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View Full Version : ETB Dynasty: What to do about the Brewers?



petrel
07-12-2006, 12:53 PM
In the Naitonal League, it was called the "Milwaukee situation", and that's what I'm going to call it.

In 1958, an expansion franchise was awarded to Milwaukee. Part of the reason for awarding the franchise was that they had already had a franchise awarded in 1953, but it was withdrawn (and the Braves remained in Boston.).

Three other franchises were also awarded in the same year: in Baltimore (national league) and in Los Angeles and San Francisco (American League).

None of the four franchises sold out their seats during the year, but they did surprisingly well at the turnstiles. Baltimore had 33,000 a game -- max would be 47,000, but it's still respectable. Los Angeles set a baseball record with just over 85,000 a game in attendance at the cavernous L. A. Memorial Coliseum. San Francisco only had 20,000 a game, but small Seals' Stadium only seats 22,900, so Year One in San Francisco could be considered a qualified success.

Milwaukee, on the other hand....

...first, the Brewers only had an average of 10,689 fans a game, the worst since 1952 (attendance was counted differently before 1952, but if the methodology had changed, it would be just as horrible.) Next lowest was Cincinnati at 17,000 a game.

The team was not the crushingly bad record of the seals at 41-121. Milwaukee ended up 54-108, certainly a bad year but the Kansas City Blues didn't do much better at 57-105. So the theories abound as to why no one attended Milwaukee Brewers games.

Neither the Cubs nor the White Sox did particularly well. The teams finished 7th and 5th respectively. The Tigers won 100 games, but it was only good for third place in a tough American League. Could Milwaukee's fan base be sapped by three teams nearby? It doesn't seem plausible.

Furthermore, Milwaukee was one of only three NL teams to make a profit -- that might have been helped by their $20.9 million dollar payroll, which is abnormally cheap. (But San Francisco had a $26 million payroll, and it didnn't seem to impact their gate.)

So what happened? Commissioner Ford Frick called Milwaukee's attendance "an embarrassment". He said that he couldn't stomach the Brewers drawing under 10,000 a year, as they might do. It would be "catastrophic for the health of our league".

(* * *)

As for me: I agree. I don't believe that any franchise should move except in the most dire of reason. What baseball has to sell is nostalgia, the rememberence of great teams past. When you move a team, you dilture your product.

Furthermore, I'm seeing a disturbing trend as of 1958, of teams threatening to move because their markets aren't financially optimal. I feel that if Milwaukee is allowed to relocate, it will set up a chain reaction that will end in chaos.

I don't want to see the team moved if I can help it, but I don't want baseball to be mocked, with television (and MLB Films) showing empty seats in Milwaukee.

The question is: what should baseball do? I'm asking you to play the part of a baseball owner, and give what you would call a good solution.

Here are the choices:

1. Do nothing. Baseball has to depend on free market forces for its survival. One year is simply too short a timeframe to judge the success of the franchise, anyway.
2. Upgrade the stadium. Upgrading stadiums has worked in the past. (The practical effect would be to move some indicators of the stadium above "average", giving Milwaukee a boost.)
3. Upgrade payroll. If Milwaukee had popular stars, they could draw better. Tell Lou Perini in Milwaukee that if he doesn't spend at least $40 million on payroll, he'll face penalties.
4. Give Milwaukee money. Baseball should extend an interest-free loan to Milwaukee with which Milwaukee can upgrade.
5. Encourage trades.. Teams in the bottom part of each league should be "encouraged" to trade star players to Milwaukee for under-the-table cash from the League.
6. New staff.. It must be a problem of promotion. Milwaukee executives should be replaced with a farm team of successful managers from other clubs. (Practical effect: Fan support would be raised to 80 for 1959.)
7. New owners.. Tell Lou Perini he must sell his club. Let a new buyer be found. (Practical effect: A new owner brings in a random amount of new money.)
8. New city. Give up on Milwaukee. It will never draw. Tend offers to relocate the city, and deal with any consequences.

I have allowed multiple votes for this poll, since more than one solution might work.

