Athletics

MLB revenue sharing a problem for A's, Raiders

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MLB revenue sharing a problem for A's, Raiders

Editor's note: The above video is from Feb. 11, 2016.

The stadium staredown between the O.Co Coliseum co-tenant Raiders and A’s is being fueled by Major League Baseball’s revenue sharing program.

MLB teams participate in revenue sharing, a system that redistributes income from the richest franchises to their less profitable partners in an attempt to improve competitive balance. Under the 2012–2016 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), each team contributes 34 percent of its net local revenue into a pool that gets divided equally among every team. Higher-earning clubs put in more than they get back while lower-earning clubs receive more than they put in.

A’s ownership has been uncharacteristically quiet on the Raiders' relocation merry-go-round and their specific plans to build a new stadium on Coliseum property. No matter how hard Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf pushes to gain some traction for an A’s Howard Terminal ballpark, the A’s will bide their time since they have a guaranteed yearly profit whether they win the World Series or finish in last place. Every day that John Fisher wakes up as the majority owner, he is richer than the day prior.

The estimated revenue sharing check that the A’s deposited from their brethren in MLB was somewhere around $34 million last season. Since 2012, according to published reports, the A’s have received $114 million to support a club that was 28th in payroll spending.

Over the past four years the Marlins, Rays, Royals, Padres and A’s among other teams received a combined $642 million dollars. The franchises that keep on giving to them are the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants. The mountain of cash deposited since 2012 is a staggering $1.15 billion.

Revenue sharing was a divisive issue before and during the 1994-95 negotiations that led to a 7 1/2-month strike. Some teams that pay revenue sharing money have expressed anger at receiving clubs they think are not maximizing their local revenue. After a series of eight work stoppages from 1972 to 1995, baseball has had two decades of labor peace -- the longest current stretch among the major US professional leagues.

“I think that every one of the 30 team owners recognize that revenue sharing is part of the legacy of Bud Selig,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “It’s helped produce tremendous competitive balance in our sport, and I think as of a result of those two realizations, it’s less controversial among the clubs than it probably was 20 years ago.”

MLB's revenue river flows to its teams through the following major business pipelines...

MULTIMEDIA RIGHTS
Major League Baseball agreed to an eight-year contract with ESPN in 2012. Its TV deal with Fox runs from 2014 through 2021. Baseball also generates additional revenue with Turner Sports, ESPN and MLB Network. The Fox and Turner deals add up to $6.8 billion.

Teams with their own regional sports networks generate large piles of cash that also go into the revenue sharing pot.

TICKETS
A major source of team revenue comes from LPCs (Little Pieces of Cardboard) aka tickets accounting for a third of MLB revenue. The average baseball ticket cost about $29 in 2015, but fans can pay as much as $97 for the league-wide average premium ticket, according to the 2015 Team Marketing Report.

CONCESSIONS
Butts in seats mean dollars in the bank when fans shell out for food and drinks during the game. Concessions can bring in millions of dollars annually for popular teams. They brought in $53 million for the Yankees in 2013. Forbes calculates that parking and concessions contributed 7 percent of MLB revenues in 2014.

LICENSING & SPONSORSHIPS
While MLB doesn’t publicize merchandise sales figures, MarketWatch reports record sales of licensed MLB merchandise in recent years. Pay attention to how much Giants gear you see next time you are walking around. Major League Baseball has dozens of big-name sponsors: Bank of America, MasterCard, PepsiCo and Ford among them. Sponsorships contributed close to $700 million to MLB in 2014.

THE BOTTOM LINE
Until Major League Baseball changes its revenue sharing parameters, fans of the Raiders and A’s will be pawns in a game of monetary musical chairs.

Round and round you go. When the music stops where will the teams go?

A's Khris Davis explains how he fools fans with fake Foot Locker career

A's Khris Davis explains how he fools fans with fake Foot Locker career

Khris Davis agreed to a two-year, $33.5 million extension with the A's on Thursday, an experience very few of us can relate to.

