The LA Times reported this morning that nine MLB teams, including the Phillies, are in violation of MLB’s debt service rules.
While other teams on the list (Mets, Dodgers, Orioles, Rangers, Nationals, Marlins and Tigers) are not surprising, seeing the Cubs and Phillies on the list is quite a shocker. Perhaps even more shocking is the only team in the NL East not in debt is the Atlanta Braves, officially making the NL East the poorest division in baseball.
The debt service rules limit a team’s debt to 10 times its annual earnings, but the LA Times say commissioner Bud Selig has “wide latitude to enforce those rules.”
To think the Phillies have debt ten times more than their annual earning seems impossible. The Phillies sell out almost every game, and it’s almost impossible to walk into WaWa without seeing a Phillies shirt, which tells me they sell a lot of memorabilia too.
It is possible a lot of this debt may come from loans used to pay Cliff Lee’s contract, but I’m sure there are other reasons why the Phils are in so much debt. Someone has to pay for all of Raul Ibanez’s “bubble-gum.” It looks like Ruben Amaro Jr. wasn’t kidding when he said they couldn’t afford Jayson Werth.
Perhaps more disappointing than finding out your team was telling the truth about not being able to afford something, is finding out I can no longer write posts like this one. I really enjoyed making “Mets-Madolf ” jokes, but now I will be a hypocrite if I bring up the Mets’ financial struggles.
Now before all of you get upset about the Phillies being in debt up to their eyeballs, consider this quote from Rob Manfred, baseball’s executive vice president on labor relations:
“To take a snapshot of the number of non-compliant clubs at a point in time can be very misleading,” Manfred said. “With one or two exceptions, we see how teams are going to be compliant again in the short term, so we’re not worried about them.
“We are not concerned about the overall economic condition of the industry.”
Phew, I think we’re ok. Hopefully once this blows over I can go back to thinking the Phillies are cheap, penny-pinchers for not signing Werth, and more importantly I can go back to my all time favorite past time: making fun of the Mets.