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Why Hasn't There Been A Good Alternative Baseball League to MLB?

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3 hours ago, pmoehrin said:

Steve Ross is one of the greatest businessmen in American History over the past century.


Anyone who says differently doesn't know what they're talking about.

 

Good thing nobody said anything close to that. ;) 

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7 hours ago, Gothamite said:
7 hours ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

It was Warner Communication's money.  And Ross was Warner Communcations' architect and CEO.  Therefore, it was Ross's money.

 

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It's actually precisely how this works. The CEO is empoweref to make the kinds of executive decisions with the company's assets that Ross made. And if the board of directors doesn't approve, it can replace the CEO. (Which, you'll note, it didn't do.)

 

5 hours ago, pmoehrin said:

As to what he did with NASL, he was running a team with World Class talent in the only US market where that type of team was sustainable.

 

Let's not exaggerate.

 

While I defer to no one in my New York chauvinism, I have heard of a little town called Los Angeles where there are a lot of people with just as much money as Ross had at his disposal. And Texas has plenty of people who are just dripping with oil money.

 

The point is that there were any number of people who could have afforded to bankroll teams to the same extent that Ross bankrolled the Cosmos. They could have afforded to — but they didn't want to, simply because they had no love for the game.

 

5 hours ago, pmoehrin said:

Credit the MLS for learning from NASL's mistakes

 

MLS owners benefitted from one of the most spectacularly wrongheaded Supreme Court decisions in American history. The high court gave approval to the single-entity structure, an arrangement which depresses salaries by depriving players of their opportunity to establish a market value.

 

Due to MLS's being a single entity rather than a confederation of entities, players are employees of the league rather than of a given team. The league has now matured to the point where each team's "owner" — a team's "owner" is actually an investor/operator in the league — is free to make trades and other personnel decisions (within the confines of the league's arcane salary rules). But for a while early on, the league was a true joke in this regard, with players being transferred between teams in a manner not seen since Ned Hanlon's shady moves with the Baltimore and Brooklyn clubs of National League in the late 1890s.

 

The league has said that it will one day end the single-entity structure, and that the teams will then become independent clubs. That day cannot come soon enough.

 

MLS certainly has made the most out of the undeserved assist that the courts gave it. Its level of play has skyrocketed over the past decade; the league is now as good as any European top flight outside the Big Four. And also skyrocketing are the valuations of its teams (despite those teams not being independent entities), with the most valuable MLS teams having already surpassed the valuations of the least valuable NHL teams. 

 

I am a fan of an MLS team; but the league's flaws are impossible to overlook. MLS's playoff system is pretty terrible. And, worst of all, its single-entity structure is embarrassing and indefensible. The league continues essentially to rob its players, thereby driving some of the best Anericans (such as Pulisic) away.

 

Devolution away from single entity is not happening any time soon; but if the league does not agree to give its players something resembling free agency, the players will strike next season when the current CBA expires. The golden age will then come to a screeching halt; and this will be entirely the fault of the owners.

 

One hopes that the league's owners will see the wisdom in avoiding this. But MLS may be so concerned with "avoiding the NASL's mistakes" that it will charge headlong into its own brand of mistake.

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24 minutes ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

It's actually precisely how this works. The CEO is empoweref to make the kinds of executive decisions with the company's assets that Ross made. And if the board of directors doesn't approve, it can replace the CEO. (Which, you'll note, it didn't do.)

 

That didn’t make Warner money his money.

 

And the directors didn’t replace him, but they did make him stop spending their money on his vanity projects.  He never got to do anything like that again.

 

Other CEOs didn’t do that because they didn’t have enabling boards and oblivious stockholders; and after a while, neither did Ross.

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3 hours ago, Gothamite said:

 

That didn’t make Warner money his money.

 

And the directors didn’t replace him, but they did make him stop spending their money on his vanity projects.  He never got to do anything like that again.

 

Other CEOs didn’t do that because they didn’t have enabling boards and oblivious stockholders; and after a while, neither did Ross.

 

And he helped take the league down with him thus causing indoor soccer to be the highest level of soccer in the US for a decade. 

Its why I can't stand the idea that the best way for US soccer to succeed is promotion/relegation. That happens and the NBA looks Marxist in comparison.