--Pet

DTF955
07-12-2006, 03:16 PM
1. Do nothing. Baseball has to depend on free market forces for its survival. One year is simply too short a timeframe to judge the success of the franchise, anyway.
2. Upgrade the stadium. Upgrading stadiums has worked in the past. (The practical effect would be to move some indicators of the stadium above "average", giving Milwaukee a boost.)
3. Upgrade payroll. If Milwaukee had popular stars, they could draw better. Tell Lou Perini in Milwaukee that if he doesn't spend at least $40 million on payroll, he'll face penalties.
4. Give Milwaukee money. Baseball should extend an interest-free loan to Milwaukee with which Milwaukee can upgrade.
5. Encourage trades.. Teams in the bottom part of each league should be "encouraged" to trade star players to Milwaukee for under-the-table cash from the League.
6. New staff.. It must be a problem of promotion. Milwaukee executives should be replaced with a farm team of successful managers from other clubs. (Practical effect: Fan support would be raised to 80 for 1959.)
7. New owners.. Tell Lou Perini he must sell his club. Let a new buyer be found. (Practical effect: A new owner brings in a random amount of new money.)
8. New city. Give up on Milwaukee. It will never draw. Tend offers to relocate the city, and deal with any consequences.
--Pet

My thoughts:
1. One year is a little too early to decide anything. however, I think after next year, some things need to be looked at. In a way, this is a Seattle Pilots situation.

2. The stadium is only 6 years old, right? Or is this a stadium that ended up not being refurbished. Either way, there can surely be upgrades. I think some sort of citywide transit system might help, too, providing easy access.

3. At first I didn't like the idea, but if you do this, you're going to keep a certain man named Charlie Finley from thinking he can dabble in the game. It only needcs to be done for a while, but you can surely say, "Look, we gave you a team, you can't run it on a shoestring, not an expansion club. When you've built up enough goodwill, maybe." However, this shouldn't just be on salaries but on everything.

4. This was done to your own Braves and the Phillies during the Depression, I think in 1931. I see no problem with it if it doesn't become habit.

5. I don't like this; it smacks of a syndicate like the Yankees had in OTL with the K.C. Athlets. It also smacks of conflict of interest - even in OTL (our timeline) I wasn't so sure about the other owners tehnically owning the Expos, though at least there everone had an equal share. Who would Bud Selig have presented the trophy to if they'd won the league, though? :-)

6. I wish I could go back and vote for this one, because I do like it; Bill Veeck may be more interested in Chicago, but someone who can promote a lot might be able to help. Hey, what about that Finley guy after all

7. Don't like it, you can't really force a man to sell, sounds a bit like syndicate baseball here, too. Having someone like Finley come in and work as a minority owner without controlling the interest will take him out of your hair while at the same time giving at least a little money to Milwaukee.

8. I don't like it either, it should be a last resort. After 8-10 years. Look at the Phillies of 1920-1940 or so for a club that was an embarrassment to baseball. Owner after owner who didn't know what they were doing.
However, it is possible that the market drain is such that the city is too small. If fans really aren't interested, there is the right to move. However, new ownership should be tried there.

Also, is Prnini doing all he can with television; seems to me part of the problem in OTL was his lack of a TV contract. Of course, the computer can't know this... :-)

fraquar
07-12-2006, 08:36 PM
Milwaukee is on the northern and western end of the local area that surrounds Detroit, and the two Chicago teams. In other words fans will have to "migrate" through Chicago just to get to Milwaukee (and the fanbase in nothern Michigan and wisconsin pales in comparison to the Chicago suburbs).

I submit that even with a winning franchise they still will draw poorly relative to other teams. Maybe the solution is to tap more into the local Milwaukee area. Wisconsin is all about beer and cheese - and bowling. Hmmm - maybe their is some promotions that could leverage that? Or maybe they can go the Packers route and make the club a publicly owned company? i.e a twist on option #7

Either way for Milwaukee the key is relying on a strong local support from Milwaukee area residents - because depending on fans to "migrate" from outside of Milwaukee the equivalent of 2 and 1/2 months in the summer is asking alot - no matter how well the team plays.

BTW, I've hear rumblings of Minnesota trying to get a franchise in the near future. That will make their situation even more precarious if that happens.

jakemann
07-15-2006, 03:38 AM
Personally, I think Perini should consider selling to that fellow down in Las Vegas who is trying to bring a major league franchise to Nevada.

But, seriously, Perini needs to spend more and bring a few star players into the fold. I wouldn't upgrade the stadium just yet. I wouldn't, were I the owner of some other franchise, approve an interest-free loan or the "encouraging" of trades -- especially the latter, as it reeks of that dreaded concept of parity, which must never be inflicted upon the ML. Spend more, and the star players will not only (hopefully) contribute to a better record next season but also a better gate. If Perini can't or wont do that he needs to sell. As you probably know, there was local money who wanted to buy the team from Perini, since he was an absentee owner anyway.