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Thread: Enquirer: Cardinal Rules

  1. #1
    Be the ball Roy Tucker's Avatar
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    Enquirer: Cardinal Rules

    I didn't see this posted anywhere else.

    From yesterday's Enquirer. Nothing earthshaking but some interesting parallels.

    http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.d...150400/-1/BACK

    Sunday, January 15, 2006
    Cardinal Rules
    While Reds' fortunes slid, new owners found success in similar baseball market

    By Cliff Peale
    Enquirer staff writer

    New owners mean a new era for Ken Griffey Jr. and the Reds.

    CARDINALS V. REDS
    Since 1996, when the Cincinnati group led by Bill DeWitt bought the Cardinals:

    General managers: 1
    Managers: 1
    Payroll in 2005: $92.1 M
    Attendance in 2005: 3.5 M

    Meanwhile, here in Cincinnati, the Reds took a very different path:

    General managers: 2
    Managers: 5
    Payroll in 2005: $61.9 M
    Attendance in 2005: 1.9 M

    Bill DeWitt remembers 1997, when his St. Louis Cardinals went into the baseball season gearing up for a run at the National League pennant.

    The Cardinals knew there might be some impact players available at mid-season that would help. So the club decided to risk losing some money on the season in exchange for an established star.

    They traded for slugging first baseman Mark McGwire, forking over $2 million for the last two months of the season. McGwire hit 24 home runs the remainder of the season, including 15 in September alone.

    "We felt it was an investment in the franchise, and it would enhance not only 1997 but also future years," says DeWitt, a Cincinnatian who is the Cardinals' chairman and principal owner.

    McGwire signed a four-year deal in St. Louis and became one of baseball's storied home-run hitters. And with six playoff teams during the past decade and a payroll of $92.1 million last season, the Cardinals have become one of the game's model franchises by spending wisely and establishing the winning atmosphere that draws both players and fans.

    The new owners of the Cincinnati Reds - Bob Castellini, Tom Williams and Joe Williams - know the story well because they were minority owners of the St. Louis club with DeWitt. Thursday, Major League Baseball is expected to approve the group's purchase of a controlling interest in the Reds, with Castellini taking over as chief executive officer from Carl Lindner.

    While the new owners won't comment in deference to MLB rules, it's clear they will lean heavily on their 10 years with the Cardinals in running the Reds.

    The "homecoming" of the Castellini group should be good news for Reds fans frustrated by the team's five straight losing seasons. The Cardinals' owners have demonstrated their willingness to invest in the best players and build on those investments as their revenue increases. And the new Reds owners clearly are more comfortable with the ways of modern professional sports than Lindner, who seemed to struggle with the financial realities of baseball and the fickle affections of sports fans.

    With pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in less than a month, fans are optimistic.

    "Year after year, the Cardinals are competitive," says Rob Matteucci, a retired Procter & Gamble Co. executive who grew up in Greenhills rooting for the Reds. "They seem to develop players, and they seem to have a strong commitment to winning.

    "I think the move I want to see from the Reds is that commitment to winning," he says, "and then the plan that's going to achieve it over the next two or three years."

    While the Castellini group hasn't officially taken control, there is some evidence the Reds already are putting lessons from the Cardinals to good use. The Reds offered a multiyear contract to free-agent starting pitcher Matt Morris in December, though he eventually signed with the San Francisco Giants.

    DeWitt resists talk of a "St. Louis model," noting the Cardinals have been lucky and that they can't support the kind of payroll that is paid to players by the Boston Red Sox ($123 million) or New York Yankees ($208 million).

    But the plan his group implemented after buying the Cardinals from Anheuser-Busch in early 1996 has included several strategies, including:

    Continuity: The Cardinals have kept team president Mark Lamping, general manager Walt Jocketty and manager Tony LaRussa in place for a decade. In that same period, the Reds have had five managers.

    Investment: As attendance increased, the club gradually put the bulk of those funds into player payroll.

    High standards: From minor-league stadiums to radio deals, the Cardinals are determined to be viewed as the best in baseball, DeWitt says.

    "We've always taken the position that we're going to do the right thing in our view and not make changes just to make changes," he says.

