Monday, August 26, 2002

Why free market and competition is a lie in baseball



If you saw my last post and started to open up your piehole about free markets, laizze faire capitalism, competition makes the best blah blah blah (insert rhetoric here), please do me this favor:

Put your index fingers on you top eyelids, and your thumb on your bottom eyelids. Pry them open. You should see complete darkness. There is a very good reason for this;

Your entire head is up your ass. Do your best to pluck it out without hurting yourself too much.

Now that you are actually seeing things for the way they truly are in the real world, please take note of the following;

In a free market anyone could start a business anytime they'd like. That means of baseball was actually anywhere near the free market and you decided tomorrow that you wanted to start a MLB team, and had the 400 mil to drop on a franchise, you could. Thats what a free market is. So if you wanted to start a new ballclub in say, Washintgon DC, or even add yet another club to the NYC market you'd be able to do so.

If you know anything about professional sports, it will be a cold day in hell before either of those things happen, especially in MLB.

If you want a team you need to (a)buy an exisitng one and get approval from the owners, or (b) start a new one and pay the league the franchise fee, and that's after the entire process of being accepted by the league. It doesn't happen all that often either.

The NFL and all other leagues are all in business together. They succeed with inter-team competition. Baseball is failing because of the lack of co-operation and profit sharing. Baseball may have a little more"capitalist" structure, as compared to the enforced parity of the NFL, but ask yourself this - Why doesn't Washington D.C. have a team?

There used to be a team called the Washington Senators, who eventually moved to become the Texas Rangers. Why isn't there a team in DC anymore? It's a huge untapped market, an owner would be a fool not to try to move a currently failing team there (i.e. Motreal Expos). Actually there is a perfectly good reason for it: The owner of the Baltimore Orioles does not want a team in DC, because he's afraid that there will be competition with his own sucky team, and it will take away people currently live in DC and have no choice but to go to Baltimore if they want to see MLB. That's anti competitive and therefore anti-capitalist.....

Why are there are only two teams in New York? The NYC area has three hockey teams for goodness sake! Jersey I bet, given the opportunity, could get their own team and succeed in it's own right. There is a reason no one in their right mind would even attempt it. Steinbrenner & Doubleday (Mets) would put a stop to any additional baseball in NY. That's anti competitive and anti capitalist.

In the real world this might be called collusion, or some other economic term that I'm not familiar with cuz I aint no economics major. But in the fanasy land of professional sports it's called Major League Baseball.

There are only 6-8 teams that can afford top marquee players with the Yankees being at the top. Their business though relies on opposing teams coming in to their stadium tp perform. The sports leagues limit competition (teams) and they share some profits, specifically national television money etc. That's clearly more akin to socialism. Real capitalism does not work that way.

In reality there aren't just 30 law firms, or thirty hot dog stands or 30 of anything. Anyone can start any of these business anywhere, within reason anyway. Some fail, some succeed, but they all decide their own fate. There isn't some big organization saying you need to drop 400 mil to start a lawfirm, and that organization does not tell you "you can't locate in DC or LA, you need to start one in say Charlotte or Portland because all the other lawyers have control over the areas." That's even if you think you can provide a better product compared to the one in say Chicago, or anywhere else they have a lawfirm. So don't even start with the free market bs, cause it aint flying here. Not one of the leagues even comes close to a a free market, and the one that has the most socialist business practices is the most successful (see the NFL). I'm not saying Karl Marx would have approved of everything the NFL does, just that it shares and has a high level of competition, unless your team is the Cincinnati Bengals.

While most people in NY may be happy to see crappy teams get walloped by their beloved Yankees, the overall health of baseball suffers, and that health will eventually hurt the Yankees, at least indirectly in baseball's national television contracts (clearly that has not come to pass yet, being that they are making a mint on their own personal cable station).

And please lets not forget that MLB has monopoly exceptions granted by The U.S. government. Stick that in you pipe and smoke it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

The only way to save baseball



Normally I would try to avoid a subject like this. While I enjoy watching some sports, something in me feels like it’s an empty albeit entertaining diversion from our everyday lives. While a little time diverted isn’t so bad, there are people who devote their entire lives the viewing of others perform, the memorization of statistics, and those who make a living in sports radio who do nothing but get on an athlete’s case about their performance etc. I t just seems so wasteful when there are really terrible things going on in the world and some idiot is screaming for blood because some outfielder made a comment about having to wake up early to play day games at Wrigley.

I’m not even that big a baseball fan, football is the only sport that captures my attention for any extended period of time. However the prospect of baseball going on strike is discouraging, even if the only real consequences in my life are that I will have one less item on my list of things to do when friends from out of town visit. There are few experiences quite like Wrigley in the summer on a Friday afternoon leaving work early, whether you like baseball or not. That’s not even taking into consideration the interests of those who will be out of work and have no million dollar contracts - hot dog and beer vendors, and all those people who make a living at or around the ballpark not related to the game directly.

