Longfellow's Reviews > Fair Ball: A Fan's Case for Baseball

Fair Ball by Bob Costas
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's review
Mar 01, 2012

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bookshelves: sports
Read in February, 2012

Costas' book is mostly an analysis of the economic and structural organization of MLB, what's wrong with it and how it might be fixed.

The focus is on the economic disparity that seems to have increased after the strike of '94-'95, and with it, a loss of competitive balance among the league's teams.

I found myself convinced by nearly every one of Costas' arguments, largely because the statistics make his indictments nearly undeniable: for example, for the six years after the strike, 10 of the 12 World Series competitors were in the top five payrolls in the majors, and the two that weren't came in at 7th and 10th in the payroll rankings. Costas argues that with the MLB economic structure as it exists (as of 2000), there are some teams that simply have no chance of competing for the end-of-the-season prize.

Of course, his book having been published in 2000, it is clearly outdated in some aspects, and I'm sure the economic structure has been through some changes since then, but for the most part each season still confirms this pitiful imbalance in competitive opportunity. A chance to win is stacked crazily in favor of the teams with the most money to blow. Of course, this actually reflects the capitalistic values of the U.S., but in baseball these values have tragic results. The goal in baseball is not to put other teams out of business; the best interest of the league as a whole is to have a high and balanced level of competition.

It's hard to be a fan in a small market and not get royally pissed off each season when big bully organizations with money take our potential stars from us and consistently have a payroll three to fives times higher than we do each year.

Whatever. Go Royals!
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