A rarity on MLB-TV this week: a discussion of the way consistent financial disparity separates a third of the wealthy teams – like the Dodgers and Yankees – from the other two-thirds, nearly all of whom have no chance of making the playoffs. None of the on-air guests at the sport’s winter meeting complained about the imbalance; how it hurt their teams’ ability to attract fans and the money needed to stay competitive over much of the long season.
Instead, Billy Beane, GM of the have-not Oakland A’s, after acknowledging his team’s handicap, said he liked the challenge of upsetting the rich teams with his consistently underfinanced Athletics. That attitude may play in Oakland, but not with fans of other small-market teams; that is, the ones annually resigned to watching the Red Sox, Indians, Astros , Cubs, and Nationals – as well as the LAD’s and NYY’s – make the post-season. (Counting long-shot teams on the outside looking in – the Giants, Cardinals, Angels, Twins and Rangers – makes a close to precise competitive total of 12 of 30.)
The truism that money equals power is, we know, just as accurate on the political field. That such power can be misused in politics to a more dangerous degree than in professional sports is also well known. In recent years, presidents dating from Lyndon Johnson to Richard Nixon to George W. Bush misused their power to get us into widening wars. Johnson and Nixon did it over Vietnam, Bush over Iraq.
Nixon paid the price for his misplay. He had the money and power to reinforce his bid for re-election in 1974, but he organized a break-in theft of Dem opposition files to lock up a favorable outcome. When about to be caught misusing his office, he fired a series of special prosecutors who were on his trail. Archibald Cox, the first to be removed, warned against public overconfidence that justice would be done, Nixon would be stopped. Never underestimate the power of the presidency, he said, to find ways to protect that power.
A warning that resonates, perhaps, in this period of newly developed left-of-center jubilation.
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(The Nub, a team effort, is produced by Dick Starkey of perfectpitcher.org)
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