Archive for the ‘MLB’ Category

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We all have our own favorite teams, and for many of us the team name plays a huge role in our identity as a fanbase.  As a result of this, it’s a fairly safe assumption that a lot of sports fans know the history behind their team names.  From my own personal perspective, I can tell you that the Cubs received their moniker from newspaper writers at the beginning of the 20th Century (after having previously been called the White Stockings, the Colts, the Orphans, and the Remnants, among others) due to the relative youth and energy of the club at the time.  The Bears received their name while they were playing in the Cubs’ Wrigley Field, when it was agreed that football players tended to be larger than baseball players, so they took the name in honor of the relationship they had with the Cubbies.  The Blackhawks, despite what you may think, actually were not named after the Native American Chief Black Hawk, but rather were named after a military unit that the original owner of the franchise served in during World War I (which took their name from Chief Black Hawk, so I suppose that may just be splitting hairs).  And finally, the Fighting Illini were not only named after the Illiniwek nation that originally inhabited the area that is now Illinois, but also in honor of the brave Illinoisans and University of Illinois graduates who fought and died on the battlefields of Europe in WWI.

The fan-named Chicago Express, a recent example of a new team taking advantage of the internet to develop early local support.

Almost every single older team has an interesting story about exactly how they got their name.  Newer teams, however, tend to have a bit more random naming system in place, as expansion and relocation franchises often take advantage of the internet to hold name your team contests in an attempt to try to develop a relationship with their future fanbase as early as possible.  Just recently, a new minor league hockey team was founded near where I live in Hoffman Estates, IL, and they went the route of holding a team naming competition to brand their new franchise.  That contest drew thousands of responses, attracted hundreds of fans on various social media networks, and resulted in several news stories in the local media, all before their very first puck drop.  As a result, the Chicago Express will begin play in the 2011-12 ECHL season, having beaten the other three finalists, the Blizzards, Hammers, and Knights, to become the new franchise’s name.  Sadly, none of my name ideas made it to the final four, so there would be no Chicago Rhinos, Chicago Druids, or Hoffman Maneaters, among the many other suggestions I submitted, but there can be no denying that the simple act of holding such a contest was a cheap, easy, and effective way for the Express to develop initial interest in the team.  Definitely the smart idea for any new team, whether they play in the major leagues or the minors and below.

Out with the old.....

.... and in with the new.

But sometimes teams are relocated or founded in areas that actually have a very long history with the sport.  Nowhere was this more evident than in Washington, D.C in late 2004/early 2005 when the Expos abandoned Montreal.  Even though our nation’s capital had been without a Major League Baseball team for over three decades, there was an initial and very strong push for the team to become the fourth incarnation of the Washington Senators (the first folded in 1899, the second relocated to Minnesota to become the Twins in 1960, and the third relocated to Texas to become the Rangers in 1971).  In fact, the assumption that they’d take up the old Senators banner was viewed as an inevitability by many fans, so much so that when the team instead became the Nationals there was actually a decent amount of surprise at the decision.  What may not be known though is the fact that the owners of the team were actually considering three separate name ideas, all of which would have been in homage to past teams that played in D.C.  The three potential names were the Nationals, the Senators, and the Grays, and any one of these three names could have very easily become the newest member of the MLB, but politics played a huge role in the naming-decision.

The history of the Senators has already been discussed above, so I’ll instead focus on the other two possibilities.  The Nationals were actually a name that goes back hand-in-hand with the Senators to the initial foundation of baseball in Washington, D.C.  All three Senators teams were also known as the Nationals or nicknamed the “Nats” by newspapermen at points throughout their existence.  While the Senators name eventually became more popular and stayed in our public memory, the name Nationals actually has just as long and storied of a history in D.C. baseball as the Senators.

The Grays, on the other hand, have a bit more of an interesting story to tell in Washington, D.C.  The name comes from the Homestead Grays, the historic Negro League team that played in eastern Pennsylvania for almost four consecutive decades from the early 1910s to the late 1940s.  Throughout the tragic history of segregation in professional baseball, the Grays are quite possibly the second most famous Negro League team of all, behind only the fabled Kansas City Monarchs.  Despite the fact that they were based primarily on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, the Grays actually considered Washington, D.C. as a sort of home away from home, even going so far as scheduling some of their home games in the nation’s capital in the ’30s and ’40s.  As a result of this, the Grays have a strong legacy in both D.C. and Pittsburgh, and both the Pirates and the Nationals routinely wear throwback Grays uniforms whenever either team plays in the select few regular season games per year that honor the memory of the Negro Leagues.

After the Expos moved to D.C., the team quickly settled upon these three names as their potential identity moving forward.  At this point, however, politics crept into the naming decision.  Despite the Senators being the seemingly-obvious choice among many baseball fans, many D.C. residents and the city council officially objected to it, arguing that it was inappropriate to name the team after the U.S. Senate when the District of Columbia does not have representation in that body.  Despite the history of that team name in the city, the owners were unwilling to go against the city council and local groups on this issue, especially as they were in the process of getting municipal support in funding the construction of a new stadium to replace the aged RFK Memorial Stadium (which they eventually were successful in receiving, with public money funding a significant portion of the $611 million pricetag for the new Nationals Park).

