Tuesday, August 2, 2011

More on Beane's Post-Moneyball Trades

Yesterday we broke down some Billy Beane's post-Moneyball trades to see if he could still be considered a genius.  The results were split, the Hudson trade was terrible, the Mulder trade a stroke of artistry.  Today we look at two trades that also involved two top of the rotation talents and the Nick Swisher deal, all from 2008.  As we did yesterday we are using Wins Above Replacement as our measure of how players fared after each trade.  The higher the WAR the better the performance.

Rich Harden SP:
-6 years, 36-19, 541.2 IP, 3.42 ERA, WHIP 1.238, WAR 11.8
-2 years, 14-10, 212.0 IP, 3.31 ERA, WHIP 1.217, WAR 4.0
Sean Gallagher SP:
-2007, 0-0, 14.2 IP, 8.59 ERA, WHIP 2.114, WAR –0.5
-2 years, 3-5,  71.0 IP, 6.34 ERA, WHIP 1.746, WAR –1.5
Scott Hairston OF:
-2008, 362 PA, .248 AVG, .791 OPS, WAR 2.1
-1 year, 248 PA, .236 AVG, .653 OPS, WAR –0.8
Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B:
-2009, 529 PA, .255 AVG, .722 OPS, WAR 1.1
-2 years, 735 PA, .242 AVG, .666, WAR 0.6 (Sent to minors due to bad defense)

Eric Sogard IF:
-2009, 530 PA, .293 AVG, .771 OPS (Minors)
-1 year, 9 PA, .429 AVG, .984 OPS, WAR 0.0 (Still in Minors)

Eric Patterson 2B/LF:
-2008, 53 PA, .239 AVG, .625 OPS, WAR –0.5
-3 years, 325 PA, .221 AVG, .638 OPS, WAR -0.5
Fabian Williamson SP:
-2010, 9-5, 128.1 IP, WHIP 1.590
-No appearances, still in minors

Matt Murton LF:
-2007, 261 PA, .281 AVG, .791 OPS, WAR 0.7
-1 year, 31 PA, .100 AVG, .262, WAR –0.2
Corey Wimberly UTIL:
-2008, 449 PA, .291, .716 OPS, (Minors)
-No appearances, in minors elsewhere

Josh Donaldson:
-2008, 461 PA, .267 AVG, .772 OPS (Minors)
            -1 year, 34 PA, .156 AVG, .487 OPS, -0.3 (Currently in minors)

So Harden was an amazing talent who actually wasn't that helpful averaging just under two extra wins/year during his first stint with the A's.  After he left it was more of the same as he averaged the same two Wins Above Replacement in his next two years with Chicago and Texas.  The guys who came back in that trade and the guys those guys got traded for were actually much worse combining for a -3.3 WAR if we don't count the WAR shares from Kevin Kouzmanoff that we counted yesterday.  Still, unlike the Hudson trade this wasn't a bad deal at the time.  Billy, Rich, Rich's mom, and the rest of us knew he was going to get hurt again, and again, and again so trying to get something for him was the right move.

Joe Blanton SP:
-5 years, 47-46, 760.2 IP, 4.25 ERA, WHIP 1.330, WAR 8.9
-4 years, 26-16, 476.0 IP, 4.46 ERA, WHIP 1.380, WAR 2.6
Josh Outman SP:
-2007, 12-7, 159.1 IP, 2.99 ERA, WHIP 1.374 (Minors)
-3 years, 8-6, 139.2 IP, 3.67 ERA, WHIP 1.303 WAR 2.5

Adrian Cardenas IF:
-2007, 564 PA, .295 AVG, .770 OPS (Minors)
-Still in minors

Matthew Spencer OF:
-2007, 198 PA, .263 AVG, .789 OPS (Minors)
-Still in minors
Aaron Miles 2B:
-2009, 170 PA, .185 AVG, .466 OPS, WAR –1.4
-Never appeared for the A’s
Adam Rosales 2B:
-2009, 266 PA, .213, .620 OPS WAR –0.2
-2 years, 315 PA, .253 AVG, .696 OPS, WAR 1.0

Jake Fox LF/IF:
-2009, 241 PA, .259 AVG, .779 OPS, WAR 0.4
-1 year, 106 PA, .214 AVG, .591 OPS, WAR –0.5
Ross Wolf RP:
-2009, 4-2, 82 IP, 3.95 ERA, WHIP 1.256 (Minors)
-1 year, 0-0, 12.2 IP, 4.26 ERA, WHIP 1.421 WAR 0.0 (In minors elsewhere)
Win!  In limited action over the last three years Outman has already equaled Blanton's WAR production roughly 1/4 the number of innings.  Yes Blanton won a World Series but it wasn't the Joe Blanton show.  Spencer was turned into Aaron Miles, who never appeared for the A's, and Jake Fox.  Miles became Adam Rosales who's been worth 1 extra win over the last two years.  Sure Fox cost the team half a win and was traded for nothing but we're still up on this one.  Right now anything the A's get from Cardenas is a bonus.

