Friday, February 15, 2008

Moving day…

Just a heads up, The Progenitor of Severe Gluteal Discomfort is relocating to Baseball Digest Daily. I’ll be moving as much of the archive as is feasible (I don't know if some of the charts will take in their content management system). The good folks are trusting me not to trash the joint (silly them) so it’ll still be me being me there. For those of you who were hoping for an improvement, well…

Sorry for taking so long to make it official but do you have any idea how many “Best Regards” I had to pack up and move?

I enjoy blogging, I enjoy the blogging efforts of guys like Dave Rouleau, Pete Toms, Jon Hale etc. The opportunity to blog with them strikes me as being still more enjoyable and I’ve been told fellow Tim Raines “Dweeb Team” member Neate Sager is due any minute now.

How can I resist?

Heck, BDD head honcho Joe Hamrahi set aside my own little corner (where I won’t be bothering the people actually trying to be productive) where I can get into my usual mischief.

So, if you’ve bookmarked this location--well shame on you. Since you’ve fallen so far as to do this I guess I can give you a new link to do likewise:

The Progenitor of Severe Gluteal Discomfort. I have expelled three rounds of synaptic flatulence there already and they’ve opened the doors, windows and bus ports to clear the air.

I look forward to seeing you at the new digs.

Best Regards


Sunday, February 10, 2008

A rant...

...and it is a doozy.

Every so often, I come across a phrase as it pertains to professional athletes and it is like nails on a chalkboard. This time it showed up in an International Herald Tribune column about Roger Clemens:

“Clemens has already been convicted in the court of public opinion by a public sick of overpaid sports heroes who cheat, and it doesn't help that every time he opens his mouth he looks like he is lying.” (bolding mine)

I want you to stop and think about something. When a free agent player leaves a team to go to another the media will, often at the former team’s instigation, decry the lack of loyalty demonstrated by the player.

It is sick.

The people and corporations that own professional sports franchises are often among the country’s wealthiest. These people, since 1990 have increased your tax burden/reduced your public services 22 times through stadium construction/renovation and infrastructure--even the ones that had a fair bit of private financing enjoyed substantial hidden subsidies ... this of itself in MLB alone has cost over $10 billion in tax dollars since 1990 (includes maintenance, amortization etc.).

They have tax breaks that boggle the mind and reduce the money available for things like education, healthcare, social services and the like. Then they lie to you about how they’re losing their shirt. I’m gonna show you how they calculate their “losses.” I will show you how easy it is to make a $50 million profit disappear:

Did you know you can buy a major league team for half price? When purchasing a team, the buyer can claim 50% of the purchase price as residing in player contracts and can amortize this over the first five years of team ownership. For example, when the Red Sox were purchased for $700 million, $350 million of that will be depreciated over five years. This means that they can make a book entry of $70 million a year in the loss column in years 1-5.

Obviously, no real money has been lost but the amortization is counted as a loss. Adding to the fun is the team’s ability to write off the out-of-pocket costs of replacing the players -- two bites out the same apple. To use a quick example: Suppose you bought your computer for your business. Would you like to be able both to write off the purchase price of the machinery and amortize it too?

That’s what teams routinely do.

Let’s now give the Red Sox the hypothetical $50 million profit and loose the accountants on it:

$50 million profit
-$70 million depreciation
-$20 million

We can make this loss even bigger--the owner(s) draw a salary of course. Let’s pay the owner $2 million a year (don’t forget commissioner Bud Selig makes over $14 million a year so my estimate is probably far too low. Peter O Malley paid himself a $1 million salary as president of the Dodgers back in the mid-1980's)--his salary is considered an expense the same as the players’ salaries:

-$20 million
-$ 2 million (salary)
-$22 million

We can lower this total still further several ways--one of Henry and Co.’s other holdings can “loan” money to the Red Sox at a high interest rate and the interest the Red Sox “pay” to Henry’s other companies counts as a loss. The Red Sox and NESN are owned by the same group. Therefore, how much do you suppose NESN pays the Red Sox for TV rights--especially when you consider that the money that flows from NESN to the Red Sox will be counted under revenues that are part of the determination of how much revenue sharing they’ll pay.

