Picture this: 21 Hall-worthy players jamming the ballot


Rob Neyer does some back-of-the-envelope figuring and determines that, come 2014, there may be 21 Hall of Fame-quality players on the ballot. Most of them will be kept out because of PED prejudice, but will garner enough support to where it will likely erode support for the non-PED users who are viewed by many as lesser candidates. Backlog city.  Rob goes on:

Has anyone even begun to consider the implications? Has the Hall of Fame’s board of directors considered the implications? Have the BBWAA’s Hall of Fame voters considered the implications of having more than 20 strong Hall of Fame candidates on the ballot?

The only way to break through this logjam is to start electing more than one or two candidates every year. And the only way to elect more than one or two per year is to reconsider this infantile, ahistorical, asinine version of morality that seems to have quite suddenly afflicted a huge percentage of the voters.

Yep. And as we discussed this morning, no one in a position to do anything about it seems to care.

Rob is not pessimistic about it, though. He thinks something will give, be it a current Hall of Famer being revealed to be a PED user, one PED guy sneaking in past the goalie or whatever.  I hope he’s right.

New tax law could affect MLB trades

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Jim Tankersley of the New York Times notes that a tax law passed by Republicans could affect trades in Major League Baseball. The law added the word “real” to a certain line of tax code that now only allows real estate trades to qualify for tax immunity. Previously, certain assets like trucks and machinery could have been traded tax-free.

A perhaps unintended consequence of that change could mean baseball teams could have to pay capital gains taxes when they trade away and acquire players. MLB’s chief legal officer Dan Halem said, “There is no fair market value of a baseball player. There isn’t. I don’t really know what our clubs are going to do to address the issue. We haven’t fully figured it out yet. This is a change we hope was inadvertent, and we’re going to lobby hard to get it corrected.”

Tankersley wonders how players would be valued for the purposes of this tax law:

Mr. Verlander, for example, was clearly a more immediately valuable asset to the Astros than the three prospects they traded to get him. He gave up only four runs in his five regular-season starts for the team, then won four straight starts to begin the playoffs. In very simple terms, he brought value to the Astros in a trade, and had the new law been in place last year, the team would have owed taxes on that added value.

But what, exactly, was that value? Was it the size of his contract? Mr. Verlander earned $28 million last year, while the players traded for him drew minor-league salaries. Was it the additional wins he brought to the team? Statisticians estimate Mr. Verlander gave the Astros nearly two more wins last season, a value that, depending on the statistician, could reach $20 million. Or was it some calculation of the total future value Mr. Verlander will bring to the team, minus the total future value it gave up in the prospects it traded away — and possibly adjusted for the amount the team will have to pay Mr. Verlander?

Complicating matters further is that teams value players differently, and one player might help a certain team far more than another team. A struggling club with a surplus of starting pitchers might trade one to a playoff contender in desperate need of one, in exchange for position players who could improve a struggling lineup. In that case, both teams could, reasonably, be considered to have gained value in the trade, and thus would owe taxes on it.

Republicans said they weren’t trying to hamstring sports teams, but that’s exactly what they might have done here. It seems likely that the law will eventually be amended to exempt sports teams, given that leagues like the MLB and NBA are enormous and worth so much money. Whether that will be done in a reasonable amount of time is another question entirely.