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On 5/13/2019 at 7:25 PM, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

First of all, college sports is just run-through with pathology, the main expression of which is that the people doing the actual work are not getting paid. The fact that college baseball is not as much of a big-time attraction as college football or basketball means that the exploitation is also proportionally less severe; but the fundamental problem remains. Americans' fixation with colleges is as baffling as it is unhealthy.

 

...it (exploitation) might be worse. NCAA D1 baseball programs can award a maximum of 11.7 scholarships per team. Very few are on full rides, most players get half or quarter scholarships if they get any money at all.

 

Compare this to D1 men's basketball (13), women's basketball (15), FCS football (63) and FBS football (85).

 

It's up for debate whether less notoriety for NCAA baseball means less (or more?) exploitation, but the awards given to NCAA baseball players pale in comparison to other sports, especially when you consider roster sizes.

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36 minutes ago, sc49erfan15 said:

 

...it might be worse. NCAA D1 baseball programs can award a maximum of 11.7 scholarships per team. Very few are on full rides, most players get half or quarter scholarships if they get any money at all.

 

Compare this to D1 men's basketball (13), women's basketball (15), FCS football (63) and FBS football (85).

 

It's up for debate whether less notoriety for NCAA baseball means less (or more?) exploitation, but the awards given to NCAA baseball players pale in comparison to other sports, especially when you consider roster sizes.

 

This is true of most NCAA sports.  The vast majority are equivalency sports*, thus players are awarded partial scholarships (unless a coach wants to give out several full scholarships and rely on non-scholarship players to round out the roster).

 

* -- These handy charts will help.  What is interesting is that Title IX leads to many women's sports having higher equivalency limits (see track/cross country,soccer and swimming, for example)..

 

Men's Varsity Sports 
Scholarship limit per School 
NCAA I  NCAA II NCAA III NAIA ** NJCAA **
Baseball 11.7 9 - 12 24
Basketball - NCAA I is a head count sport 13 10 - - 15
Basketball  NAIA Division I - - - 11 -
Basketball  NAIA Division II - - - 6 -
Bowling - - - - 12
Cross Country - NCAA limits include Track & Field 12.6 12.6 - 5 10
Fencing 4.5 4.5 - - -
Football - NCAA I FBS - head count sport 85 - - - -
Football - NCAA I FCS 63 - - - -
Football  - Other Divisions - 36 - 24 85
Golf 4.5 3.6 - 5 8
Gymnastics 6.3 5.4 - - -
Ice Hockey 18 13.5 - - 16
Lacrosse 12.6 10.8 - - 20
Rifle - Includes women on co-ed teams 3.6 3.6 - - -
Skiing 6.3 6.3 - - -
Soccer 9.9 9 - 12 24
Swimming & Diving 9.9 8.1 - 8 15
Tennis 4.5 4.5 - 5 9
Track & Field - NCAA limits include X-Country 12.6 12.6 - 12 20
Triathlon - - - - -
Volleyball 4.5 4.5 - - -
Water Polo 4.5 4.5 - - -
Wrestling 9.9 9 - 8

20

 

 

Women's Varsity Sports          
Scholarship limit per School  NCAA I NCAA II NCAA III NAIA ** NJCAA **
Basketball - NCAA I is a head count sport 15 10 - - 15
Basketball - NAIA Div I - - - 11 -
Basketball - NAIA Div II - - - 6 -
Beach Volleyball * 6 5 - - 10
Bowling 5 5 - - 12
Cross Country - NCAA limits include Track & Field 18 12.6 - 5 10
Equestrian 15 15 - - -
Fencing 5 4.5 - - -
Field Hockey 12 6.3 - - -
Golf 6 5.4 - 5 8
Gymnastics - NCAA I is a head count sport 12 6 - - -
Ice Hockey 18 18 - - -
Lacrosse 12 9.9 - - 20
Rifle - Includes men on co-ed teams 3.6 3.6 - - -
Rowing 20 20 - - -
Rugby 12 12 - - -
Skiing 7 6.3 - - -
Soccer 14 9.9 - 12 24
Softball 12 7.2 - 10 24
Swimming & Diving 14 8.1 - 8 15
Tennis  - NCAA I is a head count sport 8 6 - 5 9
Track & Field - NCAA limits include X-Country 18 12.6 - 12 20
Triathlon 6.5 - - -
Volleyball  - NCAA I is a head count sport 12 8 - 8 14
Water Polo 8 8 - - -

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14 hours ago, Gothamite said:

Good thing nobody said anything close to that. ;) 

 

He gets a lot of criticism (and rightfully so) for contributing to the video game bubble of the early-80's.

