Archive for Media

Interview with Score Atlanta

This week I am the subject of a story Score Atlanta newspaper. Here is a link to the page, and you have to scroll down. If you live in the Atlanta area, you can find Score at many locations around town. Thanks to Stephen Black for conducting the interview.

Here is a brief excerpt.

Kennesaw State University professor John-Charles Bradbury enjoys two passions in life: baseball and economics. Dr. Bradbury studied the latter in college and pursued the subject with enough persistence to earn a doctorate in the field. The other subject, baseball, was simply something he followed when not working or studying. The good professor eventually realized that he tended to think of one while observing another.

Where Did the Frenchy Quotes Go?

In my previous post, I was searching for Jeff Francoeur’s original quotes to the AJC about his demotion . The problem is that the quotes are no longer on the website. The web address to the original story, which I believe was written by Carroll Rogers, now hosts a milder story by Thomas Stinson.

AOL Fanhouse
documents the original quotes that can no longer be found on the AJC’s website.

“This has really put a damper on my relationship with the Atlanta Braves,” Francoeur told the AJC.

“I love playing for the city, I love playing for the fans and always have,” said Francoeur, a graduate of Parkview High School in Lilburn. “But I’m disappointed with the decision and how the whole process went down.”

[…]”I do not agree with this, but I have to do what I have to do,” Francoeur said.

What gives AJC? Did he or didn’t he say these things?

UPDATE: Following the encouragement of several readers, I have sent an e-mail to Carroll Rogers (at what I think is her e-mail address) at the AJC asking for an explanation. I will let you know what I learn.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I have now captured a screen shot of the original article, which I found in the Google cache. Click on here to see a larger version of the image.

I have still not received a response from Carroll Rogers, but is possible that she is not on duty after covering the weekend beat. I sent her a follow-up e-mail this morning.

Original AJC Article

ANOTHER UPDATE: Rogers responds:

some quotes were removed from the story through the course of the day, first after i got jeff on the phone, and later when tom stinson got francoeur after the game in mississippi. so the final print version was different than some of the stories we ran on-line during the day.

Thanks to Carroll for the response.

JC on the Radio

I’ll be on on The Rude Awakening this morning to discuss the possibility of Barry Bonds joining the Braves. I will, no doubt, be advocating the addition of the controversial slugger. You can listen to the show here. I am scheduled to be on at 9:10am.

Rep. Waxman, Please Do Something Productive

Representative Henry Waxman is upset about Bud Selig’s Congressional testimony that positive steroid tests declined from five percent in 2003 to one percent in 2004.

But the accuracy of the picture provided by Commissioner Bud Selig, his deputy Rob Manfred and the players union’s executive director, Donald Fehr, about how the testing was conducted has come into question. The committee’s chairman, Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, has said he is troubled, and the committee’s staff is planning to send letters to Selig and Fehr seeking answers to what Waxman has called “misinformation.”

At the heart of the issue is the fact that the committee was not told that the 2004 testing, with its significantly lower positive test results, had been partly shut down for much of that season, what Selig’s office later called an emergency response to an unforeseen situation. Specifically, the shutdown arose from the federal investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative steroid ring.

As a result, players who apparently tested positive in 2003 were not retested in 2004 until the final weeks of the season, and might have been notified beforehand, perhaps skewing the overall test numbers for that year.

“It’s clear that some of the information Major League Baseball and the players union gave the committee in 2005 was inaccurate,” Waxman said in a written statement. “It isn’t clear whether this was intentional or just reflects confusion over the testing program for 2003 and 2004. In any case, the misinformation is unacceptable.”

First, there is nothing “inaccurate” about this claim. It could have been misleading, in that the lower positive-test rate had a cause other than decreased steroid use, but baseball appears to have presented correct numbers.

Second, is this news to Waxman? The shutting down of testing in 2004 is such common knowledge that I cannot even recall where I learned of it many months ago. I believe it was included in the Mitchell Report.

