Thursday, May 07, 2009

Reactions to Manny Being 'Roided

I linked to Buster Olney's post today because I want to take some exception to it. I started to write him a note through the ESPN form but I have noticed that everything I have ever tried to post as a comment to ESPN's website never actually showed up and I'm sure lots of things (or all three things, as the case may be) that I've sent to ESPN Columnists over the years have gone from my screen to oblivion with no stops in between. This isn't what I wanted to say but I think ESPN comments are actually B.S. that is put up by employees of the Disney family of broadcaters. Having said that, let's get on to the outrage.

It is not believable at this point to say that a player is stealing money from the club he plays for. No employee at any company is stealing money from the company unless they are out and out embezzling cash. The money we are paid is based on actuarial methods that figure out what is the least amount of money you can be paid and stay productive to the point that you are aiding in the generation of income. Is that a mouthful? You are being paid as little as the company can get away with. This goes for every business in the entire world and Major League Baseball teams are not separate from that. If anything, the superfluous monopoly exemption that baseball enjoys (superfluous in the sense that monopolization hasn't been an honest target of the feds since at least the LBJ years) serves to make the environment of baseball a petri dish for what the common man goes through. You know the separation between baseball players making millions and you struggling to pay your rent every month? It's a really strong union. The MLBPA should be teaching courses to young ACLU wannabes.

We need unions because we need people who actually have the means to cut through all of the accountant-speak B.S. Revenue is a misunderstood phenomenon for the most part. I've heard the CFO at my last job say that all the workers except for the sales force don't deserve more money because they don't generate revenue. I find this logic hard to swallow because if the other workers were not responsible actors in the production of revenue they wouldn't be there. Get it? You would not have your job if the company didn't need you. And the downside (bad company accounting) is that a workforce strikes and the company discovers, "Hey, we didn't really need all those people!" is only a death-blow in a vacuum. There is revenue available for every single human being on the planet but it is very much distibuted in an inverted pyramid. Now Buster Olney is, in all likelihood, not a party to the machinations of which he is espousing. He is a willing cog and a well rewarded cog in a machine that is, for the most part, unconscious. It might seem a bit radical to paint this man versus corporation picture. It may seem irresponsible and it may even seem flighty and/or dangerous. But it is true.

The Dodgers are not going to lose money on the Manny Ramirez deal. Their revenue streams are off the charts. Generally they are ranked as the 3rd or 4th most valuable franchise in baseball, sometimes as high as second. Their seats for this season are sold as much as one could hope for and they will finish in their customary spot among the top 3 in MLB attendance at the end of the year. Their merchandise and corollary income will dip slightly from the rate at which it was being produced in August-October of last year but it could also (and probably will) be more than offset by the fact that they are going to make a playoff run with Manny Ramirez. See, he's gone until July 3rd. Right before the All-Star break. So he will be there for the second half of the season. And the media interest in "Manny's Return" will generate sales to a public that is more indifferent to steroids scandals than one might think from reading ESPN and their ilk. Manny is going to help the Dodgers generate their several hundred million dollars in total revenue over the course of his 2.5 years in Los Angeles. He is not "stealing money" and it is disingenuous to suggest that the clubs are not complicit in the use of PEDs. Also, Buster? HGH is not the magic bullet here. Most of the athletes that are gaming the system are moved on to drugs that are not even in the imagination of drug testers or, more importantly, the companies that design the drug tests.

Over the last 25 years, the amount of money that sports generates has exploded. If shabby reporting is to be believed, this is the timeframe that coincides with the explosion in use for Perfermance Enhancing Drugs! So the economic lesson, in my best attempt at simplicity, is that PEDs enhance nothing more than the bottom line. What many sports writers and even sports fans really miss in the whole mass of "controversy" surround drugs is that the drugs make the games more entertaining. Would you be OK with Manny Ramirez looking like a regular schlub and doing things that you feel, in your heart of hearts, that you could do yourself? Hell NO! Atheltes are sacrificing their bodies for our entertainment and more power to them for that. The amount of money being spent on research into PEDs is good for the economy and it's good for people that want to be involved in sports but don't know how. You too can be the next Victor Conte! Don't pretend to be upset about it. And don't pretend that, in the context of a free market (an actual free market), Manny Ramirez has actually earned every cent in his career by performing a function that very few people, drugs included, could ever pretend to be anywhere close to performing. You feel it's justice to suspend him? Fine, suspend him to fill a void in a 100% PR world. But the hand-wringing has to stop. I don't feel any outrage towards Manny Ramirez. None. I feel outrage towards sanctimonious reporters and team officials acting like they couldn't figure out what was happening 20 years ago.

If I could take a drug to become a successful writer, knowing that it will probably shorten my life span and make me impotent and/or murderous, you have to know I would take it. And if I sold twenty million novels and died young with barely $100 million to my name then so be it. How is that different? If you can take a drug that will possibly help you make a shit-ton of money, don't pretend you won't take it. It's a silly pretension. Get over yourself. Athletes owe you entertainment for your money and that is all. Here's the dirty little secret to it all. You know how steroids are seen as a shortcut to athletic dominance? Guess what, Manny Ramirez still did a hell of a lot of work to be in position for the steroids to work and did a hell of a lot of work after he started taking steroids to stay in shape. It might have been aided but that shit is still very difficult. Keep your heads together, folks.

And in other Dodgers Suck News... I wrote several months ago about a horrible experience my disabled girlfriend and I, along with the family of a young girl (maybe 10?) who was crippled, had at Dodgers Stadium late last summer. And guess what? The Dodgers still haven't bothered to even acknowledge their poor handling of a situation they should already have been prepared for. We gave money to the bloodsuckers in the ticket office under a false pretense that was then proven faulty by security guards and stadium personnel violating several statutes of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The response? I hope you guys come back and spend some more money here! I have, at least, stayed true to my principle of not spending any money there this year. I would like to extend a hearty "screw you" to the whole Dodgers organization today and hope I am piling on, because Frank McCourt and his minions deserve it.

UPDATE: The Dodgers did give us some free tickets to a game vs. the Athletics in June. We paid for parking again and paid for concessions, but they did finally respond.