The Grays moniker was the next to run into a trap, this time out of fear of not being politically correct.  Despite being the name originally supported by then-D.C. mayor Anthony A. Williams, and in spite of the fact that it would be so-named to honor the legacy of a Negro League team in a city that is majority black, the name made some residents of the city and the team uneasy for the simple fact that “gray” seemed to draw negative connotations to the American Civil War.  There was a palatable and obvious sense that naming a team in the nation’s capital after the same color that a significant number of rebel soldiers wore during a war fought primarily over the issue of slavery could be viewed as inappropriate.  For the team to financially succeed in Washington, D.C., they would need to receive the support of the district’s black population, and the franchise simply was just not sure that the “Washington Grays” would be whole-heartedly embraced by the local population and the national media with this possible stigma in mind.

So, as a result of the civic opposition to the name “Senators” (and, of course, the desire to not bite the hand the would feed them hundreds of millions of dollars for their new stadium) and their sense of unease over possibly unleashing still painful memories of the old Confederacy by naming their team the “Grays,” the new team simply fell back into their only real remaining option and went with the Nationals.  Despite the fact that the “Nats” (or, as their detractors would say, the “Gnats”), have just as long and a storied history in D.C. as any other baseball name you could imagine, it seemed like an odd and haphazard fit for the newly-relocated franchise.  The name, even in short form, seems almost awkward in the National League, and the team has never really gotten off the ground when it comes to fan support, aside from brief moments of excitement over the potential for pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg.  Obviously, I am not even trying to claim that their situation would be any different if they were the Washington Senators or the D.C. Grays….

…. but all I know is that, as an outsider looking in, as a lifelong fan of baseball, and as a student of history always fascinated by the Civil War and actively against the ideals of the Confederacy, I was definitely rooting for the Grays.

People have different interpretations as for exactly when spring begins.  Some hold to the traditional calendar date of the spring solstice.  Others don’t consider it spring until you can regularly go outside without a coat, regardless of whenever that may take place.  Still more believe that it’s not really Spring until trees begin to grow back their leaves and flowers begin to bud and bloom.  And some of the more party-oriented high school and collegiate students don’t consider the season to have officially begun until spring break rolls around.

But, for millions of baseball-loving Americans, the season really begins when spring training starts.  Even if you’re still experiencing a blizzard in the Midwest or New England, the fact that somewhere in this great country, people are playing outdoors on beautiful, sunny days in front of crowds of thousands is enough to feel that spring has finally arrived.  Every year, untold numbers of Americans from all walks of life, representing all political orientations and all possible ages descend upon Florida and Arizona to watch Major Leaguers shake off their winter rust and prepare for the arduous, 162-game marathon of a season that is so tantalizingly close.  Spring training offers all fans, from followers of dynastic titans to those that root for the habitual cellar dwellers, a chance to hope and pray for success the upcoming regular season and that maybe, just maybe, their team will win the pennant and potentially even the World Series this time around.

Cactus League Logo

Cactus League Logo

As a lifelong Cubs fan, the Cactus League has always held a special place in my heart.  While I can usually be content without football thanks to the NHL and college hoops, something always feels missing after the Super Bowl ends and there are no more major outdoor sporting events taking place.  Even though I have never had the chance to go to any spring training games in person, the thought of eventually being able to go coupled with the prospect of another season being so close has always shaken the winter doldrums from my conscious and prepared me for the remainder of the year.  The idea of being able to go watch 15 MLB teams in a single metropolitan area, all within about an hour’s drive of one another, is an enticing concept, and one that I eventually hope to be able to experience in person.

But spring training, and the Cactus League in particular, took on a much more serious note last year.  In 2010, Arizona passed what is arguably the strictest piece of anti-illegal immigration legislation in our nation’s history, prompting outcries and protest marches in cities and towns throughout the United States.  Immigrant- and minority-rights organizations decried the new law, claiming that it would lead to racial profiling, unequal rights based on the color of one’s skin, and potentially even creating a veritable apartheid system as overzealous police and citizen groups harass individuals of Hispanic and Latino descent regardless of residency status and subsequently make such people less trustworthy of civic institutions and less willing to report real problems to the appropriate authorities.  Pro-immigration reform groups dismissed such notions, claiming that attempts to paint the new law in such broad strokes was irresponsible and that it would merely allow Arizona to carry out responsibilities that the federal government was apparently unable, or unwilling, to handle.

Jared Dudley and Steve Nash wearing their Los Suns jerseys. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images, via The Epoch Times)

Arizona became quickly divided between these two camps, with businesses and civic organizations caught in the middle between potentially alienating an ever-growing segment of their local population versus angering the many conservatives in the state.  Perhaps the single most prominent protest of this new law came from the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association, who, in a show of solidarity with their Hispanic and Latino fans, wore their “Los Suns” Hispanic heritage jerseys to protest the new law.  This action praised and condemned by many, both as an act of courage to show their opposition to a potentially unjust law and as an act of mere bravado and ignorance by those that supported it.  Ignoring the fact that the NBA’s Hispanic heritage jerseys have always struck me as odd (as it seems like it would make more sense to have the team names in Spanish for such uniforms, as in the Phoenix Soles, Chicago Toros, San Antonio Espuelas, and Minnesota Maderalobos instead of having Los Sun, Los Bulls, Los Spurs, and…. wait, did the Timberwolves even have Hispanic heritage jerseys?), there can be no denying that this was a particularly unusual and courageous act, regardless of one’s opinion on the legislation itself.  We rarely see any professional sports organization willing to take any side in such a controversial issue as immigration reform, and as a result of that action it elicited responses from personalities such as President Obama (who praised the act) and radio host Rush Limbaugh (who deplored it).

