I See You Shiver, with Anticip... (12/07/01)
Science Fiction Double Feature
Bud Selig is before the House Judiciary Committee, trying to convince legislators that not only is the sport in bad financial shape, but that repealing the sport's anti-trust exemption would not help matters.
As has been pointed out in numerous articles on the financial health of baseball, Major League baseball made an estimated $400 million in 2000. When the Indians were a partially publicly traded company just a few years ago, they were shown to be an incredibly lucrative business. And yet Selig is trying to convince anyone who'll listen that somehow baseball lost $500 million last year despite the fact that player salaries took less of a percentage of baseball's overall income. In fact, several ex-owners (the author of the San Diego Fire Sale Tom Werner being one of them) are looking to get back into the business of "losing money" in baseball.
He's also trying to convince people that moving a team is bad, even if the ownership is incompetent, the market is lousy and/or there are dozens of people lining up to buy and reinvigorate the team. Repealing the anti-trust exemption would allow owners to move their team to greener pastures without the approval of the other owners. Nevermind the irony that Selig himself acquired his own team, the Brewers, by moving them from Seattle. There is nothing wrong with the Expos that competent ownership couldn't fix. If it can't be fixed in Montreal, it certainly can be in Northern Virginia/DC. And there's nothing wrong with the Twins that someone who isn't the embodiment of greed couldn't fix. And there are no shortage of prospective buyers.
In the movie Rocky Horror Picture Show, the mad scientist in charge of things ends up having many of his dark secrets exposed, one of which is that he ends up taking his orders from Riff Raff. It's funny how life often imitates art.
Let's Do the Time Warp again
It looks as though Jason Giambi will be in Yankee pinstripes for the foreseeable future. And despite whatever he says about winning, it's clearly about the money. Look, if Jason's brother makes any attempt to slide in Game 3 of the ALDS last year, his team, not the Yankees, is playing for the World title in Arizona. For the past two years, the A's have been one out away from eliminating the Yanks in the playoffs. With the A's farm system churning out quality players to replace increasingly feeble veterans on the team, it was only a matter of time - perhaps this year - that the A's start winning championships. Of course, that was provided that Giambi stayed.
Yankee fans always point to the fact that the core of their team - Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mario Rivera - is entirely from the Yankee's farm system. "You see," they say, "we're not winning because we spend the most money. It's because we do all the baseball things - scouting and development - better than anyone."
Nevermind that the Yankees always spend as much money as they want to sign prospects. In fact, the last prospect the Yankees were unable to come to terms with was some guy named John Elway and that's because he wanted to play football, not because of money.
But do those Yankee fans realize that those 5 core players will make more than $50 million next year? The Yankees bungled numerous opportunities to sign each of them to long term contracts for much less money, but kept them with the team despite having to pay more than top dollar for each of them. What other team in baseball can be so foolish and still keep those players? The A's similarly bungled their negotiations with Giambi last spring and look what happened. It isn't about the money? Well, if the Yanks can keep their players despite big negotiating mistakes and take advantage of other teams making similar mistakes, even the most strident Yankee fan would have to admit money plays a very significant role in the Yanks' success. And after getting as much as he reportedly is getting from the Yanks despite receiving a bolstered offer from the A's, so should Jason Giambi.
Interesting to note that in the 1949, a similarly skilled first baseman (high on base percentage and one of the leading sluggers in his league) came to the Yanks to replace a long-time Yankee first baseman coming off a career year. And while Johnny Mize was 36 at the time and on the downside of his career, the situation echoes with eerie similarity.
Hot Patootie, Bless My Soul
The last couple of months have been very good for me, both personally and professionally. On October 27, I became a dad. But more germane to you, the reader, is that if you enjoy reading this website, there'll be more of me to read in 2002. The STATS Inc. Major League Scouting Notebook will come out in January. And so along with reading the team evaluations of writers like Peter Gammons, Tracy Ringolsby, Mat Olkin, David Rawnsley and John Sickels, you can read my evaluation of the San Diego Padres. Needless to say, it's a huge thrill and honor to be in the company of giants. I doubt this opportunity would have been available to me without your support and contributions. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.