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The 2013 Houston Astros are reportedly the most profitable team in baseball history

Jim-Crane-AstrosFor the third straight season, the Houston Astros are well on their way toward finishing with the worst record in Major League Baseball. They finished with a pathetic 56 wins in 2011 and took a tiny step back with 55 in 2012. The 2013 Astros would need to win 14 of their last 33 games to improve upon the previous two seasons. Don’t bank on that happening.

Yet, somehow, the 2013 Astros are the most profitable team in MLB history. According to Forbes, Houston is on pace to make an estimated $99 million in operating income this year. That number is roughly the same amount that the last six World Series champions made combined. That’s right, combined.

Naturally, most of it has to do with payroll. The Astros are paying out roughly $21 million in salary and bonuses this season. Starting pitcher Erik Bedard is the highest-paid player on the team in 2013 with a salary of $1.15 million. He is the only player who will make over $1 million. Last year, before Jim Crane purchased the team, the payroll was roughly $56 million higher.

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Brewers say Ryan Braun merchandise sales have increased since suspension

Ryan BraunMilwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun let down an entire fan base after admitting this week to using performance-enhancing drugs and accepting a suspension for the rest of the season. But despite losing an endorsement deal and $3.8 million in salary, Braun is still generating revenue through merchandise sales.

According to Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger, there has been an increase in the sales of Braun merchandise since the suspension was announced on Monday.

“We will continue to offer Ryan Braun’s merchandise for sale at our team stores at Miller Park,” Schlesinger told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Thursday. “Ryan is a Milwaukee Brewer. It is within each fan’s right to decide whether to purchase his merchandise or not. While it has only been a few days since the announcement of Ryan’s suspension, we actually have experienced an increase in sales of Ryan Braun merchandise. We are not speculating as to the reason for this increase, but it’s the reality.”

As of now, the Brewers are planning to hold onto Braun. He is under contract with the team through 2020, so pulling his merchandise from the shelves would make no sense. The team probably won’t be putting out any advertisements that encourage fans to snatch up No. 8 jerseys, but discontinuing them is not an option.

The increase in sales could be a coincidence, or it could be a similar situation to Aaron Hernandez jerseys selling for big bucks on eBay and other sites. Relax, I’m not comparing Braun to an alleged murderer — I’m simply saying there are some people who may wonder if Braun will ever play for the Brewers again and might consider his Milwaukee gear to be a collector’s item.

It’s also possible that fans are buying Braun shirts to do what this fan did with hers. One thing we do know is that sports fans forgive quickly. If Braun serves his suspension and comes back the same player (and drug-free), plenty of fans will be willing to embrace him again.

H/T Big League Stew

Jay-Z reportedly recruiting Jadeveon Clowney for Roc Nation Sports

Jadeveon-Clowney-Aaron-MurrayIt’s safe to assume that every young superstar athlete will at some point be recruited by Roc Nation Sports, if they haven’t already been contacted. The list has ranged from proven veterans like Robinson Cano to rookie sensations like Yasiel Puig, and a recent report says Jay-Z has turned his attention toward the best player in college football.

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is expected to go somewhere within the first few picks of the 2014 NFL Draft. He is likely going to make a lot of money both on the field and off of it, which is why Roc Nation would love to represent him.

The potential problem that could arise from this is that Jay-Z is not yet a certified NFL agent. He is not allowed to have direct contact with college players, let alone “regular contact.” Current NFL agents will surely be looking for ways to thwart Jay-Z’s alleged efforts, and this could be one of them.

Jay-Z recently stated that he is a problem for sports agents, and for the most part he’s right. He boasted about taking Cano from Scott Boras in a rap song and is clearly looking to build an empire filled with star athletes. So far, he has found substantial success.

H/T Pro Football Zone

Jay-Z: I’m a problem for sports agents

Jay-ZJay-Z entered the sports agency business recently and has already had a big impact on the industry. Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports partnered with Creative Arts Agency and already stole client Robinson Cano from Scott Boras, signed Kevin Durant, Skylar Diggins, and NFL players Victor Cruz and Geno Smith. Jay-Z even recently boasted about taking Cano from Boras in a rap song.

Hova’s presence in the sports agency business has caused some panic among agents, and the rap star/business mogul says that’s for good reason.

“So me coming, that’s a problem for [sports agents] because now they have to go to work,” Jay-Z told Power 105.1 during an interview this week. “Now they have to wake up. Now they have to do things. So they don’t want me to be around because now they have to do something for these athletes.

“And my whole thing is, for the most part, I’m going to do more for the athlete than they’re going to do for me, like, at the end of the day. But I do these because it’s an extension of the bigger goal. The bigger goal is for all artists to get their just due. Not to get half-assed agents or people who rob them, or people who don’t care about their finances. They don’t even care about them. That’s why those guys go broke in four years.”

Though Jay-Z talked about having a greater purpose for entering the sports agency business, he still recognizes that it is a business and he will be making money.

“Not that it’s all like this philanthropic thing. It’s a business as well. But, again, I’m going to contribute just as much or more to an athletes career than they can ever give me.”

Five clients in and business is just getting going for Jay-Z. He even became a certified NBA and MLB agent in June.