UPDATE: Here is the relevant text from the Mitchell Report (pp. 281–282).

In April 2004 federal agents executed search warrants on two private firms involved in the 2003 survey testing, Comprehensive Drug Testing, Inc. and Quest Diagnostics, Inc.; the warrants sought drug testing records and samples for ten major league players connected with the BALCO investigation. In the course of those searches, the agents seized data from which they believed they could determine the identities of the major league players who had tested positive during the anonymous survey testing.

Shortly after these events, the Players Association initiated discussions with the Commissioner’s Office regarding a possible suspension of drug testing while the federal investigation proceeded. Manfred said the parties were concerned at the time that test results that they believed until then raised only employment issues had now become an issue in a pending criminal investigation. Ultimately, the Commissioner’s Office and the Players Association agreed to a moratorium on 2004 drug testing. While the exact date and length of this moratorium is uncertain, and the relevant 2004 testing records have been destroyed, Manfred stated that the moratorium commenced very early in the season, prior to the testing of any significant number of players. Manfred stated that the Players Association was not authorized to advise its members of the existence of the moratorium.

According to Manfred, the moratorium lasted for a short period. For most players, drug tests then resumed. With respect to the players who the federal agents believed had tested positive during 2003 survey testing, however, the Commissioner’s Office and the Players Association agreed that: (1) the Players Association would be permitted to advise those players of this fact, since that information was now in the hands of the government; (2) the testing moratorium would continue with respect to those players until the Players Association had an opportunity to notify them; and (3) the Players Association would not advise any of the players of the limited moratorium.

Sometime between mid-August and early September 2004, Manfred contacted Orza because the Players Association had not yet notified the players involved. The 2004 season was drawing to a close without those players having been tested because they remained under the moratorium. Manfred said that he pressed Orza to notify the players as soon as possible so that they could be tested. All of the players were notified by early September 2004.

The problem is that the owners and players agreed to suspend testing for a portion of the 2004 season after the I.R.S. seized previous test results that were supposed to be anonymous. It was the seizure by a government organization that impeded the testing, not MLB or MPBPA.

But, what really annoys me, is that if Waxman really cared about getting steroids out of baseball, he would have used his powers to suppress the seized evidence. Baseball entered into its drug testing program with good intentions, despite the fact there are incentives for individual players and owners to skirt the system. It took major concessions for both sides to begin testing, and anonymity of the early tests was important. Th raid threw all of that good will out the window, and players were once again suspicious of what would happen to the personal health information contained in the blood samples.

Instead, of blaming baseball, Rep. Waxman should have helped baseball negate these seizures, so that all the parties involved could have used their resources to protect player confidentiality while trying to rid the sport of doping. That is to goal of all of this, isn’t it?

Reminder: SoSH Q&A, Today, 2pm

I will be answering questions at Sons of Sam Horn today from 2–3pm. You can see the thread here. Feel free to stop by and ask questions or just lurk. Right now, I’m working on my answers to several questions that have already been asked.

Q&A at Sons of Sam Horn

I will be participating in a Q&A session at Sons of Sam Horn this Thursday at 2pm. Feel free to stop by and leave your questions in advance here. If you are not yet a member of SOSH, now is a good time to join.

As a brief aside, I hold a particular fondness for Sam Horn for a different reason than most of the Red Sox fans who dominate the website. During the summer of 1993, I regularly attended Charlotte Knights games that featured Sam Horn as the team’s first baseman. His towering shots were memorable. That Knights team included both Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez (for a short time), and it was a fun team to watch.

Podcast Interview on the Gwinnett Braves

Here is an interview with me on the Gwinnett Braves stadium deal conducted by Buzz Brockway. Hear my anger…and my southern accent.

Media Bias and Public Stadium Funding

A few weeks back, Skip Sauer at The Sports Economist pointed to an Op-Ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer by Villanova sociologist Rick Eckstein. It is relevant to what is going on in Gwinnett County, especially in reference to the coverage by the Gwinnett Daily Post.