However good ideas are not easy to come by and really brilliant ones are far and few between, and I feel like I’ve stumbled across a real solution for MLB’s woes. It probably won’t happen, but it’s worth putting it out there.

Let it be said I think both sides are greedy, but despite the fact that the players have basically won every strike since … since they started striking, the owners are the real fools here, or at least enough of them that they are more to blame for this situation. Recently the owner of the Texas Rangers Tom Hicks made a comment about having to put a cap on salaries. This is the same idiot that gave Alex Rodriguez $252 million dollars over 10 years, about $50mil more than any other ballclub would have offered. Mr. Hicks basically competed against himself. He could have paid A-Rod 200 mil and made him the highest paid player but he had to outdo himself by a landslide and gave him an extra 50 mil.

So basically the owners sound like they are saying something to the effect of “Please stop us before we shoot ourselves.” By creating some rule that inhibits gratuitous and quite frankly just plain stupid giveaways to players like this, the owners will have an excuse to use, so when contract time is up for someone they can plead “It’s those darn rules that keep us from paying you what you deserve”. This is what goes on in the NFL. Those “darn rules” are completely self-imposed. It’s good for the owners and it does create a sense or parity, but it’s getting annoying to see a team stripped of its players as soon as it has some success because it can’t afford to keep them all.

My brilliant solution to saving baseball; to be honest the idea itself isn’t so much brilliant as the way to achieve it is. Baseball NEEDS revenue sharing, and this is the only way to save the sport. Revenue sharing is nothing new, I know, but what are the obstacles to revenue sharing in baseball? (If you’re gonna pull that free market rhetoric, save it cause I’m gonna tell you why you have your head up your ass in my next post) There are a couple of reasons why, but the biggest is the 800 pound gorilla known as the New York Yankees, or more accurately George Steinbrenner.

However there is simple way to change this, and it’s so simple it’s almost too good. The teams that have the most to gain from revenue sharing are the small market teams like Kansas City and Minnesota. Even mid to large market teams that aren’t drawing all that well, like the Chicago White Sox and Detroit, would benefit if the Yankees weren’t the only team that looked like it had a serious shot come October. Baseball is losing fans because of the lack on interest and lack of competition. The solution is simple – all these teams need to unite and do one thing that will very quickly change Steinbrenner’s opposition to revenue sharing and in turn save professional baseball. That one thing is -

FORFEIT ALL YOUR GAMES PLAYED AT YANKEE STADIUM!

See what happens? Currently the Yankees have their own cable station showing the games. Without home games to show all that revenue from advertising is up in smoke. What about all those tickets you sold? Are the fans gonna pay to watch Jeter field fungos and Giambi hit batting practice? All those tickets will have to be refunded. They will have no product! 3 weeks and the impenetrable fortress of Team Steinbrenner will seem more vulnerable than a Florida trailer park in hurricane season.

It is the only way… unless all the owners can unite and get on the same page THE OWNERS WILL LOSE AGAIN TO THE PLAYERS UNION. Unless your team is the Yankees you will get the short end of the stick. Without owner unity you will crumble like a stale cookie. With owner unity you have a fighting chance.

If you give a crap about baseball I’d suggest you start chirping about this. Link this page (gratuitous plugs for me of course) write your local baseball team, do anything if you care. Do it now or the strike will surely kill professional baseball.

Personally, I don’t care that much, ‘cept for the aforementioned workers not involves with playing the game. I just want credit for the idea and gratuitous links. You heard it here first.

Monday, August 19, 2002

Pissing people off is fun and easy



While I have plenty to talk write about, I don't have the time to write all that much. However I do have something of interest to post;

I took one of my better entries on blogger and posted it on the Fray of Slate.com a while ago (the entry was edited just a little). I thought it was applicable to the article it was attached to. I was amazed at how many responses the post got, and how quickly they accumulated. It doesn't take much to whip a whole bunch of netizens into a frenzy.

I think the key to getting the maximum responses is to give the post the most obnoxious headline you can, one that will surely galvanize the audience, which mine certainly did. After talking to Sav de KOS, I'm decided it might be a good idea to link it.

So here it is, the entry was called Everything is Clinton's fault including the test you failed in HS 1988. By the time it was done, 30 posts had accumulated, including the extra posts I added. In all honesty more than half the people agreed with me, but it is fascinating how quickly people starting attacking (a) the post itself (b) the other posters that comment on the first post. Granted most of the posting in the begining is two people, but it doesn't take much time for the whole thing to get ugly and even personal. Not to mention the guy that continues to beat the Dead horse about Clinton while not even responding to the post I put up. During the Clinton presidency this reaction had become so engrained into so many people that's it's almost automatic, a knee jerk reaction.

