Government subsidies to corporate fat cats raise your ticket prices

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Plutocrat.jpgYeah, the headline was a bit much, but I like saying “fat cats” whenever I can. This is a story about why tickets to ballgames cost so much:

There are many reasons for the price explosion, but a critical factor
has been the ability of businesses to write off tickets as
entertainment expenses — essentially a huge, and wholly unnecessary,
government subsidy.

These deductions have led to higher ticket
prices in two ways. On the demand side, they have fueled competition for
scarce seats, with business taxpayers bidding in part with dollars they
save through the deductions. On the supply side, the large
number of businesses bidding for expensive seats has driven the
expansion of luxury skyboxes and a reduction in overall seats in new
ballparks.

Of course any politician who tried to repeal tax breaks for luxury boxes would be attacked for trying to “raise” taxes on business. Meanwhile, anyone who wants to use tax dollars to provide basic medical care to poor people is a godless socialist who hates America and everything for which it stands.

I sat in a luxury box for a baseball game once. It was interesting in both good and bad ways. I don’t begrudge their existence. But I never once felt like it was something the government should be subsidizing.

Zack Greinke named the Dbacks’ Opening Day starter

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 21:  Pitcher Zack Greinke #21 of the Arizona Diamondbacks poses for a portrait during photo day at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on February 21, 2017 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Not a surprise, but a news item on a slow news day is a news item on a slow news day: Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo has named Zack Greinke as the club’s Opening Day starter.

Greinke’s first season with the Diamondbacks is not exactly what the club hoped for when he signed a six-year, $206.5 million deal in December of 2015. He dealt with oblique and shoulder issues while struggling to a 4.37 ERA over 26 starts. Greinke hasn’t pitched yet this spring, but will make his spring debut on Friday. He and the club are obviously hoping for a quiet March and a strong beginning to the season.

Either for its own sake or to increase the trade value of a player who was acquired by the previous front office regime.

“La Vida Baseball,” celebrating Latino baseball, launches

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A new website has launched. It’s called “La Vida Baseball,” and it’s all about celebrating the past, present and future of Latino baseball from a Latino perspective.

The site, produced in partnership with the Hall of Fame, has four general areas of focus:

  • Who’s Now: Focusing on current Latino players;
  • Who’s Next: Focusing on top prospects here, in the Caribbean and in Central and South America;
  • Our Life: Off-the-Field stuff, including player’s lives, lifestyles and hobbies; and
  • Our Legends: Focusing on Latino baseball history, Hall of Famers and overlooked players.

As the site has just launched there aren’t yet a ton of stories up there, but there is one about Roberto Clemente, another about Felix Hernandez and some other stuff.

The site is much-needed. Baseball reporters for American outlets are overwhelmingly white, non-Spanish speakers. Reporters, who, generally, gravitate to the players who are the most like they are. Which is understandable on some level. When you’re writing stories about people you need to be able to communicate with them and relate to them on more than a mere perfunctory level. As such, no matter how good the intentions of baseball media, we tend to see the clubhouse and the culture of baseball from a distinctly American perspective. And we tend to paint Latino players with a broad, broad brush.

La Vida Baseball will, hopefully, remedy all of that and will, hopefully, give us a fresh and insightful depiction Latino players and their culture.