2008 Winter Meetings: Clouds Over the Game

This article was written by John Bauer

This article was published in the


Baseball's Business: The Winter Meetings: 1958-2016When the movers and shakers of the baseball world descended on the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas for the 2008 Winter Meetings, the sport and the country faced economic uncertainty not witnessed since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The economic downturn that became known as the Financial Crisis or the Great Recession began rumbling through housing markets in 2007, brought the banking sector and the global economy to near—collapse in the fall of 2008, and festered through mass layoffs and other dislocations into 2009 and beyond.  Baseball was not immune from its impact. More than 78 million fans had attended major—league games in 2008, the second greatest number in history, but at these meetings, baseball people could only speculate on what the full effect of the Financial Crisis would be for the business of professional baseball. Before the Las Vegas congregation, however, there occurred plenty of baseball business to set the table for the Winter Meetings proper.

 The business away from the business meetings

The 2008 baseball season concluded with the Philadelphia Phillies defeating the Tampa Bay Rays in a five—game World Series. Late October weather in Philadelphia affected several games, specifically a 90—minute delay before Game Three and a two—day suspension of the deciding Game Five. These factors may have contributed to the worst television ratings in the history of the fall classic, with the 13.6 million average viewership representing a 14 percent drop from the record low established in the 2006 Cardinals—Tigers match—up.1  Shortly after winning their second championship, the Phillies announced a major front—office move, with Ruben Amaro Jr. replacing Pat Gillick as general manager. The Phillies’ announcement was the second such move of the offseason as the Mariners previously hired Jack Zduriencik from Milwaukee as a permanent replacement for general manager Bill Bavasi, who took the fall in June for what proved to be a disastrous 101—loss season. In a more momentous hiring, the Mariners later named Don Wakamatsu as their manager, making him the first Asian—American to manage in the major leagues.

Along with front—office changes, November was, as always, the awards season for baseball’s high achievers. Rookies of the Year were the first major announcement, on November 10, and Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria claimed unanimous AL honors, while Chicago catcher Geovany Soto fell one vote short of doing the same in the NL. The following day, San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum capped his first full major—league season with the NL Cy Young Award, beating out Arizona’s Brandon Webb and New York’s Johan Santana. Two days after the NL announcement, Cleveland’s Cliff Lee gained the AL Cy Young, ahead of Toronto’s Roy Halladay and Los Angeles’ Francisco Rodriguez.  For Lee it was a remarkable comeback after a 2007 season that saw him pitch in three levels of the minors in an attempt to return to form.  Rodriguez had also turned in a spectacular season, establishing a new major—league saves record with 62 for the Angels. Tampa Bay’s surprise pennant resulted in its skipper, Joe Maddon, winning near—unanimous AL Manager of the Year honors. Maddon’s predecessor in the Rays dugout, Lou Piniella, claimed the NL award for his work with the Cubs, who won the Central Division crown with a league—best 97 victories, though they were swept by the Dodgers in the Division Series. Sweet Lou won a closer race in beating out Philadelphia’s Charlie Manuel and Florida’s Fredi Gonzalez. Boston’s Dustin Pedroia followed up his 2007 Rookie of the Year season with AL Most Valuable Player honors, finishing ahead of Minnesota’s Justin Morneau and teammate Kevin Youkilis to become the first AL second baseman to win the award since Nellie Fox of the White Sox in 1959. Within weeks, the Red Sox rewarded Pedroia with a six—year, $40.5 million contract extension. In the NL, St. Louis’s Albert Pujols beat out a fellow first baseman, Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard, to claim senior circuit MVP honors for the second time. .

Despite the celebration of the game’s best, worsening economic conditions clouded preparations for the offseason. On November 20, club owners and executives received a confidential briefing on the economy from Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve and current adviser to President—elect Barack Obama. Volcker appeared at the invitation of Commissioner Bud Selig, and spoke to officials for 45 minutes. Attendees noted that Volcker’s assessment “was not upbeat.”2 The state of the economy had clubs paying close attention to their ticket pricing for the 2009 season. The Boston Red Sox, for instance, froze ticket prices at 2008 levels, marking their first offseason without an increase since 1994.3 Red Sox chief executive Larry Lucchino commented, “We are hearing from fans and seeing for ourselves that these are uncertain, at best, and perilous, at worst, economic conditions.”4 The Yankees would join the Red Sox in announcing that spring—training tickets would remain the same as last season.

