Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

NY Mets: How They Really Lost (Out) To Yankees


Let's start by saying that, technically, the New York Mets didn't lose anything. That's because any financial loss assumes that they would have made the playoffs to begin with. While that's a good assumption, considering that they were up by seven games with 17 games to go, I'm just pointing out that any losses aren't coming directly out of owner Fred Wilpon's pocket.

The loss is in potential bucks and with the Mets and Yankees opening new stadiums in 2009, I'd argue that the Mets lost more potential dollars than they have in any other year of team history.

Assuming this team was going to make it to the World Series, we'll say the Mets lose seven home games, which typically bring in $1 million each in revenue--and that's not including concessions. Then we have to consider SportsNet New York, the network the Mets own. There's probably a couple million left on the table in advertising for next year.

But the biggest loss will be what the Mets will lose to the Yankees. You see, there's not a whole lot of Mets fans who are automatically going to become Yankees fans. But where the real dollars are--in the luxury suites--companies who can't buy both will take a box in the new Yankees Stadium over Citi Field. The bottom line is if you're using a suite to close a deal, going to a Yankees game is more impressive. And you'll be willing to pay more for the Yankees than you would for the Mets.

Mets Loss = Yankee Gain

If the Mets won the World Series this year or even got into the playoffs and the Yankees choked, that would have gone a long way to winning over corporate America and charging them more for seats.

The Mets got a head start in mocking up some of their luxury suites at the beginning of the season. But the Yankees are closing quickly. Last week, they announced they leased a 6,000 square foot space in Rockefeller Center to be used as a sales center for their suites.

Putting this all together, I'd say the Mets could have lost a potential $20 million from their fall this year. Much of that could be made up with an incredible 2008. But right now all the Mets can do is count all the money from the postseason ticket handling fees.

After I wrote that Roger Clemens, despite his 6-6 record, might have still be worth his pay I received plenty of reader reaction. The most complete note came from Neil Hendelman. Neil wrote:

#1 The Yankees had more than two options (pay Clemens the bounty or call up a rookie). The Yanks could have made a trade, which would have been far less costly or they could have converted a reliever into a starter.

#2 You may not be using the right metrics. Clemens had a great ERA, but only went 6-6 (and the Yanks went 8-10 in his starts). Maybe you should be looking at quality starts (Clemens was like 10 of 17, 59%, not so great at all).

#3 Maybe rookie Joe Yankee had a 5.15 ERA, but maybe he throws shutouts in the tight games and gives up tons of runs when the Yanks are lighting things up. This Joe Yankee is a gamer. Or maybe Joe Yankee had a 5.15 ERA with no deviation, then the Yanks go 4-14 in his games, but if he throws 14 gems with 4 disasters where he can't get out of the first inning, then the Yankees maybe go 14-5 in his starts even with his 5.15 ERA.

#4 There was no guarantee Clemens would get them into the playoffs. If he failed, the money would have been wasted. If he really failed, the Yanks would lose the money and go worse than 8-10 in his games.

David Berri, author of "The Wages of Wins" also disagreed with me on his blog:

Let’s say the playoffs are worth $30 million (I made up that number, by the way). Rovell is saying that without Clemens the Yankees miss the playoffs, therefore Clemens is worth all the revenue the Yankees make in the playoffs. But Clemens is not the only reason the Yankees make the playoffs. In fact, looking at this team, he is not even one of the top reasons this team makes the playoffs. To give Clemens full credit for doing something the team did seem incorrect. After all, without Alex Rodriguez this team probably can’t make the playoffs either. And what about Jorge Posada or Hideki Matsui or... you see the list goes on and on.

I would much prefer we look at how many wins Clemens produced (not his won-loss record), look at the revenue generated by each win, and then use this information to calculate his value. If this exceeds $20 million (and it won’t) maybe Clemens is worth it.

Questions?  Comments?