But while the Suns received attention for their jerseys, Major League Baseball was the organization that really attracted the lion’s share of attention from immigrant- and minority-rights groups.  Almost immediately after the law was signed into law, opponents rallied outside Wrigley Field in Chicago to protest against it.  Why, you may ask?  Because the Arizona Diamondbacks were in town.  Similar protests took place both inside and outside stadiums when the Diamondbacks were in San Diego, Houston, Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Washington D.C., and elsewhere.  Wherever the Diamondbacks went, protests seemed to follow.

But the protests weren’t merely against the individual team, but against the entirety of Major League Baseball.  Multiple groups have called on Bud Selig, the commissioner of the league, to relocate the scheduled 2011 MLB All-Star Game, scheduled to take place in the Diamondbacks’ own Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona.  Despite Selig’s refusal to move the game, calls intensified in the weeks following the law’s passage to expand to all fifteen teams with spring training facilities in Arizona.  These calls were especially levied against the Chicago Cubs, the crown jewel of the Cactus League and the entirety of spring training due to the vast numbers of fans that they draw to their games.  At the time, the Cubs had brand new ownership and were in negotiations with the state to fund the construction of a new facility for them, leaving many immigrant-rights activists to hope that they could hit Arizona where it really hurt and convince the Cubs to move their spring training facilities to the Grapefruit League in Florida.  Such an outcome would have undoubtedly shaken not only the local and state governments, but local businesses that thrive on Cubs business and the Cactus League itself by losing their main draw.  In the end however, the Cubs were convinced to stay in the Cactus League, but only after the locals bent over backwards and passed a slight tax increase on the other 14 teams in the Cactus League to fund the Cubs’ new facility, much to their displeasure (especially their interleague rival White Sox, who are also in the Cactus League).

Some even protested the AriZona Beverage Company, despite being based in New York. Swing and a miss!

Like most protests, anger and resentment over the law has died down considerably over the past several months, and pressure directed against baseball has likewise simmered as well, though we should undoubtedly anticipate an uptick in attention on the matter as spring training progresses and as we get nearer to the All-Star Game in July.  But this entire situation leaves us with a very real question to ask…. why was so much of the attention directed against Major League Baseball?  Granted, the Cactus League generates a significant source of income for Arizona during February and March, but so would boycotts against a variety of products from the state of Arizona.  Why would baseball receive so much attention when the NFL is by far the most popular league in the United States, and when the NHL has its own troubled Arizona-based team that could very well be pressured into moving out of the state given their own financial difficulties?

The answer to that question is multifaceted.  While the NFL has surpassed it as the most popular sport in the United States, baseball still retains the status as our national pastime to millions of Americans.    But the answer to that question goes even deeper.  Simply put, Major League Baseball is the single most international North American professional league.  While the NFL has started to attract a number of European and Australian players, it is still overwhelmingly an American game.  The NBA is most likely the single-most popular North American league in the world, with millions of fans worldwide and and ever increasing contingent of foreign-born players filling its ranks, but the league itself is still American-dominated.  The NHL is the only sport where Americans make up a minority of its players, and there are considerable numbers of European players in the league, but the fact remains that Canadians still make up the majority of its players, so it is still North-American dominated.  When you compare those leagues with Major League Baseball though, their international reach appear absolutely limited by comparison.  Even though American-born players are still a majority, it is the players from East Asia and Latin America that are truly spreading the popularity of the game like none other and making some of the most exciting innovations in the game.

This is Ozzie Guillen when he's calm, imagine when he's really angry. (The Urban Daily)

The Latin American presence in baseball is impossible to downplay.  Baseball has, by far, the largest active makeup of Latin American players of any major sport in North America, and as a result its connection to Arizona’s immigration law were particularly felt.  Huge swaths of Latin America remain one of the few locations in the world where baseball remains the world’s most popular sport, even ahead of soccer and basketball.  MLB teams have long relied on scouring the Caribbean, Central America, and South America for talent to add to their minor league teams and their major league rosters.  Fully a quarter of all current Major League Baseball players are foreign-born, of which the vast majority are from Latin America.  With half of all MLB teams having spring training facilities in Arizona, the potential impact of the law on these players was especially worrisome to the MLB Players Association.  Ozzie Guillen, the firebrand manager of the Chicago White Sox, wasted no time to express his displeasure of the new law and his concern over the impact that it could have on him, his family, and his players.  He has already announced that he will not attend the 2011 All-Star Game in protest of the law, and has claimed to spoken with a number of other Latino players and officials about their concerns with the law.  His concerns about the potential safety and well-being of Latin0 and Hispanic players, especially those that speak exclusively in Spanish or in heavily-broken English, were perhaps the most noticeably vocal and poignant criticisms that came from the world of professional sports outside the Phoenix Suns choice of jerseys.