The economic belt—tightening would not necessarily extend into the free—agent market as big paydays were forecast for big talents. Even Lucchino foresaw “crazy competition” for elite free agents.5 Milwaukee left—hander C.C. Sabathia, Angels first baseman Mark Teixiera, and Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez entered the offseason as the most coveted available players. Additionally, San Diego and Colorado were shopping right—hander Jake Peavy (the 2007 National League Cy Young Award winner) and outfielder Matt Holliday (the 2007 National League batting champion), respectively, through the trade market. Holliday became a key figure in the first major deal of the offseason when he was sent to Oakland on November 10 in exchange for three players, outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, right—hander Huston Street and southpaw Greg Smith. The free—agent market opened November 14 and signings were slow to develop. After almost two weeks, only left—hander Jeremy Affeldt (leaving Cincinnati for San Francisco) and right—hander Ryan Dempster (staying with the Cubs) had inked new deals for the 2009 season. The paucity in signings represented the slowest opening to the free—agent market since the 2002—2003 offseason.6 Commentators offered varying assessments about whether the slow—developing market reflected wider economic problems infecting baseball. Ben Shpigel wrote, “It is unclear how well baseball is insulated from the country’s economic troubles, but it is clear people are concerned.”7 With new stadiums under construction in New York and marquee names still expected to collect a bonanza, William Rhoden observed that “[w]ith much of the nation reeling, with banks failing, workers being laid off and homes being foreclosed, sports owners continue to build castles and pay players by the millions.”8

 

The Winter Meetings and the business of baseball

As the Winter Meetings formally opened in Las Vegas on December 8, the free—agent market began stirring in earnest. After a quiet first day in which the most significant deals involved the Tigers trading for catcher Gerald Laird9 and signing veteran shortstop Adam Everett, the Yankees asserted themselves by grabbing one of the market’s top players. The 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner, C.C. Sabathia, agreed to a seven—year, $161 million contract with the Yankees to complete a move that took him from Cleveland to Milwaukee to the Bronx in less than six months. Meanwhile, the Mets sought to address the bullpen woes that factored into late—season collapses in 2007 and 2008. To do so, Mets general manager Omar Minaya signed former Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez to a three—year, $37 million contract during the meetings, and also executed a three—team, 12—player trade resulting in the acquisition of right—handed set—up man J.J. Putz from Seattle.10 Announcing the latter deal to reporters at the Bellagio, Minaya said, “Best thing I can say about this trade, guys, is it’s an old—fashioned baseball trade. Here we are in the year 2008 and talking about millions of dollars, and this is how trades were done. Just a pure baseball trade.”11

The Winter Meetings were also notable for a trade that did not happen. It was no secret that the Padres were eager to deal starting pitcher Jake Peavy. After a 99—loss campaign, owner John Moores had little interest in spending another $72 million just to finish in the basement again, and removing the $63 million due to Peavy over the next four seasons provided an obvious target for cost savings. As the meetings commenced, the Cubs appeared to be Padres general manager Kevin Towers’ likeliest trading partner. Towers, however, would not make a deal just for the sake of doing so, and he asserted his willingness to take Peavy into the 2009 season if the right deal could not be found.12 Indeed, there would be no deal. Unsuccessful attempts to acquire Peavy left Cubs general manager Jim Hendry muttering, “I’m not trading seven players for one.”13 Peavy opened 2009 as a Padre before a midseason move to Chicago – the Cubs’ crosstown rivals, the White Sox.

Shortly after the Winter Meetings proper, the Yankees added right—hander A.J. Burnett to their rotation with a five—year, $82.5 million deal. After Boston dropped out of the bidding, Mark Teixiera joined the Yankees in an eight—year, $180 million deal completed days before Christmas. (The other major free agent, Manny Ramirez, re—signed with the Dodgers in March.) Including Sabathia, the Yankees committed over $400 million to three players in an active December. Word of the Financial Crisis apparently had not traveled from Manhattan to the Bronx.