 

But he also saved Warner Communications from the brink of bankruptcy and prevented Murdoch from buying it and turning it into Fox News.

 

I find him to be an extremely fascinating person to study. Some of the things he touched turned to crap, others turned to gold.

 

12 hours ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

While I defer to no one in my New York chauvinism, I have heard of a little town called Los Angeles where there are a lot of people with just as much money as Ross had at his disposal. And Texas has plenty of people who are just dripping with oil money.

 

The point is that there were any number of people who could have afforded to bankroll teams to the same extent that Ross bankrolled the Cosmos. They could have afforded to — but they didn't want to, simply because they had no love for the game.

 

I say New York was the only market capable of fielding a team like this because other NASL owners tried Ross' business model, including Los Angeles.

 

The LA Aztecs referring to brought in Johan Cruyff in '79. He's on the FIFA 100 list,  is considered to be one of the greatest Dutch players of all-time, and he won the league's MVP award in his first year.

 

How many additional more fans per game did that lead to? About 6K, which when you're playing your home games at the LA Coliseum is barely noticeable.

 

This is after the Aztecs tried to build around Man U legend George Best.

 

NASL was far more competitive than the MLS, and that's why the league died because people in the US didn't care about these players or soccer, the same way they did in Europe.

 

Why it worked in New York and nowhere else was because of the initial attention they got with signing Pele. The fact that they were playing in the biggest media market in the country. The popularity of the sport within the city, which was higher than in Los Angeles at the time, even now that trend has reversed itself. And the fact that they were by far the best team in the league.

 

Asking why more NASL teams didn't behave like the Cosmos is like asking why more MLB teams act behave like the Yankees.

 

Give me an unlimited budget this offseason and I'll go out and sign Brantley, Corbin, Donaldson, Familia, Grandal, Harper, Keuchel, Kimbrel, Machado, and Ottavino. I'll trade every prospect I have to fill out the rest of the roster, (don't really need a farm system now that I have the ability to sign any free agent I want) and you'll have your World Series title within two years.

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4 hours ago, sc49erfan15 said:
On 5/13/2019 at 7:25 PM, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

First of all, college sports is just run-through with pathology, the main expression of which is that the people doing the actual work are not getting paid. The fact that college baseball is not as much of a big-time attraction as college football or basketball means that the exploitation is also proportionally less severe; but the fundamental problem remains. Americans' fixation with colleges is as baffling as it is unhealthy.

 

...it (exploitation) might be worse. NCAA D1 baseball programs can award a maximum of 11.7 scholarships per team. Very few are on full rides, most players get half or quarter scholarships if they get any money at all.

 

Compare this to D1 men's basketball (13), women's basketball (15), FCS football (63) and FBS football (85).

 

It's up for debate whether less notoriety for NCAA baseball means less (or more?) exploitation, but the awards given to NCAA baseball players pale in comparison to other sports, especially when you consider roster sizes.

 

I am not clear on how being a lower profile sport can lead to more exploitation of the athletes.  By "exploitation", I am referring to the process by which the players' work leads to monetary gain for other people and not for the players themselves. In most states, the highest paid public employee is the coach of a university football or basketball team, never a baseball coach.  The baseball coach is also not likely to be getting endorsements thanks to the work of players.

 

 

[I cannot quote @pmoehrin's post by highlighting or by hitting the "Quote" link.  So I have to type the dang thing in myself.]

 

Quote

The LA Aztecs referring to brought in Johan Cruyff in '79. He's on the FIFA 100 list, is considered to be one of the greatest Dutch players of all-time, and he won the league's MVP award in his first year.

 

How many additional more fans per game did that lead to? About 6K, which when you're playing your home games at the LA Coliseum is barely noticeable.

