

    I do not believe the Lerners are in it for the "profit", that they are the Bengals or the Arizona Cardinals, taking in money and putting it in their pocket. I don't think anything they have done or said anything that fairly leads to that conclusion.

    It is the same charge leveled at DannyBoy and the Redskins, also unfairly. As long as they make money AND spend money, they are doing their job for themselves and for the fans.

    Unlike DannyBoy, the Lerners hired professionals and seem to be taking their cues from those professionals.

    As you said:

    "I'd rather have a small payroll and a smart management than a big payroll with incompetents.

    Still, better yet, I'd rather have smart management with a big payroll (see: Sox, Red)"

    I think today they act like a small payroll/small market team because that is the hand they were dealt. MLB gutted this team and they are rebuilding. When the time comes to make that 85 win to 95 win jump, they had better start acting like the Smart Management/Big Payroll team. But right now, I understand why they act like the other.

    By Blogger RedBee, at 3/27/2008 9:47 PM  

  • All fair points.

    I'm not sure I can disagree with much there.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/27/2008 9:52 PM  

  • I've been looking around and found that there is rather extensive research into the correlation between payroll and wins. A lot of it is way over my head, but there seems to be a debate over the exact effect of payroll on wins. Some suggest payrolls effects wins by 18% (not very significant) others argue it's 42% (much more significant).

    I'd be interested to see the results from 1999 to present- 1999 being the point where the payroll disparities really became significant (the same year Kevin Brown signed the first $100mil deal). I think it would paint a very different picture.
    You can check out payrolls from 1988 to 2007 here:

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/27/2008 10:00 PM  

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