The Angels and the Tigers: men behaving badly


I had all kinds of fun yesterday watching that gonzo Angels-Tigers game.  But really, no one distinguished themselves once it got all ugly. For those who missed it:

  • Magglio Ordonez may or may not have shown up Jered Weaver by posing for a home run after he hit it.  I actually buy Ordonez’s argument that he was merely watching to see if it went foul — that was my thought as I watched it live — but Weaver obviously felt differently.
  • Carlos Guillen then really did pose (and preen and strut and generally act like an ass) after his home run off Weaver.
  • Weaver then did the absolutely inexcusable in throwing the next pitch at Alex Avila’s head.  Really, no excuse whatsoever. You could end a guy’s career with that kind of crap. Or worse.  If I was in charge I’d suspend Weaver 20 games for that.
  • Erik Aybar bunted in an effort to break up Verlander’s no-hitter.  This is a fun one. On the one hand, yes, it’s an alleged violation of the unwritten rules to do this.  And maybe I agree if it’s a 9-0 game, but this was a close game and Aybar came around to score, so no worries.  Except, isn’t it possible that the play can both be defensible against charges of an unwritten rule violation but also be kind of a dick move?  I bet the Angels wanted to mess with Verlander and get a guy on base and were content to do both at the same time. So while I don’t care if he bunted, let’s not pretend that it was a purely tactical move.
  • Oh, and Aybar’s “reached on an error” should have been a single. Only a hometown official scorer gives Verlander a throwing error in that situation. Didn’t matter given that the no-hitter was broken up on a clean single, but it’s still worth noting.
  • And of course Aybar threw an elbow at Verlander as he crossed home plate.

Add in all of the in-game and post-game beefing from these guys — I counted at least three F-bombs yelled from players during the game —  and we have a game in which everyone came off badly.

The worst thing of all, though?  These two teams don’t play each other again until next year.  Sigh.

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.