 

This is after the Aztecs tried to build around Man U legend George Best.

 

This is all correct.  However, no one says that the LA Aztecs needed to play in the Coliseum.  The team's management could have elected to rent a smaller college stadium somewhere in the area.  (By the way, Cruyff had a verbal agreement to play for the Cosmos, and even appeared for them in a couple of friendlies.  He then changed his mind and signed with the Aztecs.)

 

 

Quote

Asking why more NASL teams didn't behave like the Cosmos is like asking why more MLB teams [don't] behave like the Yankees.

 

Well, not exactly.  Other teams don't behave like the Yankees because they don't need to in order to make money.  An ownership group can operate a Major League team at a low level of competitiveness indefinitely, while happily collecting luxury tax money and national TV money.  Or, more starkly, it can sit back and do nothing at all: it can buy a club, watch that club appreciate, and then sell the club at a hefty profit a few years later.

 

By contrast, owning an NASL team required the willingess to accept the near inevitability of losing some money in return mainly for the thrill of producing top-flight soccer. 

Though such an owner would be getting tremendous promotion for the company, as well.  Warner Communications got plenty out of the backing the Cosmos; the rise in its profile led directly to the merger with Time, Inc., which later allowed the company to develop profitable properties such as MTV.  A Hollywood movie studio could have leveraged this publicity in a similar way, as could have other media companies located in Chicago and other large cities.  (Though, admittedly, not many cities. The NASL should never have had more than ten teams.)

 

 

Quote

Give me an unlimited budget this offseason and I'll go out and sign Brantley, Corbin, Donaldson, Familia, Grandal, Harper, Keuchel, Kimbrel, Machado, and Ottavino. I'll trade every prospect I have to fill out the rest of the roster, (don't really need a farm system now that I have the ability to sign any free agent I want) and you'll have your World Series title within two years.

 

The critical difference here is one of scale.  Your imaginary dream team's payroll might reach half a billion dollars; while the payroll of the mid-1970s Cosmos was a comparative pittance (even including the international stars' salaries), and was well within the capacity of a major corporate entity to withstand.  Moreover, if the other teams had been willing to pay what it took to bring in international stars, then the Cosmos would not have had so many of these stars, and could not have towered over the rest of the league as they did.

 

Anyway, it all comes down to will.  Some other person could regale me about what a great time he or she had on a cruise; but, if I don't like cruises, I am not going to pay one cent for that experience.  Likewise, if you don't care about soccer, then you will not find the idea of paying to own a team to be attractive.  American soccer in the 1970s needed patrons to subsidise the league for a good decade at least, until it might have had the chance to become self-sustaining; but those patrons simply did not exist.

 

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1 hour ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

By contrast, owning an NASL team required the willingess to accept the near inevitability of losing some money in return mainly for the thrill of producing top-flight soccer. 

 

That's not a business model. That's a charity.

1 hour ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

The critical difference here is one of scale.  Your imaginary dream team's payroll might reach half a billion dollars; while the payroll of the mid-1970s Cosmos was a comparative pittance (even including the international stars' salaries), and was well within the capacity of a major corporate entity to withstand.  Moreover, if the other teams had been willing to pay what it took to bring in international stars, then the Cosmos would not have had so many of these stars, and could not have towered over the rest of the league as they did.

 

The Yankees signed Catfish Hunter in the '75 offseason for the richest deal in baseball history. He was making a little over 600K which was more than double what any other player in the game was making at the time.

 

When the Cosmos signed Pele, they did so to the tune of $1.4 million a season.

 

When they signed Beckenbauer, they gave him 700K a year.

 

Those two alone match the entire team salary that was going to the Cincinnati Reds. That's not even getting into what Chinaglia and the rest of the team were making, and Chinaglia was probably making around 500K.

 

So you have a team spending as much as the New York Yankees on player salary in a league that doesn't have anywhere near the drawing power of Major League Baseball. And you're wondering why more teams didn't follow the Cosmos lead.

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The Yankees signed Catfish Hutner in the '75 offseason for the richest deal in baseball history. He was making a little over 600K a year which was more than double what any other player in the game was making at the time.

 

When the Cosmos signed Pele, they did so to the tune of $1.4 million a season.