    Smith College baseball economist Andrew Zimbalist says the Cardinals' ownership has been smart and lucky.

    "They've just ignited the fan interest in St. Louis, and management has been smart enough to maintain that," Zimbalist says.

    Familiar franchises

    There is plenty to bind the Reds and Cardinals. The St. Louis metropolitan area includes about 2.6 million people, about one-third more than Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

    Both markets hold great baseball traditions, with Cardinals heroes ranging from Stan Musial to Lou Brock to the current-day Albert Pujols, while Reds icons include Ted Kluszewski, Pete Rose and now Ken Griffey Jr.

    St. Louis will open the new Busch Stadium this spring, while Cincinnati opened Great American Ball Park in 2003. Both have traditionally been regional franchises, drawing fans from well outside their immediate areas.

    In the early 1990s, those similarities extended to the team's financial condition. In 1995, the year after a crippling players' strike that cancelled the 1994 World Series and delayed Opening Day the next spring, the Reds attracted nearly 80,000 more fans than the Cardinals. The Reds' $37.2 million payroll that year was $6.2 million more than St. Louis' payroll.

    From there, the clubs have taken divergent paths.

    The Cardinals drew 2.65 million fans in 1996. Attendance keeps rising, hitting 3.5 million last season. The team's payroll has kept pace, jumping to $52.6 million in 1998, the year after acquiring McGwire, and steadily increasing after that. Last year, the Cardinals posted the sixth-highest payroll in baseball at $92.1 million.

    The Reds have gone the opposite direction. The team's payroll has been mostly less than $50 million, although the Lindner-led ownership spent $17 million more last season to push the payroll to $61.9 million. Attendance spiked at 2.57 million in 2000, the year after the team almost won its division and then traded for Griffey. But it fell back after that, settling at 1.9 million last year.

    DeWitt points to that acquisition of Griffey, and the injuries that have ruined nearly every season for him since then, as a critical point for the Reds.

    "When Griffey came to Cincinnati, I thought it would be like the McGwire phenomenon in St. Louis," he says. "And it was initially. He just got hurt."

    Of course, the ultimate divergence between the two franchises has been their performance on the field. The Cardinals lost in the World Series in 2004 and posted baseball's best record in 2005 with 100 victories. With stars including Pujols and Scott Rolen signed to long-term contracts, the outlook is bright.

    The Reds have posted five straight losing seasons since the magical 1999 ride that nearly got them to the National League playoffs. They have not been able to develop the kind of pitching that would allow them to compete with higher-spending clubs.

    That has sparked some fans to unfavorably compare Reds CEO Carl Lindner with DeWitt, the implication being that the Cardinals care about winning and the Reds don't. DeWitt, whose father owned the Reds from 1962-67, disagrees. He also points out that the Cardinals generally plan break-even budgets before the season starts. That practice has earned Lindner criticism here.

    "There's nobody who doesn't want to win or isn't trying to win," he says. "Carl Lindner certainly wanted to win and spent money last year trying to do so."

    Lindner wouldn't comment.

    Even before Lindner took control of the Reds in 1999, the franchise was not able to establish a real identity. Former Reds owner Marge Schott's suspensions from Major League Baseball left Reds officials hamstrung in their ability to set a real strategy for the club.

    DeWitt is hopeful about the Reds' future under Castellini's stewardship.

    "I think they have some great ideas, and they're going to make changes, which is good," he adds. "I think the fans should be optimistic about the kind of results they'll see."

    Change and continuity

    When DeWitt's group bought the Cardinals before the 1996 season, Anheuser Busch had recently hired Jocketty as general manager and LaRussa as the field manager. Jocketty and team president Lamping both report to DeWitt.

    The Cardinals owners - who include Cincinnatians Mercer Reynolds and Dudley Taft as well as Castellini and the Williams brothers - did not rip up the entire operation. Instead, the first changes came when the Cardinals moved their spring-training home to Jupiter, Fla., bought a Class A franchise, and moved it to Jupiter and Palm Beach County's new stadium there.

    DeWitt says those moves established a winter home for the franchise and started to build the kind of winning atmosphere that players notice.