Major League Baseball took advantage of the Winter Meetings to showcase the talent and studio set designs for the new MLB Network. The channel was scheduled to debut January 1 in 50 million cable and satellite homes. Matt Vasgersian was introduced as studio host after years as a minor—league broadcaster and stints with the Brewers and Padres. Trenni Kusnierek and Hazel Mae would leave club beats to join the network as reporters, while former players Harold Reynolds, Dan Plesac, and Al Leiter would provide analysis. The network unveiled designs for Studios 3 and 42 that would serve as the broadcasting hub from its headquarters in Secaucus, New Jersey. Network president Tony Petitti viewed the channel as complementing baseball’s Internet presence: “We’re both 24/7 operations. … We can come together operationally, driving baseball fans back [and forth] to both places.”14 MLB Network launched New Year’s Day with the “Hot Stove” studio show, followed by the first national rebroadcast of Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series.15

The minor—league baseball job fair and trade show also coincided with the Winter Meetings, and the state of the economy dominated discussions. With cumulative attendance of 43 million in 2008, minor—league baseball seemed to have solid foundations. Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner announced three initiatives to help promote the sport for the new season. First, clubs would work toward environmental sustainability through a “Team Green” program. Second, Minor League Baseball planned to partner with the National Youth Baseball Organization to enhance youth participation. Finally, diversity programs would target increasing minority employees and minority—owned businesses working throughout the minor—league game. These initiatives did not disguise the challenging economic environment, as the normal raft of job seekers found fewer openings. In addition to constrained headcount, clubs sought creative solutions to find additional cost savings, including reusing the prior season’s uniforms and recycling in—game video entertainment. Because the minor—league season ended before the near—collapse of the economy in mid—September, uncertainty was paramount as the minor leagues had yet to labor under the conditions the new season would bring.

The business of baseball included equipment and rules changes for implementation in 2009. The issue of equipment related primarily to bat manufacture. Maple bats were the choice of a clear majority of players; those bats were also more prone to shattering, at a threefold rate over ash bats.16 During the second day of the meetings, the Safety and Health Advisory Committee issued nine recommendations that were accepted by the owners and players. Some recommendations related to the slope of the grain, which concerned improved straightness in the wood for increased durability, and increased quality inspections through random audits at major—league ballparks. Bat manufacturers would be required to attend workshops on engineering and wood grading practices, track each bat they made, and subject their factories to audits from inspectors. Administration fees and insurance requirements would also increase for manufacturers.17

Additional rules changes were discussed in Las Vegas and confirmed a month later at the owners’ quarterly meetings. Acting upon complaints from general managers, baseball’s executive vice president of operations, Jimmie Lee Solomon, announced in Las Vegas that he would propose for owners to approve a switch from coin flips to head—to—head regular—season records to decide home field in a tiebreaker game. Tiebreaker games had been required the past two seasons, including the Twins having to play the White Sox in Chicago (and losing) for the 2008 AL Central Division title despite winning the regular—season series. The owners adopted this change on January 15 during their meetings in Paradise Valley, Arizona. After Game Five of the World Series was suspended for multiple days because of rain, Selig stated that playing rules would be amended to stipulate that all postseason contests and the All—Star Game would be played in full.18 This change was confirmed in Arizona, with tiebreaker games included within the coverage of the rule.

The Winter Meetings provided a cause for celebration for two new Hall of Fame inductees. The Veterans Committee announced the results of its two ballots, one for “pre—1943” players and another for “post—1942” players. In the pre—1943 balloting, former Yankees and Indians second baseman Joe Gordon received 10 out of 12 votes to secure his enshrinement in Cooperstown. In the post—1942 poll, however, no one secured enough votes for admission to the Hall of Fame. Former Cubs third baseman Ron Santo garnered the most votes (39 of 64) but fell short of the required 75 percent threshold. Former Yankee Tony Kubek, whose playing career included the 1957 Rookie of the Year award and four All—Star Game appearances, received the Ford C. Frick award for broadcasting excellence, which granted Kubek a spot in Cooperstown. Amid the accolades for past performance, future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux announced his retirement in Las Vegas. Maddux, whose career achievements included 355 wins and four consecutive NL Cy Young Awards, explained making his announcement in Las Vegas: “Everybody has always treated me great, and the friends I made, I really just came here today to say thank you.”19 In January, Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice learned they would also receive Hall of Fame plaques. Henderson earned induction in his first year of eligibility, appearing on 94.8 percent of ballots; Rice, in his 15th and final time on the ballot, crossed the needed threshold with 76.4 percent of the vote.