 

When they signed Beckenbauer, they gave him 700K a year.


Those two alone match the entire team salary that was going to the Cincinnati Reds. That's not even getting into what Chainaglia and rest the of the team were making, and Chinaglia was probably making around 500K.

 

So, you have a team spending as much as the New York Yankees on player salary in a league that doesn't have anywhere near the drawing power of Major League Baseball. And you're wondering why more teams didn't follow the Cosmos lead.

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2 hours ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

 

I am not clear on how being a lower profile sport can lead to more exploitation of the athletes.  By "exploitation", I am referring to the process by which the players' work leads to monetary gain for other people and not for the players themselves. In most states, the highest paid public employee is the coach of a university football or basketball team, never a baseball coach.  The baseball coach is also not likely to be getting endorsements thanks to the work of players.

 

If players are being awarded half, quarter, or no scholarship at all, yet others are gaining from their efforts - this is still exploitation, yes? I'm looking at things proportionally - of course NCAA basketball and football are higher-profile than baseball.

 

There are two variables in play here: how much scholarship money is awarded to players, and how much profit is generated by others. If a college baseball player is being awarded a quarter-scholarship valued at $5,000 per year (let's pretend this is a state school) and $X revenue is generated from NCAA baseball (obviously not by the schools themselves, I'd imagine all but a select few NCAA baseball programs operate at a loss); while a college basketball player is awarded a full scholarship valued at $20,000 per year and $Y revenue is generated from NCAA basketball - who is being exploited more? This is why I said it's up for debate. I don't have the numbers for $X and $Y.

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[What is the deal with this problem of not being able to quote a post?  The way I have done it here is to highlight my own quite within pmoehrin's post.  This gives me a quote box with his name on it, but with my highlighted comment.  Then I replaced the text of my response with the text of his comment.]

 

 

9 minutes ago, pmoehrin said:

That's not a business model. That's a charity.

 

The word, as I have mentioned a few times, is "patronage", just as with a museum or a symphony.  While the costs of a top-flight soccer team are greater than that of any museum, so is the soccer club's potential to ultimately become profitable (after a decade or so).

 

18 minutes ago, pmoehrin said:

And you're wondering why more teams didn't follow the Cosmos lead.

 

I'm not wondering at all.  The NASL owners who did not have access to the capital that Ross had could not follow the Cosmos' lead.  And the other people who did have access to that sort of capital had no desire to pour money year after year into a project in which they saw no merit.  

 

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39 minutes ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

The word, as I have mentioned a few times, is "patronage", just as with a museum or a symphony.  While the costs of a top-flight soccer team are greater than that of any museum, so is the soccer club's potential to ultimately become profitable (after a decade or so).

 

And that qualifies as a charity under the definition of the word.

 

What you see as an asset in an owner scares the hell out me, and I will tell you why.

 

There have been sports owners with this mindset. Not at the Major League level. As much as people say Steinbrenner was like this, I will promise you no matter who owned them, the Indians would not be the ones to break the bank on the first wave of free agency.

 

But in other sports including baseball, yes, these people have existed.

 

Why it scares me is because a huge portion of the list is comprised of mafia associates, drug lords, and even dictators. As it turns out, these are about only people who don't care if an investment of theirs never turns a profit.

 

With anyone doing something purely for the money, you at least know where they're coming from, and what their motivations are. Take money from someone who asks for little to nothing in return, and you don't know where it's going to lead.

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And that qualifies as a charity under the definition of the word.

 

What you see as an asset in an owner scares the hell out of me, and I will tell you why.

 

There have sports owners with this mindset. Not at the Major League level. As much as people say Steinbrenner was like this, I will promise you no matter who owned them, the Indians would not be the ones to break the bank on the first wave of free agency.


But in other sports including baseball, yes, these people have existed.

 

Why it scares me is because a huge portion of the list is comprised of mafia associates, drug lords, and even dictators. As it turns out, these are about the only people who don't' care if an investment of theirs never turns a profit.

 

With anyone doing some purely for the money, you at least know where they're coming from, and what their motivations are. Take money from someone who asks for little to nothing in return, and you don't know where it's going to lead.

