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Comment of the Day: Stop worrying and learn to love corporate sponsorship of baseball

Oct 19, 2011, 9:55 AM EDT


A pretty interesting conversation is developing in the thread about the Occupy St. Louis folks showing the World Series without commercials.  One of the earliest comments — from johnfrancis50 — makes me happy in my pragmatic place:

I’m not for or against the Occupy movement, but the statement “there isn’t a need for corporate sponsors to enjoy baseball” seems a bit misguided. Without corporate sponsorship, do any of the games get broadcast? Without corporate sponsorship dollars, can the Cardinals generate enough revenue to re-sign Albert Pujols? Is it unreasonable to think that revenues from corporate sponsorships contributed to the financing needed to overhaul the stadium downtown (I don’t want to name the stadium since that’s exactly what the corporations WANT you to do…)

They are right, you don’t need corporations to enjoy baseball, but if you want to watch a competitive team from the comfort of your home (or whatever street you are occupying), you ought to throw them a bone, no?

I support and understand a lot of what the Occupy Wall Street people are mad about. I mean, in a just world, the people who invented crazy financial schemes that put millions out of work and brought on global misery would be paying some sort of price for that rather than getting bonuses and bailouts.  We have a really messed up set of priorities as a nation right now, and they’ve been getting more and more messed up for the past 30 years or so.

But at the same time, there has to be a balance. Just as it makes no sense for those Tea Party people to rail against government without acknowledging that, hey, the government does a hell of a lot of useful stuff, it makes no sense to rail against corporations and capitalism without acknowledging that a lot of what we like in life is a product of them and that system and without many of the financial incentives that drive those plutocrats, we’d be living in a very different and a not necessarily better world.

Excesses by government and excesses by the private sector are both worthy targets of protest. I’m always wary, however, when someone wants something burst asunder.  I’m not typing this on my machine right now if Bill Gates and whoever financed his outfit didn’t have a profit motive. You’re not reading this if the people advertising on the page aren’t paying for the privilege of doing so.  Likewise, none of us make it to the ballpark if the government doesn’t play a role in building the roads or the trains or regulating those highways in the sky.

I mute my commercials when I’m watching the game. I lied on my census form and said my family was Samoan. That’s about as radical as I get when it comes to sticking it to The Man, so I’m no one’s idea of a bold activist. But I would hope that those folks who are bold activists would take a moment or two on occasion to inject some pragmatism into the conversation.  I know that’s not very exciting — and the signs and chants that pragmatists make are really not compelling — but it just seems to make a hell of a lot more sense to me.

  1. halladaysbiceps - Oct 19, 2011 at 10:04 AM

    I’ve started a new movement. It’s called Occupy HarballTalk. Consider me a squatter.

    • Old Gator - Oct 19, 2011 at 10:09 AM

      Resolutely resist the imperialist incursion into hardball talk and their running dogs.

      • cur68 - Oct 19, 2011 at 12:10 PM


    • easports82 - Oct 19, 2011 at 10:12 AM

      How much longer til Craig gives in and renames it PhillyTalk?

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 19, 2011 at 10:13 AM

        When the Phillies win another World Series. When, you may ask? I haven’t a clue anymore.

    • Clinton Manitoba - Oct 19, 2011 at 10:13 AM

      HB: I’m afraid you would get maced with no outcry to follow…

    • 18thstreet - Oct 19, 2011 at 10:41 AM

      99 percent of the stupid comments here are from one percent of the commenters.

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 19, 2011 at 10:43 AM

        And your in that one percent.

      • Clinton Manitoba - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:03 AM

        ahhhh sh*t, HB got you good. I mean how will you be able to face the world now? I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed for a couple months after that one..
        Did your penis crawl back inside yourself? Mine would have after that vicious lash of wit.
        Don’t look now but your girl is walking off with HB…
        Hope your mom is on stand by for a shoulder to cry on after HB lets one loose.
        Call 911, HB just burned you…
        Believe me, his words and wit are as sharp as they come and they will hurt for a long time to come..
        Good luck with your future, HB just made it murky at best…

      • 18thstreet - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:19 AM

        I love you, HB. I love that you don’t know how to use an apostrophe, and you’re calling someone else stupid.

