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May the Best Team Win : Baseball Economics and Public Policy - Andrew Zimbalist

May the Best Team Win

Baseball Economics and Public Policy

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The business of baseball stands in sharp contrast to the games wholesome image as Americas favorite pastime. Major league baseball is a deeply troubled industry, facing chronic problems that threaten its future: persistent labor tensions, competitive dominance by high-revenue teams, migration of game telecasts to cable, and escalating ticket prices. Amid the threat of contraction, existing franchises are demanding public subsidies for new stadiums, while viable host cities are begging for teams. The games core base of fans is aging, and MLB is doing precious little to attract a younger audience. According to Andrew Zimbalist, these problems have a common cause: monopoly. Since 1922 MLB has benefited from a presumed exemption from the nations antitrust laws. It is the only top-level professional baseball league in the country, and each of its teams is assigned an exclusive territory. Monopolies have market power, which they use to derive higher returns, misallocate resources, and take advantage of consumers. Major league baseball is no exception. In May the Best Team Win, Zimbalist provides a critical analysis of the baseball industry, focusing on the abuses and inefficiencies that have plagued the game since the 1990s, when franchise owners appointed their colleague Bud Selig as MLBs independent commissioner. Run by a shrinking and self-selecting group of owners subject to no oversight, MLB suffers from a lack of competitive pressure. Several large franchises are owned by media companies that have shackled their teams to lucrative broadcast and cable contractsoften making it impossible for fans to see games on television. Others own entities that do business with the teams, charginginflated prices for facility management, concessions, and catering. Complex intracompany transactions can reduce franchise revenues substantially, causing operating losses for teams while the owners still make millions. Zimbalist estimates that tens of millions of dollars are sheltered from MLB revenue each yearmore than enough to eliminate the operating losses that led Selig to claim contraction and other radical remedies as fiscal necessities. Zimbalist believes that many of baseballs problems would be effectively addressed by removing the industrys presumed antitrust exemption. He urges reconsideration of baseballs antitrust status, encouraging legislation to force monopoly cable providers to de-bundle their services, along with private initiatives to cultivate the games fan base, such as offering special ticket prices for families, allowing fans on the field after games, and involving players more in community events. Zimbalist also provides MLB with guidelines to reconstruct the incentive system underlying its revenue sharing policies. Zimbalist believes that consumers need an industry that is subject to judicial checks and competitive pressures. Only then will baseball fans be able to put the traumas of the 1990s and early 2000s behind them and utter freely the simple and enduring exhortation: May the best team win