If you build it, they will come. This is usually the mantra of those in favor of publicly financed sports stadiums, including the current proposal for a new soccer stadium in Chester. In this case they are visitors whose spending would turn devastated cities and neighborhoods into exciting destination points. Local schools, merchants, and residents all would benefit as municipal coffers swelled.

There’s only one problem with this scenario. It’s not true. Never has been. They do come, but cities are not saved. Over the past two decades, academic research has generated literally hundreds of articles and books empirically challenging the alleged economic wonders of new stadiums, even when they’re part of larger development schemes. I have been studying and writing about publicly financed stadiums for more than 10 years and cannot name a single stadium project that has delivered on its original grandiose economic promises, although they do bring benefits to team owners, sports leagues and sometimes players.

That much we already knew. But the question remains: if these are such obviously bad deals, then why does the public tolerate the public funding of sports venues? Eckstein has an answer.

In a just-released article in the Journal of Sport and Social Issues, my colleagues and I studied media coverage of 23 publicly financed stadium initiatives in 16 different cities, including Philadelphia. We found that the mainstream media in most of these cities is noticeably biased toward supporting publicly financed stadiums, which has a significant impact on the initiatives’ success.

This bias usually takes the form of uncritically parroting stadium proponents’ economic and social promises, quoting stadium supporters far more frequently than stadium opponents, overlooking the numerous objective academic studies on the topic, and failing to independently examine the multitude of failed stadium-centered promises throughout the country, especially those in oft-cited “success cities” such as Denver and Cleveland.

Today, two local papers reported on the subject of Gwinnett County issuing the final permits to begin construction. Here is the article by Michael Pearson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Gwinnett County’s planning and development department issued a permit Friday for grading work at the site of the county’s new baseball stadium.

Although some trees had earlier been cleared from the site on Buford Drive near the Mall of Georgia, the permit’s issuance marks the true beginning of construction work on the $45 million stadium.

Project manager Preston Williams did not return a telephone call left at his office late Friday afternoon seeking comment on when work would begin at the site. Williams has previously said that he expected grading to begin within days of issuance of the permit.

The county is under a tight deadline to complete construction of the stadium by next spring’s home opener for the top minor-league affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. That team is relocating from Richmond, Va.

Among the first tasks, Williams has said, will be grading the land that will eventually become the playing surface of the 10,000-seat stadium.

The GCVB, Gwinnett County and the Atlanta Braves signed a contract last week for the ball club’s Triple-A team to relocate from Richmond to Gwinnett County.

Short, sweet, and to the point: nothing but the relevant facts. Pearson, Tim Tucker, and a few others at the AJC have covered the issue in depth, sometimes having to seek open record requests when county officials refused to comment on details. They have also contacted outside sources, including me and others who disagree with me, to comment on the project. I feel that they have done an excellent job.

Camie Young’s version in the Gwinnett Daily Post is similar until the last paragraph.

According to a press release, county economist Alfie Meek estimates the ballpark will generate approximately $15 million per year in new economic activity, including an estimated 200 additional jobs countywide and generate about $6.5 million in new personal income.

The last paragraph is not needed in a story about the issuing of the initial construction permits. If Young wants to report on the potential positive economic impact calculated by a paid employee of the county, it is her duty to contact disinterested experts to comment. I can only guess that the author was trying to inject her own opinion—or, possibly the opinion of the paper’s editor—into the story.

Do they give anti-Pulitzers? If so, the Post’s coverage of this whole affair ought to be nominated.

What are Managers Worth?

This was the question asked to me by Darren Everson of the Wall Street Journal for a story he was doing on Joe Torre’s $4.3 million per year contract. It’s a question that has interested me, and other economists, for some time. There are many inputs into winning, such as playing talent, medical treatment, coaching, and roster management. Managers have a large say in coaching and roster management, but separating these contributions from others is difficult. A manager who has good players may look good, a manager with bad players may look bad. But, do good teams win because of or despite their skippers?