        You’re the best.

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:22 AM

        Touché, 18thstreet.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 19, 2011 at 12:47 PM

        Oh but you can use accents in French words?

      • CJ - Oct 19, 2011 at 12:50 PM

        suddenly the guy with no space between 18th and street has become the punctuation police. Intersting.

  2. Kevin S. - Oct 19, 2011 at 10:15 AM

    Right thread, wrong quote. Take it away, FC!

    [Apple is] the Michael Young of Corporate America.

    • kopy - Oct 19, 2011 at 10:33 AM

      It really is mind-boggling. Apple is one of the most “corporate” of all corporations, but they get a free pass from the general liberal mindset – Google being another one that comes to mind. Although the newer-ish HUMANCENTiPAD episode of South Park does a fairly decent job of roasting Apple and their practices.

      • El Bravo - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:23 AM

        You are kind of kidding right? Apple is beloved my many for it’s top quality gizmos, but Apple has had a huge group of haters ever since it was created. Back then, it was Mac vs. PC, but now it’s morphed into Apple’s total refusal to bend to wills of the consumer (see lack of removable battery in most gadgets) or to those they do business with (see lack of Adobe Flash on same gadgets). I’m an Apple hater b/c I think they overprice things that aren’t all that much better than their competitors stuff. That said, my MacBook Pro if f@cking delicious. Buy my Droid X2 is as good or better than an iPhone in many ways and will be better once the new OS is upgraded. Of course, there’s only two real choices for a smart phone OS (one from Apple and the other from Google (Research in Motion will be dead next year)). The general liberal mindset, I think, is more pragmatic than you think. I believe this demographic knows that having competition is better than none, and where there is none, regulation is likely more than necessary.

      • El Bravo - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:27 AM

        Sorry I should have just said what Kevin S said…or FC said…b/c that’s right on. For all the Young/Apple lovers (mainstream media) there are nearly as many Young/Apple haters (Craig Calcaterra and Aaron Gleeman). Actually I can’t say CC and Gleeman are Apple haters, but my analogy won’t work without it…

      • Jonny 5 - Oct 19, 2011 at 12:37 PM

        I kinda love my HTC 4G Droid phone. I can actually surf this site really fast without the app and comment just like I was wired to the internet. I prefer it that way as you can’t see who commented to what through the NBC sports talk app.

  3. lampdwellr - Oct 19, 2011 at 10:28 AM

    Don’t lie on your census forms, people! That’s important information for researchers to use as they attempt to reconstruct and understand the American fabric. This message from your friendly neighborhood librarian.

    • bkarbour - Oct 19, 2011 at 10:55 AM

      Researchers such as Hardball Talk readers and commenters like me. I’m an academic, and have written two papers looking at responses to the Census questions on ethnicity to explain voting patterns in recent elections.

      So, if you mess with your Census forms, you mess with my chances of getting tenure. So if you want to live the dream of never being able to be fired, help me out my dream to achieve that.

      • Cris E - Oct 19, 2011 at 5:37 PM

        Don’t tell me: you extrapolated Craig making a living in his basement into an underground Samoan economy. Fine, it’s an assumption you could draw from terabytes of governmental data. But twice?

  4. coryeuc - Oct 19, 2011 at 10:31 AM

    Rail against corporations on an NBC website, formerly owned by the crony capitalist extrordinaires at General Electric! Down with the incandescents!

  5. bigleagues - Oct 19, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    As many protests do, the Occupy movement has taken tact of going to the extreme to highlight the reality of the current extreme.

    It is a fact that corporations (sorry Comcast/NBC) have, over the last 100 years, tilted the playing field in their favor – way in their favor.

    The root of this, which has been lost as the Demoplicans and Republicrats have co-opted and attempted to frame the arguments, is a very badly broken election system where individual contributions are far outweighed by corporate contributions and campaign slush funds. There is the public agenda and the private agenda. The private agenda is constantly being addressed and acted upon while the public agenda – the actual reason for representative government – is paralyzed.

