Saturday, February 16, 2019

MLB Free Agency

MLB players are wringing their hands over the supposedly slow pace of free agent signings, and there is talk of a player's strike when the current contract runs out. However, upon closer examination it is obvious that the problem isn't the owners' reluctance to sign free agents; rather, it is that the players are overvaluing their worth.

Even since Bill James did some groundbreaking research in the '80s which revealed that a player's prime is 26-30, and not 28-32 as previously believed, the owners have continued to give long-term contracts to players in their 30s, usually to their ultimate chagrin.  But now, the owners have finally wised up and realized what any astute baseball observer has known for over 30 years, and that is that it is sheer folly to give a long-term contract to a player in his 30s.  There are too many examples like Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez for the owners to be able to  ignore this reality anymore.

Bryce Harper turned down a 10-year, $300 million contract.  What in the world was he thinking?  The idea that anybody in their right mind would top this is ludicrous. 

One thing that baseball management has been evolving to is what Sports Illustrated has termed "the gig economy".  This consists of more use of role players and less use of everyday starters, as illustrated by the Dodgers, who have won two consecutive National League pennants without any player starting 140 games in a season and without any pitcher throwing more than 175 innings in a season.

What this illustrates is that baseball is a "weakest link" game, in which it is impssible for one player to dominate.  After all, a slugger only comes to thee plate once every nine batters, and a starting pitcher only takes the mound once every five days.  It is more important, then, to have five or ten competent role players, which you can get for the same price as one superstar.

So, we see that the problem is that players overvalue their worth, pushed by the players union which is always working to raise the salaries, all of which are guaranteed.  If the players union strikes when the current contract ends, it will be the players who will end up with egg on their faces.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Mistreatment of Bob Costas

There has been no better sportscaster in my lifetime than Bob Costas. His intelligent, erudite commentary always has been right on target.

He was recently scheduled to host the Super Bowl as the last event in his remarkable 40-year career with NBC.  However, NBC, to its eternal shame, pulled him off the broadcast at the last minute, due to his comments on the danger of concussions. At a journalism symposium in Maryland, he had said that 'The reality is that this game destroys people's brains".

What Costas said is certainly true, and not news to anyone. And yet, NBC decided this was more honesty than it could tolerate.  This just illustrates the unholy alliance between the TV industry and the NFL.  Rather than practicing real journalism, NBC chose to kowtow to the NFL.  Boos and hisses to this pathetic excuse for a TV network.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Jeff Bezos and The National Enquirer

The National Enquirer has skated on the fringes of legality and respectability for a long time, but it is continuing on a downward trajectory into journalistic worthlessness.

The Enquirer used to brag that it had never been successfully sued for libel, but then Carol Burnett took extreme umbrage at a false story depicting her as an alcoholic, and sued and won, after giving heartbreaking testimony about how her parents had been alcoholics and for that reason she didn't drink herself.

And then we have the more recent stories about how the Enquirer assisted the Trump campaign and election by paying hush money to his mistresses.

But the Enquirer has met its match in Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.  Instead of lying down and capitulating to the Enquirer's blackmail demands, Bezos has pushed back, blogging in detail about the Enquirer's attempts to blackmail him into calling off an investigation into how the Enquirer obtained private emails and pictures of himself and his mistress. Bezos is 100% within his rights to have this matter investigated, as this information could not have been obtained by the Enquirer except through a blatant invasion of his privacy. 

Bezos published letters sent to his lawyer in which the Enquirer insists that the pictures it has published are a legitimate matter of public concern, which is debatable at best.  Bezos is not running for any office, and there is no basis for a claim that his private life is a legitimate subject of intrusion.  The Enquirer insists that it obtained the information in a normal news-gathering way, which is laughable since it could only have been obtained through illegal electronic surveillance.

We need more people like Jeff Bezos, people who are willing to stand up for what is right and decent. Kudos to him, and boos and jeers to the mud-slinging Enquirer.