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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

John Perricone On Steroids

It has been a great long time since I read the wonderful Only Baseball Matters about anything, which is really my loss, because I missed this thoughtful post about steroids in the context of the Lance Armstrong revelations. Excerpt:
I have worked in construction for almost 35 years. I live in constant pain. I’ve already had surgery on my right elbow, I am going to have surgery on my left in a couple of months. I am getting HGH injections in my right shoulder, the left is next. I have just begun a topical cream regimen of steroids, oral DHEA, and a variety of supplements and vitamins, all in an effort to keep working. To provide for my family. In a way, I have done whatever it takes, I have lived a “win at all costs” life. There were times where I knew I was damaging my body in unfixable ways, all the days that I took pain killers, the multiple times I asked my doctors to give me corti-steroidal injections so I could finish the job. I’ll be paying the price for those choices for the rest of my life. I knew it at the time, and I know it now.

Were I a football player, baseball player, or a professional cyclist, my “job” would require me to win. To keep my “job” I would have to produce, I would have to be at least as good as the worst player in my field. And I can guarantee you that I would have been availing myself of every medical advance known at the time. It is absurd to me to suggest that I would have had to consider whether somebody else approved of my life-altering decisions.

Speaking as someone who strongly believes we each own ourselves — bodies, minds, and work — I find this highly compelling.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Dodgers, Time Warner Form New Cable Network

The Dodgers have announced a deal with cable TV company Time Warner that will give the team its own network. I scarcely need to add how this will affect Fox, who would then be shut out of one of the principle reasons for its existence, but what truly scares me is the prospect that we could have an extended blackout period in non-Time Warner cable operators as everyone negotiates carriage fees. It could easily go that Vin Scully's voice is not heard in a significant number of homes on the eve of his retirement.

Update 1/23: The deal supposedly could be worth $7 to $8 billion over 20 years, which would mean a minimum of $350M per annum, with as much as $2.7 billion subject to revenue sharing (which, huh?)

The addition of a new Dodgers network would bring the number of local sports channels in Los Angeles to six, the most in any major city in the United States. Besides Time Warner Cable's SportsNet and Deportes, and Fox's Prime Ticket and Fox Sports West, the Pac-12 Conference also has its own channel here. Fox Sports West carries Los Angeles Kings and Los Angeles Angels games.

"That's too many channels," said Marc Ganis, a sports industry consultant in Chicago. "I can't imagine that is sustainable on a long-term basis."

Ganis has been something of a go-to guy for quotes about the business of LA teams for the Times dating back, at least, to the McCourt acquisition of the Dodgers. And while he's been kind of a gloomy Gus about the crazy nature of these deals, I share his skepticism that this is going to go off without a hitch. "The Dodger agreement with Time Warner Cable may be a tipping point", the LAT piece reads, as far as the willingness of cable networks to pony up for a sports channel that is double what Fox Sports West is charging ($5/user*month for the proposed network).

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Trying And Failing To Sell The "Cable TV Isn't Ripping Off Non-Sports Consumers" Myth

Alex Taberrok at Marginal Revolution tries to sell the standard-issue cable TV spiel that non-sports consumers aren't being ripped off by cable TV pricing practices:
Here is where the LA Times and the others go very wrong – they reason that $30 of the $40 charged is due to sports so each person is paying $7.50 for football ($7.50*4=$30) and $2.50 for Top Chef ($2.50*4=$10) and, therefore, the Top Chef viewer is being ripped off because 3/4 of their bill is going to support programming they never watch!


Conceptually it’s much clearer to say that each person is being charged $10 for the programming that they most want to watch.

Yet this does not change the underlying truth that the bill is still what it is! More of a sports fan's bill goes toward the things they prefer to watch, while less of someone who likes "Top Chef", say. The LAT article can be found here:
So far, people seem willing to pay. But the escalating costs are triggering worries that, at some point, consumers will begin ditching their cable and satellite subscriptions.

"We've got runaway sports rights, runaway sports salaries and what is essentially a high tax on a lot of households that don't have a lot of interest in sports," said John Malone, the cable industry pioneer and chairman of Liberty Media. "The consumer is really getting squeezed, as is the cable operator."

A key concern is that the higher bills driven by sports are being shouldered by subscribers whether they watch sports or not. National and local sports networks typically require cable and satellite companies to make their channels available to all customers.

"I pay $98 a month for cable and half of that is for sports?" said Vincent Castellanos, 51, a fashion stylist who lives in Los Feliz. "I've never once gone to a single sports channel. I wasn't even aware I was paying for it. I want my money back. Who do I call?"

As much as Taberrok might like to elide this, he can't ignore what's happening in San Diego with the Padres, which is a precursor to the whole house of cards falling down.

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Thursday, January 03, 2013

Dear Jamie: Yes, You're Well And Truly Screwed. Now, STFU

Blackstone Group, one of the corporate entities that owns the Dodgers, successfully quashed a move for discovery that would grant her access to just about everything regarding the subsequent sale of the Dodgers. She only made out with $131M in the divorce settlement, while Frank got $2.1B. I really don't care, so long as they're both no longer in the picture in Chavez Ravine. (Hat tip to my Facebook pal John Patterson.)

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The New Schedule And The Looming Threat Of The National League DH

Eno Sarris at Fangraphs on how the new schedule will affect the NL's use of the DH. Basically, it comes down to: keep a full-time DH (i.e. pretend you're in the AL anyway), use a pinch-hitter, move an aging or bad-glove guy into the slot, or most intriguingly, add someone to the roster in June. Andre Ethier, whose contract is now pretty pricey for a guy who can only hit righties, starts to look a little better in that light.

Update: Interesting idea from Baseball Prospectus' Russell A. Carleton: let the teams decide whether they want to use the DH in their home park for the whole year:

Some time prior to the free agent period starting (so before the World Series ends), teams are required to make a decision. For the next season, they can decide whether their home park will be a DH park or a pitcher-batting park. The decision holds all year, but teams can switch back and forth from season to season as they desire. Everyone submits their choices in a sealed envelope and they all get revealed live. How fun would the day after that be?

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