Published on: May 16, 2003It's Friday, so a good day to address two of our favorite subjects…
There was a fascinating piece in The New York Times yesterday about the unique scenario being faced by the Kansas City Royals, which are owned by former Wal-Mart CEO David Glass.
NYT reporter Murray Chass writes:
"The Royals have not been in a playoff game since 1985, the year of their lone World Series championship. No one expected them to be in the playoffs this year, but for the first seven weeks of the season they have been the most
surprising team in the major leagues. They have been in first place in the American League Central every day of the season. After last night's 7-0 loss at Minnesota, they had a game-and-a-half lead over the Twins with a 23-15 record. Their surprising success has created a quandary for the team's owner, David Glass.
"Last winter Glass directed (team general manager Allard) Baird to cut $10 million from the $47.6 million payroll the Royals had in 2002, even though the Royals were projected to receive $19 million in revenue-sharing funds at the end of this season under baseball's new basic agreement. With their payroll
reduction, the Royals have raised questions about the owners' stated desire to improve competitive balance through revenue sharing."
The NYT says that while GM Baird downplays the financial restrictions placed upon him by Glass, the owner himself doesn't respond to interview requests. The players, on the other hand, already are up in arms about the possibility that their efforts could be undercut by an ownership mandate to cut costs.
This is interesting on all sorts of levels. We, quite frankly, have always believed that at least some of the baseball owners were full of it when they said that they wanted revenue sharing so they could be competitive. Revenue sharing was never supposed to drop to teams' bottom lines…it was supposed to be used to hire better players and build better teams.
Glass reportedly was a hard-liner in the recent contract negotiations with the players, perhaps mistaking the Players Association for the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). We know that Wal-Mart doesn't like to pay much for any product, which may explain why Glass doesn't want to have to pay much for players…but he doesn't dominate the baseball business the way Wal-Mart dominates retailing, so he hasn't got nearly the juice to make his opinions stick.
Interestingly, Glass isn't the only owner who has retail roots. Drayton McLane, also of Wal-Mart, and Peter Magowan, formerly of Safeway, are the owers of the Houston Astros and the San Francisco Giants, respectively. And both of those owners, while being vocal about the financial restraints under which they operate and their irritation with baseball's economic structure, continue to invest money in their teams. They seem to know that ultimately the best way to make money in baseball is to win.
Glass doesn't seem to know that. Maybe because he's never had a winning team. This season, however, fortune seems to be smiling on him…and he needs to respect the streak, as the well-known philosopher Crash Davis once said.
"The Matrix Redloaded" is the long-awaited sequel to the hugely successful and innovative science fiction movie of some four years ago. Sad to say, the new movie - which opened yesterday - is pretty much a disappointment. It is filled by mythical mumbo-jumbo, stunts, and special effects that echo but never improve on those in the first film, and has none of the surprises that infused the original. It also is all "middle" -- that is, the bridge film between the first and the final film of the trilogy, "The Matrix Revolutions," which is scheduled to come out later this year. So it really doesn't have a beginning and an end.
In fact, sometimes it seemed like it would never end.
"Matrix Reloaded" probably will make a lot of money, but it is creatively mediocre.
Then again, maybe we're just on the wrong side of 16 to appreciate it. (Our teenaged boys loved it. So go figure.)
Have a good weekend.
- KC's View: