Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Oriole Magic

This sucks. However, I’m not too surprised to learn that the Orioles undercut—and, in the process, pissed off—their top performer. I mean, sports is a business, right? Superior performance at minimal cost is a no-brainer, right? And if, say, Goldman Sachs* could underpay their top-performing investment banker while locking him (her?) in to a year-long contract, they’d do it in a heartbeat, right? Um, yeah, except if Goldman pulled that stunt with their top banker, (s)he’d raise both middle fingers in the air and gesture toward the phone and say: “I have Steve Cohen on line 1, and John Paulson on line 2. Either you pay me what I’m worth, or I’ll pick up one of these two phone lines and talk to someone who will.” Fuck You. Pay me.

And mark my words -- that’s exactly what will happen here: Markakis, the most-productive Oriole of the past few years, will remember this when it comes time to negotiate a new contract. When this contract expires, he’ll remember that Baltimore underpaid him. And he’ll have leverage. And some other team out there will arbitrage the shit out of this self-imposed market inefficiency, and the Orioles will lose a future All-Star. And, selfishly, my dream of a Nick Markakis/Adam Jones outfield will die a premature death. And the Orioles will continue to suck. And I’ll ask myself, again and again, Why do I still cheer for this team?

*This is not to say that the Orioles are the Goldman Sachs of MLB. Quite the contrary. The Orioles are more like Drexel Burnham—a once-proud group of people who, through their own greed and stupidity, managed to ruin what was once a good and profitable thing.

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