While the protests have simmered down and the opposition to the new law seems to have mostly stalled, the protests to the new law and the focus that it brought on Major League Baseball remains a timely and important example of how the world of sports and politics really can intertwine.  Just a year ago, who could’ve possibly imagined that baseball would, at least for a brief moment, become one of the main battlegrounds in the realm of immigration reform?

2010 Team Valuations

Posted: February 15, 2011 in MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, Team Valuations

As promised yesterday, here are the Forbes Magazine team valuations from 2010.  There were a few big winners and a few big, big losers, but let’s just list ’em all and see what we’ve got, shall we?

1. Dallas Cowboys – $1,805 million – NFL
2. New York Yankees – $1,600 million – MLB
3. Washington Redskins – $1,550 million – NFL
4. New England Patriots – $1,367 million – NFL
5. New York Giants – $1,182 million – NFL
6. Houston Texans – $1,171 million – NFL
7. New York Jets – $1,144 million – NFL
8. Philadelphia Eagles – $1,119 million – NFL
9. Baltimore Ravens – $1,073 million – NFL
10. Chicago Bears – $1,067 million – NFL
11. Denver Broncos – $1,049 million – NFL
12. Indianapolis Colts – $1,040 million – NFL
13. Carolina Panthers – $1,037 million – NFL
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – $1,032 million – NFL
15. Green Bay Packers – $1,018 million – NFL
16. Cleveland Browns – $1,015 million – NFL
17. Miami Dolphins – $1,011 million – NFL
18. Pittsburgh Steelers – $996 million – NFL
19. Tennessee Titans – $994 million – NFL
20. Seattle Seahawks – $989 million – NFL
21. Kansas City Chiefs – $965 million – NFL
22. New Orleans Saints – $955 million – NFL
23. San Francisco 49ers – $925 million – NFL
24. Arizona Cardinals – $919 million – NFL
25. San Diego Chargers – $907 million – NFL
26. Cincinnati Bengals – $905 million – NFL
27. Boston Red Sox – $870 million – MLB
28. New York Mets – $858 million – MLB
29. Atlanta Falcons – $831 million – NFL
30. Detroit Lions – $817 million – NFL
31. Buffalo Bills – $799 million – NFL
32. St. Louis Rams – $779 million – NFL
33. Minnesota Vikings – $774 million – NFL
34. Oakland Raiders – $758 million – NFL
35. Los Angeles Dodgers – $727 million – MLB
36. Chicago Cubs – $726 million – MLB
37. Jacksonville Jaguars – $725 million – NFL
38. New York Knicks – $655 million – NBA
39. Los Angeles Lakers – $643 million – NBA
40. Philadelphia Phillies – $537 million – MLB
41. Los Angeles Angels – $521 million – MLB
42. Chicago Bulls – $511 million – NBA
43. Toronto Maple Leafs – $505 million – NHL
44. St. Louis Cardinals – $488 million – MLB
45. San Francisco Giants – $482 million – MLB
46. Chicago White Sox – $466 million – MLB
47. New York Rangers – $461 million – NHL
48. Houston Astros – $453 million – MLB
49. Boston Celtics – $452 million – NBA
50. Texas Rangers – $451 million – MLB
51. Atlanta Braves – $451 million – MLB
52. Houston Rockets – $443 million – NBA
53. Seattle Mariners – $439 million – MLB
54. Dallas Mavericks – $438 million – NBA
55. Miami Heat – $425 million – NBA
56. Phoenix Suns – $411 million – NBA
57. San Diego Padres – $408 million – MLB
58. Montreal Canadiens – $408 million – NHL
59. Minnesota Twins – $405 million – MLB
60. San Antonio Spurs – $404 million – NBA
61. Toronto Raptors – $399 million – NBA
62. Cleveland Indians – $391 million – MLB
63, Washington Nationals – $387 million – MLB
64. Orlando Magic – $385 million – NBA
65. Colorado Rockies – $384 million – MLB
66. Arizona Diamondbacks – $379 million – MLB
67. Baltimore Orioles – $376 million – MLB
68. Detroit Tigers – $375 million – MLB
69. Golden State Warriors – $363 million – NBA
70. Detroit Pistons – $360 million – NBA
71. Portland Trail Blazers – $356 million – NBA
72. Cleveland Cavaliers – $355 million – NBA
73. Milwaukee Brewers – $351 million – MLB
74. Utah Jazz – $343 million – NBA
75. Kansas City Royals – $341 million – MLB
76. Cincinnati Reds – $331 million – MLB
77. Philadelphia 76ers – $330 million – NBA
78. Oklahoma City Thunder – $329 million – NBA
79. Toronto Blue Jays – $326 million – MLB
80. Washington Wizards – $322 million – NBA
81. Florida Marlins – $317 million – MLB
82. Tampa Bay Rays – $316 million – MLB
83. Denver Nuggets – $316 million – NBA
84. Detroit Red Wings – $315 million – NHL
85. New Jersey Nets – $312 million – NBA
86. Los Angeles Clippers – $305 million – NBA
87. Boston Bruins – $302 million – NHL
88. Philadelphia Flyers – $301 million – NHL
89. Chicago Blackhawks – $300 million – NHL
90. Oakland Athletics – $295 million – MLB
91. Atlanta Hawks – $295 million – NBA
92. Sacramento Kings – $293 million – NBA
93. Pittsburgh Pirates – $289 million – MLB
94. Charlotte Bobcats – $281 million – NBA
95. New Orleans Hornets – $280 million – NBA
96. Indiana Pacers – $269 million – NBA
97. Memphis Grizzlies – $266 million – NBA
98. Minnesota Timberwolves – $264 million – NBA
99. Vancouver Canucks – $262 million – NHL
100. Milwaukee Bucks – $258 million – NBA
101. Pittsburgh Penguins – $235 million – NHL
102. Dallas Stars – $227 million – NHL
103. New Jersey Devils – $218 million – NHL
104. Los Angeles Kings – $ 215 million – NHL
105. Calgary Flames – $206 million – NHL
106. Minnesota Wild – $202 million – NHL
107. Colorado Avalanche – $198 million – NHL
108. Washington Capitals – $197 million – NHL
109. Ottawa Senators – $196 million – NHL
110. San Jose Sharks – $194 million – NHL
111. Anaheim Ducks – $188 million – NHL
112. Edmonton Oilers – $183 million – NHL
113. Buffalo Sabres – $169 million – NHL
114. Florida Panthers – $168 million – NHL
115. St. Louis Blues – $165 million – NHL
116. Carolina Hurricanes – $162 million – NHL
117. Columbus Blue Jackets – $153 million – NHL
118. New York Islanders – $151 million – NHL
119. Nashville Predators – $148 million – NHL
120. Tampa Bay Lightning – $145 million – NHL
121. Atlanta Thrashers – $135 million – NHL
122. Phoenix Coyotes – $134 million – NHL

