STL sports chat with Jeff Gordon

STL sports chat with Jeff Gordon

Bring your Blues, Cardinals and STL sports questions, and talk to columnist Jeff Gordon in a live chat beginning at 1 p.m. Friday.

    Bobo's here, looks like we have some ballplayers.
    With racial injustice at the forefront of American sports, I want to ask you about a notorious episode in St. Louis sports history. Bill Russell was traded to the Celtics, supposedly because because ownership thought St. Louis wouldn't support a black player. I know you weren't a journalist back then, but what do you think of this story? Also do you think the NBA would still be in St. Louis if Russell stayed?
    On its face, the trade wasn't as ridiculous as history made it. The Hawks got local hero Ed Macauley plus Cliff Hagan. Both had Hall of Fame careers. If you own a team in St. Louis, trading for Easy Ed must have seemed like a great idea. As for the racial aspect of that trade or the team's ultimate move to Atlanta, I don't know -- but I bet it's an over-simplification of things. The same goes for the theory that the NBA would never make it in St. Louis becaus the Hawks left in the mid-60s.
    The NBA went through a long dry period until Larry Bird and Magic Johnson revitalized it. I doubt the Hawks would have survived that period here. I covered the Kansas City Kings in the early 80s. They played some games over here and eventually moved out West. In the late 70s and early 80s teams in mid-markets were drawing 7,000 and 8,000 fans a lot of nights. There was a lot of financial instability. So keeping Russell may not have saved the Hawks, 
    What's up with the Cardinals' draft strategy? So many picks so early ... so let's go after high school kids who won't be ready for at least four years?
    The Cardinals went for high-ceiling players, guys who have a chance to be special. For that they got high marks from the independent analysts. This organization has produced wave after wave of pretty good players while sustaining impressive depth, but it has not produced many exceptional talents. With a lot of picks, the Cardinals aimed high with the high school kid before making some more conventional picks.
    What will be the next NFL franchise to relocate?
    The one team obviously unhappy is the Chargers. They will be an unhappy second tenant to the Rams. They need a billionaire to step in, finally get a stadium rolling in San Diego and move the team back home.
    Pros and cons: What is your assessment of Harrison Bader? Is this a make-or-break season for him?
  • As a starter, this could be make-or-break for Bader. He failed to hold the job through last season. If he can't progress at the plate -- look, a slider away! -- he could become the Next Peter Bourjos. He could play a lot of years as an extra outfielder and late-inning fly chaser.
    What's your take on DeWitt's comment that owning a baseball franchise isn't profitable? I'm thinking about the TV money they receive and I'm looking at the BPV construction and I'm thinking it must be profitable in some ways.
  • Baseball generates a ton of money. Revenue have soared the last 20 years. Nobody denies that. Mr. Bill's argument is that the team takes much of its positive cash flow and reinvests it in the stadium, team operations and related businesses. While the franchise's value has increased ten-fold on his watch, DeWitt can only monetize that by borrowing against the incrased equity or by selling the franchise for a huge profit.
    Many other owners have also expanded the business scope of their ballclub, so the baseball business has become far more complicated. Identifying "baseball-related income" isn't easy. The owners' definition would vary dramatically from the players' definition and that is one huge reason why the two sides have so much trouble in negotiations.
    Hochman wants to name the MLS team the "Confluence" and use the colors of the STL flag. What say you, Gordo: Name of the team and colors? PLease play along -- there still are no games in any sports to talk about.
    As chat veterans know, I'm not one of those folks who spend much time pondering team names and colors. Confluence? I do like that name suggestion. It seems to fit the soccer fan vibe. As for colors, I'm an old fart so I'm not into gaudy. I was emotionally scarred by those Jack In The Box crew uniforms the Blues wore for a while. Were you supposed to cheer those guys against the Blackhawks or order a late-night cheeseburger from them? Having spent parts of five years working in a Burger King, I winced at the fast-foot color scheme. No wonder Wayne Gretzky left.
