Two stories, not directly connected to the Diamondbacks, but both certainly of interest, have broken of late. The Dodgers announced the creation of their own TV network, and a clinic in Miami has been busted wide open by the New Times, and linked to some very big sports names.
Dodgers To Be Cable Billionaires
The Dodgers and Time Warner Cable have reached an agreement to launch a new regional sports network in 2014, both parties announced on Monday. The deal, which is pending approval from Major League Baseball, is expected to be worth between $7 and $8 billion, per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. The new channel will be called Sports Net LA, and will be the exclusive home locally for the all Dodgers games beginning in 2014.. The Dodgers created American Media Productions LLP to run the network, and while the Dodgers will control the programming on SportsNet LA, Time Warner will handle all advertising and affiliate sales of the network. In addition, Time Warner will help with some aspects of non-game production and technical services.
-- From True Blue LA
Yes, you read that right. Between seven and eight billion dollars, for the 25-year period covered by the deal. That works out at $280 million dollars of income for the Dodgers per year - an insane sum, especially when put beside the $45 million per year currently paid to the team by Fox Sports and KCAL. As recently as last March, estimates were that the new deal could be around the order of $100 million, but this clearly blows that away, and also the $90 million paid to the Yankees by the YES Network for their rights in 2011. For context, in Forbes magazine's latest survey, only two teams (the Yankees and Red Sox) were estimated as having that much in total revenue.
Now, it's certainly the case that not all that money will be available for the Dodgers to use as payroll, because MLB has a revenue-sharing system, where teams put a certain amount of their locally-generated revenue into a central coffer, to be divided up among all the franchises. The exact percentage varies, but is typically between one-third and 40% - there's more information on this crypto-Communist redistribution of wealth over at Fangraphs, for the financially-inclined. So it is the case, that a rising tide will float all boats, and the new deal will mean more money for the D-backs. But, still: the landscape of the NL West has changed dramatically.
It is not perhaps too dissimilar from the deal worked out by the other Los Angeles-area team, the Angels. They get $147 million per year from Fox Sports West, but also have a 25% equity share in the channel. And the Dodgers are certainly not the only team to have a dedicated TV channel: YES is the most famous example, but the Mets, Red Sox and (perhaps surprisingly) Orioles, are also in the same boat. It's predicted that the new channel will cost distributors $5 per month, fees which will no doubt be passed right on to cable subscribers - angering those who don't want to watch the games.
The Diamondbacks currently get $31 million per year from Fox Sports, but that deal is set to expire after the 2015 season. While in some ways, that seems a relatively expensive deal - it's more than the Reds and Indians get - one suspects it's probably based more on media market size than team popularity. Phoenix is the 13th-biggest media market, significantly larger than either of those two (Cincinnati is #35, Cleveland #18). There's probably not much chance of the team setting up its own station for the 2016 season. But there's little doubt figures like this are bound to play into negotiations for the next set of contracts.
Miami Clinic Supplies Drugs to Sports' Biggest Names
Ah, I wish the Phoenix edition of the New Times bothered with decent investigative journalism, but they're too busy whining about Sheriff Joe [insert dead horse graphic here]. But with the help of a former employer at a company called Biogenesis, the Miami branch of the paper has blown the whistle on a supposed "anti-aging" clinic, whose real business was a lot less legitimate: "selling performance-enhancing drugs, from human growth hormone (HGH) to testosterone to anabolic steroids." The report goes into quite some depth, and names names - who, naturally, have all denied the claims:
Their real names flash like an all-star roster of professional athletes with Miami ties: San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera, Oakland A's hurler Bartolo Colón, pro tennis player Wayne Odesnik, budding Cuban superstar boxer Yuriorkis Gamboa, and Texas Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz. There's even the New York Yankees' $275 million man himself, Alex Rodriguez, who has sworn he stopped juicing a decade ago.
Manny Ramirez is another name connected to the company. When busted, he claimed a "personal doctor" had prescribed him medication that caused him to fail the drugs test - the doctor was Pedro Bosch, whose son Tony was one of the men behind Biogenesis, and whose files form the bulk of the New Times article. A-Rod's name is mentioned in multiple, apparently very damning documentation, but there are also 14 separate mentions of the Melkman, and Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal - also suspended for failing a drugs test - is another NL West player reported to have a connection to the clinic.
There are no Diamondbacks listed, but we may have dodged something of a bullet in getting Trevor Cahill from the Athletics. At the time, we wondered why we had traded for Cahill rather than Gio Gonzalez, who ended up getting dealt to the Nationals instead. Gonzalez's name appears five times, in notes such as "Order 1.c.1 with Zinc/MIC/... and Aminorip [a muscle-building protein]. For Gio and charge $1,000." His father, Max, also appears on the list of clients but has similar denied any connection to the clinic.
It would be nice to think that the game of baseball learned its lesson from the steroid issues faced by the game in the first decade of this new millennium. However, the evidence appears to be, sadly, that the substances used to enhance performance have simply changed. There will always be those who seek to gain that additional edge, beyond what's permitted in the rules, and the fight to try and ensure they don't get away with it is not one which I suspect is likely to end anytime soon.