Nick Swisher RF/1B:
-4 years, 1924 PA, .251 AVG, .825 OPS, WAR 9.0
-4 years, 2142 PA, .241 AVG, .800 OPS, WAR 9.7 (With Yankees)
Faustino De Los Santos RP:
-2007, 10-5, 122.3 IP, 2.65 ERA, WHIP .916 (Minors)
-1 year, 2.1 IP, 3.86 ERA, WHIP .857, WAR 0.0 (Prospect)

Gio Gonzalez SP:
-2007, 9-7, 150 IP, 3.18 ERA, WHIP 1.153 (Minors)
-4 years 20-25, 435.1 IP, 3.95 ERA, 1.413 WAR 5.6 (Doing well)

Ryan Sweeney OF:
-2007, 49 PA, .200 AVG, .599 OPS, WAR –0.3
            -4 years, 1453 PA, .290 AVG, .735 OPS, WAR 5.0 (Solid) 

Basically Swish has been Swish.  He hasn't changed much over time.  In return the A's got three very good prospects from the White Sox.  Sweeny and Gio have more than replaced Swisher's production with the downside being that they've taken up two positions on the field to do it.  If Sweeny had been able to equal Swisher's out put on his own this would have been a great trade.  As it is, the real story of this trade will likely depend on what Gio does for the rest of his time in the green and gold.  A likely scenario is that he'll eventually be traded for more prospects.  De Los Santos is likely on his way to Oakland right now and if he can produce this thing could swing slightly in the A's favor, as it is it's basically a wash.

Next time we wrap up this three part series by looking at actual replacement players.  Billy's let a few guys walk as free agents, I'll examine the value of those decisions.  Cheers.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Billy Bails

The 2011 MLB trade deadline has come and gone and even though the A's are going nowhere Billy Beane only made one move, sending relief pitcher Brad Ziegler to the Diamondbacks for a couple prospects. It may turn out to be a great move but the fact is the A's could have done so much more. Hideki Matsui, Coco Crisp, Rich Harden, Josh Willingham, David DeJesus, and Brandon McCarthy are all free agents at the end of the year and are unlikely to return. I for one was hoping for a complete fires ale of all players not under club control beyond this year but either Billy thinks he'd rather see what these guys have so he can gauge resigning them or the rest of baseball is scared. The A's did have a deal in place to send Rich Harden to the Red Sox but that fell through when the Sox got spooked. Maybe they saw a preview for the Moneyball movie and remembered how Billy fleeced so many other teams in the past.

So without much to analyze this year let's take a look back. Not all the way back, I don't want to ruin the movie for you so let's look at the post-Moneyball trades and see how good Billy has been. Some people have looked at the A's struggles since 2006 and scoffed that the Moneyball ideals don't work anymore. Of course this is complete buffoonery since the stats so revered in Moneyball (i.e. OPS) are now driving huge salaries in New York and Boston. Of course what the Moneyball philosophy is really about is finding out what people aren't paying huge money for and trying to get that skill on the cheap. In recent years in Oakland that's meant a return to valuing speed and defense, exactly the skills overvalued prior to the release of Moneyball.

So, how has our man Billy done since everyone found out how smart he is? Below is a break down of the major trades Billy's made since, and including, breaking up Oakland's vaunted Big Three back in 2004. The chart looks at three measures of player value, On-base Plus Slugging (OPS_ for hitters, Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched (WHIP) for pitchers and Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for both. For context here's how career OPS looks for three hitters, two are very good and one is famously bad:

Barry Bonds: 1.051
Albert Pujols: 1.041
Mario Mendoza: .507

You probably know Bonds and Pujols are great hitters. Mendoza is the name sake of "The Mendoza Line" which represents a .200 batting average.