Baseball business in the home of the Financial Crisis

The offseason business of the Yankees and Mets related to off—field issues as much as, if not more than, on—field matters. Conceived during better economic times, new ballparks would greet the Yankees and Mets when the season started whether or not the Financial Crisis affected their balance sheets and cash flows, and those of their potential ticket buyers. Shortly after the 2008 season and with new Yankee Stadium rising next to its eponymous predecessor, the Yankees completed a planned “passing of the baton.” On November 20, the owners voted unanimously to approve the transfer of control from longtime owner George Steinbrenner to his son, Hal. George would remain chairman of the club, but his sons Hal and Hank would oversee the business and baseball operations, respectively, as co—chairmen. Without a championship since 2000 and with plenty of premium seats to sell, the acquisition of premium free agents like Sabathia and Teixeira signaled an intent to win big in a (hopefully) full, new stadium.

The Mets, on the other hand, were having an offseason to forget. Citi Field was scheduled to open next to Shea Stadium, whose destruction began shortly after the season ended. The Mets hoped that a new ballpark would help fans forget about their recent failures, but it seemed to be doing quite the opposite. Citigroup had agreed to a 20—year, $400 million naming rights deal for the new stadium, but with the onset of the Financial Crisis, the company was forced to become a recipient of federal bailout funds through the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Nonetheless, Citigroup affirmed in November that it would honor its commitment to the Mets. By early 2009, however, Citigroup had accepted billions in taxpayer funds and announced plans to shed over 50,000 jobs, leading some members of Congress to request that the US Treasury Department force the company to abandon its deal with the Mets.20 In the end, the political pressure abated and the ballpark opened as Citi Field.

The bad news continued for the Mets, this time on a personal level for their ownership. Fred Wilpon and his family financed high payrolls as the Mets enjoyed a run as NL East contenders during the mid—2000s. With the amenities normally afforded by a new stadium, the Mets’ financial clout was expected to increase. Any such expectation seemed to come crashing down, however, on December 12 when the Wilpon—owned Sterling Equities announced it had accounts with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. Days before, federal authorities extracted from Madoff a fraud confession related to the collapse of his $50 billion investment firm—cum—Ponzi scheme. Madoff became symbolic of the Wall Street excesses that created the Financial Crisis; he was also a personal friend of Wilpon. One report pegged Wilpon’s potential losses in the region of $300 million.21 Major League Baseball adopted a brave face, as Chief Operating Officer Bob DuPuy asserted, “The Mets are completely self—sufficient, and we have confidence that none of the other investments will affect the team. … [W]e expect it to be business as usual.”22

The saga of selling the Cubs

The Chicago Cubs remained for sale for the second straight offseason. Since its acquisition by investor Sam Zell in April 2007, the Tribune Company had been seeking a buyer for the Cubs, Wrigley Field, and its 25 percent stake in the regional Comcast SportsNet channel. With its own bankruptcy an increasing possibility and credit markets seizing up because of the Financial Crisis, the Tribune Company was being forced to reconsider its original $1 billion valuation for the package. It set a November 27 deadline for the latest and, presumably, final round of bidding, but 10 days before bids were due, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil suit against Dallas Mavericks owner and Internet billionaire Mark Cuban, alleging insider trading in a stock sale that purportedly allowed Cuban to avoid a $750,000 loss.23 Rumored to be the frontrunner to obtain the Cubs, Cuban responded with charges of prosecutorial misconduct and political vendetta, but the ruckus seemed likely to put off other major—league owners who would need to vote to approve the eventual sale.24 In fact, when the bidding parties were revealed in early December, Cuban’s name was missing. Rather, the bidders were groups led by Tom Ricketts, chief executive of investment bank Incapital and son of the man who founded TD Ameritrade Holding; Mark Utay, managing partner with Clarion Capital Partners, a private equity firm; and Hersh Klaff, a Chicago real—estate executive.