    Everybody likes to talk about how the Blues' window-for-winning is wide open the next couple years. My question: Does the window close a little bit if Pietrangelo walks, or do we say it's still a loaded team?
    by The Real John Brown edited by Mike Smith 6/12/2020 5:52:59 PM
  • The window would remain open. Colton Parayko is becoming an elite shut-down defender and he hasn't fulfilled his offensive potential yet. Marco Scandella replaced Jay Bouwmeester seamlessly. Justin Faulk and Vince Dunn would get lots of power-play time if Pietrangelo leaves. Niko Mikkola and Scott Perunovich are very good prospects.
    I'd prefer the Chargers move to a new home on the St. Louis Riverfront but that's just me.
    Find a billionaire to bankroll it.
    Jeff, how disingenuous was Bill DeWitt Jr when claiming that baseball isn’t very profitable when the value of his franchise has increased from $150 mil to $2.2 bil? No wonder the players don’t trust these ultra rich and arrogant owners.
    Like I said, you can only monetize franchise appreciation by borrowing against it or by selling it. Forbes estimated the team's operating income last season at $72 million on $383 million in total revenue. That's pretty good. I once termed the team "wildly profitable" and DeWitt disagreed.
    Yes, some of that cash flow goes to pay down debt and some goes into reinvestment. But did many people buy his "not very profitable" agrument? Not really, althought I'm sure there are many industries where you could get an even higher rate of return if you had that sort of capital to invest.
    Max Kellerman on ESPN said Hockey is not a major sport. Frankly, I agree with him. It is certainly less popular than the NFL, NBA, MLB, and college football. And I'd argue it's less popular than college basketball, mixed martial arts, boxing, and golf. But his comments upset many hockey fans, especially in this city that has a hockey team but no basketball team.
    You are entitled to your opinion. But the income generated by NHL teams and the soaring franchise valuations tell the story. Saying the NHL is not a major sport is a hot take from like 1991.
    Early in this epidemic, I wrote in and said this was all going too far and you were actually somewhat sympathetic as opposed to your colleagues who toed the company line : close everything! Forever!. How do you feel now given the effect on Sports and society?
  • We're at 112,000 deaths and counting despite the total shutdown. The virus is not yet contained. Without a shutdown that number might have reached seven digits by now and crushed our hospital system. As is it, doctors, nurses and EMTs died on the front lines while fighting this thing. That said, the next time a pandemic hits the country must be better prepared to react quickly and in a more surgical fashion to limit the economic damage.
    The current reopening is full of trial and error. Sports will have to deal with that. In a way, athletes are like lab rats These leagues all want to relaunch, but can they pull it off and will they stay open?
    Lots of unanswered questions still. If they second wave hits in the fall or early winter. we'll see more shutdowns. MLB, the NHL and the NBA have already planned for that. I hate to think what the will do the nation's psyche.
    A year ago tonight the Blues won the Cup. I hate to admit this now, but after Game 6 I thought the series was over. I almost forgot there was a Game 7 to be played. I woke up that morning and just barely realized Game 7 was that night. I decided to watch like a captain going down with the ship. Thankfully, the Blues weren't thinking like that. Do you remember your mindset right at puck drop? Were you more of a reporter or more of a fan, and did you have any feeling one way or another how it would go?
    I thought the Blues had a great chance because they had bounced back and again and again in the playoffs. And they were a better road team. Road hockey fit their personality. Get the puck in, get some hits, quiet the crowd. Faced with a Game 7 in a hostile setting, the Blues had no trouble getting into desperation mode. In Game 6 they couldn't help but think about the potential home-ice celebration . . . and they got clobbered. In Game 7 they got back into warrior mode.
    But here's what I didn't know, but I found out. Jordan Binnington has ultra-elite mental toughness and focus. The Blues employed many a goaltender who would have been useless in that Game 7. Binnington responded with the night of his life. He had rebounded from bad games before, but that was ridiculous. 
    With baseball all but doomed for this year, who breaks out of the gate first, the NBA or NHL?