H/T Thunder Rumblings

Jay-Z reportedly wants to sign Yasiel Puig

Yasiel PuigJay-Z is building an empire with his new sports agency, and he is doing so by targeting some of the most marketable young superstars from across the country. Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig has been the most exciting player in baseball over the past month, so it only makes sense that Roc Nation Sports is supposedly wooing him.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported on Wednesday that Puig was invited to a party at a club Jay-Z owns last month after another Dodgers player gave Puig Jay-Z’s contact information. A source reportedly said that Puig left the meeting intrigued by the lifestyle and marketing plan Roc Nation Sports was offering. Puig is believed to be shopping around, but the possibility of him hiring Jay-Z’s crew remains.

[Related: Jay-Z takes shot at Scott Boras in new rap song]

Roc Nation Sports has moved quickly to sign some of the best athletes in the world, such as this New York Yankees slugger and this NFL wide receiver. People like Scott Boras and Drew Rosenhaus can pretend they don’t see Jay-Z’s new sports agency as a threat, but there’s no way they aren’t at least slightly concerned.

Passan also noted that Puig is not the only young Cuban MLB star Roc Nation Sports is interested in signing. Jay-Z also has his sights set on Oakland A’s star Yoenis Cespedes, who will be participating in the Home Run Derby in New York next week. Whether the agency has enough experience or not, Roc Nation Sports does not seem to be having any problems attracting high-profile clients.

Sports memorabilia stores not hiking Aaron Hernandez merchandise prices

Aaron-hernandez-jerseysAaron Hernandez jerseys and memorabilia have been turning a serious profit on sites like eBay since he was arrested and charged with murder last Wednesday. The former New England Patriots tight end may never play in the NFL again. Despite the alarming accusations that continue to pile up, Hernandez’s jerseys and autographed items remain in high demand.

However, many sports memorabilia stores in New England are refusing to hike prices on Hernandez items. TMZ spoke with the owners of several stores, all of who agreed they are sticking to business as usual despite the rise in demand.

“We don’t want to make money off this incident,” the owner of Sportsworld USA in Saugus, Mass. said. “It’s what we consider blood money. We just want to get our money back.”

[RelatedAaron Hernandez jerseys removed from NFL shop]

The owner of Your Sports Memorabilia in Boston echoed those sentiments.

“I do not stand for what he allegedly did and wouldn’t want to profit off an individual who was murdered,” he said “… Sports memorabilia is a dirty industry and this is one of the reasons why.”

The person in charge of SureShot Promotions in Hanson, Mass. said they have even been discounting some Hernandez apparel, calling it a “sad situation.” And to prove demand truly is high, the owner of New England Pictures in Manchester, NH told TMZ they sold more Hernandez jerseys the day he was arrested than they did in the previous six months.

As for the auction market, ESPN’s Michele Steele spoke with the head of an auction house who downplayed the idea that Hernandez memorabilia has become more valuable. The source said Hernandez jerseys have “no value” and that he “cannot emphasize that enough.”

[Related: Patriots offer free exchange of Aaron Hernandez jerseys]

On Wednesday, Yahoo! Sports told us about a vigilante who has been submitting winning bids for Hernandez items on eBay and then refusing to pay, instead sending the sellers hostile messages.

“I don’t think that I will be getting paid,” one seller wrote to Yahoo! Sports. “The person emailed me stating I should ‘burn the jersey and stop seeking money for that morons (sic) actions’. Looks like the person has some kind of social agenda.”

Apparently a number of sports memorabilia stores have a similar agenda. Money isn’t everything — at least for some.

Aaron Hernandez jerseys have suddenly become collector’s items

Aaron-hernandez-jerseysAs far as the New England Patriots are concerned, Aaron Hernandez jerseys are worthless. Any fan who owns a No. 81 Hernandez jersey that was purchased through the team’s official proshop is welcome to exchange it for another jersey this weekend at no cost. However, you might be better off selling it on eBay.

According to the Boston Globe, Hernandez jerseys are currently selling for big money on the internet. Patriots fan John Lamothe threw his No. 81 jersey on eBay last week and watched it fetch $289. Another fan, Lynn L’Heureux, paid $100 for a Hernandez jersey before the murder charge and watched the eBay bidding climb to $127 over the weekend — before the auction even ended.

“I can’t think of any reason why people would want it,” L’Heureux said, via Pro Football Talk. “They might think it will go up in value later on, and maybe it will, but I’m not interested. I just don’t want it in my possession. I want to use the money to buy a jersey that reflects my pride in the Patriots.”

[Related: Aaron Hernandez jerseys removed from NFL shop]

There are a number of other jerseys currently for sale on eBay that are going for upwards of $100 and $200. Standard Nike game jerseys go for around $100 at the Patriots Proshop while authentic jerseys go for about $250, so folks are clearly turning a profit by auctioning off their Hernandez jerseys.

If the moral issue of making a profit off an alleged murderer’s jersey doesn’t bother you, I’d recommend selling your Hernandez jersey on eBay rather than trading it into the Patriots. With the way things are going, you’ll get enough money to buy a new jersey and pocket some cash.