It’s in the Red Sox interest to be paid as little as possible by NESN since (1) it lowers their total revenues which lowers the amount of revenue sharing they’ll have to pay and (2) it lowers their profits (or increases the red ink) on the books which looks good when you need the region to build you a new ballpark or complain how greedy players are bankrupting them. Any team that is owned by a corporation that also broadcasts its games take advantage of this.

We’re not done yet.

We’ll use that $22 million total for our next trick. Suppose John Henry and Co. are in a 33% tax bracket. They can use that $22 million pre tax loss to reduce their total taxable income from other sources by $6.6 million (33% X $22 million). Here’s the bottom line--a team owner can be (using just a small number of the various tricks at their disposal) $58.6 million better off ($50 million profit plus $2 million salary plus $6.6 million tax break) and claim the team “lost” $22 million!

By the way--I’ve only scratched the surface of how they can hide profits.

When you consider that luxury/premium seating are often used by corporations teams know they can charge a lot more for them simply because these businesses can write it off as an expense. You are literally subsidizing not only the park itself but also the billionaires using it for entertaining.

Let’s use a recent example to narrow down the reason for this rant. Carl Pohlad is among the richest men in America. For over a decade he has received over $100 million (easily) in revenue sharing from the other clubs. He is getting a new stadium courtesy of the taxpayers in which he’ll reap a major revenue windfall since he won’t have to pay market rent (if anything) for using it.

On top of this, he’ll get yet another major influx of cash for this one reason--even though it was the taxpayers, the public, folks like you and I that paid for this ballpark; Carl Pohlad will be charging fans more to watch his team play in the park the fans paid for! Tickets will cost more, parking will cost more, concessions will cost more, souvenirs will cost more etc.

Due to the above, the value of the Twins will increase substantially--another major bonus and increase of capital gains.

However, a member of the Pohlad family said recently about Johan Santana: “There's loyalty and wanting to stay in Minnesota, and it varies from player to player.

Now how, in this family’s opinion, should Johan Santana display loyalty?

Santana should express his loyalty by subsidizing a multi-billionaire by taking less than what his talent is worth. It’s NOT the folks that are billionaires who received massive revenue sharing payments, a mostly free stadium worth around a half-billion dollars who will be charging the fans higher prices that should show loyalty to the fanbase by paying Santana what another team is willing to pay. It’s the guy that waited for 12-13 years to get to this point, endured long bus rides in the minor leagues to get to this point, the guy who was paid less than $2 million for a Cy Young campaign and helped pitch his team to four post seasons that earned the owner a lot more than that through fans who flocked to watch him pitch.

He paid the price, he went from an unknown who grew up in modest surroundings, did the hard work clawed his way to the top with his blood sweat and tears and now his time has come to collect his reward and he was told that if he really loved the fans in Minnesota he should've subsidized the greedy multi-billionaire who has (or will soon) received close to a billion dollars of money (through revenue sharing, tax breaks and stadium subsidies) he never did anything to earn!!

That is so sick and so wrong. Think about it--why should a guy who grew up in Venezuela feel that loyalty means subsidizing one of the richest men in a foreign country? Does that make any kind of logical sense in any other context?

Johan Santana and other high salaried players aren’t the reason we’re paying more to follow the game we love. They get that salary because of the revenues the game generates. Team owners will charge the maximum they think they can for everything from peanuts to luxury suites. The Twins don’t have to pay Johan Santana his $20+ million a year--do you think the Pohlad family will take those savings and reduce ticket prices this year? Better still, do you think it means that it will cost the same to attend a game at the new park since they don’t have to pay Johan Santana’s contract?

No. Chance. In. HELL.

The cost will go up because teams think we’ll pay up--it’s that simple.

If you think that player salaries affect the price of attending a game then round up 20 friends and treat them to the NCAA Final Four this spring. You can afford it--it’ll be cheap, the players are freakin' amateurs! Heck, promise your posse that you’ll be attending it every year from now on--it’s dirt cheap the players don’t get paid!

