Unintended Consequences

Minnesota has a miniimum wage of $9 an hour.

Minor league baseball players, working on a (very low) salary and putting in long hours, frequently earn less than that.

Saint Paul is about to phase its minimum wage up to $15 an hour.  That’s pretty much more than anyone on a Single-A team makes.

And so the Saint Paul Saints – after wheedling a stadium out of the city’s taxpayers – say they may have to shut down if they don’t get an exemption:

Noting league rules limit the baseball team’s payroll, the Saints say without the exemption they could possibly be forced to cease operations.

“We’re in a league that has a salary cap,” Saints Executive Vice President and General Manager Derek Sharrer told state lawmakers earlier this week. “So … if minimum wage and overtime laws were to impact us, then we may be in a position to not be able to abide by our league bylaws, which would force us not to be able to operate.”

The issue comes just three years after the Saints moved into their new home, CHS Field, in downtown St. Paul. Public funds contributed $51.4 million to the ballpark’s construction.

They’ll get it.  Lawmakers love sports teams.

All the businesses in Saint Paul without the same level of political clout?

Let’s just watch the implosion.

Super Dud

All that fuss over the Super Bowl?  All that Cold War era security downtown?  It was supposed to make “us” money – right?

Not so much, according to the NYTimes:

Sports economists don’t view the situation quite the same way. They said the economic impact study for the Minneapolis Super Bowl began by saying all the right things about how past estimates had “been criticized as extremely overinflated, inaccurate, even purposely misrepresented.” In the end, though, it did the same thing.

“They always talk really good about that stuff, and then they go off the rails,” said Victor A. Matheson, a sports economist at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.

Matheson has written extensively about the effect of Super Bowls. He has found that they usually generate anywhere from $30 million to $130 million in economic activity for the host city.

“Not nothing, and not what you would sneeze at,” he said, “but somewhere between a quarter and a tenth of what is being claimed.”

Take hotel rooms, for example. To host the Super Bowl, Minneapolis had to show that there were at least 24,000 of them within 60 minutes of the stadium, capable of accommodating visitors during the entire 10-day Super Bowl celebration. Accordingly, the economic impact report estimates the Super Bowl will generate 230,000 nights of hotel stays.

But if the Super Bowl were not in town, many of those hotel rooms would have been filled anyway, by business travelers, conventiongoers and — yes, even in Minnesota in the dead of winter — tourists. It is the net occupancy gain, not gross occupancy, that matters, said Frank Stephenson, an economist at Berry College in Mount Berry, Ga.

And on, and on.

Helga Braid Nation’s precious stadium – money extorted from taxpayers via the most base emotional manipulation this side of emotional domestic abuse, is a net wash, maybe, as of today – the peak of the stadiium’s public profile as of the first and last Super Bowl it will host.

The Problem With Philadelphia…

…is that a few hundred thousand mouth-breathing morons ruin the good name of dozens of Philly sports fans.

I mean, I’m glad the Iggles won, if only out of homer pride (I went to high school with Carson Wentz’s father, and high school and college with his uncle. Have I mentioned that North Dakota is a small place?) and because Pats fans aren’t a whole lot better.

But I’m always amazed people don’t remember it’s a game.

Forget March Madness. We’ve Got February Fanaticism.

With the mathematical elimination of the Chicago Bears for the NFL playoff scene back in early September, and Carson Wentz’s injury leaving him out of the Philadelphia Eagles lineup at the Super Bowl, I officially have exactly the same reason to care about the Super Bowl that I always do; none whatsoever.

And try as I may, I cannot work up the faintest glimmer of interest in major college basketball, although that brand of the sport stands head, shoulders and ankles above NBA hoops.

Hockey? I know why people like it. It just leaves me cold.   No pun intended.

And as this post move, there are roughly 3 weeks until pitchers and catchers report to spring training – one of the glorious to glorious ceremonies in American life, indeed, But still a long, chilly slog before the boys of summer take to the diamonds.

But this is America. We don’t stay trapped in worlds we never made – we build our own.

No, I’m not just talking about this post; it would be accurate, but not complete. No, I’m talking the special little fantasy world that sports fans build around their pastime – spending their hard-earned money to watch millionaires chase balls around stadiums built by billionaires (with generous, coerced tax pair support) and the crimes against manners, decency, decorum, morality, property and other people that carry out in their zeal to live out that fantasy.

