Thursday, March 09, 2006

Zimbalist Interview At Federal Baseball

Major Kudos to Basil at Federal Baseball for his book review and interview with famed economist/baseball academic, Andrew Zimbalist.

It's an excellent review that I can't recommend more highly, even if it'll take you some time to get through it.

Zimbalist's book considers the role of Bud Selig in MLB and tries to understand why and how Selig managed to dramatically alter the role of Commissioner of MLB. No longer is it a Kennesaw Mountain Landis-style independent arbiter, but a partisan voice for the owners, which Zimbalist contends might not be as bad as it seems.

But what makes Basil's interview so excellent is that he focuses on how this affects the Nats, notably their move from Montreal and all the shenanigans surrounding that. He also delves into Selig's role in brokering a deal with Peter Angelos, and whether the stadium is a positive or negative development.

If you can't read the whole thing now, print it out and read it on the Metro tonight. It's worth it.

  • Failing that, you can always read about the Mets' owner's crazy son, and his even crazier wife. Can you say 'prenup'?


    • I haven't read the piece yet (it would be the web right, if I couldn't comment without reading the actual materials), but is the transition to a partisan commissioner you describe really new. I recall reading Marvin Miller's book and he clearly understood the Commissioner's office in that way in the 60s and 70s.

      By Blogger Sam, at 3/09/2006 10:00 AM  

    • "wouldn't" be the web . . .

      By Blogger Sam, at 3/09/2006 10:01 AM  

    • Read Basil's piece for more info on that than I can accurately summarize.

      While it's been trending towards that more and more, keep in mind that you don't have to go too far back (Kuhn, Vincent) to see cases of owners sacking a commissioner because he didn't agree with their positions.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/09/2006 10:04 AM  

    • Thanks for the compliment, Chris!

      Sam, good question.

      I did not explore the tenures of previous commissioners in the review, as I just had to keep those details outside of the scope for length considerations, among others. They are certainly worth reading, if for no other reason than to read about a man with even more (and longer) conflicts of interest than Selig himself! ;-)

      The shift is a subtle one but an important one: how the actions of the commissioner are viewed in light of the "best interests" clause. With Selig, Zimbalist claims, the archaic paradigm of a "mythic commissioner" was replaced by more of a CEO: someone who could get things moving from decades of stagnation and forge consensus (though difficultly) after decades of in-fighting. It is worth a read just to see how difficult that road has been.

      By Blogger Basil, at 3/09/2006 10:18 AM  

    • thanks for responses -- i definitely will read the piece.

      By Blogger Sam, at 3/09/2006 10:21 AM  

    • The way others have described Selig it sounds as if the man is simply paralyzed until he has complete harmonious accord among everyone involved in a decision. I suspect this will lead him to delay naming an owner until much later than most of us expect.

      Everything must be "just perfectly so", like Wilpon's foo-foo bride in that British article about the son of the Mets' owner. Coincidence?

      By Anonymous Bote Man, at 3/09/2006 6:18 PM  

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