Sunday, May 14, 2006

McClatchy plays the money card again

In this interview in the Tribune-Review, a somewhat wistful and pensive Kevin McClatchy discusses his future. If he can be taken at his word--a big if--it appears that, though I may not live to see a McClatchyless Pirates team, there is at least a chance that Zeke might.

McClatchy, ever the gentleman, refrains from criticizing his tormentor Mark Cuban other than to suggest that Cuban himself is breaking the code of baseball-owner ethics by criticizing him.

Toward the end of the interview, he goes back to an argument that has worked so well for him for so long that he doesn't see how threadbare it has become:
McClatchy said an injection of $5 million into the payroll by Cuban would not dramatically affect the Pirates, nor would it help the team in the long run. McClatchy believes his role on the MLB executive committee and the labor committee -- which is negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with the players' union -- is more vital to the Pirates' long-term viability and competitiveness.

"If Mark came in here, I don't think he do too much different than what we're doing at this time," McClatchy said. "I have nothing negative to say about Mark. But there are slightly different economics in Major League Baseball than there are in certain other sports (leagues)."
There are a few things wrong with this argument:
  1. Cuban would undoubtedly increase the payroll by more than $5M, and he would undoubtedly do things differently such as, for example, hiring a competent general manager.
  2. After watching our $6.7M investment in a right fielder flail away at yet another slider with the game on the line last night, how can anyone fail to see that the way money is spent is at least as important to success as the quantity of it that is available?
  3. McClatchy says this not because he believes it, but because he has learned in his 10 years in Pittsburgh that the argument has traction with lazy, irresponsible sports writers and casual fans ("How can we ever compete with the Yankees?") and distracts them from the larger story: that he and his partners are making a tidy profit selling a poor product to the city and its residents.

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