Overall NFL franchise value – $32,718 million
Overall MLB franchise value – $14,741 million
Overall NBA franchise value – $11,063 million
Overall NHL franchise value – $6,843 million
Overall Big 4 franchise value – $65,365 million

Average (mean) NFL franchise value – $1,022 million
Average (mean) MLB franchise value – $491 million
Average (mean) NBA franchise value – $369 million
Average (mean) NHL franchise value – $228 million

Most average (mean) NFL franchise – Green Bay Packers (-4 million below mean)
Most average (mean) MLB franchise – St. Louis Cardinals (-3 million below mean)
Most average (mean) NBA franchise – Golden State Warriors (-6 million below mean)
Most average (mean) NHL franchise – Dallas Stars (-1 million below mean)

Highest/Mean (high = unbalanced)
MLB – 325.20%
NHL – $221.49%
NBA – 177.51%
NFL – 176.14%

Lowest/Mean (low = unbalanced)
NHL – 58.77%
MLB – 58.94%
NBA – 69.92%
NFL – 70.94%

Highest/Lowest (high = unbalanced)
MLB – 551.72%
NHL – 376.87%
NBA – 253.88%
NFL – 248.97%

As with yesterday’s post, a lot of information can be gleaned from all of this, so let’s go through a few things that I noticed right away.

First of all, this past year had several big winners and several big losers.  While the Cowboys and Yankees saw very noticeable, $100 million boosts to their overall franchise values, there were other teams that were the even bigger winners, some of whom you might not expect.  In baseball, the Rangers and the Twins saw large boosts to their value, thanks in no small part to their successful regular seasons and subsequent postseason appearances (not to mention the Twins’ new ballpark, Target Field).  The Marlins also benefited greatly, jumping an impressive 15% in franchise value, thanks primarily to the opening of their new stadium looming ever larger on the horizon.  In the NBA, teams that made splashes in the free agent market saw impressive increases, with the Knicks and especially the Heat greatly increasing their overall franchise value.  Additionally, the Warriors and the Nets saw big jumps thanks to new ownership that have expressed an actual willingness to spend some money.  Finally, in the NHL, we saw a bunch of teams benefit in what was one of the strongest hockey seasons in recent memory, with the Rangers, Blackhawks, Canucks, Bruins, Oilers, and especially the Canadiens all showing incredibly strong growths in their overall value.

But, where there are winners, there have to be losers, and there were a lot of losers in the world of professional sports in 2010.  In the NFL, three of the most discussed candidates for relocation all saw major drops in value, with the Bills, Rams, and Jaguars all dropping by double digit percentiles.  In baseball, there were no real losers per se, but there was a lot of stagnancy as a great deal of the league saw only tiny increases or small to mid drops in value.  The NHL saw several teams lose value, but no more than the Tampa Bay Lightning, which saw their value drop by an astonishing 24%.  It’s been said that the Tampa Bay area has been hit especially hard by the recent recession, and it looks like the Bolts were the main team to feel the cut as a result of it.  But when we’re talking about big losers this past year, look no further than the NBA, which saw two teams take a bath.  The Pistons lost fully 1/4 of their overall value in a single year, due to questions over their ownership and difficulty in selling the team and the fact that they’re competing in a busy market against the Wings and Lions.  But it was the Cleveland Cavaliers that saw the biggest nosedive in franchise value, losing 26% of their overall worth in 2010 thanks to losing LeBron James and their subsequent… um… let’s just say less than stellar season so far.

Remember when Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cavaliers, was practically foaming about the mouth when LeBron James left?  I think you would too if you figured that your overall worth was going to drop significantly as a result of the decision, and especially when you figure that it’d be by $122 million!