    MLB will play this season, public health permitting. starting in July. If the owners have to impose the season on the players they will. Right now it looks like the NBA is targeting July 30 and the NHL is hoping for the first part of August to play.
    Hi Mr. Gordon,
    Thanks for chatting again this week.
    I think I read a few years ago the Cardinals were looking to own their minor league affiliates in order to control delivery of consistent messages and practices throughout the organization. Toward that end, I believe, they purchased the Memphis Redbirds. They no longer own Memphis, and I don't think they have bought any other affiliates since then either. Has there been a change in strategy?
    Not really. The Cardinals still own the Double-A team in Springfield. Selling Memphis made sense because a good ownership plan emerged. Obviously the Cardinals can't have their top affiliate struggling with ownership issues.
    Google’s inflation calculator says the $150 million DeWitt paid for the Cards in 1995 would be worth about $258 million in today’s dollars. Forbes says the Cards are now worth $2.1 billion. I resent both sides in this dispute but this recent deception that baseball ownership is not profitable must assume all fans are idiots.
  • DeWitt never said franchises don't appreciate in value. They do, especially after heavy reinvestment --  as in the case of the Cardinals. His argument that the positive cash flow after debt payments and reinvestment isn't THAT great, particularly in comparisons to other industries.
    Re the DeWitt comments, why didn’t the PD editors ask for more coverage of it? There was one small article a day later that just repeated what DeWitt and Mo said. I would think that Cards fans who pay an average of $36 a ticket for a game, 10 dollars a beer and 9 for a hot dog would want more analysis from the paper on a comment like that. It just adds to the perception that the PD (not you) will not challenge the Cardinals on certain issues. There was more coverage of it in papers across the nation.
  • What DeWitt said wasn't a news flash. It was a comment pulled from the context of a radio interview and circulated as clickbait. That has been his position all along, for the reasons I've outlined here. As for covering the finances of the team, comparative MLB franchise valuations, MLB payroll comparisons, soaring team broadcast right fees, the evolution of Ballpark Village (which many fans insisted the Cardinals would never build) the Post-Dispatch has done plenty of that. And we will continue to do plenty of that.
    Mr. Gordon,

    I doubt anyone needs a reminder of the significance of today's date, but I just want to say happy anniversary to all the great Blues fans everywhere! Oh when the Cup, came to St. Lou, not to Boston but St. Lou!
    Let's Go Blues!!!!!
    The franchise exorcised its demons a year ago. No longer were the Blues cursed. That was an incredible moment. During the ensuing celebration the Blues and their fans emptied the bucket. There was no reason to hold back, so nobody did.
    Do you see any major leaguers in the Cards draft?
    Obviously they all have that potential. Independeting analysts like the group a lot, as my Tipsheet noted today. History tells you that of seven guys picked that high in a draft, maybe four or five reach the big leagues at some point, two or three have good careers and maybe one guy hits it big. In 2014, Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty and Austin Gomber made it out of the Top 6. In '15, the top seven produced Harrison Bader, Jordan Hicks, Paul DeJong and Ryan Helsely. Also there was Jake Woodford, who will pitch in the bigs if he stays healthy. So those are just two examples of things usually play.
    This MLB/MLBPA negotiation has been like watching paint dry. I see where they are getting close to common ground, but why does it take so long? Can’t they just get in a room, put on some coffee, and come to an agreement?
    There just isn't much trust between the sides. I've done a lot of bargaining myself in the newspaper business and at some point you usually develop a working relationship with the other side. It's fair to say the owners and players aren't there yet.
    As someone who worships sports, I feel like sports leagues and sports media are overrating how important they are. Sports pundits acting like "America needs baseball" are ridiculous.
  • In times like these, we all step back and ponder what realy matters. Dealing with a pandemic and wholesale social unrest simultaneously has put the society in a place where it hasn't been since the 1960s.
    Back then in Detroit, we read a lot about the Tigers bringing the city together in '68 after the riots of '67. Come on. That World Series offered a welcome diversion during tumultuous times, but it didn't solve deep-rooted problems. It helped the city hit the pause button for a while, but that's about it.
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