And the funny thing is I feel like I have a somewhat open minded opinion. Yeah, Clinton did some lousy stuff, none of which I can defend. What annoys me is the messed up priorities so many people have. So many who were chomping at the bit to drag Clinton thru the mud at every opportunity are so ready and willing to defend Bush without a second thought. Clinton was investigated for a lot and much of it turned out to bogus. The Whitewater deal was some 300K land deal that was some how botched. At the end Ken Starr only got Clinton on the investigation of the investigation.

And yet no one from the "Clinton = Satan" school of thought even thinks twice or pauses to look at the Harken deal or The Texas Rangers land grab with half the scrutiny. Swindling taxpayers by using public money to enhance a private enterprise and claiming private land thru public policy is the antithesis of all the rhetoric that is spewed out daily from almost every Republican I hate. Why can't you live up to your own ideals Dubya? That's not even touching the whole Halliburton thing with ole Dicky now.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Apparently some victims kin are going to be suing Saudi Princes and Firms for 1 Trillion Dollars. Do you know how many zeroes that is?

$1,000,000,000,000.00 (12, count 'em)

I'm embarrassed by this thought, but I have to say it - Can the Afghan family that was bombed by US Forces sue the Government for killing the 50 some odd people with the miscommunication? It's a wonder that some enterprising ambulance chaser hasn't gone overseas to talk to those families to look into that possibility.

Here's a thoughts -

There was this article in Slate that caught my attention the other day. A LaRouche defector gave a power point display talking how Saudi Arabia is the enemy. The report said (and I quote) - "advocated that the United States invade the country, seize its oil fields, and confiscate its financial assets unless the Saudis stop supporting the anti-Western terror network"

Why is it that no one in the GOP has said a damn thing about the fact that we are selling out our sovereignty over oil? That we completely compromise our foreign policy by kowtowing and placating this ass backwards monarchy/theocracy?

During our little fiasco with China and the downed spy plane (remember when China was our next foe? seems like forever ago) There was a huge split within the GOP and conservative ideologues. Some were out for blood and wanted to sell Taiwan every rampart we had to sell. The people with business interests however that had much to lose financially cautioned against making any drastic moves. I don't here a damn thing from conservatives bitching and moaning about the fact that we suck up to this terrorist funding nation. Any idea why?

Here's a Lyndon LaRouche publication - what the hell is his claim to fame anyway? He's got these converts roaming the campus I take classes at like Jehovah's Witnesses.

Friday, August 09, 2002

Ya know I wanted to write something that sounded really professional and went thru point by point why the whole "It's not what the forefathers had intended" argument is bullshit, but I haven't had the patience or the time to research it properly. Not to mention I've been working on a new blog for WZRD and getting pissed after reading articles like this, Income Redistribution GOP Style. Forgive me - so I'll give a very informal post.

Next time you hear that "It's not what the forefathers had intended" argument, remind that person of the following -

The forefathers intended for only (1)White (2)Male (3)Landowners to vote. - Some people make excuses for the whole white/male thing, being that those were the values of that era, but thats what they intended. And while most people think of the white/male thing, no one remembers the land owner criteria for voting. That leaves less than 25% of the current population in this country eligeble.

And while we are discussing race, let us not forget the 3/5 rule, where slaves were counted as 3/5 of a human, and yet had no vote. That's what the forefathers intended at the time anyway.

The forefathers didn't completely trust the populace at large - this is why we have the beloved electoral college vote system, and why we have our doughboy cheerleader president instead of the guy that won the popular vote. Actually conservatives everywhere are probably pretty happy about this.

I'm not here to bash the forefathers, just to highlight that they had faults and were less than perfect, and whatever their intensions were. And no one fully knows exactly what each forefather had intended for this nation, even if you are conducting seances in your basement on the weekend to help guide you in your public policy decision making. Here's a reminder of where our forefathers had more wisdom than much of the current crop of lawmakers, especially the ones that lean to the right:

I have a hard time believing our forefather would have supported the actions taken by the likes of Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan in their actions to overthrow democratically elected leaders in countries like Guatamala, Chile, Iran etc. The forefather were very much in favor of sovreignty and self determination, at least on paper. Yet very few of those who love the INWOFHI argument feel there is any conflict between our highly questionable (if not flat out wrong) actions we led, helped, or funded in South America and that our forefathers were proponents of democracy for all.

My favorite hypocrisy is about hemp. Washington, Jefferson and B. Franklin all smoked marijuana - if you asked me they would not have intended it to be illegal. I can't imagine they would be in favor of the drug war which soaks billions of tax dollars in an effort to fight a naturally occuring weed with slight mind altering properties, and incarcerate people who buy sell and use it. Hell, if that were the case back then our First and Third Presidents would have gone to jail!

Anyway, came across this blog of interest, called liberal desert. This guy in his most recent post makes the point that it is impossible to be in favor of vouchers and against public funding our election campaigns without being a hypocrite.