Finally, we have to look a bit past the individual teams and see how the leagues fared this past season.  At first glance, it appears as if MLB and NHL are the winners as their overall franchise worth increased while the NFL and NBA were the losers as they saw their values drop.  And you’d definitely have an argument for this.  The NBA is in pretty bad shape, with the profitability of a number of teams in question and the likelihood of a lockout increasing every day.  The NFL, despite a strong year and great ratings (especially for the Super Bowl, which might have been the most watched program in American television history), is facing uncertainty over their labor situation as well.

But if you dig down a bit, you’ll see that the NHL’s situation is at best a wash.  While the league saw several big winners, it also saw it devolve into a league of haves and have-nots.  While Major League Baseball remains the most top-heavy league in professional sports thanks to the New York Yankees, the NHL actually surpassed the MLB as the most bottom-heavy league, with the bottom quarter of the league either showing drops or inconsequential gains.

More analysis might come later, but as it is now I think that’s more than enough!  If you notice anything else, please say so in the comments.

Pittsburgh Penguins 235
Dallas Stars 227
New Jersey Devils 218
Los Angeles Kings 215
Calgary Flames 206
Minnesota Wild 202
Colorado Avalanche 198
Washington Capitals 197
Ottawa Senators 196
San Jose Sharks 194
Anaheim Ducks 188
Edmonton Oilers 183
Buffalo Sabres 169
Florida Panthers 168
St. Louis Blues 165
Carolina Hurricanes 162
Columbus Blue Jackets 153
New York Islanders 151
Nashville Predators 148
Tampa Bay Lightning 145
Atlanta Thrashers 135
Phoenix Coyotes 134

2009 Team Valuations

Posted: February 14, 2011 in MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, Team Valuations

Reading back on my first real entry, and some of the cut material from my second entry, I realized that I should probably give a breakdown on some of the information on how much the teams in the NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA are worth.  All information below is courtesy of Forbes Magazine, which annually releases information about the valuations of all major sports teams in North America.  All I’ve done is sort the information and do some math on how the teams in each league average against one another.

I had previously compiled information from 2009, but not 2010.  In the meantime, I’ll put together the team valuations from 2010 and put that information up sometime tomorrow so as to compare which teams have gone up and which teams have gone down in the span of a single year.

Without further ado, here are the franchise values of all professional sports teams in the United States and Canada from 2009, sorted by overall value (be forewarned though, this is going to be a bit dry….):