For more context here's the WHIP numbers for three pitchers, again, two very good and one very bad.

Cy Young: 1.130
Sandy Koufax: 1.106
Vin Mazzaro 1.630

Cy Young is the guy they named the Cy Young award after. Sandy Koufax is someone you should look up if you don't know who he is. Vin Mazzaro recently had two of the worst days a pitcher has ever had. First he gave up 14 runs in 2.1 innings and was sent to the minors. It was statistcally the worst game ever pitched by anyone in the majors ever. For the year Mazzaro's WHIP sits at 2.137 which is just gawd awful.

I think the WAR stat is the most instructive here as it tells us what the stats meant in terms of each player contributing wins to the club over multiple seasons.

The chart is a little funky, each time you see an indent and a player's name and stats it means the indented player was traded for the player above him.  Each player blurb reads like this:

Name Name Pos:
-What they did the year(s) before the trade (and at what level)
-What they did after the trade (Comment)

For example, let's look at a trade that did not work out well for Oakland even if you figure the player, Tim Hudson, wasn't going to resign with the A's.

Tim Hudson SP:
-6 years, 92-39, 1240.2 IP, 3.30 ERA WAR 28.9
-7 years, 79-54, 1147.2 IP, 3.54 ERA WAR 19.5 (Still in ATL)

  • Charles Thomas OF:
  • -1 year, 267 PA, .288 AVG WAR 2.1
  • -1 year, 55 PA, .109 AVG WAR –0.2 (Last Appearance, out of baseball)
  • JD Closser C:
  • -2006, 112 PA, .196 AVG WAR -0.1
  • -No Appearances for Oakland (In minors elsewhere)
  • Juan Cruz RP:
  • -2004, 6-2, 75 IP, 2,75 ERA WAR 1.1
  • -1 year, 0-3, 32.2 IP, 7.44 ERA WAR –1.1 (Doing OK elsewhere)
  • Brad Halsey SP:
  • -2005, 8-12, 160 IP, 4.61 ERA WAR -0.1
  • -1 year, 5-4, 94.1 IP, 4.67 ERA WAR 0.4 (Last Appearance, in minors elsewhere)

Dan Meyer RP:
-2004, 9-6, 126.1 IP, 2.49 ERA (Minors)
-2 years, 0-6, 44.0 IP, 7.98 ERA WAR –1.8 (Journeyman, in minors elsewhere)

So how do we read this?  Well, Hudson did well enough in 6 years in Oakland that he likely helped the team win almost 29 extra games over that span, roughly 5 games/year.  In return the A's got three guys, plus two guys from a subsequent trade who combined to help them lose a combined 2.7 (negative WAR means the player is costing you wins) extra games over the next two years.  Essentially the A's would have been better off keeping Hudson in 2005 and then letting him walk.  In the meantime Hudson has continued to be pretty darn good for Atlanta helping them win almost 3 extra games/year compared to an average replacement player.

Now, let's look at a much more complicated but also much more successful trade, Mark Mulder:

Mark Mulder SP:
-5 years, 81-42, 1003 IP, 3.92 ERA, WHIP 1.284, WAR 17.5
-4 years, 22-18, 311 IP, 5.04 ERA, WHIP 1.531, WAR –1.4 (Last Appearance, out of baseball)
Kiko Calero RP:
-2004, 3-1, 45.1 IP, 2.78 ERA, WHIP .816, WAR 0.8
-4 years 8-8, 159 IP, 3.96 ERA, WHIP 1.321, WAR 1.8 (Journeyman, out of baseball)

Daric Barton 1B:
-2004, 393 PA, .313 AVG, .956 OPS (Minors)
-5 years, 1765 PA, .252 AVG, .740 OPS, WAR 6.2 (Recently sent down to minors)

Dan Haren SP:
-2004, 3-3, 46 IP, 4.50 ERA, WHIP 1.348, WAR 0.1
-3 years,  37-26, 662 IP, 3.64 ERA, WHIP 1.212, WAR 11.7 (Doing well)
Brett Anderson SP:
-2007, 11-7, 120.1 IP, 3.07 ERA, WHIP 1.564 (Minors)
-3 years, 21-23, 371 IP, 3.66 ERA, WHIP 1.267, WAR 5.9 (Doing OK)

Chris Carter 1B/LF:
-2007, 545 PA, .291 AVG, .906 OPS (Minors)
-2 years, 79 PA, .183 AVG, .573 OPS, WAR –0.7 (Prospect)

