Miami investigated by SEC/ MLB free agent predictions.

December 5, 2011

You think for a moment that the South East Conference must finally be investigating ‘the U,’ but wait a minute; the Hurricaines don’t play in the SEC!  No; it’s the Securities and Exchange Commission, and this MLB franchise investigation doesn’t involve Bernie Madoff.  It involves the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County issuing over $480 million in bonds to build a stadium for a team which would not show them its financial documents.  Oh yeah; they signed Jose Reyes and Heath Bell!  That’s actually the punchline, in that area taxpayers get the two players in a trade — for municipal service and job cuts.

That’s right, the city and county are broke.  The Marlins, however, are not broke and never have been.  They blew up their last World Series winning team immediately, citing the certainty that it would happen anyway, given their poverty.  That poverty, it turns out, was a savvy hoax.  The team playing in a football stadium with a consistent and predictably terrible win-loss record was making money, and hiding it in Fastowian ways.  It should be mentioned around this time that current Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria once sold a Major League Baseball team to Major League Baseball, which is kind of like somehow convincing Ford Motor Company to buy your old lemon.  Between that and the sweetheart deal that Washington gave the ‘spos to become the Nat’s, people might start to realize that Bud not only knew, but has abetted the whole ‘tell ‘em your poor and you might have to skip town’ scheme from the get-go.

As always, the Devil is in the details.  What?  You though the almost half a billion was the devil?  Sadly, it is not.  Jeff Passan actually gives a very good treatment to this scandal, with good links (including to one of the sources above).  Anwyay, as you can see from his article, that 480 million is actually estimated to be close to two and a half billion dollars, once the interest is paid and the thing is finally amortized.  Of course, in the meantime, the city and county duke it out over which of them (obviously not Loria and the Marlins) will pay the property tax on the parking garages attached to the stadium.

The people’s view of this is pretty clear, with the mayor at the time of the deal being recalled and summarily booted.  The article linked to in the last sentence also refers to the Reagan era tax-code changes that in part enabled so many of these kinds of shenanigans, but the people, like Mike Stanton in the outfield, have yet to catch that one.

There is a final element to this joke, and that is in those financial records leaked to Deadspin.  While Paul Beeston once said ‘Under generally accepted accounting principles, I can turn a $4 million profit into a $2 million loss, and I can get every national accounting firm to agree with me’ (Passan), the Marlins actually showed their profit.  In other words, if they’d ever seen the books, the former mayor and all his peers in incompetence would have seen it, in black and white.  Not red.  Just black and white.  And anyway, what was Loria going to do?  Move the team?  To where?  Montreal?

***

With Berkman and three closers (Papelbon, Nathan, and Bell) getting things started, here are the sportsvssports 2011 MLB off-season predictions:

Albert Pujols – St. Louis (Lozano flops again)

Prince Fielder – Chicago Cubs

CJ Wilson – New York Mets

Roy Oswalt – Chicago Cubs

Yu Darvish – Hokkaido

Jose Reyes – Florida  (Done pending physical)

Jimmy Rollins – Philadelphia

Mark Buerhle – Washington

Aramis Ramirez – Los Angeles Angels


Good News/Bad News Pt. 1: Identify and Persecute a Looter Today!

June 16, 2011

First the bad news:  Vancouver is filled with losers.  They are certainly a minority, but it’s their version of the city’s reaction that represents the whole in the bullet-point media cycle, and they are a noxious minority.  Those in Damascus and Athens have reason to be upset to the boiled-over point of destruction and recklessness.  Those few in Vancouver, leaping about the flames and stealing pants, are not sporting people.  They are losers, much more than the team.  What could the majority have done?  What could Vancouver have done?  They should have done like the people of Miami, but instead for the second time in two opportunities some Vancouverites – what, 1000?  1500? – failed, on behalf of the whole city, to show a little class.

If people in Vancouver had reacted this way to every Canadian Olympic Silver, Van City would look like Tripoli.

Unfortunately, in any scene of mob mentality like this, it is the large group of bystanders in the middle who bear the real blame.  If you tweeted about it without taking any photos of rioters, it’s your fault.  If you just drank your beer and watched, it’s your fault.  If you cheered people on from the periphery and hung around when it was time to disperse, it’s your fault.  May you get tear-gassed next time.

Many people in Vancouver took pictures which will be useful, and afford an opportunity for the regular people of the area to take steps to redress the situation and discourage it from happening again: look at the facebook page.  Identify and persecute a looter today.  Fire them from your workplace.  Wake them up early.  You didn’t agree to cover for them, so you can identify them to the police without being a rat.  Tell them you know as you pass them in the hall.  Vancouver needs a big blanket of shame, and it can only be knit by the rational majority of people who live there.

I say persecute rather than prosecute because this was not a legal event.  It was a social event, and can only be dealt with in any constructive way by social action.  That’s why those who are cleaning up deserve credit, and a pass on the reputational smear that they will have to live with as much as the looters.  That’s why those who took good pictures deserve credit.  That’s why those who stood around are guilty.  Guilty until today, when they wake up, tired, maybe hung over, and decide to do the right thing.  Persecute!