Currently, I am working on a project to evaluate manager contributions. It’s a long way from completion, but I’ll report some preliminary findings. I looked at how hitters performed under different managers while controlling several relevant factors, such as inherent talent, aging, and ballpark effects. For Joe Torre, the main subject of Everson’s article, I did not find an impact that was significantly significant. In fact, no manager stood out as being particularly good or bad when it came to hitting. The best managers were Don Baylor, Dick Williams, and Davey Johnson. The worst were Bob Boone, Terry Collins, and Hal McRae. But, even at the extremes the impacts were not statistically significant.

Thus, Everson quotes my conclusion in the story.

“I think managers are a bit overrated in terms of the impact that they have on their players,” says J.C. Bradbury, an economist and associate professor at Kennesaw State University and author of “The Baseball Economist.” To make a team better, he says, “get better players.”

This does not mean that managers don’t serve an important function on teams. I think it is quite clear that managers are needed; however, if no manager is superior to any other, then why spend big money on manager with a good reputation like Torre?

A team might choose to spend big bucks on a manager is to signal to fans that the team is making a serious commitment to winning, which causes fans to pay attention and come to games. Managers like Lou Piniella, Dusty Baker, and Joe Torre are household names whose reputations as well-known public figures may combat fan outrage over a team’s previously poor performance. Also, these managers may also be adept at working with the media (Piniella and Baker have done a good bit of media work) and might be able to manage PR in a way that keeps more fans in tough times. This certainly can affect a team’s bottom line. Managers might also be able to recruit better players through free agency for less. My guess is that some players would be willing to take a little less to play for Torre.

New Oversight Committee Report Supports Clemens

From ABC:

A month after House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., released a memo questioning whether former ballplayer Roger Clemens lied to Congress about his alleged steroid use, Republicans fired back Tuesday, releasing a report of their own that disputes some of the Democrats’ prior conclusions and likens the Democrats’ report to a “prosecutorial indictment” of Clemens.

The Republican rebuttal dismisses as irrelevant the Waxman memo’s outline of “seven sets of assertions, made by Mr. Clemens in his testimony, that appear to be contradicted by other evidence before the committee, or implausible.”

“The Democratic staff memorandum’s characterizations and conclusions regarding these other matters is simply not relevant to the core question of whether Clemens knowingly lied about using anabolic steroids and human growth hormone (HGH),” the minority report said.

The 109-page Republican report includes new testimony about Clemens’ former trainer Brian McNamee’s allegations that Clemens attended a 1998 party at then-teammate Jose Canseco’s house, Clemens’ statements that he received vitamin B-12 injections from McNamee, and McNamee’s accusations that Clemens developed an abscess on his buttocks, an injury that could have been the result of steroid injections.

When I first heard news of this yesterday, I scoured the web for the actual 109-page report. I figured it would be up by this morning, but I still cannot find it. If you know of a link, or if you have a copy of the report that you could pass along, please let me know. I am eager to read it.

UPDATE: The report is now available online here.

In a “related” story, President George W. Bush pardoned 15 people yesterday. What does this have to do with Roger Clemens?

Most of those on Bush’s most recent pardon list were convicted of white-collar or drug offenses.

One name notably absent from the list was star pitcher Roger Clemens. The FBI is investigating whether Clemens lied to Congress about steroid use. An attorney for his trainer has predicted Clemens will be pardoned because of his friendship with the Bush family.

Clemens has not been charged with a crime.

What on earth is this line doing in this article? Why would anyone expect Bush to pardon Clemens? Because Brian McNamee’s lawyer suggested it might happen? Come on. In other news, the Trilateral Commission has yet to enact its plan to whisk Clemens away to an unmapped island aboard a black helicopter. I wish reporters would follow the story instead of the propaganda.