Dana Eveland RP:
-2007, 1-0, 5 IP, 14.40 ERA, WHIP 2.60, WAR –0.4
-2 years, 11-13, 212 IP, 4.92 ERA, WHIP 1.627, WAR 0.8 (Last Appearance, in minors elsewhere)

Aaron Cunningham OF:
-2007, 573 PA, .308 AVG, .885 OPS, (Minors)
-2 years, 144 PA, .211 AVG, .609 OPS, WAR –0.6 (Meh)

Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B:
-2009, 529 PA, .255 AVG, .722 OPS, WAR 1.1
-2 years, 735 PA, .242 AVG, .666, WAR 0.6 (Sent to minors due to bad defense)

Eric Sogard IF:
-2009, 530 PA, .293 AVG, .771 OPS (Minors)
-1 year, 9 PA, .429 AVG, .984 OPS, WAR 0.0 (Still in Minors)

Carlos Gonzalez CF:
-2007 547 PA, .288 AVG, .814 OPS (Minors)
-1year, 316 PA, .242 AVG, .634 OPS, WAR 1.1 (3rd in MVP 2010 for Colorado)
Greg Smith SP:
-2007, 9-5, 122 IP, 3.54, WHIP 1.510 (Minors)
-1 year,  7-16, 190.1 IP, 4.16 ERA, WHIP 1.345, WAR 2.0 (In minors elsewhere)

Matt Holliday LF:
-2008, 623 PA, .321 AVG, .947 OPS, WAR 4.8
-1 year, 400 PA, .286 AVG, .831 OPS, WAR 2.4 (Doing well for Cards)

Shane Peterson OF:
-2009, 571 PA, .288 AVG, .768 OPS (Minors)
-Still in minors

Brett Wallace 3B:
-2009, 600 PA, .293 AVG, .822 OPS (Minors)
-No Appearances for Oakland now in majors with Houston
            Michael Taylor OF:
            -2009, 491 PA, .320 AVG, .850 OPS (Minors)
-Still in minors

Clayton Mortensen SP:
-2009, 0-0, 3 IP, 6.00 ERA, WHIP 2.00, WAR –0.3
-2 years, 2-4, 33.2 IP, 7.22 ERA, WHIP 1.693, WAR –1.0 (Meh)
            Ethan Hollingsworth SP:
-2010, 12-8, 170.2 IP, 3.31 ERA, WHIP 1.839 (Minors)
-Still in minors

So, Mark Mulder who in five seasons in Oakland was worth 17.5 extra wins all on his own, an average of 3.5 wins/year goes to St Louis and costs them roughly a game and a half over four injury plagued years.  In return the A's got Daric Barton, Kiko Calero, and Dan Haren, a direct combined WAR value of 19.7 over the last seven years.  Just with that the A's clearly win this trade and Billy's a good GM.  But the fun doesn't stop there because Haren (and a couple other spare parts) was turned into the fantastic haul of Brett Anderson, Chris Carter, Aaron Cunningham, Dana Eveland, Carlos Gonzalez and Greg Smith who contributed another 8.5 Wins Above Replacement.  But wait!  There's More!  Aaron Cunningham became Kevin Kouzmanoff and Eric Sogard and another 0.6 wins.  CarGo and Greg Smith became Matt Holliday's 2.4 wins for half of 2009.  Trading Holliday actually cost a win no thanks to Clay Mortensen but it also gave s Brett Wallace who became Michael Taylor who should be up in Oakland the September.  All told the Mulder deal netted the A's 30 wins over what they would have gotten from your average players over that time plus prospects.  If you factor in avoiding the losses Mulder incurred that's a net of almost 35 extra wins over the last seven seasons.  WINNING!

OK, I think that's good for now.  Next post we'll break down the Rich Harden and Joe Blanton trades.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Quick Thought on Libertarians

Is there any group that seems more confused than Libertarians? I get the feeling that people who call themselves Libertarians rarely know what the term and the ideology really are. It seems that many of them just like to hate the government and they've hit on a few ideas they heard somewhere and decided to say "Hey, I'm a Libertarian." I mean, these are the people who, along with the Tea Party, do things like plan huge rallies in DC to protest taxes and government services and then complain that the city didn't ramp up metro service to accommodate them.