However, Davis is a very relatable guy, at least when it comes to his desire -- or lack thereof -- to discuss his work outside of it.

It turns out that Davis isn't the least bit alone among MLB players when it comes to disguising their true profession. As ESPN's Eddie Matz wrote Thursday, pro baseball players tend to get creative when coming up with fake careers to tell inquiring fans, hotel concierges, and anyone else who might ask what they do for a living at an inopportune time.

Construction worker. Financial advisor. Blimp folder?

Like I said, creative.

Davis keeps his faux career a little more realistic, and one that he can speak on if need be.

"I tell them I work at Foot Locker," Davis informed. "I wouldn't pick a profession that I don't know anything about. I know a little something about shoes. Usually if I use that story, I'm on vacation or somewhere I don't want to be known. Nobody really cares about a shoe salesman, so the conversation doesn't last long."

[RELATED: Braden calls Khrush deal 'massive' for A's organization]

Considering the lucrative extension Davis signed, he should be able to afford plenty more vacations.

And more shoes.

How A's J.B. Wendelken overcame Tommy John surgery to become bullpen fixture

How A's J.B. Wendelken overcame Tommy John surgery to become bullpen fixture

OAKLAND – Back in 2016, J.B. Wendelken was just trying to establish himself as a consistent relief pitcher at any level of baseball. 

The Savannah, Georgia native made his MLB debut with the A's that May, but struggled in eight appearances out of the bullpen. He allowed 14 earned runs in just 12 1/3 innings.

Wendelken wasn't much better in Triple-A, registering a 4.11 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in 46 innings for the Nashville Sounds. As it turned out, there was a reason for his struggles: He needed Tommy John surgery.

"It was very tough to stay positive because I knew something wasn't right," Wendelken recently told NBC Sports California. "Every day you go out there, it was something else – some ache, some pain. You knew something wasn't right but I did my best at the time. ... Deciding to do surgery was actually the best decision of my life."

Wendelken missed the entire 2017 season as he recovered from the procedure. He admitted the rehab process was difficult, and often lonely, but he had help staying positive.

"Family. My lovely wife. Everybody kept me on track," Wendelken said. " ... I had some bumpy times coming down that rehab road, but overall, just overcoming that situation, it's eye-opening that you still have family there behind you no matter how low your lows are."

When Wendelken returned to the mound in 2018, he was a brand-new pitcher. The young right-hander was throwing his fastball with precision in the mid-to-high 90s, while also locating his curveball and changeup with pinpoint accuracy. 

"It was life-changing after surgery," he said. "I felt stronger and my confidence was up. ... It was a change for me with the feeling of how healthy I really was and that I could pitch here."

Even Wendelken couldn't have imagined how well he would pitch for the A's last season. In 16 2/3 innings, he allowed just one run, translating to a 0.54 ERA. He notched 14 strikeouts against five walks, and quickly became a trusted member of Oakland's bullpen.

"He was on the playoff roster for a reason," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "It all came together for him after his surgery to where the (velocity) was back and the command was back. His mechanics are as good as they've ever been."

"I definitely outdid my own expectations," Wendelken added. "My goal coming into last year was just to play for myself, try to enjoy the game again, and get back into it. I think I did that well with how I carried myself and went about my business."

[RELATED: Braden calls Krush extension 'massive' for A's]

This season, Wendelken has picked up right where he left off, striking out 14 batters in 12 1/3 innings while walking just two. His 3.65 ERA is a little deceiving based on a stellar 0.81 WHIP and 2.65 FIP, which actually is better than last year.

"We expected him to be in this type of role based on what we saw last year," Melvin said. "A lot of guys have compared him to Lou Trivino's ascent. He's got a little bit to do before he gets to that level, but he's pitched himself into a role now where we're using him typically in plus games and, a lot of times, more than one inning."

Now 26 years old, Wendelken's patience and determination have paid off. He is firmly entrenched in the A's bullpen as one of the team's most reliable arms.

And he’s only just getting started.