28 November 2011

The Orioles are a Small Market Team

That title probably brought a number of you here to read this column and tell me how I am wrong.  Not only wrong, I imagine some of you might call me blinded by Dan Duquette's words over the past few weeks that suggest he considers the team a small market ballclub ("I learned in a small market, I applied my skills in a small market, to put together a top-quality team").

Mind you, I did not feel that Baltimore was a small market town.  I have always bought into the idea of the Orioles being a sleeping baseball giant as Peter Gammons used to say.  However, my own personal journey challenging that thought emerged as I began as I began traveling around to other cities.  I began to realize how small Baltimore is and how much of the city is probably not all that interested in baseball or inclined to spend money on it.  Add that to some of the money from corporations, perhaps, being siphoned off to the Nationals who are trying hard to be a well liked team (to varying success).  At this point, I became comfortable with Baltimore being a mid-market town, which made sense with respect to information available on how money is dispersed in Major League Baseball.  However, they calculate these things, the Orioles (in the few years available) were right in the middle neither giving or receiving much of anything.  

Recently, Dan Duquette referred to the Orioles as a small market team in being introduced to the fan base and in several interviews thereafter.  Are these valid statements?  Have we been in a situation akin to the frog that sit in a pot of water slowly coming to boil?  Do we not realize we are being boiled...or fading as a city of importance.  It would seem to fit the motif of an old port and steel city that is being marginalized by outsourcing of materials and a trade deficit.  It is also something that was harped on with the Wire.

My methodology was simple.  I consulted four sources:
AL East Rankings

TV Market Rank: 27th
Radio Market Rank: 21st
Population Rank: 21st
GDP Rank: 19th

TV Market Rank: 7th
Radio Market Rank: 10th
Population Rank: 22nd
GDP Rank: 9th

New York
TV Market Rank: 1st
Radio Market Rank: 1st
Population Rank: 1st
GDP Rank: 1st

TV Market Rank: 14th
Radio Market Rank: 19th
Population Rank: 55th
GDP Rank: 23rd

(not in United States, so we have to use different sources)
TV Market Rank: Between 4th ranked Philadelphia and 5th ranked Dallas
Radio Market Rank: Between 14th ranked Seattle and 15th ranked Pheonix
Population Rank: Between 3rd ranked Chicago and 4th ranked Houston
GDP Rank: Between 11th ranked Miami and 12th ranked Seattle

The data tends to indicate that the Orioles are likely a low mid-market team or a high small market team.  Camden Yards, a greater population, and a history probably helps the Orioles sustain a higher revenue than the Rays have.  It also helps that the Orioles' regional market deal helps them siphon cash away from the potential gold mine of the Washington DC market.  Of course, DC has had issues with properly supporting the team.  The last time a DC team was dominant was probably back in the late 1860s and early 1870s when the Treasury Department bankrolled the team.

Back to Baltimore, we might have to get use to the idea that this team cannot spend as much money as teams in Arlington or Boston.  The Orioles are at a competitive disadvantage and it makes it difficult for the team to succeed.  It requires a top notch front office that is efficient with how it invests its money and that has not been the MO of the team over the past couple decades (or ever?).  Even the great teams of the 60s and 70s were built on a foundation of out spending teams for bonus babies prior to the implementation of the draft. 

The Orioles were big spenders back in the day, so how did their population size compare back then?

Baltimore does appear to have stabilized in population and one hopes the same is true about the amount of money the team is able to take in from the surrounding area.  During the 1990s Baltimore began successfully (to a degree) shifting from blue collar to white collar commerce and production.  The city is still well behind New York, Boston, and Toronto in terms of available money coming from media deals.  I boiled it down to two things: (1) the Orioles are a threshold middle/small market team and (2) they are in a worst potential revenue market than three of the five teams in the AL East.


Anonymous said...

nice read, I'm curious though, for the TV and radio markets for the Blue Jays, did you reference the Greater Toronto Area as the market..or did you take into consideration that every Blue Jay game is broadcast on Sportsnet which reaches every Canadian home via cable on TV..and every game is broadcast on the radio via the Fan network, which has affiliates in every major Canadian city? Would make those markets second only to the Yankees (possibly higher) I would think.

Anonymous said...

I only considered the Toronto market. Nothing beyond that. Good catch there.


Anonymous said...

Epic fail in your methodology there, craw. Using #'s that show Baltimore being a small (#27) tv market yet leaving out the fact that the ORIOLES tv market, courtesy of MASN, is easily top ten. That's about as intellectually honest as using the dollar-fifty balance in your checking account to claim that you are poor, while conveniently not mentioning the millions in your savings account.

Still managed to get in a nice dig at DC again, didn't ya ? Good for you.

And ignored MASN revenues when apologizing for (I mean, explaining why) Angelos not spending as much as those evil Red Sox.

I hope you're getting a regular check from the Warehouse for your efforts. It would disappoint me to find out that you're merely a relative of Pete's or a job seeker trying to curry favor.


Anonymous said...

Obsessions die hard, eh?

I think it is fair to say that regional networks help the Orioles over the Rays, but certainly not the other three and their deals. When you consider markets nationally...the Os would likely not be a top ten entity after factoring in all the other regional markets.

The point of this was to clearly state measurable values...when you can provide accurate revenue from tv deals for each team I would be happy to add that. In the mean time I have fully explained the methodology to show what the data set is. Based on the information at hand...I just do not see how Baltimore can be a top ten team.


Anonymous said...

What can I say ? I guess I just miss our debates. :)

The rest of your points are well taken regarding Baltimore. Radio market, etc. But when taking about the tv market, you've got to include DC's tv market along with it, because that's what MASN covers.

And combined, the DC/Balt tv market is #4 in the country.

Most teams do not have their own RSNs. If you include the revenue from MASN, I'd guarantee that the Orioles would be a top 10 team in terms of revenue.


Anonymous said...

Assuming best case scenario and the 67-33 split...Os share of MASN would put them tied with Detroit at 10 behind NY, NY, Philly, LA, LA, Dallas, Boston, Atlanta, and Houston.

Nats share would rank about 25th.


Anonymous said...

Your market population sizes are flawed. Consider this; Indianapolis has 820,000 citizens (12th nationally), yet the city is 490 square miles and it's metropolitan is 1.8 million, encompassing almost 600 square miles. Baltimore, as a city, is 620,000 citizens in a square mile zone of roughly 100 square miles. The metropolitan area of Baltimore-Towson has over 3,000,000 people in it and covers an area less than the 490 square miles all of Indianapolis city - proper covers. Thus, Baltimore is a much larger metro area and city populace rankings are unreliable. You must use metropolitan area sizes and give the square mileage to actually make proper conclusions about local population.

Jon Shepherd said...

I understand your concern. I cannot find the article at the moment, but population density close to a stadium center appears to be more important that the population further out for new teams. Why? The idea is that road infrastructure is not ideal and fans further out will become easily irritated with traffic issues.

I do not know if it is a proper assumption I have made, but I think prioritizing local population density and making assumptions about infrastructure is a valid argument.

Anonymous said...

1. you have to use metro area and not city for the population. that is a no-brainer. people will drive for baseball, and many commute to the area near the stadiums regardless. the Red Sox are a big market solely because of the large metro population of New England where they are the sole MLB team.

2. for tv market, you cannot include the dc market in totality. yes, the Orioles still get decent ratings in the DC metro, but they get zero press coverage and the support will slip each year.

3. Baltimore is without question a small market. MLB had a nice regional thing going but the Expos relocation killed it.