Now here's the thing. I don't know much about being a Libertarian either. And I'm not super motivated to find out. I looked up Ron Paul and it seems like he has some interesting ideas that would never ever work in a million years. They wouldn't work for the same reason communism doesn't work on a national level, they're predicated on people doing the right thing. In the case of communism the reliance on people giving an honest effort and then taking only what they need ignores the fact that people are complete assholes. Ron Paul's ideas hinge on things like corporate stewardship and the belief that companies will take care of their employees and only charge what they need to for goods and services. Basically he ignores 2011 years of world history. My friend who suggested I look up Ron Paul works as a government contractor. I asked him about Paul wanting to cut most government services possibly including the one that employs this friend and his answer was, "Well hopefully not all of them."

Now, how did I get on this? I've recently made a couple of acquaintances who call themselves Libertarians and they say thing that confuse me vis a vis their supposed political stance. The one that got me thinking involved my taxes. I was telling someone that I got a tax break last year because I'm renting my house in California for less than what the mortgage and property taxes cost. The result is that it became a business loss. So instead of having to pay taxes on the rental income as I feared, I got a huge credit. Yay me!

The response from one of my new Libertarian friends was basically, "Great see, this is what's wrong with this country. The government is paying people to fail." Well thanks pal. But come on, if they'll do it for Wall Street why not for me? I never could tell if he had been for or against the Wall Street bailout but he was certainly against my tax break.

It wasn't until later that I realized how non-Libertarian his little freak out was. First of all, he should be happy I wasn't taxed on my income. Second it wouldn't make sense for me to be taxed since there really wasn't any income. My "business" lost a ton of money. I didn't "get paid to fail" all I got was not taxed to death while also losing money. If the feds came along and said "Hey, give us $3,000 on top of not making a profit." it would just be piling on. After all, it's income tax. You can't really tax income that isn't there. So shouldn't Libertarians be happy for me? The government is basically leaving me alone to fail or succeed on my own without either helping me or dipping into my pockets. Isn't that what the Libertarians want?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Skills to Avoid the Bills

If you gave me a million dollars for this I'd probably stop doing it after a while.

Can we get a few things straight here? Please? Specifically regarding payment for services and how much and whatnot? Can we? I’ll warn you now, I’m in a hurry and I’m not going to do a lot of research on this one, I’m just gonna shoot from the hip. Agreed? Fuck, they’re rants after all right? Right.

Here’s the deal, an accumulation of comments has been bugging me lately capped off by Adrian Peterson’s comment that being an NFL player is “like modern day slavery.” Yes, the guy set to make $10.4M once the NFL resumes business in 2011 is a slave. Others who have been referred to as slaves recently include college athletes who claim that their so called labor and likenesses are used by the NCAA and member schools with no compensation. A group of these college athletes led by former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon has recently sued the NCAA and EA Sports for unfair practices. I think the Peterson quote is something we can all dismiss as blatant stupidity. The student athlete is a little more complicated. When these kids accept their scholarships they sign away their rights to the NCAA forever. Basically the scholarship agreement allows the NCAA to use the kids' image etc for marketing purposes any way the NCAA wants in perpetuity. I don't know if I agree with that. But the fact is, the kids do have a choice, don't sign. If you think you're all that and you think you're going to be a legend who's going to be plastered on water bottles and billboards decades after you leave school then hold out for a better deal. And don't tell me you don't get paid. You get a free education, books, dorm, meal plan, etc. You know, the shit the rest of us are going tens of thousands of dollars into debt for. You also often get tutoring, you get to travel and get excused absences from class. You get say you played college sports. You get a ton. You. Get. Paid. Period. Maybe the NCAA shouldn't own you forever, but without them you wouldn't have some famous image to put out there. You'd be like the rest of us. No one wants to see me in a video game.

Let's talk a little more about being paid. Another group recently compared to slaves in my presence is white suburban housewives. In a class discussion on Dorothy Smith's book "Ethnography for the People" we examined her redefinition of the term "work." Basically she says work is anything you do intentionally. The point is to frame the work women do in the home as work that contributes to society on par with what men do outside the home. I personally don't see how this is so revolutionary, especially for a book published in 2005, since I grew up with this idea. I have no problem with this definition of "work." But I take issue with an idea Smith espoused and my professor backed up which is that this women's work was "unpaid." Excuse me? These women aren't paying rent, for food, for any expenses really, they are given transportation, health care, and often extra money to buy things they like. Much like college athletes these women are paid for their work. If they don't like it they can go get traditional jobs outside the home. They can run their marriages like financial partnerships.