The Cubs’ offseason and potential sale became complicated when broader financial problems forced the Tribune Company to file for federal bankruptcy protection on December 8. Dealing with significant debt and declining advertising revenue from its media properties, the Tribune Company sought Chapter 11 protection. In doing so, the Tribune Company attempted to shield the Cubs, Wrigley Field, and its Comcast stake by omitting those properties from its bankruptcy petition. While the company asserted that the sale remained unaffected (and inclusion of the Cubs in the petition may have restarted the sale process entirely), the federal bankruptcy judge would have to approve any deal. The Tribune Company targeted Opening Day to complete the Cubs deal.

On January 22, 2009, Ricketts disclosed that the Tribune Company selected his group, composed primarily of family members, to enter into exclusive sale negotiations.25 While the Ricketts’s $900 million offer for the Cubs, Wrigley Field and the Comcast stake fell short of the Tribune Company’s aspirations, it represented an unprecedented figure in baseball history. If completed, this deal would exceed the $700 million sale of the Red Sox, Fenway Park, and 80 percent of the NESN regional television network in 2002.26 Sources explained the factors that set apart the Ricketts bid, noting “that it featured more cash up front than the other bids, promising roughly 50 percent in equity and the rest of the $900 million financed with debt … mean[ing] more cash in the bank on closing day.”27 For the bankrupt Tribune Company, the extra cash appeared to be decisive. A significant chunk of that cash came from a stock buyback deal with TD Ameritrade in mid—February, where Ricketts family members received $403 million for 34 million shares.28 The Ricketts family secured additional financing before reaching a formal sale agreement in July; major—league owners unanimously approved the sale in October 2009.

The continuing shadow of the Steroid Era

One offseason removed from the Mitchell Report, the shadow of the Steroid Era continued to hover over baseball.29 News coverage related to arguably the greatest hitter and greatest pitcher of the last generation concerned legal disputes about their involvement with performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). Barry Bonds was scheduled for trial in March in federal court in Northern California on a 15—count indictment related to false statements made under oath in connection with his alleged use of steroids and human growth hormone. In November, three counts were dismissed but Bonds still faced 12 counts concerning 2003 grand—jury testimony related to the Bay Area Laboratory Co—Operative (BALCO). Bonds’ lawyers pressed to have additional counts dismissed because of the alleged ambiguity of the questions posed to Bonds at that time. Additionally, they filed a motion in January to exclude certain evidence from being used against Bonds. Specifically, they argued that the chain of custody related to certain blood and urine tests had been compromised, and that calendars and handwritten notes by Greg Anderson, Bonds’ former trainer, allegedly used to track Bonds’ drug use, could not be connected directly to Bonds.

US District Judge Susan Illston unsealed certain evidence on February 4 that revealed Bonds tested positive for steroids in 2000 and 2001.30 On their face, the tests appeared, in conjunction with Anderson’s handwritten notes, to connect Bonds directly to steroid use. Anderson’s refusal to cooperate with the government jeopardized their admissibility, however. Illston presided over oral arguments on that issue on February 5, and she signaled her inclination to toss the evidence without a witness to connect Bonds to the written materials, thereby connecting the positive tests to Bonds. Illston stated, “[T]he documentation is not hooked up to this case.”31 Prosecutors believed the combination of the positive tests and Anderson’s documents would allow them to persuade a jury that Bonds lied when he told the grand jury in 2003 that he never used steroids. Illston issued a formal ruling February 19 that excluded several pieces of evidence without testimony from Anderson to authenticate the materials.32 Anderson’s lawyer indicated he would not provide such testimony, and with the trial date approaching, prosecutors decided to appeal Illston’s February 19 ruling, a move that ultimately postponed the trial for several more years.

Roger Clemens had sued his former trainer, Brian McNamee, for defamation concerning McNamee’s statements to former Senator George Mitchell about Clemens’ alleged PED use. The case resided in federal court in Houston. On November 3, US District Judge Keith Ellison heard oral arguments on whether the suit should be dismissed because McNamee was immune from Clemens’ suit. McNamee’s lawyer argued that his client was compelled to disclose to Mitchell that he injected Clemens with PEDs by the terms of an immunity agreement with the Department of Justice and the FBI.33 Within days of the hearing, Ellison ordered McNamee’s lawyers to provide evidence to support his contention that the statements were provided in connection with a federal probe. In December, McNamee’s lawyers moved for dismissal of the case. Ellison sided with McNamee by dismissing much of Clemens’ suit on February 12. The judge ruled that McNamee’s statements were indeed privileged because of their connection to a federal investigation. Later in 2009, Clemens would not only find himself accused of lying to Congress about his alleged PED use, but he was also on the receiving end of a defamation lawsuit filed by McNamee.