What? Do you mean to tell me it will be too expensive?


It’s too expensive because the NCAA, the sponsors, the colleges involved (or whoever sets prices) charges based on the maximum they think they can and still sell the maximum number of tickets. That goes for MLB prices including beer, hats, popcorn and pizza--they will charge the most they can without affecting sales negatively.

This is why I get all riled up when I read somebody complaining about “overpaid athletes.” When I see that all I can think is that some idiot feels that the Carl Pohlads, the Jeffrey Lorias, the Jerry Reinsdorfs of the sport should get more money that somebody else earned. Or that persons who have picked your pocket of tax dollars, gouged you at the box office, made you pay more to watch on T.V., gouged you at the concession stands shouldn’t show you loyalty by keeping your favourite player. Further, these people used every trick and turn available to increase the time it takes for a player to be able to sell his services on the open market.

When the time finally comes, the guy who spent the time developing their skills, endured a minor league apprenticeship, put his body on the line day in and day out year in and year out and it is finally the moment to collect the reward. To hear or read that at this moment the player should make a demonstration of loyalty by subsidizing the person who is among the country’s wealthiest, that did everything in their power to postpone this day, that gouged the fan and taxpayer alike makes me see red.

Never forget this--when a player does show this type of loyalty and accepts less the cost of games doesn’t go down, your cable bill or taxes aren't lessened. What happens is the fat cat sitting in the owner’s box has himself a nice little windfall at the player’s expense. He would cheerfully thumb his nose at your loyalties by simply letting your favourite player go elsewhere and gleefully reflect on how a little media manipulation and a gullible public means more free money. Best of all, when an opportunity to make a little more money comes along--the player’s loyalty will not be reciprocated. When the player’s skill erodes and a better option is available we’ll forget the loyalty he showed and clamour for the better option.

Overpaid players?

Hey, they may be all about the money but when all is said and done that’s all they can really come away from the game with--folks are only loyal to them when they get something in return. We often show a shocking lack of loyalty ourselves when a player no longer produces.

We. Want. Somebody. Else.

We’re loyal to laundry--not the men in the laundry. Let’s stop expecting them to show loyalty to us because in the end all it produces is more free money for some of the greediest people in the game.

Rant finished.

Best Regards


Saturday, February 9, 2008

Don't tread on we...

I was preparing a post decrying the ticket scheme the Blue Jays are undertaking where they are giving first crack to Tigers and Red Sox series to the fans in those markets. I had worked up what I felt were rational arguments why this was a bad idea both in the short and long term.

Then I had an epiphany--I am ticked and a rational argument isn’t really what is needed in this instance. Jays fans have been insulted--been given the double-fisted schoolyard salute from Godfrey and Co.

This is our team. Not only do we spend money, we spend something far more valuable--our emotional capital, our devotion, our loyalty. We’ve been cheering for our Jays through the Gord Ash era and through year 70 of J.P. Ricciardi’s five-year plan.

In that time, we’ve seen the Florida Marlins win two World Series, seen the freaking Los Angeles/California/Anaheim/LAA of A Angels become a force in the AL West after being a farce almost since their inception. We’ve seen the Cleveland Indians reassert themselves as a baseball power, blow it up, start over and again make it to the top.

We’ve seen the Phillies, who like the Jays, had a playoff drought since 1993 finally make it back to the post season. Colorado has made to October twice since 1993, the Diamondbacks who, it should be noted, were an expansion team five years after the Jays won their second World Series, have won their division four times (including the big prize in 2001).

The Twins--a candidate for extinction earlier in the decade--have copped four division crowns. The hapless Cubbies have been in three post seasons, the allegedly jinxed Boston Red Sox have become Evil Empire 2.0 with their second World Series win in the last four years and even the Chicago White Sox ended decades of post season futility winning their first pennant since the Go-Go Sox of 1959 and their first Fall Classic since Shoeless Joe Jackson roamed the outfield at old Comiskey Park.

