25 March 2013

Thank You For Mowing My Rather Expansive Lawn For A Quarter Century....Now, Go Away

Led by an unidentified "small market owner", baseball's Lords of the Realm are trying to dismantle collectively bargained pension plans currently protecting non uniformed personnel.  Of course, all Diamondback personnel are uniformed, sartorial advocates for The Organization, but you get the idea. Scouts, groundskeepers, the widow working the Will Call window.

Were MLB publicly traded, its (conservatively estimated $8 billion) annual revenue would position it as a Fortune 300 firm, neighboring boutique mom and pops like Visa and Campbells Soup. 

Bear in mind, too, that MLB's most salient business distinction - its federal antitrust exemption -  enables this often collusive bevy of baseball owners to orchestrate an advantageous network of regional monopolies, and mark up their prices devoid of direct competition. Unlike Campbells and Visa, there's no Progresso or American Express cutting into baseball's consumer demand and bottom line. 

More generally, MLB competes for the sports or entertainment dollar, but that's tangential competition, similar to the way Campbells "vies" with Sara Lee for the food dollar or Amazon "battles" Visa as transactional clearing houses that really arent all that similar.

Not only is baseball's operational profit margin thus legally protected, but those profits and rising franchise values are concentrated among just thirty ownership groups. Compare that to the nation's true corporate behemoths, whose revenues dwarf mlb's, but whose profits are distributed among hundreds of thousands - and in some cases, millions - of shareholders. Even in an era of diminishing pensions, that a cottage industry this profitable - and concentrated - would dick around with the pensions of low level scouts and groundskeepers is another stained window into the sort of people running mlb.

Who is the pension-smashing small market owner most responsible?

I cant say it's Kendrick. For one thing, Phoenix isnt a small market (although it's often mistaken as such). Secondly, mlb has never lacked for slimeball owners. The Dolans in Cleveland. Pohlan in Minnesota. Loria. My (uneducated) guess is it's one of them, and Ken is laying low, with a big smile on his mug, as others do the dirty work.


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