Monday, November 17, 2008

Baseball to Cease Operations

Well, it will if the writer of this idiotic editorial gets his way:
"Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works."

Those words came not from the mouth of baseball super-agent Scott Boras but from fictional financial lizard Gordon Gekko in the 1987 movie "Wall Street." Yet at a time when Americans are worried about losing their jobs and their homes, Major League Baseball continues tossing around millions of dollars as if it were Monopoly money.
Then, after a list of numerous recent contract offers and business decisions made by teams such as "Last week, the Phillies raised ticket prices," and "Last week, the Dodgers made a $45M offer to Manny Ramirez," we get this:
Last week, the national unemployment rate rose to 6.5 percent, the highest level in more than 14 years. At some point, baseball fans are going to say enough is enough.
You know, if a business reporter went to his editor saying that he wanted to write about roster construction and in-game strategy, the editor would probably make sure he knew the first thing about baseball before allowing him to do so. Why the sports guys aren't required to know a single thing about business before unloading this kind of garbage is a mystery to me.

14 comments:

Richard Dansky said...

My God. It's as if he's an ill-educated blogger spouting a nonsensical opinion from his parents' basement!

Sara K said...

This looks like a job for Ken Tremend - oh, bugger.

He's right though. One of these days, by golly, we baseball fans are going to say "Enough is enough!" Then we'll re-up with Insider, check our season schedules, plan our stadium visits, and generally ignore our families from March through November. But by golly, we will have shown 'em!

Rob R. said...

You know, I think the author is correct. We should stop putting so many resources into baseball at this time.

The first thing I propose we eliminate is absurd articles by sportswriters that contain nothing but uninformed opinions on sports. I mean, we all have to tighten our belts here...

Ron Rollins said...

Denver is also home to Woody Paige and Tracey Ringolsby.

That tells me a lot more about baseball in Denver than I ever wanted to know.

mooseinohio said...

We will be seeing lots of highlights on BBT this coming season with more than their fair amount of empty seats. Not predicting gloom here but I know that several of my Tribe fan friends in central Ohio will watch the Tribe on tv and attend games in Columbus watching the more affordable AAA Indians. My brother lives in Mass and takes his boys to Pawtucket or Portland to see the baby Sox as going to Fenway requires both an equity line and good fortune to even by tickets not on the secondary market.

What is interesting is all of the folks I am referencing also make good, even great, money and could afford to attend games but choose more affordable options. My prediction is an increases in minor league attendance, higher revenue via increased subscriptions for MLB TV as well as whoever gets to sell television packages to watch to the home team.

studes said...

I don't get it. What's wrong with the commentary? He's just expressing his outrage (justifiably so) that society is wasting huge amounts of money on ballgames and ballplayers in a severe recession.

Jason @ IIATMS said...

Woody Paige: Mr. MarbleMouth if there ever was one. I can't stand seeing, much less HEARING, him on TV.

Amos said...

I agree with Studes. This is not exactly a Pulitzer winning column, but his point is valid.

Like our society in general the past 30 years, baseball is now overspending to the point of absurdity. It will come back to haunt them. As mooseinohio writes, it is already hurting them.

Craig Calcaterra said...

I dunno, Dave, I think you're giving him too much credit. I'll grant that there may be a point to be made about big picture choices we make as a society, but this one struck me as a simplistic populist argument, intellectually akin to those "they're playing a kids' game! how dare they demand millions!"

Ticket prices are a function of supply and demand. So too are player salaries. If the Phillies are making a mistake in raising prices, they will pay for it. If the Dodgers are making a mistake with their payroll, they will too.

While I can empathize (like, really empathize) with people who are getting crushed by the economy, criticizing baseball business decisions in reference to the general unemployment rate doesn't make much sense to me. Baseball is not a public trust. It's a $6B business, and baseball players are essential to that business. The widsom or foolishness of baseball's economic decisions should be judged by how it affects baseball's bottom line. Maybe there are a bunch of dumb decisions being made, but criticism of them should be grounded in baseball economics, not generalized economic populism.

More generally speaking, I have to ask what the writer proposes? That Ramirez forego a salary? That fans cease watching baseball until the unemployment rate goes below 6%? Moreover, why is there no similar criticism of film, TV, and music stars?

Peter said...

It's only "overspending" if you can't afford it. At least we know they won't be asking us for a bailout.

Rob said...

No bailout? What do you think those new shiny ballparks are all about?

Any time you hear a team whine about the need for a taxpayer-funded stadium for the purposes of remaining "competitive", that's a publicly-financed bailout; no different than any other.

Peter said...

Hey, I'm against publicly financed stadiums, too. But publicly financed stadiums were around long before players turned down 2 year/$45M deals, which is what this writer is whining about.

The point is that the Dodgers won't be coming to us in two years asking for help because they gave too much money to Manny.

Anonymous said...

Have to disagree with you Peter. There's little to no conceptual difference between owners asking for/demanding public finance of stadiums and other "bailouts". I mean, what are the arguments? "Give us a stadium or we can't make baseball work here." "Give us a stadium or we can't afford to pay good players." (which, by the way, is no different than "Give us a stadium, we paid too much for Manny", but on a grand scale.)

Also, public financing of stadiums may have been around long before Manny turned down this particular offer from the Dodgers. I think if you look at it, though, the proliferation of public financing of stadiums is pretty contemporaneous with the growth of player salaries via free agency.

studes said...

I see your point, Craig, but I think you're asking too much of him. It's obviously not a business column--it's on the sports page. He's a sports columnist expressing his outrage, which is what sports columnists do.