Meanwhile, we’ve stood by cheering and hoping, listening to too many excuses about the Yankees and Red Sox payrolls and too little accountability of those who put together the Jays roster.

And they do this? The Tao of Stieb wrote:

“And as much as Godfrey and Kevin Elster's brother are going to come out in the next day or so and spin this and say how much they love the Blue Jays fans, they don't get it. They don't get the fact that this makes Blue Jays fans and Toronto look like second-class citizens. They don't understand that this makes us feel like we're not pretty enough for them, and they don't understand why we're getting so worked up about them catting around with that skank down the road.”

Nope, I’m not gonna editorialize about this. It’s not time for a reasoned, rational, calm logical approach--it’s time to get mad and get loud. I’m gonna leave this one to the pros--the guys who can put the words together to fully convey how insulting this is--it’s time to bust heads and I’m leaving this to the brass knuckles and blackjacks of the Blue Jays blogosphere--Drunk Jays Fans and Tao of Stieb:

Idiots Let Boston and Detroit Have First Crack at Jays Single Game Tickets
Questions And More Questions On Ticket Sales
For Love or Money
Paul Godfrey is a Kitten-Drowning Baby-Shaker
Opening the Gates to the Barbarians

Let 'em have it guys--both barrels. If they want to sell more tix, be a Katherine Hepburn about it and not a Paris Hilton. Put a playoff team on the field--remember how many tickets were sold from 1989-1993? Don't whore them out to fans cheering for teams trying to keep the Jays out of the post season. They're never going to sell out by selling out.

If you love the Jays show your support--we deserve better than this sort of blatant disrespect.

Best Regards


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Mike Gill Show: Whinin' and pitchin'...

Yup, it is that time of the week again. Time to get ready for my weekly segment on ESPN 1450’s Mike Gill Show. Today we toss around the following...
  • Seems like everyone is talking about the Mets and Phillies. Are the Braves a real contender in the NL East?
  • Eric Bedard--why are the Orioles trying to get rid of him and are they getting enough?
  • The Twins have been dumping veterans left and right--is Joe Nathan next?
  • Rumours of Dave Wells coming back, is he worth a shot?
  • Something you’re looking forward to this spring.
Seems like everyone is talking about the Mets and Phillies. Are the Braves a real contender in the NL East?


I guess on general principle I will say yes. John Schuerholz is one of the best of the biz at what he does and we’ve gotta respect that. A lot has to go right since they downgraded at CF, SS, and John Smoltz is a year older. Having said that, let’s get crazy for a moment. Suppose Mike Hampton is healthy and effective (waits for laughter to die down)--that gives them a starting four of Smoltz, Tim Hudson, Tom Glavine and Hampton. That’s a nice rotation--in theory.

Further, suppose Rafael Soriano can close on a consistent basis--that takes care of the end of the bullpen. They have some nice young arms to sprinkle around the rest of the relief corps and maybe one of them can fill the No. 5 starters’ role.

With a break or six, there is possibly a solid pitching staff.

As to the offense, they have the always solid Chipper Jones. Ca Brian McCann, 2B Kelly Johnson, LF Matt Diaz will likely continue to improve. RF Jeff Francoeur--who is still just 24--is starting to work the strike zone a little better and has lots of room to grow. Mark Kotsay had some decent results with the Florida Marlins and San Diego Padres and may find the NL more to his liking.

I would put them as a potential dark horse. They do have some nice young talent ripening and maybe they might pull off a surprise. As I wrote earlier--never count out a John Schuerholz production.

Eric Bedard--why are the Orioles trying to get rid of him and are they getting enough?

A few reasons: one, he’ll be gone as a free agent (or die of old age) before the Orioles will be contending again so it makes sense to flip him for some talent that will be in Baltimore should that time come. Two, he has more value to the Orioles as a trading commodity for that reason plus he’s young, left-handed, has a live arm with terrific control and is two years away from free agency. There isn’t a team out there that wouldn’t want a piece of that. The Orioles are like the Toronto Maple Leafs--they don’t need a bit of retooling, they need to be completely blown up and start right from scratch.