And so it’s time to inaugurate what may be perhaps (eventually) the grandest of all American sporting traditions; The Shot in the Dark First Annual Disgusting Fan tournament.

The rules are simple; in the comment section of this post, nominate the fan base of a team, along with one or more citations about their crude, violent, depraved, entitled or otherwise filthy behavior.

When the nominations are all in, I’m going to set up a bracket with the series of seeded polls (not the kind the city of Philadelphia greased to try to curb the lunacy of Eagles fans – the other kind) which will lead us to a champion – The most disgusting fan base in all of sports.

We will observe the following rules:

  • You may nominate as many teams as you want – but the nominations must include one or more citations about the teams fans behavior.
  • The teams can be from any sport, in any country, at the professional or major college level. High school sports, given the parent fans involved, are a league all of their own.
  • Episodes of fan behavior must be from the last 20 years; lynchings carried out in the 1890s, unsurprising as they may be given the subject matter, fall outside the statute of limitations.

So there you go! Get your nominations in, and the voting will start next week!

Yep, It Was A Great Play.

I’ve watched it many, many times; the Keenum to Diggs pass that made decades of Minnesota sports fandom suck just a little less.

Or so I’m told.  I’m just counting down ’til pitchers and catchers report, honestly.  But while I think I’ve watched less than a half-dozen NFL games from the opening gun to the checkered flag since the greatest game of all time (the 1985/86 Super Bowl, pbui), I did manage to catch the last six playing / forty actual minutes of Sunday mights division final.

And the the pass, with :10 on the clock, was one of those things like Jack Morris’ seventh game and Kirby Puickett’s homer in game six (I don’t have to go into more detail, do I?  Exactly) that even casual fans will be talking about for decades:

So – great play.  Amazing.

But even with all of that – there are some people out there to whom I just want to say “Dude, yoiu take this stuff way too seriously“.

Baited, Switched

A long time ago, in a beautiful but cold place far far away, a communist dictator built a colosseum.  Being committed to the populist flim-flam most totalitarians use to get help in seizing power, he named it “The People’s Stadium” – although “the people” only got to use it with the permission of the dictator’s cronies.

And the dictator built a train – “The Peoples’ Train” – to bring people from the miserable, decaying, crime-sodden cities to The People’s Stadium.

The dictator and his cronies planned a massive rally to celebrate their power and perspicacity; the entire world’s media would be there to see the dictator’s work.

And the dictator worried: while he put on a slick facade for the foreign press, some of the locals were unruly, and parts o the city were falling apart.

So the dictator took steps to make sure The People wouldn’t screw up The People’s  Event at the People’s Stadium before the eyes of the world.  First, he barred The Hoi Polloi from the Peoples’ Train, to make sure they’d never encounter foreign visitors.

And then, to take no chances, he deployed his Army in the People’s City, to make sure the locals stayed in line.

Minneapolis officials are calling on Gov. Mark Dayton to mobilize the state National Guard for the Super Bowl, amid questions about whether the city’s police force has enough officers to effectively patrol neighborhoods and handle other demands.

Even with dozens of departments across the state pledging to send officers to help with security, Mayor Betsy Hodges and mayor-elect Jacob Frey wrote in a letter on Tuesday that the city’s police “cannot by themselves meet of all the safety and security needs of the 10 days of Super Bowl LII while maintaining public-safety operations for the entire city.”

When I wrote my book Trulbert:  A Comic Novella ab out the End of the World as We Know It, I wrote the scene in which a thinly disguised Roger Goodell-type NFL commissioner exacted concessions out of Minneapolis’ dictator, Myron Ilktost, to be as over the top as I could imagine; a complete NFL takeover of all civic resources, free transportation, prostitutes, whatever the NFL wanted.  And when I went back and edited and re-wrote, I massaged it to make it even more over-the-top.   I was satisfied that real life could never imitate my fiction.

Kudos, Roger Gooddell and Mark Dayton.  You’ve proven me wrong.

Virtue Flagging

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Players continue to kneel for the national anthem so the NFL decided not to broadcast that part of the game.  Out of sight, out of mind, right?

No.  Fans aren’t stupid.  We can tell you’re trying to hide the ball and we know you’re doing it because you’re siding with the protesters against the fans, which annoys us even more.  Ratings are down another 5% from last week.

