Economist who is paid to consult for MLB offers pro-MLB opinions in a newspaper report

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Andrew Zimbalist is probably the best known sports economist around.  Recently he gave an interview to the Tampa Bay Times about the viability of the Rays in St. Pete vs. in Tampa and offered some solutions to the Rays’ current quandary. Those solutions were basically in line with what MLB most wishes for the Rays. Strikingly in line, actually, with what Rays owner Stuart Sternberg was saying as he made the rounds last week arguing about the problems the Rays face, including the argument that the Rays may be eventually contracted.

Which is fine. Everyone has an opinion, and Zimbalist is an authority on the subject. But here’s the kicker: Zimbalist is currently being paid as an MLB consultant and didn’t disclose that when he was interviewed.

Noah Pransky made this discovery and susses it all out over at his Shadow of the Stadium blog.  It’s worth reading. And it’s worth remembering to be very mindful of your source, however respectable his credentials happen to be, when listening to anyone holding forth on matters relating to stadiums and economics.

Maybe most especially Andrew Zimbalist.

(thanks to Jonah Keri for finding the Pransky post and Dan Lewis for finding that last little nugget on Zimbalist)

The Marlins made an empty threat. Giancarlo Stanton made an empty promise.

Associated Press
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I covered the main press conference about Giancarlo Stanton earlier, but afterward he and his agents fanned out to various TV shows, radio shows and reporter scrums from which some new, fun things have spun out. Part of what they’ve talked about is silly and meaningless, part of it just meaningless.

Here’s the silly and meaningless, from a Marlins official, apparently, trying to bully Stanton into accepting either the Giants or the Cardinals trades despite the fact that he told them beforehand that he was not willing to go to either of those teams:

This is silly because it comes off like a threat. Like the worst possible thing that can happen to a guy is to stay with the very team that is making the threat. It’s like telling your wife that if she does not leave you, she’s stuck with you forever.

It’s meaningless too, in that Stanton has an opt-out clause after 2020. If the Marlins could not make a trade Stanton would approve, he’d simply collect close to $90 million and then leave at age 30. Oooh, don’t throw me into that briar patch, Mr. Jeter!

Not that Stanton’s people are offering statements of serious gravitas. His agent was asked about Stanton’s opt-out rights, which he retains even though he’s now with the Yankees:

That may very well be true! He just got here and everything is going great so far. It’s totally empty, of course, because anything can happen between now and the fall of 2020. If the big time free agents of the next two years sign for the sort of money that makes Stanton look underpaid, he’ll certainly opt-out, even if he wants to stay with the Yankees. Ask Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia how that works. The opt-out clause is pure, unadulterated leverage for a player and unless he totally craters over the next three seasons he’ll most certainly use it, regardless of present desires.

Which, hey, that’s how things work when a big trade or free agent signing happens. Everyone who has lost looks bad and everyone who won sounds happy. Then, later, the baseball happens.