An unstated reason might be that the Orioles have questions about the health of that magic left arm and would prefer a package of young talent rather than a guy undergoing ligament transplant surgery or some such thing. Don’t forget, the Orioles trainers/medical personnel are historically inept.

Are the Orioles getting enough? Who knows? I thought the Twins didn’t get enough for Johan Santana and nobody is entirely sure what the package for Bedard ultimately will be. Right now, it’s all guesswork. Remember all the rumoured players in the Santana sweepstakes? I don’t think anybody thought Santana could be had for that level of compensation. It’s too early to tell since we don’t know the exact price on Eric Bedard’s head.

The Twins have been dumping veterans left and right--is Joe Nathan next?

I think the Twins will hang on to him for the time being. Minnesota may surprise this year (especially if Francisco Liriano is back up to speed) and they don’t want to look like they’re in full rebuilding mode while trying to sell tickets. Assuming his usual performance, he’ll have far more value as a chit at the trade deadline(s) when clubs are desperately looking to shore up their pitching. He doesn’t have a no-trade clause so the Twins can get a nice little bidding war going in the days leading up to the deadline.

There’s no rush to deal him at the moment. They’re better off waiting until a contending team loses its closer or are having problems getting the ball to the stopper. He’ll be a very hot commodity at the July 31/August 31 deadlines if the Twins are out of the playoff hunt.

Rumours of David Wells coming back, is he worth a shot?

If he’s not blocking somebody and is willing to work cheap, I don’t see why not. He might do well as a situational lefty or a guy who relieves for one turn of the batting order. Boomer enjoys an amazing BB/9 of 1.88 in over 3400 IP and still has the nice curveball. I think he is done as a starter but might be worth a look-see out of the 'pen.

Something you’re looking forward to this spring.

Actually, here is something that doesn’t deal with the Phillies or Blue Jays. We mentioned this guy earlier--remember the year Twins lefty Francisco Liriano became injured? The man was the buzz of baseball. Electric arm, terrific command and poise--and he blew his arm out requiring Tommy John surgery. I can’t wait to see him on the mound again; if he’s anywhere near his old form he’ll step right into the void created by Johan Santana’s departure. Don’t forget--he’s still just 24 years old. I’m seriously stoked about seeing this kid again.


We’ve had some bad weather in these parts. I fell on the ice and dreamt I was at David Samson’s family reunion. I wanted to get home and they sent me on my way. I came across Otis Nixon (I think it was he, it might have been a scarecrow) and seeing my more-incoherent-than-usual state volunteered to do the sign off for the decent chaps at Drunk Jays Fans.

Take ‘er away … errrrr Otis:

(To the tune of If I Only Had a Brain)

"He could blog away the hours
Just watchin’ the snowplowers
Suckin' as a bard
And his thoughts would be screwin'
While folks wonder what he's doin'
When he gives his best regards

He'll opine any news bit
Give David-Samson some [bleep]
For bein' such a pain
With the posts he'd be writin'
His blog it would be bitin'
Cuz he gives his best regards

Oh, he would analyze
How the Jays finish first
Think the Red Sox and Yanks will be much worse
Get some feedback, the bubble’s burst

This blog is far worse than nothin'
His thinking’ is all bluffin'
He really needs a brain
This blog would be much better
If someone else typed the letters
And got rid of best regards."

Well, I woke up in time to do the following...

Best Regards


Saturday, February 2, 2008

David Samson...

If you’ve subjected yourself to my ranting over the years, you may get the idea that David Samson isn’t one of my favourite people. I think that assessment is a little harsh; he’s definitely among my top six billion favourites.

Some people think I hate the Marlins because of it … not so. I hate what he did to Montreal and I feel badly for Fish fans and pray they enjoy a happier ending than we Expos fans had. I thought I would devote this post to the reasons why I don’t like David Samson.

Paris Hilton was bad enough, but the lurid David Samson/Joyce DeWitt video on the internet was worse.

Turns out, Dewitt has been active since "Three's Company." In fact, she has gotten involved in both politics and education. It turns out (judging by the locale of this shot) that Samson was looking at consummating more than one, er ... relationship.