I suspect we’re going to get a new self-destructive behavior metaphor: kill the golden goose, cut off your nose to spite your face, hoist on your own petard, New Coke, shoot yourself in the foot, and soon: “pulling an NFL” meaning “driving away your own customers to prove how virtuous you are.”

Joe Doakes

They’re smarter than us, you know.

The Last Dinosaur

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Week 4, the NFL is in chaos of its own making.

The traditional way to show respect for the national anthem is to stand, face the flag, place your hand over your heart.  Doing anything else is a protest. Some players sit, some kneel, some give the Black Power salute, some link arms . . . doesn’t matter: if you’re not doing it right, you’re protesting. Television is trying to hide the protests from the viewers by skipping the anthem, cutting in late, but it’s not working.  Viewers notice.  Viewers get upset.  Why are they upset?

There are 168 hours in a week.  Your game is on for three of them.  We don’t tune in to learn your opinions on social policy, we tune to watch the team play football.  Don’t hijack my football game for your lecture; protest on your own time.

The AFL is gone.  The UFL is gone.  There’s no reason the NFL can’t go broke.  All you need to do is drive away enough customers.

Joe Doakes

I’m doing my part.

Dawn Of The Doakes: 1696

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

There are 32 teams in the NFL and each team has a 53-man roster, for a total of 1,696 players in the NFL.

There are 15,588 college seniors who are eligible to be drafted from the NCAA to the NFL.  Add in a few more from other, non-NCAA schools, and we’re talking about 17,000 or a 1-in-10 ratio.  But most players last several years, which means that for every man that makes it into the NFL, many more don’t make the cut.  How many, I don’t know.  20?  30?  50?

What’s the qualitative difference between the guys who make it versus the guys who don’t?  Aside from the Heisman Trophy Winner, I’d bet it’s a razor-thin margin. Which means the NFL could afford to dump a powerful number of existing players to replace them with almost-as-good players, at least for a while.  Ever see the Keanau Reeves movie “Replacements?”  Like that.

Wouldn’t even have to do it.  Just threaten it.  Call in some of those replacements for tryouts.  Let the regulars know their replacements are warming up.  “See that line of guys out the door and down the block?  They all want your job.  How badly do YOU want your job?  If you are more interested in social justice antics than playing football . . . .”

Joe Doakes

 

A Tale Of Two Knees

SCENE:  Mitch BERG walks into Sluggo’s, a sports bar on University [1].  NFL games are on on six big-screen TVs around the room.  Around five, there are small, dilatory groups watching games.  Around one TV, though, there are a group of people crowded around; men in “Che Guevara” and “Don’t Park the Bus” t-shirts, a few younger women in similar attire, older women in “peasant” dresses.   BERG recognizes several people from the group:  Avery LIBRELLE, Moonbeam BIRKENSTOCK, Inge CARROLL, Edmund DUCHEY, Brian FURIOUS, Sol GALLIVAN, Gutterball GARY, Cat SCAT, Professor William KRIEPPI, Gretel STROMBERG, Betty Rae TORSTENGAARDSEN and other liberal activism / alt-media / blogging mainstays.

BERG:  So…uh, hey.  Watching some Football?

LIBRELLE:  Yes, Merg.  It’s the American pastime!

BERG:  (thinks about it, decides not to pursue the error).  Huh.  So all of…(points at the crowd, who seem to be staring, uncomprehending, at the screen)…you are football fans.

DUCHEY:  My whole life.  While you’ve been writing “Sh*t in the Park” (some of the other gathered liberals snicker) I’ve been watching the Vikings greats like Pele and Bill Havlicek.

BERG:  Huh.

(BERG looks, notices that the teams have not yet taken the field.  Suddenly, it dawns on him).

BERG:  So – you all remember Tim Tebow, right?

(General incomprehension breaks out.  Then Gutterball GARY chimes in).

GARY:  He is the Christianist who took a knee before games.

(General hissssssssssssing breaks out from the crowd)

CARROLL:  He hates women!

STROMBERG (sotto voce):  “womenandtheirchildren”

CARROLL:  (sotto voce right back)  What, ,you think women are defined by their children?