Now I know this is a complicated socio-political issue. But I can't accept that if we are going to redefine "work" (and we should), that we resist also redefining "paid," which should also be redefined. "Payment" is anything you receive in exchange for your work. This idea did not go over well in class and led one of my fellow students then compare being a housewife to slavery. After all, slaves also got free room and board and health care. I mean, aside from the fact that the slaves were forced to be there under penalty of death isn't that big a distinguishing factor right?

Wrong. And that's the point. Nothing compares to slavery except for more slavery. Any time you have choice to do or do not (there is no try) you are not a slave. You don't have to take the scholarship. You don't have to play in the NFL. You don't have to get married and stay home. You have a choice. And don't tell me that they don't really have a choice because not taking the scholarship or whatever means they have nothing. Just because it's a hard choice or a choice with one really beneficial side and one bleak side doesn't mean you don't have a choice. Hard choices are what define life. If you take the scholarship, or the money, or the house in the 'burbs you have to accept what you are choosing. If you decide later that you don't want it you can leave, because you're not a slave.

Moving on. Peterson also states that the NFL is making a lot of money off of the players. This same sentiment is often expressed by people who think college athletes should be paid cash on top of their sweet sweet scholarships. But here's the thing dummies, you make money off them too. Guess what AP, there isn't anyone else in the world with the means or the desire to pay you $10.4M to run around with a ball. You can check. Go to the UFL or CFL and see what kind of gig they have to offer. Or, go get a real job and see how that pans out. Yes, the owners make money because people want to see you play. But the owners are also the only ones who have the infrastructure to make you rich and famous. Without them you're me. Guess what, players come and go. The game and the brand persist. So yes, we watch you, but really we watch the NFL. We watched before you came, and we'll watch when you're gone. You are easily replaceable, the league is not. The same goes for NCAA athletes. Guess what Ed? Your time at UCLA is the only reason people know who you are. You were not a good NBA player. You peaked in college. Instead of suing because the NCAA helps keep your memory alive maybe you should be happy anyone cares who you are. Because the truth is, if you're so upset I'm sure the NCAA would be happy to use Grant Hill next time.

One more note on being paid and what jobs are worth. I am sick to death of hearing people compare athletes to farmers and teachers. It usually goes something like this, "It's disgusting that these pro athletes make all this money and teachers are getting laid off." Or, "I don't watch pro sports because my dad's a farmer and he's struggling while feeding America. Doesn't he deserve to be rich?" Well no, if he were rich he'd stop being a fucking farmer. Seriously, this shit is so ignorant it's silly. Do you know why teachers and farmers don't make Adrian Peterson money? It's because you can't get 50,000 people to regularly pay $100 for tickets, $20 for parking, guzzling $10 beers to come watch your dad fucking farm. It's not interesting. Teachers don't get paid big bucks because as much as I love and respect teachers, most of them suck. Seriously, it's one of the few jobs where it seems like they'll just let anyone do. I was hired to teach linguistics even though I told them at the interview that they should find someone else. That's why teachers get paid shit. Because the system is set up to let shit people become teachers. I'm not saying all teachers are bad people. Or that they're not great valuable members of society. But let's be honest, you've had more bad ones than good ones in your life. As for farmers, some of them get paid to not farm so that the ones that do farm can get a decent price for their goods. If your dad wants to be rich he can sell his veggies or milk or whatever for $100 each. Maybe all the farmers can do that, then all the farmers will be rich and the rest of us will be malnourished or dead. Wouldn't that be nice?

Pro athletes aren't paid based on their worth to society. They're paid because WE pay them. We watch the TV commercials that convince advertisers to pay networks that pay the leagues huge sums of cash. We buy the tickets and the jerseys and the video games. We do it. It's us. Don't blame athletes, blame yourself or your friends, or your family. We do this. We don't pay teachers and farmers big bucks because we don't buy teaching bubble gum cards. We don't want corporate sponsorship of education. But the fact is that teaching and farming are such shit jobs that if you got a million dollars for doing it you'd fucking quit. There's no way you'd deal with these little asshole students and demanding asshole parents and fucking asshole administrators if you had a million dollars. Let's face it, a lot of teachers teach because they love teaching. A lot would keep doing it if they already had money. But so many more do it because they thought they'd love it and now they feel stuck.