    The notion of Left or Right politics in the present is an illusion. The last significant piece of legislation to be passed, Obamacare, looks all pretty and perfect on the surface . . . but really was a carefully crafted – behind closed doors – corporate blow-job. Virtually nothing – on behalf of the “electorate” – has occurred since.

    So Occupy Wall Street is about reigning in the Corporatocracy (I prefer the term Oligarchy).

    Are corporations an important and necessary part of modern life? Yes. Hell, even China has them. Should corporations be allowed to dictate policy and lawmaking at the Federal and State levels? NO.

    The health and future of this country and other democracies around the world is vitally dependent on getting corporations and their money out of our elections.

    And yes, that means making elections publicly financed – where all candidates are playing on an even playing field in which their ideas and policies are the focus . . . and not carefully crafted soundbytes designed to keep the money flowing in.

    We also need Instant Run-off Voting in all Federal and State elections. If you are not aware of IRV, I encourage you to learn about it. IRV ensures that whichever candidate is elected has a majority of voters support – without the need (and cost) for subsequent runoff elections and/or protracted court battles.

    • Kevin S. - Oct 19, 2011 at 10:44 AM

      Unfortunately, IRV would be the biggest threat to the two-party system to ever rear its head, which virtually guarantees it will never be enacted by the legislature and the executive. I can’t think of any possible justification for pushing it through the courts, either.

      • bkarbour - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:00 AM

        IRV would have almost no impact on the two party system. The (relative) handful of people in this country who would vote for candidates to the left and right of the two major parties could do so with their first choice, and then select the Democrat or Republican with their second. Result: same as today–a two party system.

        Well, there would be one benefit. You could not have a situation like in 2000 where that idiot Ralph Nader and the morons who voted for him ended up electing the worse President in the modern era, and the exact opposite of what they wanted. So that would have been better.

        If you want to end the two party system, you need to move to proportional representation and party list voting.

      • bigleagues - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:01 AM

        Just because the Dems and GOP have no interest in it – is no justification for not supporting or continuing to support and discuss it.

        That having been said, States who allow initiative and referendum (and all should) have the ability to make this happen in spite of the two-party monopoly on election laws.

        To a lesser extent, States which choose to go into a Constitutional Convention can also put this on the agenda . . . but again, in that scenario, the Republicrats can run interference.

      • bigleagues - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:08 AM


        I disagree with your contention that voters would rank Republican and/or Democrat candidates 1 and 2 on their ballots.

        IRV would have the effect of virtually eliminating the “I’m not gonna waste my vote on an Independent or Third Party candidate because they are unelectable”.

        In other words voters would no longer have to make a choice between the lesser of two evils. They could rank that Third Party candidate #1, the Party candidate they feel most comfortable with #2, etc . . .

      • Kevin S. - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:11 AM

        bkarbour: Many people don’t vote third party precisely because they’d be afraid of Nadering their lesser-of-two-evils major-party candidate. That happened in New Jersey’s most recent gubernatorial election, when third-party candidate Chris Daggett polled in the mid-twenties then wound up getting something like five percent of the vote.

        Also, the problem with proportional representation is that I don’t simply pull the party lever, and there are specific Democrats/Republicans/Libertarians I would vote for, rather than a party platform

        bigleagues: I completely agree with you, I’m just pessimistic about something ever happening. Though you do have a point about ballot-initiative states.

    • nlfan865 - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:06 AM

      finally…. an intelligent voice for reason!!! well said

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 19, 2011 at 12:18 PM

        bkarbour: You state in 2000 people voted for Nader and in essence we ended up “electing the worse President in the modern era.” That Sir…is YOUR opinion. I am of the opinion the worse President in the modern era is CURRENTLY in office.

      • b7p19 - Oct 19, 2011 at 12:30 PM

        Stlouis – The fact the argument is about which president is the most horrible instead of which was the best is proof that something needs to be changed. Truth is it’s been a while since any president has successfully accomplished even some of what they wanted to.

