Wade through the stream of codeine-affected consciousness with me today:
- From Peter Gammons’s ESPN column, Saturday, Nov. 10th:
"Players and their lawyers don’t understand this, but the fact is that
the national economy has to have a dramatic impact on the market. Before
this week, club marketing offices have been told to expect a downturn of
20-40 percent in corporate sponsorship, luxury box and season ticket
investments. No salary arbitrator is going to care, but that is a lot of
OK…everyone repeat after me…
Arbitration is entirely at the discretion of ownership. If a club doesn’t
want to offer a player arbitration, it doesn’t have to do so. Clubs continue
to bleat about rising salaries, but there’s a simple solution to the
decade-old cries for "cost certainty":DON’T OFFER THE CONTRACT!
You say you’ll lose Jason Giambi if you don’t offer him $102 million
over six years? Well, find an alternative. Put together a platoon. Take a
chance on Roberto Petagine. Use the money somewhere else where it
This kind of whining goes on in every business. Eighteen months ago in the
Bay Area, businesses were complaining about having to pay $60,000 a year for
mediocre talent, even on an entry-level basis. (Things have changed at this
point, in case you haven’t heard.) If you don’t want to be saddled with the
contract, go with a substitute. There is no God-granted right to have the
talent you want at the price you want. I’d love to have Randy Sasaki running
my software development team for $40,000 a year, too.
- One phrase that’s getting to annoy me when discussing baseball finance
and economics: "clubs like the Yankees."
There are no clubs like the Yankees. The Yankees have been well-financed and
shrewd, and the two things are directly related. The Orioles and Red Sox
have had the cash to keep up with them, and several other clubs aren’t far
behind. The Yankees have been innovative in terms of generating revenue,
have invested their cash relatively well, and have been successful as a
result. Not to be too much of a Social Darwinist, but mediocrity in MLB has
been a CHOICE for the vast majority of clubs…and for every single one in
the U.S. Well, I guess that is a Social Darwinist position, which shouldn’t
- No one seems to care that one of the clubs being considered for
contraction, Satan’s ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H Carl Pohlad’s Minnesota Twins, are
making money, and were in contention for most of the year. (Please
don’t e-mail me about my inconsistency in calling both Carl Pohlad and Bud
Selig Satan. From now on, we can refer to Ye Olde Commissioner as
This whole situation is terribly unseemly. No matter what the facts are, or
what ends up happening, there’s really no way to describe how MLB ownership
has handled this in any other way except "shabby." The timing of
the announcements, the lack of respect for the intelligence of the media and
the fans, the crippling of the clubs who are trying to run their businesses
under the cloud of potential disbandment–just plain shabby.
- I still haven’t received anything close to answers to the questions
central to contraction:
- What problems is MLB facing that require drastic action?
- How will vaporizing two clubs solve those problems?
- The bright side. Yes, there is a bright side to all this childishness.
As it stands now, the general public is undereducated regarding the
alternatives to Major League Baseball. Most large metropolitan areas have a
thriving local baseball scene, ranging from amateur to semi-pro to
independent. Leagues like the Western League are a tremendous alternative to
MLB, providing an amazingly high caliber of play for a very low price, both
in terms of cost and in terms of the time investment for watching a game.
If you’re involved in, or a fan of, a league that has relatively low-priced
games, ample parking, good food, and players that are fun to watch, e-mail
me with the contact info for your league, and I’ll publicize it here. Throw
us some links to some great alternatives, and we’ll get the word out.
- No, we don’t sell Bud Selig sock puppets. But if the reader who offered
to send me one will do so, I’ll send them a copy of Baseball Prospectus
2002, and make a donation to WEAVE in their name.
Of course, there’s no way I’d actually put my hand in it….
Gary Huckabay is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by