1. Dallas Cowboys – $1,650 million – NFL
2. Washington Redskins – $1,550 million – NFL
3. New York Yankees – $1,500 million – MLB
4. New England Patriots – $1,361 million – NFL
5. New York Giants – $1,183 million – NFL
6. New York Jets – $1,170 million – NFL
7. Houston Texans – $1,150 million – NFL
8. Philadelphia Eagles – $1,123 million – NFL
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – $1,085 million – NFL
10. Chicago Bears – $1,082 million – NFL
11. Denver Broncos – $1,081 million – NFL
12. Baltimore Ravens – $1,079 million – NFL
13. Carolina Panthers – $1,049 million – NFL
14. Cleveland Browns – $1,032 million – NFL
15. Kansas City Chiefs – $1,027 million – NFL
16. Indianapolis Colts – $1,025 million – NFL
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – $1,020 million – NFL
18. Green Bay Packers – $1,019 million – NFL
19. Miami Dolphins – $1,015 million – NFL
20. Tennessee Titans – $1,000 million – NFL
21. Seattle Seahawks – $994 million – NFL
22. Cincinnati Bengals – $953 million – NFL
23. New Orleans Saints – $942 million – NFL
24. Arizona Cardinals – $935 million – NFL
25. San Diego Chargers – $917 million – NFL
26. St. Louis Rams – $913 million – NFL
27. New York Mets – $912 million – MLB
28. Buffalo Bills – $909 million – NFL
29. San Francisco 49ers – $875 million – NFL
30. Detroit Lions – $872 million – NFL
T-31. Jacksonville Jaguars – $866 million – NFL
T-31. Atlanta Falcons – $866 million – NFL
33. Minnesota Vikings – $835 million – NFL
34. Boston Red Sox – $833 million – MLB
35. Oakland Raiders – $797 million – NFL
36. Los Angeles Dodgers – $722 million – MLB
37. Chicago Cubs – $700 million – MLB
38. New York Knicks – $613 million – NBA
39. Los Angeles Lakers – $584 million – NBA
40. Los Angeles Angels – $509 million – MLB
41. Chicago Bulls – $504 million – NBA
42. Philadelphia Phillies – $496 million – MLB
43. St. Louis Cardinals – $486 million – MLB
44. Detroit Pistons – $480 million – NBA
45. Cleveland Cavaliers – $477 million – NBA – expect this to drop without LeBron!
46. San Francisco Giants – $471 million – MLB
47. Toronto Maple Leafs – $470 million – NHL
48. Houston Rockets – $469 million – NBA
49. Dallas Mavericks – $466 million – NBA
50. Phoenix Suns – $452 million – NBA
51. Chicago White Sox – $450 million – MLB
52. Boston Celtics – $447 million – NBA
53. Atlanta Braves – $446 million – MLB
54. Houston Astros – $445 million – MLB
55. Seattle Mariners – $426 million – MLB
56. New York Rangers – $416 million – NHL
57. San Antonio Spurts – $415 million – NBA
58. Washington Nationals – $406 million – MLB
59. Texas Rangers – $405 million – MLB
60. San Diego Padres – $401 million – MLB
T-61. Baltimore Orioles – $400 million – MLB
t-61. Toronto Raptors – $400 million – NBA
T-63. Cleveland Indians – $399 million – MLB
T-63. Arizona Diamondbacks – $399 million – MLB
65. Miami Heat – $393 million – NBA – expect this to go up with LeBron!
66. Colorado Rockies – $373 million – MLB
67. Detroit Tigers – $371 million – MLB
68. Philadelphia 76ers – $360 million – NBA
69. Utah Jazz – $358 million – NBA
70. Minnesota Twins – $356 million – MLB
T-71. Toronto Blue Jays – $353 million – MLB
T-71. Washington Wizards – $353 million – NBA
73. Sacramento Kings – $350 million – NBA
74. Orlando Magic – $349 million – NBA
75. Milwaukee Brewers – $347 million – MLB
76. Cincinnati Reds – $342 million – MLB
77. Montreal Canadiens – $339 million – NHL
78. Detroit Red Wings – $337 million – NHL
79. Golden State Warriors – $335 million – NBA
80. Denver Nuggets – $329 million – NBA
81. Tampa Bay Rays – $320 million – MLB
82. Oakland Athletics – $319 million – MLB
83. Kansas City Royals – $314 million – MLB
84. Portland Trail Blazers – $307 million – NBA
85. Atlanta Hawks – $306 million – NBA
86. Indiana Pacers – $303 million – NBA
87. Minnesota Timberwolves – $301 million – NBA
88. Oklahoma City Thunder – $300 million – NBA
89. Los Angeles Clippers – $297 million – NBA
90. New Jersey Nets – $295 million – NBA
91. Memphis Grizzlies – $294 million – NBA
92. Pittsburgh Pirates –  $288 million – MLB
93. New Orleans Hornets – $285 million – NBA
94. Charlotte Bobcats – $284 million – NBA
95. Milwaukee Bucks – $278 million – NBA
96. Florida Marlins – $277 million – MLB
97. Philadelphia Flyers – $273 million – NHL
98. Boston Bruins – $271 million – NHL
99. Chicago Blackhawks – $258 million – NHL
100. Dallas Stars – $246 million – NHL
101. Vancouver Canucks – $239 million – NHL
102. New Jersey Devils – $223 million – NHL
103. Pittsburgh Penguins – $222 million – NHL
104. Minnesota Wild – $210 million – NHL
105. Los Angeles Kings – $208 million – NHL
106. Anaheim Ducks – $206 million – NHL
107. Colorado Avalanche – $205 million – NHL
108. Calgary Flames – $200 million – NHL
109. Ottawa Senators – $197 million – NHL
110. Tampa Bay Lightning – $191 million – NHL
111. San Jose Sharks – $184 million – NHL
112. Washington Capitals – $183 million – NHL
113. Carolina Hurricanes – $177 million – NHL
114. St. Louis Blues – $176 million – NHL
115. Buffalo Sabres – $170 million – NHL
116. Edmonton Oilers – $166 million – NHL
117. Coumbus Blue Jackets – $165 million – NHL
118. Florida Panthers – $159 million – NHL
119. Nashville Predators – $156 million – NHL
120. New York Islanders – $149 million – NHL
121. Atlanta Thrashers – $143 million – NHL
122. Phoenix Coyotes – $138 million – NHL

Overall NFL franchise value – $33,795 million
Overall MLB franchise value – $14,466 million
Overall NBA franchise value – $11,384 million
Overall NHL franchise value – $6,677 million
Overall Big 4 franchise value – $65,902 million

Average (mean) NFL franchise value – $1,043 million
Average (mean) MLB franchise value – $482 million
Average (mean) NBA franchise value – $379 million
Average (mean) NHL franchise value – $223 million

Most average (mean) NFL franchise – Carolina Panthers (+6 million over mean)
Most average (mean) MLB franchise – St. Louis Cardinals (+5 million over mean)
Most average (mean) NBA franchise – Miami Heat (+15 million over mean)
Most average (mean) NHL franchise – New Jersey Devils (exactly at mean)

From all of this, a few things should really pop out.

First of all, it should be readily apparent that the NFL is the king.  9 out of the top 10 highest valued franchises are in the NFL, 19 of the 20 franchise worth over $1 billion are in the NFL, 28 out of the top 30 franchises are in the NFL, and the lowest valued franchise in the NFL is still worth more than all but 3 of the 30 MLB teams, all 30 NBA teams, and all 30 NHL teams.  On top of all that, the combined value of the entire NFL is worth than a billion dollars more than the combined value of the entire MLB, NBA, and NHL ($32,527 million)

Second, there can be no possible denial of the fact that the NHL is the runt of the Big Four professional sports in North America.  Only 1 of the top 50 highest valued franchises are in the NHL, only 7 of the top 100 franchises are in the NHL, and the 26 lowest valued franchises are all in the NHL.  On top of all that, the average (mean) NFL franchise value is worth more than double the average MLB value, more than 2.75 times the average NBA value, and well more than four times the value of the average NHL team.