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On 5/16/2019 at 5:49 PM, pmoehrin said:

There have been sports owners with this mindset. Not at the Major League level. As much as people say Steinbrenner was like this, I will promise you no matter who owned them, the Indians would not be the ones to break the bank on the first wave of free agency.

 

I'm not arguing with you because you know far more about any of this than I do.  However, see Garland, Wayne.

 

Wayne Garland Recalls His Historic Contract

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4 hours ago, leopard88 said:

 

I'm not arguing with you because you know far more about any of this than I do.  However, see Garland, Wayne.

 

Wayne Garland Recalls His Historic Contract

 

I’m not saying if Steinbrenner owned Indians the team wouldn’t have spent money.

 

But there are years where Steinbrenner owner the Yankees like ‘83 where they are spending almost $14 million on player salary when nobody else is over $10 million.

 

There would have never been a time when the Indians were spending 30% more on player salary than any other team in the league.

 

Wayne Garland was a good pitcher who got hurt. He’s a solid example of why you shouldn’t build a team around pitching, because there’s far more Wayne Garland’s out there than there are Nolan Ryan’s.

 

Its a lot tougher to find a pitcher who can give you consistent results than it is to find a good pitcher.

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I think we can all agree that if owners aren't willing to set stacks of cash on fire just for my satisfaction, then they're a bunch of real bastards.

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19 minutes ago, pmoehrin said:

 

I’m not saying if Steinbrenner owned Indians the team wouldn’t have spent money.

 

But there are years where Steinbrenner owner the Yankees like ‘83 where they are spending almost $14 million on player salary when nobody else is over $10 million.

 

There would have never been a time when The Indians were spending 30% more on player salary than any other team in the league.

 

Wayne Garland was a good pitcher who got hurt. He’s a solid example of why you shouldn’t build a team around pitching, because there’s far more Wayne Garland’s out there than there are Nolan Ryan’s.

 

Its a lot tougher to find a pitcher who can give you consistent results than it is to find a good pitcher.

 

I will certainly agree with the bolded part.

 

As for Wayne Garland, he's definitely a "solid example of why you shouldn't build a team around pitching."  While injuries did impact his career, I think he is also an example of (a) being in the right place at the right time and (b) why a small sample size can be deceiving.  He parlayed one good season into a massive (for 1976-77) contract.  Prior to his breakout year in 1976 (20-7, 2.67 ERA), he had exactly 24 major league appearances and 8 starts.  It is just as likely that 1976 was a fluke as it was that he would have continued to pitch that well but for injuries.  Even 9 year old me wondered what the Indians were doing (while being mad that the Orioles were losing him . . . and Reggie Jackson and Bobby Grich).

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On 5/16/2019 at 4:16 PM, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

 

[What is the deal with this problem of not being able to quote a post? 

 

It's pmoerin.  Not sure how he posts, but it's not in a way that's compatible with the forum software.  I'm assuming he doesn't type his posts directly into the reply box, but they break the board.  You can't copy/paste or quote his posts and they look pretty weird if/when he tries to quote someone else.

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21 hours ago, Red Wolf said:

I think we can all agree that if owners aren't willing to set stacks of cash on fire just for my satisfaction, then they're a bunch of real bastards.

 

On an episode of the Good Seats Still Available podcast, MISL co-founder and former owner of the league's New Jersey Rockets made a comment along the lines of: losing a little money is OK; but only if you're losing a lot of money does it become unsustainable.

 

So perhaps there was too much attention to the Cosmos — which, on account of my having named Steve Ross as the ideal owner, is entirely my fault. (I just love the guy!)

 

But a better example of a good owner is probably Tepper. It's not necessary to engage in unlimited spending to bring in the best players in the world; it's necessary only to be willing to absorb small losses in order to sustain the team at a respectable level. There may be a few dozen or so people in the country who could spend like Ross; but every city has thousands of people who could act according to what Tepper said and express their love of a sport by being a team's patron.

 

The basic point remains the same: a start-up league can no longer be run from the standpoint of a traditional business, at least not at first. Unless you have owners who are not expecting immediate return and who are willing to pay the league's costs for many years until the league's teams can perhaps (if they're lucky) become entrenched in various cities' local cultures, then the chances of survival are near zero.

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