May 23, 2013
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Monday, January 05, 2009
This has nothing to do with baseball or even sports, but since a lot of sciencey types read THT, I thought it worth noting. From an AP story about the size of our galaxy:
Take that, Andromeda! For decades, astronomers thought when it came to the major galaxies in Earth's cosmic neighborhood, our Milky Way was a weak sister to the larger Andromeda. Not anymore. The Milky Way is considerably larger, bulkier and spinning faster than astronomers once thought, Andromeda's equal.
When was the last time you saw even the most basic science story describe the concept of mass as "like weight"? Mass is mass and weight is weight, and the last I checked, it was a concept that was taught in grade school. Heck, when was the last time you saw a science story that felt it necessary to explain the concept of mass at all?
I am far from an arbitration expert, but the book on the process over the years is that it is one to be avoided for several reasons.
For one thing, there is no baby splitting, meaning that if you lose, the other side's number wins, and nothing in between. Yes, this is probably intended as an incentive to deal, but if no deal is reached in the meantime, there is a lot of risk involved.
Another thing people hate about arbitration is that it forces a team to essentially poor-mouth their own player right in front of him, or at least his representative. Want to win an arbitration? You have to explain why your guy is nowhere near the player of the three or four comparables his lawyer has up on the PowerPoint. That can't be good for morale.
Finally, there are the lawyers themselves. An arbitration is an adversary proceeding, and that requires lawyers and fees and prep time and all of that, and no matter who is footing the bill, an adversary proceeding can be expensive.
So why then do the Phillies seem to insist upon entering arbitration with their young stars?
Fresh off a campaign in which Hamels established himself as one of the game's most dominant pitchers and became a World Series MVP at age 25, the young lefthander and his agent are prepared to cash in on his early success. But just how big of a payday they will reap remains to be seen. While logic says the Phillies would be prudent to lock up their young ace to a long-term deal, Hamels won't be a free agent until after the 2012 season, meaning the Phillies control his rights for the next four seasons.
I'm really not the right guy to run the numbers -- and maybe there aren't enough numbers to be run at this point -- but I wonder if there is some method to the Phillies madness or if, alternatively, they are simply penny wise and pound foolish. I mean, it's possible that someone has made a reasoned analysis that paying Hamels arbitration awards for the next three or four years and then letting him walk is a more efficient than signing him to a long term deal now. But if such an analysis exists, is it the same kind of analysis that led to the Phillies preferring Raul Ibanez over Pat Burrell? Like I said, I don't have a strong opinion here because this really isn't my area of expertise, but it certainly seems like Philadelphia is doing things differently with their young stars than any other team is.
Maybe they're right to do so -- they are the World Champs, after all -- but I wonder.
According to Rosenthal, it's two years and $16 million for Pat the Bat:
The Rays, filling their need for a power hitter, are close to signing free-agent Pat Burrell to a two-year, $16 million contract, according to major-league sources.
That a really good deal for a guy who will get on base at a .370 or .380 clip and slug .500. Much better than the one the Phillies gave to the guy who is replacing him in left.
It's for sale, anyway. Nice digs. Paid $3.5 million for it in 2005 and now wants north of $7 million. If he remains unsigned when spring training comes it means that he's overvaluing the market for corner outfielder/DH types just as much as he's overvaluing the market for real estate.
Richard Justice tries to get his mind around Andruw Jones falling off a cliff:
Whatever the reason, Andruw Jones is one of the real strange stories in sports because few players have fallen so far so fast.
Nothing wrong with the Justice piece. I just think that he and others who have written about Jones have dwelled on his weight and alleged lack of desire a bit more than is warranted and have discounted his injuries by the same amount. As others have noted, Jones changed his swing pretty dramatically prior to his power surge of 2005. Jones' dropoff in 2007 had a lot to do with nagging injuries that prevented him from really loading up like he had in 2005 and 2006, and by the end of that season, he looked completely lost and unable to adjust. Yes, the inability to adjust -- even to go back to his pre-2005 swing -- could very well be a sign of loss of focus or desire, but to suggest that Jones' trainwreck of a 2008 was all in his head or because he lost all of his talent or something is to overstate things.
As for his legacy? I think he had a chance to make the Hall of Fame if he had enjoyed a nice slow decline that tracked what you typically see from good players. No, he was never spectacular, but because he started so young, the counting stats following such a decline would have looked good (500 home runs, perhaps). Once you looked at his defense, that package would have made him a Hall of Famer in many people's eyes.
Falling off a cliff like he has? No chance, of course. He's toast, and maybe even off the ballot after year one. As a guy who has always liked Andruw Jones, I find this pretty sad.
