Monday, October 7, 2019

"Sticking it to the man"?

Congratulations to Kevin Kiermaier, a fine ballplayer, for once getting the Tampa Bay Witness Protection Rays off to a flying start with a three-run homer against Greinke.

Kiermaier, you readers of the Paper of Record may recall, was recently profiled in a Tyler Kepner column on how those wonderful, low-payroll, "overachievers," the Rays and the A's, were meeting in the AL wild card.

The Times could not be bothered to send so much as a high-school stringer up to cover the Yankees or the Mets for much of this year.  But they were quite willing to send Kepner out to California, to wax rapturously over how little money both teams were spending, something that matters a great, great deal to all of us who own shares in those ball clubs.

"It's a beautiful thing having the lowest payroll in baseball and having the success we did," Kiermaier opined in Kepner's column.  "It always feels good to stick it to the man any time you're able to in this game, and that's something to be very proud of."

Amen.  Kepner noted—without irony—that Kiermaier's salary this year was a mere $8.9 million.  According to baseball reference, Kevin's baseball earnings to date are over $18 million, and he is signed up to receive a further $33.5 million by the time he reaches the ripe old age of 33.

This is despite the fact that Kevin, a splendid centerfielder and lifetime .249 hitter, batted .228 this season and .217 the next, and has only managed to play one full season during the six full years he has been in the majors.

Sorry, Kevin.  But anyone who is going to be worth at least $50 mill or so by the time he's 33—in good part for sitting in a whirlpool bath—unreservedly qualifies as, "The Man."

But I don't mean to take my sneers out on Kevin, just one more in that fraternity of political/economic lunkheads who run the most militant union in America and are at the same time, almost to a man, dyed-in-the-wool hardcore right-wingers.

Weirdly unmentioned, anywhere, in Kepner's article were a few other individuals.  Namely, the people who own the A's and the Rays.

The Athletics are owned by John T. Fisher, who came by his $2.4 billion fortune honestly—he inherited it from his parents, who founded The Gap.  But hey, I don't want to rank on Fisher, who is at least seriously examining how to make the A's more profitable by examining how to build a new stadium with his own money out in Oakland.

I will only note that the Athletics' problems have been largely self-created, ever since they made the epically idiotic decision to move from Philadelphia—maybe the 4th or 5th largest market in the country then—to Kansas City, and then Oakland.  And that MLB could help them overcome their "small-market" status in about five minutes if they'd only let them move to San Jose, which the Giants have designated their territory.

No, I want to draw your attention to the mystery owners of the Tampa Bay Rays, whom Tyler Kepner apparently failed to run down for his column.

They are Brooklyn's own Stuart Sternberg, and his longtime sidekick and FELLOW GOLDMAN SACHS PARTNER Matthew Silverman.

Yes, these are the people now being depicted as brave upstarts, standing up to "The Man":  Goldman partners.

Now, it is true that the Rays rank 29th among MLB's 30 teams in estimated value.  In 2018, according to Forbes, they were worth a measly $1.01 billion.  Debt is 20 percent of the team's value, which is relatively high compared to the rest of MLB, but not extraordinary; many teams have 10-15 percent.

More importantly, the Ray's operating expenses were only $27 million in 2018, while their payroll was just $121 million, and their revenue...$228 million.  Kepner brags that their payroll was down to a mere $63 million in 2019.

This means that their profit this year may have been $140 million.  And I don't know if that even counts the revenue sharing and luxury tax money—that is, money that fans like us are forced to fork over to these bozos.

Wiki notes that Sternberg "has remained a low-key owner who sees his primary goal with the team as getting their finances in order, not winning games."  How nice for the fans, who reportedly "hoped he would sell the Rays and buy the Mets" a few years back, "citing the owner's lack of commitment to the area and the on-field product."

Sternberg has owned the Rays since 2004, which means that their finances should really, really be in order by now.  And I suspect they are—for Sternberg, who likely has been personally raking in tens of millions in pure profit, every year.

 Of course, if they're not, he can always sell the team.  FOR A BILLION DOLLARS.

Instead, though, good old Stu has concentrated on shaking down the Tampa Bay-St. Pete community for still more boatloads of moolah, mainly by insisting that the good citizens there buy him a great new ballpark.  And in an attempt to leverage said ballpark, he has now come up with that boffo, MLB-approved plan to split the team's home games with Montreal.

Walter O'Malley couldn't have been more self-interested.

Doing those sorts of old-fashioned capitalist things like making money by building a terrific product or maybe lowering your prices to increase can do.  Instead, our Stuart has been trained well on Wall Street:  you make money by getting other people to take your risks for you, subsidize your mediocrity, and erase your failures.

An interesting sidenote about the Tampa area is that people there are obsessed with pirates.  They can't wait for any excuse to dress up like one.

Stuart Sternberg has found the perfect home.


TheWinWarblist said...

I feel so, so badly for fragile Zachary.


Rufus T. Firefly said...

Winnie, what you said.

Hoss, who knew there were more cheapskate billionaire owners besides foodstamps HAL?

TheWinWarblist said...

Who knew indeed!

Platoni said...

They're ALL cheapskate billionaire owners! (Well, enough of them, anyways. The rest, I'm sure, won't mind being bundled into my generalization.)

HoraceClarke66 said...

And hey, a little chink in the armor today! Rays rack up Greinke, 10-3. Nice. Now if they can just beat Miley Cyrus...

Osuna's implosion the other night was also nice. The Astros might be one game away from elimination if Hinch had not alertly given him the quick hook.

Seems that there are plenty of bullpen episodes going on. Of course, St. Louis' was helped the other day when they deliberately walked McCann't to pitch to Dansby Swanson.

I know, I know: righty-righty, and he has a girl's name. But really, unless the pitcher is next, I pitch to McCann't.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

An Elsbury first base on catcher's interference?

Is Ells secretly coaching the team? Could this be the reason for all the injuries this year?

Unknown said...

Agree wholeheartedly! I read Kepner's stupid column and wanted to puke. Ordinarily, I like him but this was rediculous. Who cares how much (or little) these cheapskates spend? Why is it so great that they work on the cheap while pocketing their fans dough? Great post. Keep it up.

Parson Tom said...

git'em, Horace. It boggles the mind why Kepner is such an unwitting tool.

JM said...

Way to stick it to the Man, Hoss.

Isiyku Abdulahi said...

I really want the world to know about this great man who brought back happiness into my life again after my husband left me and the kids 3 years ago for another women online when i contacted Dr Believe he cast a love spell for me within 48 hours my ex husband start calling me and begging for forgiveness for everything that have happened between us. I was so happy to have my family back together with love again here is the email of Dr Believe via a man with the great powers you can also call him or add him on Whats-app: +2348156148821
God bless you
I am very grateful for your help in my marriage.