A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

Rain Delays Are Now Obama’s Fault

by evanmcmurry

Last month, George Will blamed Obama for college football. Or something; nobody was quite sure what he was talking about. Not to be outdone, this week William Kristol offered the following thought on Obama and baseball:

When The Decline and Fall of the American Republic is written centuries hence, the date October 17, 2012, will occupy a prominent place in the narrative. On this day, a playoff game between the Yankees and the Tigers in Detroit was called not because of rain, but because of … the threat of rain. Just as today’s “liberalism has become hardly more than a trembling in the presence of illiberalism,” so, in Obama’s America, Major League Baseball cancels games not because of rain but because of trembling in the presence of the threat of rain.

Ordinarily, here’s where I’d blah blah blah something about “When the intellectual powers of an ideological movement countenances its base dabbling in conspiracy theories, it eventually becomes susceptible to forms of those theories itself.” But the above is too stupid and strange to even warrant analysis. At least at the time of Will’s column, Romney’s campaign was in the gutter, and Will was just distracting himself.* Kristol has no such excuse.

* Why he gets to distract himself in the pages of the Washington Post is another story.

Falling Up, A-Rod Edition

by evanmcmurry

It’s bad enough when the most expensive player in baseball history hits so poorly in the postseason that he’s benched. But I have a feeling that following the Yankees’ record-low .188 BA in the playoffs, this is what’s on management’s mind the most:

Rodriguez has five years and $114 million remaining on his contract, not including milestone home run bonuses.

It’s not the money you paid for a lemon that hurts; it’s the money you still owe once you realize it’s a lemon. The Yankees better hope the Miami Marlins are as stupid as they seem: the team that bought a slew of expensive free agents last summer only to finish far in last place is eyeing Rodriguez as a hometown draw.

Thus begins one more chapter in ballclubs’ baffling insistence on doubling down on overpriced players. Here’s what I wrote after the Sox/Dodgers trade a couple months ago:

The Sox just traded a very good (but still massively overpaid) player in Adrian Gonzalez solely for the opportunity to unload [Carl] Crawford’s contract. This should be an advertisement for reigning in ballplayer salaries. Everybody should be looking at what happened to the Sox with Crawford (to say nothing of Dice-K, Lackey, etc.) and concluding that massive salaries are not worth the risk.

Instead, the opposite just happened. The Los Angeles Dodgers willingly took on Crawford’s overvalued salary solely for the opportunity to pay Adrian Gonzalez his overvalued salary…The Dodgers essentially doubled down on the overpayment of players, effectively hoping through this trade that not only will Adrian Gonzalez be worth $25 million or so per year in five years, but he’ll also be worth Crawford’s $20 million a year. In other words, the market, rather than returning commodities to their normal exchange value, is participating in their over-valuation. Rather than reigning in irresponsible behavior, the market is encouraging it. I realize that Major League Baseball isn’t a perfect simulacrum of capitalism, but still, isn’t this the opposite of how it’s supposed to work?

If the Marlins buy A-Rod’s contract, it’ll be an even more egregious example of the above complex. Once again, isn’t this the opposite of how markets are supposed to work?