My managerial ejection conspiracy theory

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Charlie Manuel was ejected early in today’s Phillies-Indians game. Game time temperature in Philly was 94 degrees and it’s probably getting hotter. The manager’s office is air conditioned, there’s HD TV, and if Cholly is as awesome as I like to imagine he is, there’s probably a six pack of Ballantine or Hamm’s or some other brand of defunct beer that only he can get because he knows a guy who knows a guy.

What’ I’m saying is, I think the fix is in and Charlie wanted a breather from the hot day.  I have no evidence for this. I’m just speculatin’ on a hypothesis. Worth noting though, that the Phillies were already up 4-0 at the time against a weak team. In short, it’s not a day that requires Manuel’s managerial expertise.

I’ve always thought that Bobby Cox does this, by the way. Indeed, there was a stretch there — especially between 2006 and 2009 when the Braves weren’t playing so hot — where if it was a day game above 85 degrees, you could almost guarantee that Cox was going to get run for arguing balls and strikes. And he wouldn’t put up much of a fight, either. He’d go straight to the magic words, sometimes barely leaving the dugout before he was ejected. I think he was jonesin’ for the AC as well.

And I’m not being critical here. I love it!  Probably because I’m a giant wuss when it comes to heat and I’m totally projecting on two of my favorite managers in the game. I wish I could do what they do, and I’d like to pretend that they’d do what I’d do, even if doing so is pretty selfish and irresponsible. It’s probably also worth mentioning that when I woke up this morning my air conditioner wasn’t working and, as I type this, a repairman is working on it while the temperature in my house climbs above 80.

So, yeah, double the envy of the beer sipppin, feet-on-the-desk Charlie Manuel, who (in my mind at least) is thinking that today’s adversary Manny Acta is an A-1 sucker for not gettin’ wise to his plan, see?

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts continues to cry poor

Tom Ricketts
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
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MLB owners and the MLB Players Association continue to hash out details, some in public, about a 2020 baseball season. The owners have been suggesting a shorter season, claiming that they lose money on every game played without fans in attendance. The union wants a longer season, since players are — as per the March agreement — being paid a prorated salary. Players thus make more money over the 114 games the MLBPA suggested than the 50 or so the owners want.

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has been among the more vocal owners in recent weeks, claiming that the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing shutdown of MLB has greatly hurt MLB owners’ business. Speaking to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, Ricketts claimed, “The scale of losses across the league is biblical.”

Ricketts said, “Here’s something I hope baseball fans understand. Most baseball owners don’t take money out of their team. They raise all the revenue they can from tickets and media rights, and they take out their expenses, and they give all the money left to their GM to spend.” Ricketts continued, “The league itself does not make a lot of cash. I think there is a perception that we hoard cash and we take money out and it’s all sitting in a pile we’ve collected over the years. Well, it isn’t. Because no one anticipated a pandemic. No one expects to have to draw down on the reserves from the past. Every team has to figure out a way to plug the hole.”

Pertaining to Ricketts’ claim that “the league itself does not make a lot of cash,” Forbes reported in December that, for the 17th consecutive season, MLB set a new revenue record, this time at $10.7 billion. In accounting, revenues are calculated before factoring in expenses, but unless the league has $10 billion in expenses, I cannot think of a way in which Ricketts’ statement can be true.

MLB owners notably don’t open their accounting books to the public. Because the owners were crying poor during negotiations, the MLBPA asked them to provide proof of financial distress. The owners haven’t provided those documents. Thus, unless Ricketts opens his books, his claim can be proven neither true nor false, and should be taken with the largest of salt grains. If owners really are hurting as badly as they say they are, they should be more than willing to prove it. That they don’t readily provide that proof suggests they are being misleading.

It’s worth noting that the Ricketts family has a history of not being forthcoming about their money. Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts got into hot water last year after it was found he had used inaccurate information when paying property taxes. In 2007, he bought two properties and demolished both, building a new, state-of-the-art house. For years, Ricketts used information pertaining to the older, demolished property rather than the current property, which drastically lowered his property taxes. Based on the adjustment, Ricketts’ property taxes increased from $828,000 to $1.96 million for 2019, according to The Chicago Tribune. Ricketts also had to pay back taxes for the previous three years.

At any rate, the owners want to pass off the financial risk of doing business onto their labor force. As we have noted here countless times, there is inherent risk in doing business. Owning a Major League Baseball team has, for decades, been nearly risk-free, which has benefited both the owners and, to a lesser extent, its workforce. The pandemic has thrown a wrench into everybody’s plans, but the financial losses these last three months are part of the risk. Furthermore, when teams have done much better business than expected, the owners haven’t benevolently spread that wealth out to their players, so why should the players forfeit even more of their pay than they already are when times are tough?