Another former witness before the Mitchell commission created headlines with a book depicting Steroid Era practices. Former Mets clubhouse employee Kirk Radomski, who pleaded guilty in 2007 to illegal distribution of certain PEDs, authored Bases Loaded, which was released in January. In his book, Radomski detailed his past selling PEDs to ballplayers and the circumstances that led to his statements to the Mitchell commission. Radomski also professed his belief in the truth of McNamee’s statements about Clemens.34 Mitchell publicly disputed certain passages in Bases Loaded, but the book’s publicity kept the PED issue in the news for several days during the offseason.

In addition to the Bonds and Clemens matters hanging over the game, baseball’s highest—paid and arguably best player became confronted by a past that included PED use. In early February, Alex Rodriguez faced revelations about his own positive PED test, conducted in 2003. Rodriguez’s sample had been seized in 2004 in connection with a federal investigation into BALCO. Two days after the result surfaced, Rodriguez acknowledged PED use while playing for the Texas Rangers from 2001 to 2003. The positive result occurred during baseball’s confidential sampling program in 2003, which included 104 total positives, thereby surpassing the threshold for instituting mandatory testing in 2004. Because of the confidential nature of the test, Rodriguez would not be subject to discipline for his 2003 positive. Unable to punish Rodriguez, Selig could only resort to shame when he commented, “What Alex did was wrong, and he will have to live with the damage he has done to his name and reputation.”35 Any embarrassment or disgrace would have to be deferred, however, as surgery for an injured hip kept Rodriguez out of the lineup until May.

 

Conclusion

Continuing revelations about PEDs indicated that baseball could not simply outrun its past. The recent past, however, had seen an economic expansion of the business of baseball. On the one hand, events seemed to demonstrate an uninterrupted cycle of growth: sizable free—agent contracts, erection of new palaces to showcase players’ talents, growth in baseball’s cable and digital presence, and a record deal for one of baseball’s most venerable franchises. On the other hand, the business of baseball would face economic conditions not seen in generations. Whether baseball could continue its business growth under these conditions was the great question facing the game as the offseason gave way to the new season.

Notes

1 Richard Sandomir, “World Series Sets a Low for Viewership,” New York Times, October 30, 2008, accessed at: nytimes.com/2008/10/31/sports/baseball/31ratings.html.

2 Michael S. Schmidt and Katie Thomas, “Volcker Gives Baseball an Update on the Economy,” New York Times, November 20, 2008, accessed at: nytimes.com/2008/11/21/sports/baseball/21mlb.html.

3 Ibid.

4 Richard Sandmir, “Red Sox Will Not Raise Ticket Prices,” New York Times, November 12, 2008, accessed at: nytimes.com/2008/11/13/sports/baseball/13tickets.html.

5 William C. Rhoden, “Recession Is a Relative Term in Baseball,” New York Times, November 16, 2008, accessed at: nytimes.com/2008/11/17/sports/baseball/17rhoden.html.

6 Ben Shpigel, “All Is Unusually Quiet on the Free—Agent Front,” New York Times, November 25, 2008, accessed at: nytimes.com/2008/11/26/sports/baseball/26agent.html.

7 Ibid.

8 Rhoden.

9 Guillermo Moscoso and Carlos Melo, a pair of right—handers, were sent to the Rangers in exchange for Laird.

10 It was a blockbuster deal in terms of numbers, and in future big—league talent. The Mariners sent Putz, right—hander Sean Green, and outfielder Jeremy Reed to the Mets, and infielder Luis Valbuena to the Indians. The Mets, in turn, sent six players out to Seattle: slick—fielding outfielder Endy Chavez, southpaw Jason Vargas, right—handers Maikel Cleto and Aaron Heilman, outfielder Ezequiel Carrera and first baseman—outfielder Mike Carp. They also shipped right—hander Joe Smith to the Indians, who completed the transaction by moving outfielder Franklin Gutierrez to Seattle.

11 Joe Posnanski, “Take Me Out to … The Winter Meetings in Vegas, Baby, Vegas,” Sports Illustrated, December 22, 2008, accessed at: si.com/vault/2008/12/22/105764680/take—me—out—to——the—winter—meetings—in—vegas—baby—vegas#.