    The club also moved aggressively to push for a new ballpark in St. Louis, which is almost completely privately financed, DeWitt says. The Cardinals also are co-developers for a six-square-block mixed-use project in downtown St. Louis called Ballpark Village.

    And in a deal announced last year, the team is switching the team's radio home away from KMOX, which held the rights for 50 years. It switched to KTRS-AM and bought half the station. That will allow constant cross-promotions.

    "We control our destiny because we will own 50 percent of the station," DeWitt says. "We can do more Cardinal-oriented product."

    But the most successful part of the strategy has played out on the field. The owners have tried to give the team a chance to win every year, enticing premiere players to take less than full market value to stay there. That worked with McGwire, who retired after the 2001 season, and has worked since then with both third baseman Scott Rolen and Pujols.

    "We've had a good run, no question," DeWitt says. "We've been fortunate too. It's hard to be a winning team."

    E-mail cpeale@enquirer.com

    Pay attention to the open sky

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  3. #2
    Ripsnort wheels's Avatar
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    Re: Enquirer: Cardinal Rules

    It seems like Mr Peale is stumping for the new owners to keep the current "braintrust".

    I guess continuity and shiny new spring training facilities win championships.

    And to think I always believed it had more to do with good players.
    "We know we're better than this, but we can't prove it." - Tony Gwynn

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Enquirer: Cardinal Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by wheels
    And to think I always believed it had more to do with good players.
    Someone has to pick the "good" players though.

    On that note the owners would do well to heed Bob Howsam's words from 39 years ago.

    “I always said if I was ever to go run another organization, I would fire everyone no matter what, and then hire everybody back that I wanted. So they understand that they are there because of me. Otherwise your loyalties are not very good. Fellows, thinking, ”Well he didn’t bring me in.”

    Bob Howsam

  5. #4
    The Lineups stink. KronoRed's Avatar
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    Re: Enquirer: Cardinal Rules

    Continuity only works when you have won in the recent past.

    If I recall correctly, the bengals always talked continuity when they waited to fire all the bad coaches.
    Go Gators!

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    Ripsnort wheels's Avatar
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    Re: Enquirer: Cardinal Rules

    Oh I agree, WoY.

    The fact that Peale kept bringing up continuity in that article leads me to believe that he doesn't believe in Mr. Howsam's methodology.

    Either that, or someone in the new ownership group told him that everyone will keep their jobs.
    "We know we're better than this, but we can't prove it." - Tony Gwynn

  7. #6
    The Lineups stink. KronoRed's Avatar
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    Re: Enquirer: Cardinal Rules

    I also don't care much for his mentioning the Cardinals attendance so much, the Reds will NEVER draw what they draw.
    Go Gators!

  8. #7
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Enquirer: Cardinal Rules

    the Reds will NEVER draw what they draw.
    Horseapples.

    Reds win like they did in the 70's and they'll top 3 million without breaking a sweat. Any team that draws 2,629,708 30 years ago can do that and more today.

    If they do it right.

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    Member Jpup's Avatar
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    Re: Enquirer: Cardinal Rules

    Mr. Peale is a little confused into thinking that a high payroll equals a winning team. Mr Peale, that is not how it works.
    "My mission is to be the ray of hope, the guy who stands out there on that beautiful field and owns up to his mistakes and lets people know it's never completely hopeless, no matter how bad it seems at the time. I have a platform and a message, and now I go to bed at night, sober and happy, praying I can be a good messenger." -Josh Hamilton

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    Bunn-O-matic max venable's Avatar
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    Re: Enquirer: Cardinal Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou
    Horseapples.

    Reds win like they did in the 70's and they'll top 3 million without breaking a sweat. Any team that draws 2,629,708 30 years ago can do that and more today.

    If they do it right.
    Oh my goodness, totally agree. Redsnation is dying for a winning team. If they get one, they'll support it--BIG TIME! Just look at the Bengals! I still contend that Cincinnati is a Reds town. Put a winner on the field and just watch what happens! Redsnation will come in droves and even overpay, if they must, for a winner!

