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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, June 24, 2024

Jeremy Greenhouse | Follow the Money

For fans, a championship brings brief euphoria followed by lasting peace of mind. Maybe even some pocket change if you had bet on the Rays to win the Series in April at 150:1 odds.

For the players, I don't think anything in the world could be worth more than knowing that they're the best in the world at what they do. Well, except for really, really large sums of money.

Back in the day, the Chicago Black Sox outlined exactly how much a World Series championship was worth for players. Shoeless Joe and company were promised over $10,000 apiece to throw the series, more than most of them earned in a single year.

Now, postseason shares for pennant winners are worth vastly more -- hundreds of thousands of dollars more. That may not seem like much for these multi-millionaires, but last year, $308,000 shares plus $40,000 rings nearly doubled the earnings of pre-arbitration stars like Jonathon Papelbon and Dustin Pedroia. World Series winners pocketed 75 grand each more than the losers.

Having a brilliant World Series is especially important for impending free agents like Pat Burrell. Manny Ramirez certainly earned himself millions more after his postseason performance, but adding a ring to your resume gets you a fresh gleam going into negotiations. Sox fans chanted to "re-sign Lowell" following last year's World Series. Boston's normally savvy front office might have been blinded by Lowell's success in the short playoffs, and now they are feeling the effects of a short-sighted move.

For off-the-field members of the team, winning the World Series essentially guarantees job security. Rings are one of the few negotiating chips managers hold when they seek new contracts. Joe Torre can't manage a bullpen and doesn't trust younger players, but for all of his flaws, all that mattered was his cornucopia of rings when he signed an otherworldly $13-million contract with the Dodgers.

Merely making the playoffs guarantees a jump in revenue from ticket sales by approximately $2 million the following year. Since 2001, ticket sales for the World Series winner have gone up by 16 percent on average, compared to relatively constant attendance figures for median teams. At the same time, World Series champions have been able to raise their ticket prices by a third more than the league average.

Defending champions have felt residual effects in attendance and revenue for about a five-year period. The 1997 Florida Marlins are a notable exception. After their title, owner Wayne Huizenga held a fire sale on players and then pawned the team off in its sixth year of existence for a $63.5 million profit. By Forbes' annual baseball franchise valuations, team value has increased by an average of 14 percent following a World Series appearance, or approximately $50 million. Any team that appears in the World Series sees an increase in revenue of over 5 percent the following year. This includes a bump in season tickets, ticket prices, merchandise sales, corporate sponsors and the value of assets in general, like regional sports networks.

For pennant winners, the playoff process is worth as much as the result. A team generates around $1.5 million worth of revenue for every playoff game it hosts, and Boston businesses last year made an estimated $3.6 million for every home game through hotels, airlines and restaurants. But the city doesn't profit from much of this private business, since it's forced to accommodate extra tourism with an increased workforce in police and transportation.

Another benefit of winning the World Series is being able to decrease payroll the following season. Cutting spending while increasing profits is a successful business model, I think. While many World Series winners have cut spending, the World Series losers since 2001 have increased payroll by an average of $14 million in an effort to get over the hump. Yet none of them have made repeat appearances in the Series.

As a sports columnist, I feel obliged to conclude with a couple clichéd metaphors. It appears that simply making it to the dance is enough for a successful night, but getting to pop the champagne makes the hangover effect that much sweeter.

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