So what's the answer? I don't have an answer. Maybe it's corporate sponsored education. Maybe it's halting pro sports until all the whiny babies can share their billions of dollars. I think a long work stoppage would be a good thing in the long run. Most pro baseball players have roughly a high school diploma. Let's see how they do out in the real job market. Baseball tried a players league 100 years ago or so. It failed. Now that players are millionaires maybe they should try it again. No owners. Unhappy players can start a football collective and put their money where their mouths are. They can set up infrastructure, TV deals, political allies, get venues, advertisers, clothing deals and all that. I think that would be good. In the meantime teachers can try to get shoe deals and have their faces put on water bottles and such. That would be nice.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bonny Prince Hank

I recently saw this article on espn.com in which Hal Steinbrenner calls revenue sharing ""Socialism, communism, whatever you want to call it." And says of teams in small markets, "At some point, if you don't want to worry about teams in minor markets, don't put teams in minor markets, or don't leave teams in minor markets if they're truly minor,"

So where does he want to go? Maybe Hal is for contraction. By my quick look around the internet 4 teams fall outside of the top 30 US media markets. So what, maybe get rid of those 4 (#31 Kansas City #32 Cincinnati, #33 Milwaukee, Toronto) then get rid of the double dippers (White Sox, A's, Mets, Angels) and you're all set right?

I like his "don't put them in small markets" comment like teams just got dropped in these cities randomly last week. These teams have been in most of these towns for a very very long time. When they were established baseball still had the reserve clause. You didn't need $200M for your payroll. Now times have changed. You need a healthy league to have interest. If you don't support the Royals then you're hurting the league.

I will say there should be a salary floor. If you take revenue sharing money you should basically be a break even organization. You should be forced to put that money into development, not the owner's pocket. Of course Hank could pay less in luxury tax if say, he kept his payroll down. Like maybe not paying $35M for a set up guy.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Please Don't Melt Me in Your Pot

I was recently told by a couple young men that I should disassociate myself from the label or group known as "feminists."  They told me I'd be wise to avoid that group because they are now seen as crazy, man-hating, radicals.  They gave me this advise in order to "help" me.  I "needed their help", they said, because the world had passed me by.  Someone else told me we should "get rid of labels" especially the ones where people align themselves with color.  The idea was that these labels are divisive.  The goal, according to this person, was to move on to a world where we don't see any difference.

To me this is a nice whitewashed fantasy.  It is only from a certain privileged vantage that one can ask for the rest of the world to do away with the labels that have been forced upon them for so long.  It's an even more privileged view when you can make giving up these labels a condition of your acceptance.  As if somehow because you've been allowed to move beyond race we all have to follow or we're not really interested in equality.  Once again, the powerful are setting conditions on the rest of us, dictating what will be allowed in order for us to gain acceptance.

This same person said they don't mind labels related to culture as if culture and ethnicity and color are separate and unequal parts of identity.  I believe that when black, or Latino, or woman have been foisted on a people for hundreds of years and have eventually been adopted by those people and transformed into labels of liberation, that it is oppressive to then decide, no, you must give up these labels that were forced on you, that you have made your own because now they make the rest of us uncomfortable.  We did not choose to be labeled.  We did not choose to have color associated with inferiority.  But now that we have pride in ourselves in our color, our gender, people want to take that away too.

So I ask, what else should I disassociate myself from?  Should I not claim to be a Christian because of the bigotry and hate spewed by some who claim ownership of God?  Should I not call myself a man because of the horrors and atrocities men have visited upon the world?  Should I not align myself with Latinos because of the current backlash against immigrants?  What other parts of my identity should I cast off in order to make you comfortable?  How else can I deny my history, our history together in order to make you feel better?  What other accommodations can I make to you in order to ease into your acceptance?

How about none?  That is my offer.  I offer that I am a man, a feminist, a Latino, an Asian, a Christian, and many other things.  I cannot deny that I am any of these things and I will not hide from them just because you think they are divisive or crazy or radical or dogmatic.  Those are not who I am, they are your views of who I am.  What I offer is a future where I accept your difference and you accept mine.  A world where we acknowledge and celebrate our differences and our roots and the strengths we bring to the world through the lenses of our experiences not only as individuals but as member of groups as well.

If we can't accept all of someone then we can't accept any of them.  We can't ask people to leave their identities at the door.