The National Pastime

Frank Deford taking a whack at the correlation between the size of a baseball team’s payroll and its chances of winning.  Now this particular dead horse has been beaten so often and so hard that it’s pretty much an unrecognizable lump of meat by now.  Deford, at least, does it with some style and wit.

But it’s not just the size of the payroll that matters; it’s also how it’s acquired.  Every team benefits from some amount of government largesse, but it turns out that one in particular (three guesses) is a bigger “welfare queen” than all the rest:

To sum up: The most successful, most opulent, and most hated baseball franchise in North America, widely known as “the Evil Empire,” receives an unprecedented amount of government giveaways in a time of recession and government budget-squeezes, with which it increases its already sizeable revenue advantage, partly by charging ticket prices that only the rich can afford. With all that dough safely pocketed, the team then shells out $423 million in free agent contracts for just three players, who help vault them back into the League Championship Series for the first time since 2004.

Back in the mid-1970s, when the Yankees were re-emerging from more than a decade of uncharacteristic mediocrity, a favorite negative stereotype on the political right was the “welfare queen,” living high off government largesse that had been intended for the genuinely poor. It’s an enduring puzzle in contemporary America that long after “welfare reform” restructured transfer payments to individuals, the corporate welfare queens—who by any estimation have been sucking more from the public teat than all welfare recipients combined—continue gobbling hundreds of billions each year, image largely unsullied.

So root, root, root against the home team tonight. It’s bad enough that they play in a fascist stadium; the real outrage is that you paid for it.

Whole article here.

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