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Saturday, July 12, 2008

"Invasion of the Body Snatchers," MLB style. There will be no more worries.

It was the selling point of the 'pod people' in the classic film, 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' as they forced dictatorial, emotionless life on their human prey. From a 1998 article in the NY Times, MLB had endless worries about selling the Dodgers and whether the new owner (Murdoch) would overpower the rest of MLB. Funny--MLB today hasn't a shred of worry in that regard. No one can come in and take over because the takeover has already happened. AL and NL presidents were eliminated in 1999, all websites and MLB.com employees are under Bud Selig, who can even hire reporters as he did Hal Bodley.
  • Just a few years ago baseball worried that owners who had amassed cash and influence in media might gain unfair advantage.
There are no worries today. The accounting ledgers are secret. Selig chooses who will own teams. Money, fame, awards, and immortality are yours if you please him, if you purvey his line. Soon his own TV channel will be up and running. Anyone going into baseball media today knows it's a dictatorship, and therefore is already a sellout. ''He's (Rupert Murdoch) going to wield a big load of influence,'' said Tony Tavares, the Angels' president.

If he pays enough for a team's rights, is it tantamount to his having a profit participation in another team?'"...

(NY Times): "But some teams want Fox to stay in the television business.
  • Larry Lucchino, the Padres' president, said that ''Fox's disproportionate influence on two dozen teams through its TV deals
  • creates an opportunity to manipulate the arrangement for political purposes. Fox can say, 'If you don't vote for X, you'll have trouble on your TV deal.' ''
EVERYBODY WORRIED-but soon, there would be no more worries....
  • (NY Times): "The Padres and other teams worry that as an owner, Fox, controlled by Murdoch, will have access
  • to their financial statements and use that knowledge at future television rights negotiations. Or, knowing how important local rights payments are,
  • teams are concerned that Fox can influence the signing of free agents through well-timed extensions of cable rights deals...
And Mr. Murdoch's audacious creation*** of a new rugby league in Australia made some baseball executives question whether
  • he would ignore any rules that constrained him."....(Today, if you ignore a rule, you'll wish you'd never been born).
  • They got one verbal concession from Murdoch in 1998:
(NY Times): "Fox has verbally agreed with baseball to abide by constraints on its behavior as an owner, including Lastly, Fox TV's chairman:
  • (NY Times): "Fox has no intention of selling Dodgertown and moving spring training west."...
Between then and now, Bud Selig moved a lot of baseball business to the Arizona area, beefed up taxpayer slaps to pay for more spring training fields, and installed his son-in-law in a powerful role there. So much less to worry about. ***For "audiacious creation," there is no peer to Bud Selig and his circle. (sm)

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