I get what you're saying, I do. So please hang with me here. And what I'm about to explain is not going to be very popular, and I get that. It doesn't make it any less true. You have to consider the margins that teams operate with. I'll give you a newspaper example: If a newspaper operates with a 30 percent margin, and there is a downturn in the marketplace, an absolute crater of the economy so that the newspaper now produces a 5-percent revenue margin, does that newspaper then go, ok, cool, yes, we're solid, still making a profit -- it's 25 percent less, but it's still a profit. Or, does that newspaper slash jobs, reduce the size of its newsroom, and find other cost-cutting measures to take, to inch that margin up to 12 percent, because 30 ain't happening?
You know the answer.
If there is anything, anything at all that you as a fan can take away from this year it's this: Teams are operating on a smaller margin than is clear because they're private companies, and for many teams, their revenue is intimately tied to ticket sales. This has been a lesson for me, too. I have come to learn more about how narrow that line is, especially as I wondered about the situation up there at Wrigley Field. That Cardinals are one of those teams that set their business model on ticket sales because they have a profoundly devoted fan base that buys a lot of tickets and pushes a lot of revenue into their coffers. They bank on you and your fondness for this team.
They sold zero tickets.
There are two tent-poles to the Cardinals' payroll and that's ticket sales and the broadcast rights deal. One of those tent poles collapsed in 2020 to near zero, and the other was reduced because the games/content was reduced. The profits from recent years -- while high -- are like Band-Aids to cover a sinkhole of a season. Those profits are how the Cardinals -- and other teams -- paid minor leaguers this season, kept scouts employed, expanded analytics dept, and paid minor-league coaches, when income was zero.
Now, if you want to talk about franchise value, fine. But that really comes into play when a team is sold. The Cardinals are worth billions, but that's not cash on hand, unless they sell. All teams make a lot of money. Going into last offseason, I stressed that all teams have money to spend -- they choose not to do so.
Please, trust me when I saw that's different this winter. And the reliance on ticket sales and how teams make money and make profit is something we've all learned a lot about this season.
That includes the players' union. Should make for a fun CBA negotiation.