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Friday, March 27, 2009
If you thought "Official Luxury Car of the New York Yankees" was too much, get a load of what they're doing in Milwaukee:
Every Milwaukee Brewers fan knows what Bernie Brewer does after every home run: He slides down a slide.
Fine, let them make a buck because, hey, they gotta pay Ryan Braun and everyone somehow. And besides, it's not like Bernie Brewer is some sacred thing that can't be befouled by marketing. Sacredness in Milwaukee begins and ends with the sausage racers, so no, the idea of sponsoring Bernie Brewer's slide doesn't bother me. What does bother me is that it's a water park doing the sponsoring.
For years, Bernie Brewer did what God and Nature intended: he slid into a giant mug of beer following home runs. That's what you would do if given the chance, and damn skippy, that's what I'd do too. With the move to Miller Park, however, the Brewers decided to sanitize this into a big playground slide thing with no delicious, ice-cold beer waiting for him at the end. It was sad. It was unnecessary. It flew in the face of everything I thought the State of Wisconsin stood for. Now it's a water slide, which constitutes even greater mission creep than the kids' slide. After all, who among us hasn't had a beer at a children's playground? I've never hoisted the moist at a water park, however, rendering the Bernie-beer connection almost non-existent.
And it may backfire too! I mean, really, who can afford a trip to a fancy water park in these troubled times? Not many of us, I say, so the good people at Kalahari Resorts may not see much of a return on their investment. In light of this, would it not be better to return to the escapism and the sweet, sweet release of alcohol symbolized best by a man with a mustache sliding into a beer mug?
(thanks to Lar for the heads up)
Remember the Japanese schoolgirl (hello search engine-driven hits!) who got drafted to pitch in that independent league? She has made her debut:
Japan's first female professional baseball player made her debut Friday, striking out one batter in the ninth inning.
And she throws a knuckleball. Man, if she were only ten years older . . .
(thanks to Ron Rollins for the heads up)
Allen Barra lays the lumber to Derek Jeter:
This will be Jeter’s 14th season (not counting 1995, when he only played 15 games), and judging from the blogs and radio call-in shows, Yankee fans are assuming that he is a walking Hall of Famer, but I don’t necessarily think that’s true. If he pulled a Thurmon Munson, I think he’d get in. His credentials are pretty good.
Jason, in turn, lays the lumber to Alan Barra:
Sorry, you cannot even suggest, in jest, that anyone "pulls a Thurman". This is about as low as you can go, the hackiest of hacks. What sort of person would even consider this an option in a published piece? Second, you simply cannot spell Thurman's name wrong. Inexcusable. How an editor can let either slide by? Maybe if Barra "pulls a Thurman", he can win a Pulitzer.
I'm with Jason here. Barra is normally all aces, but I think the Munson comment -- while maybe being something a bombthrower like me might write from time to time -- is in poor taste and beneath Barra's considerable stature. More importantly, I think Barra is crazy if he thinks that Jeter wouldn't go into the Hall of Fame today absent a plane crash. Jason lays out his credentials nicely in his post. Jeter is no Steve Garvey (i.e. a guy everyone thinks is a Hall of Famer while he's playing only to reconsider years later). He's an elite historical talent at his positon for the league's marquee team, and the fact that he owns four World Series rings and an enormous -- even if outsized -- reputation as a leader and a winner doesn't hurt his cause.
Yesterday I ran two posts about potential unrest in the Land of the Lords of the Realm. You can read them here and here. Upshot: even billionaire playboys are not immune to the current economic downturn, and in fact they are particularly vulnerable if they either (a) depend on real estate for their fortune or cash flow; or (b) need cash right now. Upshot of the upshot: it seems inescapable to me that franchise values are or should be falling, and that absent artificial prop-jobs like the Moorad-Moores deal, owners are going to take baths on the resale of their franchises for the foreseeable future. That, in turn, will likely have some depressing effects on salaries and other spending by baseball teams.
In response to the second piece, your friend and mine, Jason from IIATMS, had this to say:
Last I checked, there were many mega-rich left standing, even with the market, Madoff, TARP, AIG, etc.
I think Jason is generally right about that, but the key is not whether there are willing buyers out there, it's the price at which these ego-driven buyers will ultimately offer. My very good friend Ethan Stock -- whose mostly technology but occasionally political blog can be found here and whose very cool business can be found here -- feels the same way. Except, unlike me, he's smart enough to flesh out that observation in detail, and he has forwarded that fleshing out to me. I now offer it as a guest post. Take it away Ethan:
I read Jason from IIATMS’ first comment and, with all due respect, here’s Jason, the shorter version: “Prices can’t fall here, because this is a really nice neighborhood”.
I'm not sure what to make of Ethan's estimate of franchise values going down 75% -- seems high to me on some gut level -- but Ethan is about the smartest guy I've ever met. He was talking about the housing bubble bursting before most of us were even aware of the bubble to begin with, and I think he's dead on with respect to the overall dynamics at play with franchise values as well.
What would the Padres go for on the open market today? What would the A's bring if Wolff had to liquidate tomorrow? Not every team comes complete with a license to print broadcasting and merchandising bucks like the Yankees and Red Sox do, and eventually the current owners -- or their heirs -- are going to be selling. People thought the Cubs would bring a billion bucks in a heartbeat, and while they're still pretty valuable, the billion is not happening. It's very likely that the insane appreciation franchises have seen over the past 10-15 years is over.
Yes, someone will probably always be around to buy a baseball team, but if they do, it will be at a nice discount and with greatly diminished expectations that they themselves might flip the asset one day. That will cause year-to-year cashflow to assume a much greater importance, which will in turn create greater pressure to keep salaries low and to market everything that isn't nailed down. Such a thing is likely to change baseball, in some ways for the worse (i.e. I can see the next CBA negotiation getting really nasty) and in some ways for the better (since winning = attendance, it may encourage owners to take a much greater interest in fielding a winning team).
How much change? I don't know. But changes will come.
I felt a great disturbance in the fantasy baseball Force, as if millions of Matt Wieters owners cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced:
The Orioles told top prospect Matt Wieters on Thursday that he will be reassigned to the Triple-A Norfolk roster effective Monday.
I can only assume this is to mess with his arbitration clock. And I can't say I wouldn't do the same thing if were the Orioles' GM.
As for the Wieters-owners in fantasy leagues: fear not. Based on the comically over-the-top projections for the guy, I can only assume that, though He is down now, He will rise again around Easter.
The Reds are going with a dollar menu at Great American Ballpark this year:
It might seem just like a fast-food restaurant when you walk into Great American Ball Park for a Reds game this season.
I've been beaten up around here in the past for screwing up on math, so tell me if I mess this up, but the way I figure it, the Reds will be charging 78% less than the original price for a hot dog that is 40% smaller than the typical size. That's a real deal, so unless they limit the number of Value Dogs per person, they may eliminate the market for their full priced dogs. If they do limit the number, however, it may create a Value Dog black market.
So I guess what I'm saying is, there will be uncontrolled chaos at Great American Ballpark this summer.
Today at THT will run later today (maybe). I got a late start this morning -- I blame the cold medicine -- and can't devote the time to it I'll need to. The line for complaints forms on the left. I'll be on the right.
Regular blogging will resume on its usual schedule. The line for complaints about that forms behind the other line.