Bud Selig went to Washington to do what people do in Washington: lie. He
went to Congress to cry poverty and insist that the only thing that can
save baseball is some fundamental change in the game's economic structure.
While this made great copy--most media outlets ate it up like hungry curs
given below-grade dog food--his case was flawed, dishonest and dangerous.
The Red Sox, a symbol of frustration, ineptitude and the cynicism of New
England's finest, are for sale. The Jean R. Yawkey Trust has controlled 53%
of the team since Jean Yawkey died in 1992, and the team has been in the
Yawkey family since 1933.
In the next few days, there will be much ink spilled over Fox's big
baseball gamble: paying $2.5 billion for complete rights to baseball's
postseason and All-Star Game television coverage for the next six years.
And beyond the obvious benefits (for example, none of the cloying,
ADD-inspired coverage NBC has used to ruin the Olympics) of the change,
there's much to ponder here.
Reaction to the Arizona Diamondbacks' recent decision to increase the
team's debt load by $20 million has been loud and unanimous: the sky is,
once again, falling. How could one of baseball's "most
successful" teams--a defending divisional champion--find itself in
need of cash? As you might expect, there's a lot more to this news than
meets the eye or, in this case, a lot less than the commentators in
question would have you believe.
I covered the technical problem behind revenue sharing:
it's so toxic to the penalized owners that it's unlikely to work. Trying to
convince an investor that he has already made enough money is like trying
to convince Pat Buchanan that the last great anti-trade crusade gave us the
Great Depression. It's a fool's errand.
The subjects of revenue sharing and fixing the alleged performance
disparity between "large-market" and "small-market"
teams won't go away. This despite the stellar performance of the Chicago
White Sox, Seattle Mariners and Oakland A's, teams once firmly entrenched
in the "small-market" camp. Indeed, to listen to WEEI (the great
sports-talk radio station in Boston), one would come to believe that Boston
had suddenly dumped a half a million people into the Charles, because it,
too, is now a small market in desperate need of shared revenue.
Everybody's favorite whipping-boy/wonder-agent, Scott Boras, found himself
in the news a few times in the past week. Boras is a lightning rod for
criticism for no reason other than that he's damn good at what he does. An
agent is supposed to represent the interests of his client; that's all. The
real or threatened consequences for the team, the game or the fate of the
free world are totally irrelevant. Any agent who does not represent the
interests of his client faces lawsuits and even jail time.
When Jim Bowden announced the Barry Larkin signing, he managed to
darken the mood slightly by admonishing the fans that they were getting
exactly what they wanted...and that they'd have to pay for it. He told fans
that ticket prices would be going up, perhaps as early as this season,
because of the deal.