I’m not at all comfortable with the glee some in the baseball world have had at the NFL’s labor issues. I mean, no, I really don’t care about the NFL all that much in and of itself and won’t miss it if it’s gone, but the situation is ugly there and I tend to think that when bad things happen in other sports that it’s bad for baseball in some way too.
Part of this is because I think the division between sports fans and non-sports fans is more significant than the division between baseball fans and, say, football fans. Because of this, I worry that if football’s ills turn people off, it risks turning them off sports, not just off football. Likewise, to the extent there is litigation between the NFL players and the league, it will likely have implications for labor relations in other sports too, so baseball fans do have a stake in all of this.
So no, my interest in the NFL’s labor situation has not been one borne of schadenfreude. It’s been more of cautious curiosity and at least a mild bit of trepidation.
Against that backdrop comes a thought-provoking article from Larry at IIATMS, in which he talks about how the existence of the salary cap is so central to the current NFL battle and how, if baseball had one like so many people want, it would likely make its labor problems worse, not better. It’s worth a read, especially if you’ve found yourself engaged in the salary cap wars over the past 15 years or so.
The larger lesson to take from this is that there really aren’t any panaceas in this world. Things that solve problem X always — always — lead to unintended consequence Y. Those consequences may be minor or they may be major, but the point is that anyone who says that any given course of action would cure all of a complicated system’s ills is pretty much full of it.
Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:
The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.
The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.
I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.
In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.