Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Asshole of the Week: Taking a Bat to the Golden Goose

Via Joe, amongst others, I find that Major League Baseball, using its own inimintable brand of logic, is at it again:
After long ignoring the fantasy movement, Major League Baseball entered the business in 2001. Last year, baseball ordered game operators to obtain a license before plugging player statistics into software that runs their games. Now, a Missouri company, CBC Distribution & Marketing, has responded by suing baseball in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, alleging that it had no right to demand that operators be licensed.
In the modern cable world, what are the two things which drive interest in athletic leagues the most? Were I to guess, I would say gambling and fantasy sports. Obviously, a league can't cozy up to gambling interests, (though I would suggest that anyone who gambles on baseball is either Pete Rose or out of their mind, or both, given the high degree of day-to-day randomness involved in baseball results. There are two parameters which define a systematic approach to gambling: expectation and variance. It's hard enough to beat the oddsmakers in terms of expectation. Increasing the variance through increased randomness of individual outcome makes the likelihood of going broke that much higher. Not that I know anything about gambling for money...but I digress)

So that leaves fantasy sports. Naturally, MLB has decided to discourage fantasy sports by charging a licensing fee. Yes, they are taxing their fans. As if Personal Seating Licenses, municipal stadium initiatives and 8 DOLLAR BUD LIGHTS are not enough. Not only is this greedy, it's stupid, and it will be darn right impossible to enforce. It's almost as if baseball is trying to lose its 'exemption' from the antitrust laws. Of course if drive of all of your customers, the Sherman Act is the least of your worries.

Never ones to be left behind, the Player's Association has jumped in as well:
[T]he Players’ Association has intervened as a defendant and is asserting counterclaims against CBC for breach of contract, and is asserting defenses against declaratory judgment based on terms of the previous license. The Players’ Association has moved for summary judgment.
Because my roto team should be another marketing opportunity for Barry Bonds Brand "Flackseed Oil (so far as you know) Supplement". Seriously, will people who don't live in (or support teams from) NYC, Boston, LAofAnaheim, Chicago or Atlanta even care about baseball if they can't play free fantasy sports? The SlatRat certainly wouldn't if she had to pay much for her beloved (and bedraggled) Wool Sox. (Closed circuit to Steph: this site might be a good place for scouting info on the Wool Sox "morals clause." Let's just say that they have the best clubhouse in all of fantasy sports...)

Daniel Drezner has more...


XWL said...

I like the idea of weekly features, and this post earned a spot in my latest attempt.

Needless to say, when it comes to MLB, You Ain't Wrong.

reader_iam said...

Great choice, Pooh.

Baseball was a sport that I actually followed, back in the day, pre-strike era.

These people seem incapable of not shooting themselves in the foot.

word verification: boyvmla

Slat Rat said...

Well, I actually pay ~$150/year for the privilege of GM'ing the wool sox - so it's not entirely free.

But, you're right, MLB has zippo clue.