Friday, July 31, 2009

On hypocrisy: Steroids/PED, and Sports/business


I made the mistake of tuning into Mike and Mike earlier this morning and immediately heard two stupid things (I know, I know…). Anyway, one sounded like Golic’s plea to try and understand why the NFL gets a free pass on the steroids issue while the other was Greenie mocking the Pittsburgh Pirates. Since both these are fairly commonly raised issues (roids and bad teams’ spending or lack thereof) I figured I'd lay some education on the Mikes.

Let me address the Pirates issue first. Basically my stance is, “Why mock the Pirates?”. They are running a business, for profit. Baseball is not set up for small markets to compete consistently anyway, so why fault the Pirates for doing the minimum, cutting current and future payroll, and raking in the profits? I keep hearing how big-league-sports is big business and we should all accept it. Well, accept it. The Pirates are running a business with profit as the bottom line. What is your fucking problem with that? Heck, I thought that was the celebrated business strategy of the past 25 years! Corporations have been running down labor costs (to the point of shipping every job overseas that they possibly could), diluting product quality, and generally screwing its labor force to improve the bottom line for Wall St. Why is it OK to have Walmartism in all other fields of business ---people are happy to consume inferior mass-produced crap, from nuggets to gibbets, so long as it is cheap --- but not in sports? The Pirates have no obligation to win championships. If you do not like what they are doing, don’t go watch them. Ah, but our unreasoning sports addiction has created a system in which, due to TV contracts, licensing and merchandizing revenue, the Pirates can make a profit even if they don’t sell a single ticket?!! Well, tough shit. So Mike and Mike, instead of mocking the Pirates, deal with it, assholes --- ‘cos it is the same unreasoning sports addiction that makes multimillionaires out of sellout-to-the-sponsor-talking-heads ‘journalists’ like you.

Besides, many other teams have sucked for years--- are some of them better just because they spend more money to suck perennially? What kind of fucked-up logic is that? I mean, the Marlins have won 2 more championships in the past decade or so than the Cubs have in the past century. And then the Marlins have proceeded to cash in by dismantling the championship team rosters to cut salary and maximize profit. They still always keep their payroll low. Brilliant, if you ask me. I think that the Cubs are even bigger losers for spending money and losing all the fucking time. Mock them.

I love what the Pirates are doing because they are exposing exactly how stupid the business of sports has become. The Pirates had revenues of $139 million (of which only $29 million came from gate receipts) and they made a profit of $17.6 million, the current owners of the franchise bought it for $92 million in 1996 and it is now worth $292 million. How the hell is this a bad business organization? I mean, if they were bad, the system should be penalizing them, right? They have no more obligation to sign expensive players than players have to sign with them in the face of better offers. Loyalty? Fuck that. Just business, baby. My point is that the business of big league sports has little to do with the daily paying customer. You pay for it in a myriad other ways. Stuff your outrage and deal with it. Or change it if you can. Go ahead. Try.

As far as the NFL always getting a pass on the steroid/PED issue—there are many factors at play here not the least of which is that the NFL actually instituted and enforced a meaningful policy years before baseball did. But do NFLers still use PEDs in some form, like HGH maybe? I am very inclined to think so.

So why is the NFL more respected than MLB in that regard anyway? I think it is because sport is about competitive fairness and balance, and the increasing size and speed of NFLers didn’t obviously skew it in some peoples’ or teams’ favor or, more importantly, make a mockery of the history of the game itself. Baseball, on the other hand, had a handful of its players perform at freakishly historical highs at the same time that they gained at freakishly abnormal physical attributes. Baseball loves its numbers--- 56, .400, 714, 755, 2130, etc. And one of the most cherished of these, 61, got completely abused five times over a four year span by three different people none of whom had come close to doing anything like that previously in their career. At the end of this disgraceful display, the new record of 73 had bested the old one of 61 by 20%. The equivalent in football, for power and endurance, would have to be the single-season rushing record. Currently the single season (16 game) rushing record is held by Eric Dickerson, who ran for 2105 yds in 1984 (avg of 132 yds per game). It could be argued that O.J. Simpson still has some claim to that record as he rushed for 2003 yds in only 14 games (avg 143 yds/game). So to equate what happened in baseball, using ED’s metric, three talented but mid-career running backs who had never rushed for over 1800 yds would have to suddenly rush for over 2100 yds (actually close to at least 2300 yds, to equate what happened to the 61HR record) five times in a four year span and leave the new record at over 2500 yds. And oh, BTW, at the same time become freakishly bigger even by comparison to their peers.

BTW, if you use OJ’s rushing metric as the standard the 16-game equivalent would be 2288 yds, so someone(s) would have had to rush for about 2500 yds five times over a four year span and set the new record at over 2700 yds.

No one has yet broken ED’s record. Same holds true for Marino’s single seaon passing record of 1984. Yes, some records (e.g. TDs/season) have fallen, but not egregiously like they did in baseball. Moreover it is really difficult to make a power+endurance correlation to these records the way it can be made for rushing or for home runs. When historic NFL records get thoroughly abused in an abnormal manner, people will take the same kind of notice that they do now in baseball.

I know that the job of talk radio is to fan the flames rather than provide intelligent analysis but I am not sure Mike and Mike can tell the difference anymore.


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Comrade PhysioProf said...

Mike & Mike are a fucking joke, although Golic is marginally better than Greenberg, who reminds me of one of those annoying whiny little fucks in high-school who got the shit beat out of himself daily for being such a whiny little fuck. The only decent thing about Mike & Mike is when Stink Schlereth is guest hosting. That dude actually knows his shit.

scribbler50 said...

Though I'm from Pittsburgh and hate what the Pirates have been doing since the Jim Leyland era, the way you lay out your argument is sadly on the money, Stache. (Pun intended) For once free agency kicked in all the rules changed. It is business for profit and unless the Pirates can come up with the greatest draft in its history, and can thus win games with a team full of one million / per ballplayers, they will continue to be what they are which is a fucking farm club.
And your take on the NFL? You're right, no one out of nowhere ran for 3,000 yards and if they did, that entire offensive line would be tested daily.

Good job of stepping up to "the Mikes", Stache.

Anonymoustache said...

Yeah. I dont' tune in much anymore but every time I catch it I get annoyed at them. We started getting Dan Patrick again hereabouts a little while ago which I catch every now and then....he's got his ego schtick etc but he's still the best interviewer on sports radio.
I'm past the disappointment stage as you can tell. I actually think the Pirates and teams like that may be doing the sports public at large a favor by exposing the system from the inside. Man, they could gouge the city with high ticket prices, sign big free agents, throw money around, but they'll still never be able to compete every year with NY, LA and Boston. All they'll do is create more undeserving multimillionaires. The money in sports has gotten obscene anyway, but it's particularly bad in MLB where the dice are loaded.

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