SCAT:  He was a racist, sexist, ableist, ageist, classist, Christianist… (trails off)

(CARROLL and STROMBERG continue to argue.  On the TV, the teams are coming out onto the field)

BERG:  So – Tim Tebow was all sorts of awful things because he exercised his First Amendment right to express his faith in public.

(Generalized booing and hissing).

FURIOUS:  Everybody shut up.  It’s starting.

SCAT:   Oooh, I love the suspense.

(The national anthem starts.  The camera pans over dozens of player taking knees.   FURIOUS and DUCHEY frantically note the names and numbers of players that remain standing.   Cheers break out throughout the crowd)

BERG:  So – NFL players  who take a knee over “social justice causes”…

TORSTENGAARDSEN:  Heroes speaking truth to power.

BERG:  While Tim Tebow…

BIRKENSTOCK:  Racist sexist classist ableist cisgenderist Nazi who is literally Hitler.

(Anthem finishes.  The entire crowd risers from their chairs and heads for the exits)

DUCHEY (to GARY) Good game.  Good game.

(Within seconds, the table is empty.   The WAITRESS comes over.)

WAITRESS:  35  people at a table, and I got six dollars in tips.

BERG:  Wow.  They stiffed you pretty bad.

WAITRESS:  Well, technically, kind of – they ordered about $100 worth of kombucha, artisanal tea and one “gluten free lite beer”, and the rest just had water.

BERG:  You don’t even have kombucha or artisanal tea here, do you?

WAITRESS:  I can’t hear you. Naaah naaah naaaah.  (Walks away)

(And SCENE)

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The Progressive Puritans

What do you get when you combine:

  • The “progressive” MO of transferring taxpayer money to other progressives
  • “Progressives'” hatred of wealthy people (other than “progressive” plutocrats, naturally)
  • The “progressive” party line on women’s issues
  • The “progressive” drive to at least appear to bring a better life you’re bigger government?

I had to check this twice – but the City Pages actually has the story:   Governments, acting on “information” from “progressive” “feminist” groups  around the country,  are pouring money into sex trafficking enforcement based on absurd predictions about the nuimber of prostitutes supposedly showing up for Super Bowls:

He didn’t have to look hard for supporters. Dallas Police Sergeant Louis Felini told The Dallas Morning News that between 50,000 and 100,000 prostitutes were expected to come into town. The call for even more outrage was sounded by a study from the Dallas Women’s Foundation, which said the throng would include 38,000 underage prostitutes…Before Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona, Cindy McCain — wife of Sen. John McCain — declared the Super Bowl “the largest human-trafficking venue on the planet.” Glendale produced a lengthy public service video broadcasting the evils of the flesh trade.

But according to police, not one person was busted for prostitution-related crimes or sex trafficking in the days leading up to the game.

The results?  Nearly no arrests.

Deterrence?  Perhaps.

“Progressive” delusions about the habits, peccadillos and appetites of the wealthy (who are, let’s be honest, the only people who can ever afford to go to the Super Bowl)?  Definitely.

Oh, yeah.  Minnesota’s doing the same.  Bigly.

It’s A Start

Ted Mondale and Michelle Kelm-Helgen resigned from the Metro Sports Utilities Commission yesterday, after the corruption in the MSFC’s use of luxury skyboxes as a spiff for the Twin Cities’ DFL became to great for even the Metro old-boy-and-girl network to hush up.

Mondale and Kelm-Helgen faced cascading criticism and scrutiny since the Star Tribune reported in November that they and other MSFA commissioners hosted friends, family and well-connected DFLers at two 18-person luxury suites at the stadium during Vikings games and at several concerts. The two said the state-owned suites were needed to market the building, but an investigation by Legislative Auditor James Nobles revealed the suites were used mostly for entertainment by the MSFA commissioners and staff.

The Legislative Auditors report sounds like it’s good reading:

[Legislative Auditor James Nobles’] 100-page report faulted Kelm-Helgen and Mondale’s leadership of the MSFA, saying they had violated a core ethical principle by using public office for personal gain, by handing out free tickets, VIP parking, food and drink to friends and allies.

Combined, the two made nearly $300,000 in taxpayer-funded salaries. They oversaw construction of the $1.1 billion stadium, which was funded in part with a $498 million public subsidy.

