The New York Times obituary about Marvin Miller, the man who may have had the greatest impact ever on the game.
Tuesday, November 27th, 2012
Sunday, May 20th, 2012
In 1920, Babe Ruth wore a Yankee jersey at some point that someone was smart enough to stick in a museum. The jersey went to auction, and the memorabilia company lelands.com had the idea to pay $4,415,658 for it so they could sell it again later. What the hell, why not.
Thursday, April 21st, 2011
Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011
Head over to Marketwatch, as an old YFSF supporter, Sam Mamudi, has taken over the task of sports business reporting for that site. Sam's first piece looks at WAR, actual wins, and payroll expenditures.
We're really happy for Sam, even if he does root for a certain team from the Bronx (and also Manchester). Congrats!
Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011
We don't delve much into politics here — so many more important things to fight about, right? — but Hank Steinbrenner co-mingled baseball and the politics of economics in his discussion of revenue sharing, piggybacking somewhat on similar comments from the Red Sox ownership group:
"At some point, if you don't want to worry about teams in minor markets, don't put teams in minor markets, or don't leave teams in minor markets if they're truly minor," Steinbrenner said. "Socialism, communism, whatever you want to call it, is never the answer."
This of course sounds very much like typical right-wing hyperbole about taxation. MLB has a taxation system, whereby the wealthiest — i.e., those who can most afford it — pay extra, and those funds help out the most disadvantaged in the system. Sound familiar? It should; it's the basis for the progressive taxation system, the one that has been in place in the United States since the implementation of personal income taxes 100 years ago.
Sounds like Hank believes he's been Taxed Enough Already.
[It should be noted Steinbrenner is making a different argument than one made by Henry, who has criticized the system on the grounds that small-market teams are taking advantage of it by pocketing the money. Steinbrenner seems to be criticizing the basis of the system itself.]
But even if Steinbrenner is right that this system is "socialism [or] communism," The New Republic's Jonathan Chait argues simply: So what?
Of course, if you define a system of sharing revenue between every franchise and forcing them to compete on the basis of managerial skill rather than raw economic power as "socialism," then of course socialism can work. It works in other sports franchises. But clearly owners who are long on economic power and short on brainpower will oppose a system like that. Why force yourself to out-scout the Milwaukee Brewers when you can spend them into the ground?
This of course is the secret to both the Yankees' and the Red Sox' success under the revenue sharing system: They have competent front offices that make few mistakes, and they have enough money to paper over the few mistakes they do make.
I think Chait is mostly right that the arguments of big-market teams like the Sox and Yanks are more born from a desire to keep as much of their money as possible (as opposed to some altruistic desire to better the game of baseball), but he goes too far when he describes the Yankees' revenue stream as "an idiot-proof racket." As any Yankee fan of the 1980s (or Mets fan in the 2000s) can probably attest, even incredibly wealthy teams need competent leadership to capitalize on their advantages.
Monday, February 14th, 2011
ESPN noted over the weekend that the Red Sox were the biggest spenders of the 2009-10 offseason. No surprise there, of course. They also noted, however, that only three times since 1990, and just once since 2000, has the biggest spender of a given offseason won the World Series the very next year.
Of course the most recent example is very recent indeed: the 2009 Yankees. And of the past 11 World Series winners, four have been among the 10 biggest-spending teams of the previous offseason, and all of them except the 2001 Diamondbacks were in the top half of baseball's offseason spenders — including the third-ranked 2007 Red Sox, who splurged on Julio Lugo, J.D. Drew and Daisuke Matsuzaka the previous winter.
It should go without saying that there's all sorts of problems with this kind of analysis. Many times, one big free agent signing is enough to put a team on top of the pile, and it obviously takes more than one player to have a winning ballclub (just ask the Texas Rangers, who made the right move by signing Alex Rodriguez to a megadeal then counteracted it by pretty much wasting the rest of their money). And without seeing the raw data, we don't know how close the top-ranked teams were to the second- or third- or even 10th-ranked teams.
Finally, the piece doesn't consider how the top-ranked teams actually fared in the subsequent regular and postseason (were the 2001 Yankees, who lost the World Series by one run, the No. 1 spending team the previous offseason? It's possible, given their big signing of Mike Mussina, and if so, can that really count as a failure?)
We're certainly not making plans for the Duck Boat parade just yet, but all things considered, it'll take a lot to convince us the Red Sox — under this management team — are better off not being the top-spending team in a given offseason.