« Archive for January, 2010

Didn’t see this one coming.

From a general business perspective, it makes a lot of sense. The Pirates and the the Penguins compete with each other for corporate dollars, even though their seasons don’t really overlap. (Unless the Penguins go deep into the playoffs, which they have the past two years.) Together, they would create a pretty solid force in the city — not as strong as the 10,000 lb gorilla Steelers, but much stronger than they are individually. And that’s before you even account for any synergies that this deal could create.

But here’s the problem: through trial and error, or maybe blind luck, Bob Nutting — the current owner — has picked the right people to run the team. The reason he didn’t for the first twelve years he was in charge was that he doesn’t really understand baseball, and neither did his CEO, Kevin McClatchy. So when they had GMs that were doing their jobs really poorly (Cam Bonifay, Dave Littlefield), they gave them the benefit of the doubt, and held on way too long.

But now the Pirates are in the right hands. Frank Coonelly, the current CEO, understands the value of sabermetrics, has been willing to spend a lot of money on amateur acquisitions, and probably holds some real political sway with MLB, given that he used to be one the top executives in the league office. The current GM, Neal Huntington, has had a smart strategy from day one and hasn’t veered from it. Whether he’s executing it perfectly is open for some debate, but I know all of us Pirates fans are much happier with the process now than we were a few years ago.

The last thing the Pirates need right now is another owner that doesn’t understand baseball, who may want his own people to run the team, and may need to go through his own trial and error process. And it pains me to say that — aside from being the ultimate hero of my childhood, Mario has also been a fantastic owner for the Penguins, bringing them from bankruptcy court to back-to-back finals appearances, a Stanley Cup championship, and a new arena this coming fall.

So I’m very conflicted. Emotionally, it’s the coolest idea I’ve ever heard. Rationally, it doesn’t really add up.

I’ll add that I don’t think Bob Nutting has been as miserable an owner as most people think. If Nutting and McClatchy hadn’t come in, it’s very possible the Pirates would be playing in Portland, or Washington, or Charlotte, or who knows where. If he has one fatal flaw, it’s that he’s hired the wrong people, and trusted them way too much. But he’s got the right people now, and I have no doubt that the Pirates will spend what they need to if they’re close to contention in a couple of years.

Feedback? Write a comment, or e-mail the author at shawn(AT)squawkingbaseball.com

Some thoughts on the Marlins situation.

Feedback? Write a comment, or e-mail the author at shawn(AT)squawkingbaseball.com

I don’t know if I’m going to get an iPad. I’m an iPhone power user — it’s with me constantly, and it’s turned into my go to reading device for Google Reader, books, and just about everything else. So I don’t really know where the iPad would fit into my life. (I’ll probably get one for my parents eventually, since they’re going to need a way to read the New York Times when there’s no more print version in a few years.)

But the one thing that really got me excited today was MLBAM’s demo of their new app (video is below). The MLB At Bat iPhone app has a baby version of MLB.tv, and is still something that’s cooler to show your friends than to actually use. The screen is too small, the phone gets too hot, and the quality on 3G isn’t great.

But what MLB showed off today could be the best version of Gameday and MLB.tv that BAM has developed so far — even better than the desktop experience.

For one thing, this is a pretty full-featured version of both. Some of the features we saw in the demo, and/or listed on MLB’s official release:

  • Real-time highlights and stats. The highlight viewer we saw in the demo looks awesome.
  • Game archives on demand, which the iPhone app only has going back a day or two.
  • Easily accessible player cards. Although I’ll add that the player cards on the iPhone app are pretty terrible, so hopefully they’ll be better on this app.
  • Condensed games and Gameday Audio — no surprise there.
  • DVR, like on the desktop and iPhone apps.
  • The real killer app, which was lacking on the iPhone: multi-game view. I use this obsessively on the desktop version, so if I do ever get an iPad, this would be a big reason.

The biggest problem with the desktop version is that it’s a lean-forward experience. This is a lean-back experience, with multi-touch, on a fairly big screen. The next step is MLB.tv on your television, with the iPhone serving as a remote.

Tough to call it a big winner without actually using it, but I’m betting that this app will be awesome.

Feedback? Write a comment, or e-mail the author at shawn(AT)squawkingbaseball.com

Courtesy of Engadget. And Steve Jobs. More Later.

Some surprises at the top, not many at the bottom. (Unless you really like Steve Phillips.)

Feedback? Write a comment, or e-mail the author at shawn(AT)squawkingbaseball.com

When will the free agent market finally rebound?

Feedback? Write a comment, or e-mail the author at shawn(AT)squawkingbaseball.com

Pittsburgh Florist