Money, Money, Money

by Thomas Fox

I tried. I really tried. I tried not to rant about the Houston Astros during Spring Training, because as they say ‘hope springs eternal’ as all teams are tied at this point in the season (0-0). So when the Astros announced they were considering moving their Triple-A affiliate from Oklahoma City to The Woodlands, a town in the incorporated limits of Houston, I did not write a post which complained that such a move would bring competition to an already existing Triple-A team in Houston, the aforementioned Houston Astros.

The Astros owner Jim Crane was interviewed by Brian Costa for a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article, entitled “Houston School of Economics”, which Costa ended with the following quotes from Crane, “I didn’t make $100 million by making a lot of dumb mistakes,” and “We’re not going to get everything right, but we’re going to get a lot right”; I did not write asking what part they were going to “get a lot right” about this year.

Crane had another interesting quote in the WSJ piece, “It doesn’t bother me that people want us to spend more money,” Crane said. “But it’s not their money. This is a private company, even though it’s got a public flair to it. If they want to write a check for 10 million bucks, they can give me a call.” How about that for dedication to your fan base, “a public flair to it”; I did not write an article asking that maybe the fact that the Astros play in a publicly funded stadium might have something to do with it.

But this week, Peter Gammons, one of the most respected baseball writers around tweeted his thoughts on the Astros; I could not take it anymore. Gammons tweeted the following three tweets:

Tweet 1: If I’m an ALE or ALC owner, Houston’s plan to have no payroll, lose, get the 1-2 pick 4 years in a row and still steal revenue-sharing $

Tweet 2: –may guarantee 3 teams in the AL West win 90 games and make the playoffs, and spit on the integrity of the sport. Fellow big market teams who

Tweet 3: have payrolls under $40M should 1.not get revenue-sharing and 2. be out of the protected pick business. Rewarding trying to lose is wrong.

Chip Bailey writing in the Blogsite Ultimate Astros, in a piece entitled “For $10 million, you can get your two cents in with Astros”, had the following observation, “that kind of comment will only stir the pot further with conspiracy theories about the possible back-room deal to lower the sale price and move the team to the American League. It will only confirm to some that Crane is in it for the money. And it will undoubtedly support the idea that Crane will continue to strip the organization, never spend money and be content with a Royals or Pirates approach. I can hear the comments before they’re written and almost predict the adjectives, adverbs and other unprintable words. The fact that the Astros will have a historically low payroll while doubling their TV revenues over 2013 will only stoke the volatile fires further.”

So I guess that with his $25MM payroll and his $80MM from the Astros television network contract, Brother Crane sure will not be losing any money. What about the fans? Well, we may see a team finally break the 1962 Mets record for ultimate futility by losing more that the Mets record of 120 losses in a season. Do not think that the Astros are penny pinching just on the team, as the service inside the stadium rivals that of their overall payroll. From the first game of the 2012 season when I bought two hot dogs and the hot dog buns had clearly been left over from the 2011 season; to the last game where the first two hamburgers my wife bought were inedible (she finally gave up and bought chicken tenders); the service at Minute Maid Park rivaled a team which had two consecutive 100 loss seasons.

What do we fans get out of this great deal? Apparently for $10MM we could get some input. Beyond that we do get to see the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and other winning teams that are willing to spend money. Of course with Albert Pujols playing for our new division rival, the Anaheim Angels, perhaps we can see him send some more towering home runs out of the park,. Finally, we will get to see the best AAA roster the Astros can muster. Of course one thing we will NOT see are ticket prices commensurate with the quality of the products on the field and in the stadium.

So the compliance angle here? I once worked for a company which was under a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) for its prior Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations. The DPA was quite robust and one of the things the company decided was that if a vendor or customer had engaged in conduct which violated the FCPA and had not remediated the situation; my company did not want to engage in business with them. My company only wanted to do business with other ethical companies. While most folks think that as long as the color of your money is green (or color appropriate for your jurisdiction) they will do business with you and your company. But not my employer; in other words, reputation can matter in the business world, around bribery and corruption.

So what does this mean for the reputation of the Astros? The Vegas betting line for the over/under in Astros losses this year is 115 and if I were a betting man, I would certainly take the over.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Thomas Fox, Compliance Evangelist | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Thomas Fox

Compliance Evangelist on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.