        The two party system sucks, but the fact that the two parties run the system means it won’t change. We need a miracle.

  6. kiwicricket - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    Interesting fact: There are more Western Samoans living in south Auckland(NZ) than actually in Samoa.

    Auckland, New Zealand is actually the most populated Pacific Island ‘nation’ in the world.

    Confession time…and perhaps the reason I found this post one of the funniest in my entire time reading HBT/CTB….I once claimed slight South Pacific ancestry in order to receive a viticulture scholarship. (Things are different down here and I had a great tan at the time….)
    My apologies to ‘bkarbour’ and our friendly neighborhood librarian

    • cur68 - Oct 19, 2011 at 12:14 PM


    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 19, 2011 at 12:20 PM

      More tibits of knowledge from Kiwi. That is one of the things I like about you Kiwi. Keep em’ coming.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 19, 2011 at 12:41 PM

      B7: I hear what you are saying. It really puts things in perspective (argument with regards to who is worse vs. who is best). Well stated.

  7. Max Power - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    You know that when you mute the commercials you have to watch intently so you don’t miss the show coming back, don’t you?

    They get you either way, man.

    • trtx84 - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:57 AM

      Considering who’s working the booth tonight…I just figured I’d mute the whole damn thing and let the plays speak for themselves.

  8. The Baseball Idiot - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    Samoan, or American Samoan? Differences are crucial.

  9. philly56 - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    Really?  I mute my TV when the commercials come on as well, and my ex-gf always said I was bizarre for doing that, and that surely nobody else does that. She was an evil succubis, though, and I cast her away when the truth revealed itself.

    Also, I don’t get these people and I don’t think this whole anti-corporation message represents the entire occupy group.  Yes, the first thing you learn in ECON 101 is that a corporation is soley motivated by profit and that they’ll do anything and everything to maximize that profit…but without that there’d be no jobs, there’d be no innovation through competitive markets, etc.  I mean that’s the way the world works, and the way everything within our world works, and to think changing that would be beneficial or even possible is a ludicrously naive notion.

    I mean look at healthcare. Decisons are made all the time about how to help the most amount of people with limited resources, and sometimes these are hard decisons.  If a paper is published that shows a potentially promising cure for some type of disease, you may think that would be a godsend to whoever suffers from that.  But, if the pharmaceutical corporations see no profit margin in pursuing that to develeopment they won’t do it. Evil corporations?  Maybe, or maybe that’s the way the world works. Even a government run healthcare system like Britain’s NHS does this, and even if that treatment is developed and made available to the public, if the NHS determine that the cost of the treatment doesn’t warrant the one or two extra years it may give you while you battle your disease, they won’t pay for it. They may decide that money would be better spent on helping another group of people with another ailment who require another treatment – helping the most amount of people with limited resources. Or, in America, if that company does make the cure but you can’t afford your hospital bills or your insurance bills, you won’t be benefiting from it because a hospital is driven by profit as well and isn’t about to dole out charity.

    Let’s be honest here people, money and profit is the foundation of our society and that’s not going to be changed any time soon.

    • kiwicricket - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:58 AM

      ‘She was an evil succubis, though, and I cast her away when the truth revealed itself.’

      -This is so inexplicably tremendous, I wish to steal this quote. Permission Sir?

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 19, 2011 at 12:01 PM

      Philly56: I don’t know that I have ever agreed w/ a post (on any topic) as much as I do with yours. Well done Sir!

    • APBA Guy - Oct 19, 2011 at 12:58 PM

      Money and profit are certainly a part of the foundation. They are not the entire foundation however.

      Especially when the financial game is as rigged as it has become: For instance, Wall Street profits from sales of sub-prime mortgage tranches and their derivatives generated profits and bonuses which the Wall Street individuals and corporations realized in the calendar year of those sales. The ticking time bomb nature of the problem eventually plunged the world into the current recession. However, Wall Street was bailed out with tax-payer money. In other words, profits were privatized, losses were socialized. Nobody on Wall Street has gone to jail (and yes, much of what was done was illegal), and nobody has had to give back profit or bonuses. Wall Street salaries and bonuses are back to their astonishing pre-recession level. The top .1 of 1% is realizing a 400% income increase over the past 30 years.

