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Happy Thanksgiving! Regularly Scheduled Articles Will Resume Monday, December 1

The Imbalance Sheet 

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01-10

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The Imbalance Sheet: Crossing the Chasm
by
Keith Law

12-06

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The Imbalance Sheet: (Semi-) Open Books
by
Keith Law

11-29

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The Imbalance Sheet: Catching Up
by
Keith Law

11-09

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The Imbalance Sheet: There They Go Again
by
Keith Law

10-03

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The Imbalance Sheet: Loose Ends
by
Keith Law

09-25

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The Imbalance Sheet: Contraction Action
by
Keith Law

09-11

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The Imbalance Sheet: Reader Response - Hope and Faith
by
Keith Law

09-04

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The Imbalance Sheet: Draft Caps
by
Keith Law

08-28

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The Imbalance Sheet: Mythmongering
by
Keith Law

08-23

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The Imbalance Sheet: Florida Fraud
by
Keith Law

05-31

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The Imbalance Sheet: More on Minnesota
by
Keith Law

05-24

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The Imbalance Sheet: Stadium Referendums in Minnesota
by
Keith Law

05-10

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The Imbalance Sheet: A Fishy Story
by
Keith Law

04-12

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The Imbalance Sheet: The New Stadium Fallacy
by
Keith Law

04-05

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The Imbalance Sheet: Drew Henson
by
Keith Law

03-22

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The Imbalance Sheet: The Gag Order
by
Keith Law

03-15

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The Imbalance Sheet: Josh Hamilton
by
Keith Law

03-08

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The Imbalance Sheet: A Pair of Jokers
by
Keith Law

03-01

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The Imbalance Sheet: Sizing Up Markets
by
Keith Law

02-22

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The Imbalance Sheet: Curt Schilling Speaks
by
Keith Law

02-08

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The Imbalance Sheet: Mooning Over Montreal
by
Keith Law

02-01

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The Imbalance Sheet: Broken Promises
by
Keith Law

01-17

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The Imbalance Sheet: The Future
by
Keith Law

12-22

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The Imbalance Sheet: The Really Insane Deals
by
Keith Law

12-04

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The Imbalance Sheet: See You in the Tall Grass
by
Keith Law

10-13

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The Imbalance Sheet: Sox and Other Things That Stink
by
Keith Law

09-28

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The Imbalance Sheet: A Good Deal...but Not a Great One
by
Keith Law

09-21

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The Imbalance Sheet: Crying Snake
by
Keith Law

09-07

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The Imbalance Sheet: Rebuttal: Revenue-Sharing
by
Peter Schoenke

08-24

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The Imbalance Sheet: Ticket Prices, Part II
by
Keith Law

08-17

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The Imbalance Sheet: Revenue Sharing
by
Keith Law

08-10

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The Imbalance Sheet: Scott Boras
by
Keith Law

08-03

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The Imbalance Sheet: Ticket Prices
by
Keith Law

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The whining and threatening have already begun. Florida's legislature made a small gesture to try to restore the state's credibility this week by telling Marlins owner John Henry to stuff his $140 million funding request up his... well, up his John Henry. Now even the Wall Street Journal, a newspaper generally known for sensible business writing, has fallen prey to MLB's rantings about competitive imbalance and how baseball simply can't survive in Miami without a stadium with a retractable roof, valet parking, and a new pair of diamond earrings.

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Recently, I had the chance to speak extensively with Brad Humphreys, Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Humphreys has spent several years researching the true economic impact of sports teams, particularly on the debate over the merits of publicly funding new facilities for privately-owned sports franchises. His most recent work, The Stadium Gambit and Local Economic Development, debunked many of the common myths about the economic impact of new sports stadia.

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Two weeks ago, the Cincinnati Reds undid perhaps the best part of last July's trade in which they sent a broken-down Denny Neagle to the Yankees for four prospects, one of which was erstwhile college football star Drew Henson. Henson's situation illustrates a problem far more important for competitive balance than disparities in the free-agent market: the vast differences in amateur and international signing budgets.

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Czar Bud has issued a gag order on his fellow owners, and despite Selig's relative lack of power, the owners have so far decided to abide by the edict and clam up. The taboo subject? The impending labor talks and possible work stoppage that currently loom over the 2002 season.

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The Tampa Bay Devil Rays have done a lot of things right this winter, from not spending millions on additional veteran mediocrities to turning nominal closer Roberto Hernandez into a great young hitter who has already been locked up into his arbitration years (Ben Grieve). But they could be on the verge of making a decision that looks to be the wrong one from both the baseball and business perspectives: giving Josh Hamilton the starting right-field job.

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The Pirates continue to astound us with their incompetence. This week, they signed Scott Sauerbeck, the very definition of free talent (he was taken from the Mets via the Rule 5 draft in December of 1998), to a three-year, $2.4-million deal. Although that's not a lot of money, and we generally advocate locking good young players up through their arbitration years and beyond, the problem here is that Sauerbeck is not young and not good--and the Pirates don't realize that.

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So you may have heard that the NBA is having its own small-market problem. Yes, salary cap and all, the vaunted NBA is suffering from a post-Jordan malaise that is about to take one of the league's two newest franchises, the Vancouver Grizzlies, on the road to a new home. And the league's commissioner, David Stern, expects us to buy it when he blames the whole thing on the city of Vancouver and its unloving fans.

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Curt Schilling is never at a loss for words, and unlike a lot of athletes (and actors and other Famous People™) who like to sound off to the media, he often has something of substance to say. Last week was no different, when ESPN.com posted a 2,400-word essay by the Diamondbacks' hurler, focusing on the impending labor war and the economic structure of the game. As you might expect, Schilling raised some valid points and some not-so-valid ones, and probably gave the players their first bit of good PR for the upcoming skirmish.

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Baseball Weekly recently ran a Bob Nightengale column that focused on some of Scott Boras's ideas for improving competitive balance. Buried at the end of the article was an interesting quote from a major-league general manager that cited the most oft-repeated mantra of the small-marketeers.

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When Baltimore Ravens owner Heartless Art Modell stood at the podium in Tampa Bay Sunday night and said that the Vince Lombardi Trophy belonged to the people of Baltimore and the state of Maryland, he wasn't kidding: they paid for his stadium, his team, and arguably his salary and the increase in his net worth, all with tax proceeds from one of the greatest sweetheart deals any sports team in the world has ever landed.

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Bob turned on the television one fine August day to find that the hated New York Yankees were in town to play the Twins. He called his son John into the room to let him know the game was on.

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Alex Rodriguez's signing isn't all that interesting, even though it has generated all the headlines. He's an exceptional package: a power hitter who hasn't reached his power peak; a seven-skill talent with great plate discipline and an improving defensive profile; a generally classy guy with no interest in recording rap albums; and he plays one of the two most difficult positions to fill in baseball. Add to that baseball's shrewdest agent and a couple of frustrated, rich owners who want to make a big splash, and you get an enormous contract.

Read the full article...

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