UPDATE: Even sadder.
(link via Neate Sager, routed through Pete Toms. No, I don't understand Canadians either).
I'm a cat person, and as such, I don't like to hear about anyone's cat dying -- not even George Bush's. That said, it's pretty spiffy that he named his cat after Ruben Sierra.
Someone has taken the trouble to calculate the tax revenue to the State of New York by virtue of the big salaries being handed out to Sabathia, Teixeira, and Burnett, as well as existing obligations to Jeter and A-Rod:
Here's another way to add revenues to the hard-pressed state treasury: have pro games played in New York by high-priced athletes. To that end, the New York Yankees are likely to help add a few million dollars a year in personal income taxes from the salaries it will be paying to just four of its players.
All told, that's $3 million in tax revenue from those guys. If they all relocated to New York on a permanent basis, it would be $7 million.
Question for New Yorkers: is there sales tax on fast food there? If so, they're going to need to recalculate to account for Sabathia.
Here's a story from Saturday's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about the relationship between the Foley & Lardner law firm and Major League Baseball:
Mary K. Braza, the head of the sports industry team at the Foley & Lardner law firm, has a nice view of Milwaukee and Lake Michigan from her office at the U.S. Bank Center.
Foley does everything for baseball, and I'm assuming it's a pretty good client for Ms. Braza to have. This interested me, though:
Foley was, in fact, a key player in the Mitchell Report, baseball's defining document on the use of performance-enhancing substances. The report, produced by former Sen. George Mitchell and which came out a year ago, was Selig's effort to lay out the problems of baseball and performance-enhancing substances.
That's funny. My copy of the Mitchell Report says "DLA Piper" on the front page, which is George Mitchell's law firm. You'd think that they'd at least get a proper-name shoutout here. You'd also think that, given how political and superficial a document the Mitchell Report truly was, people would be running away from it as opposed to trying to take credit. Unless of course the pitch is "Hire us! We'll whitewash your business' problems so thoroughly that people will forget they ever happened!" You laugh, but there's a lot of money in that line of work.
That aside, this reads like a sales brochure for Foley. Or for any other large firm, really. My experience working for such places tells me, however, that whenever lawyers talk to you about how they'll "think proactively" for you and serve as "facilitators" it really means that they'll continue billing you at a healthy clip when there aren't any deals on the table and there isn't much pending litigation. Personally speaking? I'd rather hire smart salaried people in-house to, in Braza's words, "think about the next thing I have coming down the road" and have my expensive, outside, hourly lawyers on stand-by for bigger problems.
It's always a buyer's market for legal services as long as you at least try to approach it as such. The days where you can just hire the biggest firm in town and delegate all of your thinking to them like Major League Baseball seems to have done with Foley is a thing of the past.
MLB.com has a profile on Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera's eventual Hall of Fame chances. Straight forward enough, but this stuck out:
"Trevor Hoffman is a Hall of Famer, in my opinion," Commissioner Bud Selig once said. "So is Mariano Rivera. Look, Yogi Berra once said, 'If you ain't got relief pitching, you ain't got nothing.' So where in my mind do you think Trevor Hoffman figures? Relief pitchers are critical."
Call me crazy, but that does not sound like something Yogi Berra would have said. Rather, it sounds like one of those things people like to say that Yogi Berra said. A regular, boring statement Yogi-fied by the use of the word "ain't" and a double negative.
A few searches reveal nothing of that phrase other than Selig's use of it in this article. Your assignment, super sleuths: find me a single example of Berra saying something like that. If we can't find it, I'm going to assume this is an example of Selig hiding behind a phony quote of someone else, unable to make a solitary stand on even the most uncontroversial of issues.
UPDATE: We have at least one other source attributing that to Yogi (see the comments). If that holds up, I'll stand corrected and offer my sincerest apology to Mr. Selig. Still, it's not like there's a law that you have to have Berra backup to say something like Rivera and Hoffman are Hall of Famers.
There was talk last summer that the baseball facility built for the Olympics would help spur development of baseball in China, maybe even one day helping to make the land of billions a real source of talent for the bigs. Now it seems like the only development it will spur is that of an Orange Julius, a Gap, and an Auntie Annie's pretzel joint:
Hopes that Beijing's Olympic baseball venue would be preserved for the future development of the sport in China have been dashed as the stadium's developer revealed it would be dismantled and replaced by a shopping mall.
Hey, can't blame them. According to the article, the place has generated no income. Given the state of the global economy, I don't think there would be much opposition to them bulldozing Wrigley Field, the Hall of Fame, and Mickey Mantle's restaurant right now if they promised some jobs out of the deal.