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March, 2009:

The Sports Bubble

Via waxpaperbeercup, I found an article on Hardball Times regarding the falling value of baseball teams.  According to Ethan Stock, franchise values have peaked and are poised to take a long fall.

The logic makes sense to me, and stock cites seven reasons:

  1. Weak Real Estate Market.
  2. Municipalities and State Governments More Reluctant tIo Build New Stadiums.
  3. Media of all forms in serious crisis thanks to collapse of ad revenue.
  4. Slowing of growth of “Rich Guys.”
  5. Diminishing of “Wannabe Rich Guys.”
  6. Sharp Reduction of “Super Rich Guys.” (i.e., potential owners)
  7. End of “Creative” Discounted Cash Flow Projections.

It’s enough to make me morbidly curious about what this means for Tom Ricketts and family as they are supposedly closing in on buying the Cubs.  If the Cubs’ sale breaks down, there are serious consequences for the Cubs.

Setback for Spring

Spring had been advancing so easily that it was easy to forget what kind of tease March is. And then today comes along.

We had been getting comfortable with the 50-degree weather, the longer days and so forth, but today we’ve seen rain turn to sleet turn into snow. We had some flurries quickly erupt into a quick dusting of snow, and then quickly dissipate.

If only that was the last of the snow! We’re supposed to get 3-5 inches, maybe a little more, depending on which meteorologist we read.

All of this would be OK had it not been moving weekend. We’ve been inside and outside all day. Monday and Tuesday, the major moving days, could see some heavy rain too.

I guess that’s what we have to look forward to the next two or three weeks as winter and spring fight to the death. At least spring ultimately wins every time.

Oh, the BRIC

Brazil, Russia, India and China. They’re not quite Third World countries, but they’re not totally developed either. They have huge landmasses, large (skilled) labor forces, tons of natural resources and great culture.

But what has been holding these countries back from being Superpowers surpassing (or at the very least) equaling the United States’ influence and power? Their leaders.

Russia is run by ex-KGB paranoids. All that’s keeping China from being the dominant power is its oppressive government. India is saddled with a huge, slow-moving bureacracy that makes the U.S. government look like a model of efficiency.

And then we have Brazil.  While meeting with Gordon Brown and talking about the financial crisis, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva wasn’t shy assigning blame:

“This crisis was caused by the irrational behaviour of white people with blue eyes, who before the crisis appeared to know everything and now demonstrate that they know nothing.”

He added: “I do not know any black or indigenous bankers so I can only say [it is wrong] that this part of mankind which is victimised more than any other should pay for the crisis.”

Very interesting.

What did Mr. Lula de Silva get out of the meeting? Prime Minisiter Brown is going to push for Brazil (well, actually Lula de Silva for now) to have more influence in the IMF and Financial Stability Forum.

Lovely, just lovely.

Don’t hire his lawyer

Poor Billy Gillespie. Today, he saw his two-year run as head coach of the Kentucky men’s basketball team end with an unceremonious firing, made worse by the athletic director crucifying him in a press conference.

This wasn’t your typical “we wish Billy well in what he does…”  This was about as harsh as you can get:

“There is a clear difference in how the rules and responsibilities of overseeing the program are viewed,” Barnhart said. “It is a gap that I do not believe can be solved just by winning games. It is a philosophical disparity that I do not think can be repaired when the chemistry is just not right.”

But that’s not the insult. No, the insult came thanks to when he couldn’t come to terms with Kentucky on anything other than a handhake agreement and a “memorandum of understanding.” Instead of a seven-year deal and a $6 million buyout, the university views it as a year-to-year deal. As for the buyout, well:


“Suffice it to say it will be less than that,” Barnhart said.

Billy Gillespie is a good coach, who will get a chance again somewhere else. Suffice to say, he’ll have a different agent.

More night games?

The Cubs are bargaining for up to 50 night games per year, to which waxpaperbeercup responds, “you give the Cubs an inch and they’ll take a mile.” Very true, given that the last negotiation with the city for more night games involved the Cubs building some things they have yet to make good on.

I had another question, however. Mike Lufrano, the Cubs’ community relations guy, says the 50 night games won’t go into effect until 2010 at the earliest. Crane Kenney, a longtime Tribune Company lawyer and now the president of the Cubs, is leading the negotiations.


It would be like me redecorating my house three days before moving out. Why wouldn’t Tom Ricketts be running this negotiation?

Maybe the sale isn’t going as smoothly as we once thought.