Third, if you do the math, you’ll see that Major League Baseball is, by far, the most unbalanced league in all of professional sports by three credible indicators.  I have compared the highest valued franchise in each sport and compared it to the average (mean), the lowest valued franchise in each sport to the average (mean), and the highest valued franchise to the lowest valued franchise in each sport.  Here are the results.

Highest/Mean (high = unbalanced)
MLB – 311.20%
NHL – 210.76%
NBA – 161.74%
NFL – 158.20%

Lowest/Mean (low = unbalanced)
MLB – 57.47%
NHL – 61.88%
NBA – 73.35%
NFL – 76.14%

Highest/Lowest (high = unbalanced)
MLB – 541.42%
NHL – 340.58%
NBA – 220.50%
NFL – 207.03%

All of this clearly indicates that Major League Baseball is the most unbalanced major professional sport in terms of franchise worth, not only from the top to the bottom and the top to the average (mean), but from the average to the bottom as well.  Simply put, no team is so completely out of whack in regards to high value versus the rest of its league as the New York Yankees, and no team is so completely as lowly valued when compared to the rest of its league as the Florida Marlins.

Finally, all of that shows (at least in my honest opinion) the strength of the NFL’s current revenue sharing agreement.  It is by far not only the most valuable league in North America, but it is also the most well-balanced from top to middle to bottom as well.

Grade school level math FTW.

NFL Team Value (millions) MLB Team Value (millions) NBA Team Value (millions) NHL Team Value (millions) Combined (millions)
Dallas Cowboys 1,650 New York Yankees 1,500 New York Knicks 613 Toronto Maple Leafs 470
Washington Redskins 1,550 New York Mets 912 Los Angeles Lakers 584 New York Rangers 416
New England Patriots 1,361 Boston Red Sox 833 Chicago Bulls 504 Montreal Canadiens 339
New York Giants 1,183 Los Angeles Dodgers 722 Detroit Pistons 480 Detroit Red Wings 337
New York Jets 1,170 Chicago Cubs 700 Cleveland Cavaliers 477 Philadelphia Flyers 273
Houston Texans 1,150 Los Angeles Angels 509 Houston Rockets 469 Boston Bruins 271
Philadelphia Eagles 1,123 Philadelphia Phillies 496 Dallas Mavericks 466 Chicago Blackhawks 258
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1,085 St. Louis Cardinals 486 Phoenix Suns 452 Dallas Stars 246
Chicago Bears 1,082 San Francisco Giants 471 Boston Celtics 447 Vancouver Canucks 239
Denver Broncos 1,081 Chicago White Sox 450 San Antonio Spurs 415 New Jersey Devils 223
Baltimore Ravens 1,079 Atlanta Braves 446 Toronto Raptors 400 Pittsburgh Penguins 222
Carolina Panthers 1,049 Houston Astros 445 Miami Heat 393 Minnesota Wild 210
Cleveland Browns 1,032 Seattle Mariners 426 Philadelphia 76ers 360 Los Angeles Kings 208
Kansas City Chiefs 1,027 Washington Nationals 406 Utah Jazz 358 Anaheim Ducks 206
Indianapolis Colts 1,025 Texas Rangers 405 Washington Wizards 353 Colorado Avalanche 205
Pittsburgh Steelers 1,020 San Diego Padres 401 Sacramento Kings 350 Calgary Flames 200
Green Bay Packers 1,019 Baltimore Orioles 400 Orlando Magic 349 Ottawa Senators 197
Miami Dolphins 1,015 Cleveland Indians 399 Golden State Warriors 335 Tampa Bay Lightning 191
Tennessee Titans 1,000 Arizona Diamondbacks 399 Denver Nuggets 329 San Jose Sharks 184
Seattle Seahawks 994 Colorado Rockies 373 Portland Trail Blazers 307 Washington Capitals 183
Cincinnati Bengals 953 Detroit Tigers 371 Atlanta Hawks 306 Carolina Hurricanes 177
New Orleans Saints 942 Minnesota Twins 356 Indiana Pacers 303 St. Louis Blues 176
Arizona Cardinals 935 Toronto Blue Jays 353 Minnesota Timberwolves 301 Buffalo Sabres 170
San Diego Chargers 917 Milwaukee Brewers 347 Oklahoma City Thunder 300 Edmonton Oilers 166
St. Louis Rams 913 Cincinnati Reds 342 Los Angeles Clippers 297 Columbus Blue Jackets 165
Buffalo Bills 909 Tampa Bay Rays 320 New Jersey Nets 295 Florida Panthers 159
San Francisco 49ers 875 Oakland Athletics 319 Memphis Grizzlies 294 Nashville Predators 156
Detroit Lions 872 Kansas City Royals 314 New Orleans Hornets 285 New York Islanders 149
Jacksonville Jaguars 866 Pittsburgh Pirates 288 Charlotte Bobcats 284 Atlanta Thrashers 143
Atlanta Falcons 866 Florida Marlins 277 Milwaukee Bucks 278 Phoenix Coyotes 138
Minnesota Vikings 835