      How does that compare to the middle class? Wages have been flat for the last 30 years (adjusting for inflation) despite productivity increases. The percentage of wealth held by the middle has declined (as it has been redirected to the top .1 of 1%). And too many have had their homes foreclosed upon by illegal processes (robo-signings, etc.). Middle class college graduates leave colleges with staggering debt and no job prospects. Unemployment is listed at 9.1 %, but is at 20% for actual unemployment coupled with underemployment.

      It’s a wonder that the OWS protests aren’t bigger.

    • cur68 - Oct 19, 2011 at 1:34 PM

      Philly; so much sense, so little trolling; you sure you know that you’re doing on the interwebs?

      Your healthcare analogy is spot on, as I’m sure you’re aware. If you want an example, have a look at malaria drugs, or an interesting little pharmaceutical we call “Wydase”. Hard to make huge buck on 3rd world medications or an injection used in the care of preterm infants when an IV destroys a vein and potentially caustic solutions are pooled under the skin. I can’t work without Big Pharma; tender loving care only goes so far. I wish the world was comprised of institutions that loved us, but it isn’t. I wish more people would get over that this is the case, but they don’t. All in all, I just want it to be known that when I come to power there’s gonna be some changes round here…

  10. trtx84 - Oct 19, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    If this were happening anywhere else in the country I’d maybe buy the message a little more. But the fact that it’s taking place in St. Louis to me suggests that it’s just a bunch of Cardinals fans who are looking for an excuse to not miss the game while they’re “protesting”. I can just imagine the message they’ll be sending to “the corporations” tonight while they’re standing around the plaza cheering the Cardinals.


    When I hear people talking about how this is one of the biggest social uprisings in ages I can just imagine anybody who lived through the Civil Rights movement cringing. Those people complaining about not being able to have tents and restrooms should be lucky they’re not getting firehoses and dogs turned on them.

    • trtx84 - Oct 19, 2011 at 12:10 PM

      Addendum/Clarification: For a group of people protesting “the corporations”, what sacrifices are they making in their stand?

      They’re still fully utilizing corporate social media sites (YouTube/Twitter/Facebook) to spread their message, they’re using their smart phones and digital devices, and accepting support from celebrities that are the biggest example of financial inequality and needless excess.

      And now they can’t even step away from the TV for an evening? I know it’s their local team in the Championship…but that’s only a big deal because of how corporate advertising and the entertainment juggernaut has trained us all to feel like it means something for a bunch of millionaires to hoist a trophy that we took no part in. If anything, it’s the pinnacle of the corporate monster that they’re supposedly so against.

      And I’m not saying this as some kind of hypocrite, I love my local team just as much as the next Twins fan…and I’d love to see them standing in the spot that the Rangers are in right now. But it’s not that I don’t understand that my love for a bunch of players I’ll never meet is a product of the entertainment industry putting forward compelling stories and interesting characters.

      If they can’t give up watching “The Game” on TV for an evening, then I have genuine questions regarding their dedication to this cause. I know they’re trying to justify it as some stand against commercialism, but I can’t buy that when I consider what they’re watching in between breaks.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 19, 2011 at 12:46 PM

        You hit it on the head Trtx: Pretty much what I am stating below. Hypocrites!

  11. stlouis1baseball - Oct 19, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    Now…I want all these “protesters” to throw their Laptops, IPhones, IPads and Big Screen Televisions away as they are the result of evil, money hungry, corporations. They also need to toss out their Coffee Makers, Microwaves, Refrigerators, Washers, Dryers and just about every other piece of electronics you can think off. After all, they are also the result of those greedy bastards.
    In a nutshell, they MUST become Amish.

  12. Gardenhire's Cat - Oct 19, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    I think his name is Josh Francis

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 19, 2011 at 1:35 PM

      Josh Francis?

    • joshfrancis50 - Oct 19, 2011 at 2:31 PM

      Thanks, Gardy.

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