Samson was wondering why his presentation hadn't gone well. He practiced long and hard in front of the bathroom mirror with the family pet as an audience. The feline gave Samson's performance mixed reviews.

Our intrepid hero was certain that he explained the business arrangement that was to be expected should the region finance a new ballpark. It had been a model in city after city since Bud Selig had been named acting interim commissioner-for-life after the ouster of Fay Vincent.

The thing is, he had gotten both Selig and Jeffrey Loria to help prepare the presentation. They had gone over the details for weeks to insure that South Florida understood that they wished for them to be a part of things willingly.

When it came time for Samson's part of the presentation, he made it a point to be persuasive, subtle, charming while all the while making sure that all parties understood where they stood.

Samson even went to the trouble of ensuring that he would stand tall during the session. Thanks to the Mitchell Report, he had a pretty good idea who he had to see beforehand to assure himself that he would do it with the proper 'altitude.'

One thing he would not divulge however, is that there were personal reasons behind pushing for a new stadium. The executive offices (especially the restrooms) at Dolphin Stadium weren't accommodating for those with special needs. It wasn't about competitiveness for the roster per se as much as it was physics.

Since funding would have to come out the budget earmarked for necessary services (especially education) it was thought best for the team to touch base with the key constituents--the children themselves. Samson felt confident about his chances considering that Ms. DeWitt, when not working at the legislature, worked as a substitute teacher.

Since she was teaching the class that day (Ms. Hidenbottom was out with cellulitis that day), Samson thought it would be a slam-dunk. As it turns out--he was wrong. As he screamed for mercy as the grade 1 students started pummelling him, all Ms. DeWitt could say was "I'm sorry, could you speak up? I'm not sure I understand Mr. 'Dung-of-a-horse."

I think we’ll finally get it right!

Man, it’s getting rougher to get the signoff done properly. Ah well, it should be a cinch this time since I’ve been hanging with an old pal from the 1970’s. Not a real friend but a musical one, I was a big fan of Jimmy Buffett back in the day and he thought he’d do an old fan a solid by handling things today.

I hope my comrades-at-blogs at Drunk Jays Fans appreciate this. It’s amazing how you get a mental picture of someone only to find out they look a lot different than you originally imagined. For instance, I thought Jimmy Buffett was taller but oh well. Yeah, today it’ll be done musically again but the good news is that I won’t have to sing as well. Now, without further ado, TPoSGD is proud to introduce … Jimmy Buffett!

(To the tune of ‘Margaritaville’)

Using up bandwidth
Wasting his damn breath
All of those postings filled up with crap
Tappin’ his keyboard
Chewin’ the mouse cord
He’s better off just takin’ a nap.

Wasting away writing his best regards
Searching for his bold 14 point font
Some people claim that it’s John Gibbons to blame
But we know it’s he they do taunt

We don’t know the reason
He blogged the off season
Nothing to show but a bunch of hate mail
All of them just cuss
Or pass on a virus
Or tell him how his logic has failed

Wasting away writing his best regards
Searching for his bold 14-point font
Some people claim that it’s John Gibbons to blame
Perhaps this blog, he shouldn’t have launched.

He blew out his hard drive
Been threatened with sharp knives
And deleted a ‘Best Regards John’
But there’s posts in his system
And most blogs will diss ‘em
And the lame-o sign off that folks wishes were gone

Wasting away writing his best regards
Searching for his bold 14-point font
Some people claim that it’s John Gibbons to blame
But we know it’s blogspot’s damn fault
Yes and some people claim the internet is to blame
And we know its all Al Gore’s fault

What the …? That didn’t sound like you. You don’t have a high pitched whiny voice (looks at Buffett’s neck), did you have a sunburn, your neck is peeling. Here, let me get that for you (grabs, tears, off comes latex mask) AHA!! I thought Jimmy Buffett was taller!

This time I’ll finish the job!


Sorry ‘bout that folks--we’ll try again next time (grumble).

Best Regards