12 John Schlegel, “Class Acts and Done Deals on Day 1,” mlb.com, December 9, 2008, accessed at: m.mlb.com/news/article/3707488//.

13 Ibid.

14 Barry M. Bloom, “MLB Network Introduces On—Air Lineup,” MLB.com, December 8, 2008, accessed at: m.mlb.com/news/article/3706838.

15 Richard Sandomir, “Fans Who Can’t Get Enough Are Getting More,” New York Times, December 31, 2008, accessed at: nytimes.com/2009/01/01/sports/baseball/01sandomir.html.

16 Jack Curry, “New Bats to Undergo Testing for Quality Control,” New York Times, December 10, 2008, accessed at: nytimes.com/2008/12/10/sports/baseball/10bats.html.

17 Ibid. Also, for more information about the changes related to bat manufacture and inspection, see Curry, “Changes for Maple Bats in 2009,” New York Times, December 9, 2008, accessed at: bats.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/09/changes—for—maple—bats—in—2009/.

18 Jack Curry, “Hal Steinbrenner Is Named the Yankees’ Boss,” New York Times, November 20, 2008, accessed at: nytimes.com/2008/11/21/sports/baseball/21hal.html.

19 John Schlegel, “Class Acts and Done Deals on Day 1,” MLB.com, December 9, 2008, accessed at:  m.mlb.com/news/article/3707488//.

20 “House Members Seek End to Citigroup—Mets Deal,” New York Times, January 30, 2009, accessed at:  query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F00E0DA1130F933A05752C0A96F9C8B63.

21 Dealbook, “New York Mets Owner’s Firm Was Madoff Client,” New York Times, December 12, 2008, accessed at: dealbook.nytimes.com/2008/12/12/new—york—mets—owners—firm—was—madoff—client/.

22 Michael S. Schmidt, “Wilpon’s Losses in Fraud Case May Affect Mets,” New York Times, December 13, 2009, accessed at: nytimes.com/2008/12/14/sports/baseball/14wilpon.html.

23 Michael J. de la Merced and Floyd Norris, “Mark Cuban Is Charged With Insider Trading,” New York Times, November 17, 2008, accessed at: nytimes.com/2008/11/18/business/18insider.html.

24 Ibid.

25 Ameet Sachdev and Michael Oneal, “Meet the Cubs’ $900 Million Man,” Chicago Tribune, January 23, 2009: 1—1.

26 Sachdev and Oneal: 1—11.

27 Ibid.

28 Dealbook, “TD Ameritrade to Buy Stock From Founding Family,” New York Times, February 18, 2009, accessed at: dealbook.nytimes.com/2009/02/18/td—ameritrade—to—buy—stock—from—founding—family/.

29 Formally titled “Report to the Commissioner of Baseball of an Independent Investigation Into the Illegal Use of Steroids and Other Performance Enhancing Substances by Players in Major League Baseball,” December 13, 2007, accessible at: files.mlb.com/mitchrpt.pdf.

30 Michael S. Schmidt, “Positive Drug Tests in Bonds Case,” New York Times, February 4, 2009, accessed at: nytimes.com/2009/02/05/sports/baseball/05bonds.html.

31 Michael S. Schmidt and Carol Pogash, “Once Again, Bonds Case Circles Back to Trainer,” New York Times, February 5, 2009, accessed at: nytimes.com/2009/02/06/sports/baseball/06bonds.html.

32 Katie Thomas, “Prosecutors May Appeal in Bonds’s Perjury Case,” New York Times, February 20, 2009, accessed at: nytimes.com/2009/02/21/sports/baseball/21bonds.html.

33 Michael S. Schmidt, “Evidence Sought in Clemens’s Defamation Suit,” New York Times, November 7, 2008, accessed at: nytimes.com/2008/11/08/sports/baseball/08clemens.html.

34 Michael S. Schmidt, “In Book, Radomski Talks About Selling Drugs and Dealing With Mitchell,” New York Times, January 19, 2009, accessed at: nytimes.com/2009/01/20/sports/baseball/20radomski.html.

35 “A—Rod Gets Only a Selig Scolding,” Chicago Tribune, February 13, 2009: 2—8.

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