And the saga of Michelle Kelm-Helgen, DFL grandée extraordinaire,  sounds like a “how-to” for any political glad-hander in a one-party city;

Even before the suite usage blew up, an unclear division of duties between Mondale and Kelm-Helgen became an issue. Former authority members Duane Benson and John Griffith had questioned the need for two taxpayer-funded executives in similar roles. They also raised concerns about Kelm-Helgen’s lack of collaboration.

“We were on a board that had an inability to get information,” Benson said, adding that Kelm-Helgen also refused to let the board participate in her job reviews.

Remember way back when Zygi Wilf was yanking the DFL-led Legislature and Governor Flint-Smith Dayton around, threatening to move the team if the state didn’t pony up to improve his investment for him at public expense?  And we asked – what could possibly go wrong when you entrust half a billion dollars to an bunch of unaccountable bureaucrats whose sole qualification was their DFL political connection?

Because you should remember it.

American Civilization Is Doomed, Part MCCCLVI

The good news:  the World Series drew, by modern standards, an avalanche of viewers.  While more people watched the last really really great Game 7 that I saw (1991, Twins vs. Braves), more people watched TV back then.   It was an irresistable draw; two “cursed” teams meeting, and having one of the more enjoyable World Series I can remember.

And no Yankees.

Downside:  in a culture where short-attention-span games are replacing sports in the public consciousness, it goes without saying that a lot of people who really don’t get baseball were really watching it for the first time.

Which leads to…culture shock.

This photo caused a tempest in the teapot of vacuity that is Twitter:

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-9-02-34-am

The sign says “K K K” – which you know, if you grew up keeping baseball scorecards, means three strikeouts.

Right?

Bring on the tempest:

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-8-38-48-am

Among many others.

And people wonder why we have a choice between a racketeer and a blowhard for President this year.

It Was 25 Years Ago Tonight

Game 7 of the 1991 series.

I was sitting kitty-corner from the Dome that night, working a night shift at KDWB. After I got off the air, I went into the conference room and watched the last couple innings with the rest of the night crew (and some of the weekday crew who wanted to be downtown if the Twins won). I think I danced on the conference table after that final out.

It’s also fun to hear the late Jack Buck calling the game. I had one of the stranger free-lance gigs of my life in 1987, holding Jack Buck’s cassette deck as he interviewed Tommy Kramer after a Vikings game.

Anyway – 25 years ago tonight was one of the most incredible nights of my life. And, I’m sure, most of yours’.

OK, enough jabbering.  For your viewing pleasure – the entire Game 7.

Farewell To Cults

Another baseball post-season is upon us.  And if you’re a Cubs fan – and they are my National League team – it’s another season to anticipate how epic this season’s choke is going to be.  Notwithstanding the fact that this season’s Cubs team is perhaps the best to ever take to Wrigley field, with the best record in baseball,  wondering what legendary exit the Cubs have planned.

It’s time to stop the “lovable losers” twaddle, says George Will:

So, all you purveyors of Cubs Gush, listen up. Referring to Wrigley Field as a “baseball cathedral” should be a flogging offense. It is just a nice little place on the North Side where men (calling major leaguers “boys of summer” should be punishable by keelhauling) work hard at a demanding and dangerous craft. And Cub fans, loyal through thin and thin, you must remember this: Your team at least won the Cold War. For years, it held spring training on Catalina Island near Los Angeles. So when a Des Moines radio sportscaster named “Dutch” Reagan went to report on them, he stopped in Hollywood for a screen test, and the Soviet Union was doomed. So there.

Fingers crossed.

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At Least Metamucil Isn’t Doing Sports Marketing

Tor from “Torwegian” notes with disapproval the ChiSox’ new stadium:

With some corporate marketing people, you just can fix stupid or financially desperate.  Count among them White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, quoted by WGN-TV:

“We are pleased to find, in Guaranteed Rate, a new naming rights partner founded in Chicago by Chicagoans, which shares our commitment to the city and to our fans. We view this partnership as an opportunity to connect a successful Chicago business with a historic baseball franchise, and we look forward to growing this important relationship over the coming years as millions of fans enjoy White Sox baseball at Guaranteed Rate Field.”

Dumb name?  Probably – but not as dumb as the taxpayer support that went into it.

I’d happily go to “Pepto-Bismol Park”, if they and the teams’ billionaire owners did the building.

Put another way – if “Guaranteed Rate” could guarantee us a rate of 0% taxpayer subsidy, I’d swallow my pride and root for the ChiSox.