Monday, October 01, 2007

Horrifying collapse of the Mets

By reminding myself of the (to me, hilarious and delightful) 2004 playoff collapse of the Yankees, I can at least avoid paranoid thoughts about the structure of the universe. Then again, who knows what horrors lurk in the 2007 baseball post-season.

If one could take a pill and eliminate one's rooting interest for a given team, I would certainly do so with respect to the Mets. But not mainly because of the horrifying choke they have perpetrated. From the standpoint of the principles that lead me to despise the Yankees, the Mets, not to mention the Red Sox, are merely lesser versions of the same thing. Okay, significantly lesser versions given the Yanks' nearly 2-1 spending advantage over the Mets, even though the Mets are the # 3 spenders in baseball.

No such pill exists, however. (And I would decline on ethical or aesthetic grounds to take the companion pill making me a Yankees fan.) The sad thing for me is that this Met fandom just goes so deep, immune to rational questioning and far beyond any positive rooting interest that I have in any other team in any sport. It all goes back to 1964, when at age 7 I became the only Mets fan on my block (in the Bronx, no less). Apparently, rooting interests that were laid down in sediments that deep simply go far beyond any laid down more recently in their emotional depth and ineradicability.

8 comments:

Stan said...

I find it fascinating when economists lash out at the Yankees for using market forces to their advantage and for demanding that the MLB equivalent of subsidies in the form of revenue sharing is the way to go. The Yankees pay the fine for spending more than the government, oops I mean the league, allows. What are you complaining about? The Mets are in the same market as the Yanks; they just don;t make as much money, win as often, or have as much business sense. They also don't draw as many fans to their ballpark, pull fans to other teams' ballparks, or have as good a television rating when their games are aired. Isn't this just the free market at work?

Anonymous said...

I find it fascinating when economists lash out at the Yankees for using market forces to their advantage and for demanding that the MLB equivalent of subsidies in the form of revenue sharing is the way to go. The Yankees pay the fine for spending more than the government, oops I mean the league, allows. What are you complaining about? The Mets are in the same market as the Yanks; they just don;t make as much money, win as often, or have as much business sense. They also don't draw as many fans to their ballpark, pull fans to other teams' ballparks, or have as good a television rating when their games are aired. Isn't this just the free market at work?

Daniel Shaviro said...

The Yankees don't represent market forces at work, except in the sense of exploiting monopoly conditions. Their big advantage (and that of the Mets) is being in a bigger market than other teams. In free market circumstances, extra teams would move into New York until the market per-team was no larger than in, say, Pittsburgh or Kansas City. The barriers to entry are what create a fundamentally non-competitive environment.

Subsidies and all are a second-best response to the lack of free movement. But when baseball assigns particular teams monopoly charters to exploit large markets, you cannot call the resulting competitive imbalance simply the marketplace at work.

Anonymous said...

The monopoly argument doesn't really work here. As you point out, the Mets have that same situation and are unable to use it to their advantage. Other NY baseball teams have left the market because they could not take advantage of it and received subsidies to move elsewhere. In addition, there are many more entertainment opportunities in NY that the Yankees do indeed have to compete with. This includes three professional basketball teams, two professional hockey teams, a pro soccer team, two professional football teams, countless theaters, etc.

The Yankees are simply competing for consumer entertainment dollars better than any other sports team in the NYC area and almost every other team in baseball.

Daniel Shaviro said...

Agreed, Anonymous, that the Yanks have been doing things better than the Mets. Although in July one might have thought otherwise, and next July who knows.

But can there be any doubt that the Pirates or Royals would be aided competitively by being able to leave their markets for NYC? To be sure, they are stopped not only by regulatory bars but "natural" barriers to entry, such as the cost of finding a stadium to play in. But there are unequal-sized markets continued in part by regulation, and in part by natural barriers. So this is not a competitive market situation.

Or to open it up a bit more: suppose anyone who wanted could found a new team and locate it where he or she liked. You'd better believe there would be new entries to the NY market long before anyone else tried to muscle in to KC or Pittsburgh.

The exit of the Giants and Dodgers doesn't really contradict all this. They moved to really wide-open markets that were even more lucrative.

Joe said...

I've been nursing a bitter grudge against the Mets for 38 years now. I find their collapse delightful. If the Cubs make it to the World Series this time, the distraught 9 year-old boy in me might finally let bygones be bygones.

Daniel Shaviro said...

Joe, I'm totally with you on this - not that I actually share your sentiment, but I'd be willing to take that little pill I mentioned and share it.

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