Industry Reviews

"... argues Andrew Zimbalist, a professor... and author of 'May the Best Team Win.'" --Michael K. Ozanian with Cecily J. Fluke, Forbes, 4/28/2003 "Instead of drinking beer and moaning, pick up a copy of Andrew Zimbalist's 'May the Best Team Win.' Zimbalist is the author of 'Baseball and Billions,' one of the most impressive books on the subject, trumped, perhaps, only by this one... 'May the Best Team Win' is one that the critical fan needs in their arsenal." -- Mudville Magazine, 4/28/2003 "'Andrew Zimbalist writes with obvious love, but deep concern for our national pastime. " --Chris Berman, ESPN, 2/4/2003 "An absorbing, provocative discussion." -- Publishers Weekly, 2/24/2003 "Follows up his original tome by documenting perhaps the wildest set of chapters in MLB history. In just the past two years, commissioner Bud Selig and the owners have attempted and failed to wipe out two teams, narrowly averted a labor stoppage with the players, engineered a bizarre ownership swap involving the Boston, Florida and Montreal franchises, stumbled through a high-profile congressional tongue-lashing, and were beaten in court by a stadium commission from Minnesota. " --Eric Fisher, Washington Times "Major league baseball has put a stranglehold on real competitive balance, and Zimbalist claims that the near-monopoly status is a detriment to any impulse for improvement. His prescriptions offer harsh but needed medicine. " -- Library Journal "Zimbalist offers a whirlwind tour of baseball chicanery... Concise and coherent... Anyone who holds an opinion on the state of the game, or fears its demise, owes it to him- or herself to take Professor Zimbalist's 224-page class." --Jon Morgan, Baltimore Sun, 3/23/2003 "I highly recommend Andrew Zimbalist's new book, 'May the Best Team Win.' If you read this book... you'll know everything about the ugly side of baseball that you need to know." --Rob Neyer, ESPN.com, 4/1/2003 "Exhilarating... Combines an academic's precision with a fan's passion." --Allen Barra, Newhouse Newspapers "In the most damning chapter in the book, Zimbalist outlines a complex but convincing deconstruction of Selig's assertion that MLB lost #519 million in 2001...As Paul Beeston, MLB's chief operating officer said, 'Under generally accepted accounting principles, I can turn a #4 million profit into a #2 million loss and I can get every national accounting firm to agree with me.'" --Sean Callahan, GeezerJock Media, Washington Post Book World, 5/18/2003 "Zimbalist demolished Commission Bud Selig's claim made before Congress that baseball's 30 teams lost #519 million in 2001...A compelling critique." --Glenn C. Altschuler, Cornell University, Barron's, 6/2/2003 "[Zimbalist] has other arrows in his quiver, including a worldwide player draft with picks in reverse order or league standings, elimination of some of the tax shelters that owners now enjoy and tighter governmental oversight over team movement and labor relations." --Lawrence S. Ritter, New York University, New York Times, 5/25/2003 "Especially revealing." -- The Boston Globe "'May the Best Team Win' combines the precision of an academic with the passion of a fan... you have no one to blame but yourselves if you don't get 'May the Best Team Win', read it and heed it." --Allen Barra, St. Petersburg Times (Florida), 4/6/2003 "My daydream... is that somehow every sports talk show host and every caller to such a show might mysteriously find himself or herself reading this illuminating book. That development would decrease the dumbness quotient of discussions between the former and the latter by about 99%." --Bill Littlefield, "Only A Game" (WBUR), 4/19/2003 "Major league baseball has put a stranglehold on real competitive balance, and Zimbalist claims that the near-monopoly status is a detriment to any impulse for improvement. His prescriptions offer harsh but needed medicine." -- Library Journal, 5/1/2003 "Andrew Zimbalist's 'May the Best Team Win' is a stark reminder that many of the issues that divided baseball's owners and players during the contentious 2002 collective bargaining negotiations have not been fully resolved." --Daniel C. Glazer", Shearman and Sterling sports group, New York Law Journal, 5/29/2003 "The real case for reforming the sport is to reinstate that very American balance, rescuing the sport froma system, which, as it stands, is neither competitive nor fair." -- The Economist, 5/31/2003 "[Zimbalist] is correct in identifying MLB's primary problem -- competitive imbalance." --Andrew M. Alexander, co-editor of Intellectual Conservative, Intellectual Conservative.com, 3/3/2004 "The author of one of the most significant works on baseball economics, 'Baseball and Billions,' Zimbalist considers baseball's current state of economic health... With amazing precision, Zimbalist turns Selig's claims of #519 million in book losses for the 2001 season... into an actual operating profit." --Geoff Wilson, Baseball Magazine, 4/20/2003 "These days a typical owner will rake in big money, claim he's nearly broke and then threated to move unless his host city subsidizes a new stadium at taxpayer expense. If you think this is an exaggeration, read Zimbalist's brilliantly researched study on the economics of the game." --Charles Hirshberg, Sports Illustrated, 5/26/2003 "Zimbalist's analysis is easily accessible, his data quite interesting and his judgments evenhanded almost to a fault." -- Washington Post, 4/6/2003 "One of the great strengths of May the Best Team Win is the way in which Zimbalist clearly unravels the workings of various markets --labour, product, broadcasting and stadiums --and how they combine to make up the industry that is baseball. He provides a detailed analysis of collective bargaining in baseball... Provides a very readable account of major issues associated with the recent operation of American baseball. It systematically examines various peculiarities and nuances of the operation of this legal cartel. Its major contribution lies in its analyses of the impact of recent collective bargaining deals, the various revenue sharing mechanisms they contain to enhance competitive balance and the moving feast that is broadcasting rights... Highly recommended for all those interested in the economics of professional team sports and the operation of cartels." --Braham Dabscheck, Economic Record, 6/1/2004 "Zimbalist has written a compelling, accessible introduction to the economic issues surrounding the current state of major league baseball." --D. A. Coffin, Indiana University Northwest, Choice, 1/1/2004 "Zimbalist writes a thorough but concise analysis of the economic health of MLB... One of the strengths of May the Best Team Win is the way the book uncovers the hidden disincentives that are hurting the game." --Kevin Skelly, Bureau of Labor Statistics, New York, Issues in Labor Statistics "The overriding theme of the book is that MLB is an unregulated monopoly and as a conseqeunce the industry suffers from inefficiency, exploits consumers, manipulates public policy and suffers from a competitive imbalance that threatens the future of the game... A well-crafted book that gives a good view of the inner workings of MLB and its owner-barons and provides an interesting case study of cartel behavior. The intended audience is clearly broader than that of academic sports economists... Zimbalist succeeds in making the material engaging for both economists working in this field and for non-specialists interested in the economics of baseball." --Leo H. Kahane, Mount Holyoke College and California State University, Hayward, Journal of Economic Literature, 6/1/2004 "An interesting, insightful, and revealing examination of the business of baseball -- a book that will shave the game to its roots. It will become the ultimate book on the economics of professional sports. You will find it just as riveting as I did. " --Pat Williams, senior vice president, Orlando Magic, 2/1/2003 "The business of sports is more competitive than the games on the field because the business is conducted under the laws of commerce, not the rules of sport. In this excellent book, Andrew Zimbalist describes the action in the business of baseball like it was the seventh game of the World Series --which it is." --Clark C. Griffith, Chairman, Sports Law Division, American Bar Association Forum on Entertainment and Sports Law, 2/1/2003 "A great book --just the latest indication of why I tell my students at Harvard that Andrew Zimbalist is the top sports economist in the country. " --Paul Weiler, Friendly Professor of Law and chair, Sports and Entertainment Law Program, 2/1/2003

Forewordp. ix
Prefacep. xiii
Introduction: Cause for Concernp. 1
Baseball's Presumed Antitrust Exemptionp. 15
Competitive Balance: Leveling the Playing Fieldp. 35
Profitabilityp. 55
Collective Bargainingp. 75
The Stadium Issuep. 123
What Is to Be Done?p. 135
Postscript: The 2003 Seasonp. 161
Notesp. 175
Indexp. 207
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780815797296
ISBN-10: 081579729X
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 208
Published: 24th March 2004
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.23 x 15.24  x 1.27
Weight (kg): 0.32