    The 70's spoiled us. We came to expect excellence. And then the FO blames the fans for not supporting the team enough...holy smokes...give us a reason to! Which comes first, the chicken or the egg. It's not our responsibility as fans to support a poor product so that the FO can improve it...improve it and then we'll support it fully. We're ready to...we're dying to.

    We love the Reds. We want to see a winner. If you build it (a winning team, that is), we will come!

  11. #10
    The Lineups stink. KronoRed's Avatar
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    Re: Enquirer: Cardinal Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou
    Horseapples.

    Reds win like they did in the 70's and they'll top 3 million without breaking a sweat. Any team that draws 2,629,708 30 years ago can do that and more today.

    If they do it right.
    Maybe so but I don't think the Reds will ever be in the same bracket consistency or payroll wise as the Cards.
    Go Gators!

  12. #11
    Member Cedric's Avatar
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    Re: Enquirer: Cardinal Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by KronoRed
    Maybe so but I don't think the Reds will ever be in the same bracket consistency or payroll wise as the Cards.
    Care to say why on either of your last two posts? History doesn't agree with you.
    This is the time. The real Reds organization is back.

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    Re: Enquirer: Cardinal Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou
    Horseapples.

    Reds win like they did in the 70's and they'll top 3 million without breaking a sweat. Any team that draws 2,629,708 30 years ago can do that and more today.

    If they do it right.
    I agree. Remember what the Reds were drawing at the end of 1999 when they were consistently playing good ball? Cincinnati, IMO, is one of the more fair weathered cities in America. People will come out in droves when a winner is on the field but go into a tailspin like the Reds have and people immediately find other things to do with their time. Take for example my friends. I never had a problem getting some friends to go down to the stadium a few years ago when the Reds were at least semi-competitive. Now, I ask friends and they laugh at me saying it isn't worth it to waste their money to watch that team.

    I've even noticed a decrease in the amounts of games I've gone too. Like last year I took the money I usually used for Reds games and went to a few more concerts, a few Indians games, a Pittsburgh Pirates game, and a few more Dragons games (closer). It's not worth it to me to go and waste money when I know the knuckle heads in the front office aren't doing what needs to be done to win. I can watch a loss on TV just as well as in person and it doesn't even cost me then.

  14. #13
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Enquirer: Cardinal Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Caseyfan21
    Cincinnati, IMO, is one of the more fair weathered cities in America. People will come out in droves when a winner is on the field but go into a tailspin like the Reds have and people immediately find other things to do with their time.
    Your dead on, with that opinion.

    http://www.redszone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=36060

  15. #14
    The Lineups stink. KronoRed's Avatar
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    Re: Enquirer: Cardinal Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by Cedric
    Care to say why on either of your last two posts? History doesn't agree with you.
    I think it would take more then a winner, I think it would take reaching the world series 3-5 years in a row, a dynasty, because seems to me people around here always compare EVERYTHING the Reds do to the Big Red Machine, it would take a topping of that to reach card like levels around here.

    I don't see how in the current MLB climate that will ever be possible for the Reds, teams like them have to take a shot, then rebuild over a few years then repeat.

    Also, they cards seem to market themselves a heck of a lot better then the Reds.

    IMO

    Last edited by KronoRed; 01-17-2006 at 03:31 AM.
    Go Gators!

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    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: Enquirer: Cardinal Rules

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou
    Horseapples.

    Reds win like they did in the 70's and they'll top 3 million without breaking a sweat. Any team that draws 2,629,708 30 years ago can do that and more today.

    If they do it right.
    I thought for sure they would draw 3M the first season in GAB. Unfortunately it didn't happen. If it didn't happen then I don't think it will ever happen. They will have to average a shade over 37K for each game. There are 42,263 seats in GAB. They won't be able to make up for the weekday crowds of 15-17K on the weekends or during a big series by putting 50K people in the stadium. Everything is going to have to go right. They will have to have a team who went deep into the playoffs or won it all the year before and get off to a good start. The players who are big draws will have to stay healthy. They will have to keep playing well after school gets out. The weather will have to cooperate. One rainout could make them miss the 3M mark. They will have to keep the fans' interest during July and August when Bengals training camp begins. It's not impossible but I believe it's very improbable.
    The Rally Onion wants 150 fans before Opening Day.

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