February 27, 2006

The Value of Investing in the Team

DM over at The Nats Blog has me thinking more about something Nate and I discussed over beers. He's right to ask the question about the trade. What are we buying in our relationship with the Nationals? DM and his crew, as well as the NTP crew, and many others have taken our hard earned dollars and exchanged them for tickets. What does that buy us?

I'm going to start with another statement that I think may continue to make me just as unpopular as last time -- I don't think it buys us a winning team. If exchanging large amounts of money for a winning team was the equation, then the Yankees would be the best team in baseball every year, and the Redskins would have the best team in the NFL. That just doesn't work, and it's not what we're paying for.

How much value can you put on the 'other' parts of baseball? In a perspective that I'm sure will drive some fans up the wall, I go to baseball games because I love being there. Baseball lets me spend some time outdoors, with friends, enjoying a cold beverage, and the regular Chipwich in the 8th inning. It gives me something to chat about at Glory Days and lament we can't watch both boobies and baseball at Coyote Ugly. While it's more fun to watch a win, it's not the only reason to be there -- in particular for me.

I don't know statistics. I generally don't care about them. (That's Nate's job). I do know that on a summer night, after a day of work, there is nothing better than sitting at the ballpark and cheering for the team. I might not even pay that much attention on some nights.

DM's right -- the financials of the team are more driven complicated than just the season ticket buy, although I do think that's a major factor. And for the same reason, the relationship with the team is more complicated too. It's not just about wins and losses, it's about the experience with the team.

Are more fans there for reasons other than the intricate nature of the percentages, trades, and moves (and thus the majority of the focus of the Natosphere?). I say yes, and I actually believe it's a significantly greater percentage than we're giving credit for.

Many people are there paying for the fun. I'll grant that everyone's definition of fun varies widely, but I think many more people are there to enjoy it than simply to craft the perfect winning team via great trades and perfect management. Hell, sometimes the fact that we have a crazy manager or a loony GM may result in more fun. I'll never forget Frank calling out the Angels, and I wasn't even there.

So in the end, I've given the Nats my money, I think it's a good long term investment, and to extend my infamous stand -- I think I'm going to get my money's worth.

It's up to each to decide this cost/benefit analysis for themselves.


Chris Needham said...

It's that very last sentence that was missing from the previous post. Had that been there, I think some (well, I can't speak for Yuda!) of the rancor wouldn't have appeared.

Each of us does have to do that caluculus in our heads. You have some advantages which make that decision easier than many others. There's nothing wrong with that at all, of course. It's just that the previous post didn't really seem to acknowledge that.

Yuda said...

Chris is right. You managed to avoid the "I know what's better for you, now do it" tone this time.

But I think you're still ultimately missing my point. I don't require the team win every year. I want a team that clearly has a plan in the front office. Right now, this club should probably be rebuilding (since no top-flight free agents want to come in, and we'll have a new stadium in a few yars), but instead Jim Bowden is giving away minor league players for old, overpriced, mediocre veterans in some misguided attempt to get to .500 again. Ultimately, Jim Bowden is only concerned about himself, not the future of this franchise.

But my grander point is that, if you don't hold the front office accountable in some way, you wind up with a club like the Chicago Cubs, who never show much of a direction, never even sniff a championship, but sell out nearly every game anyway. Support the team when they're going well, and support them when they're not but they're making advancements and plans for the future. But I cannot support the team when it is meandering around aimlessly with neither plans nor goals in sight.

Dave said...

Perhaps my cynical side comes out (which happens from time to time), but somehow I don't think if I ended my last post that way, it would have made a lick of difference. I have differing views than others out there, and I don't entirely believe that many are willing to even try and look at it from another direction other than their own. So far, I have a pretty strong set of evidence that discussion hasn't been the order of business.

Chris, EVERYONE has advantages others don't. That's life, and its something I came to terms with a long time ago, and don't begrudge others for theirs. My posts are my thoughts, and that's the intention of a blog. I'm not going to censor a thought because I think I might offend -- if you don't like it, don't read me... no one is forcing you here. I'm actually not out there to convince anyone -- I'm just stating some opinions, and at best was looking for some give and take in terms of discussion. So far, I haven't gotten much of that. I did think DM did a very nice job of discussing it -- without name calling, dismissive statements, or chest thumping. Generally, however, that hasn't been the trent of the reaction I got to what is just a pile of opinions.... not a lot of intelletual discussion. If one can't handle the fact that everyone just has an opinion -- just like an asshole -- they really shouldn't be taking blogging so seriously. Hell, Nate, Watson and I only started this blog to capture our own thoughts for our own amusement.... anyone else was just bonus. I can't help it if Nate's a good author and the rest of you like to read his stuff. My crap comes along for the ride.

Yuda, you and I disagree, and I'm not talking to convince you. My point stands -- Cubs fans could be very happy people if they are judging by the criteria I am. You might not make a happy Cubs fan, but I might be able to be. It's about differing perspectives. There isn't right and wrong. Just yours and mine, both of which are just as valid depending on where you're sitting in the room. I happen to feel you're welcome to yours -- even if I disagree with it.

Can you say the same?

Yuda said...

Dave, I'm perfectly happy for people to have different perspectives. But the problem is, you didn't allow for that possibility in your first post.

The basic theme of your first post was "people who aren't renewing their season tickets really piss me off. They're all idiots who don't have valid opinions."

You'd have been perfectly fine if the basic message of the post was "I think people are making the wrong decision in not renewing their season tickets; here's why I chose to do so."

Points you should have avoided if you actually wanted to "spark a discussion":

1. Telling us that your opinion is more valid because your tickets are more expensive. Repeatedly.
2. Telling us that nobody really cares about people who don't have full-season plans. (somewhat related to point 1).
3. Suggesting that we're somehow morally obligated to renew season tickets because it will somehow magically lead to the goal of "better baseball".

Look, if you want to, you're welcome to go on believing that you're this great intellectual just looking to start a discussion, and the rest of us are all mouth-breathing assholes. It certainly seems to be what you think. But you weren't just "stating opinions". You were telling people what to do.

Ultimately, what disappoints me most in this whole situation is that you and Watson are adding a whole bunch of noise to Nate's fantastic blogging. At leat you recognize that you're dragging him down.

Yuda said...

Or, to cut through the rhetoric and get straight to the point, the problem with your initial post was that you seem to think you're better than everybody else because you make more money. That's not an attitude that will endear you with many people.

Dave said...


Well, again, don't read the crap if you like Nate's stuff. No one is forcing you. It very clearly says at the bottom who's posting what.

I'm, no great intellectual -- that isn't what I am saying. I'm simply looking for responses like DM's fantastic post (with a very well done counter discussion), rather than:

"Wow, this post may be the dumbest thing I've read all year -- and I've read some pretty dumb things this year."

"Some jackass on a blog telling me how to spend my money"

[snipped] ".... is idiotically wrong."

.."learn to fecking read."

Let's look at your objections.

Point 1. I went through my post, and I find two reference to my tickets being more expensive. One being the background on my situation, in the interest of full disclosure (which I agree with others weakens the argument, but it's important to say) and the other as part of a discussion on the price of all things going up.

Point 2. I did not say "nobody". I referred to "MLB/The Nationals/our new owner". And, it's a point I happen to actually believe. So why should I avoid a point I happen to believe? Based on the way MLB treats DC, do YOU think they care about the fan?

Point 3. I make an argument on why I think we should make the "on paper" financials look good for the new owner. You disagree, and that's fine, but I think it's something to consider as the ownership comes on board. I do think it's a good thing for the team here in DC, and that's my point.

That was the point of the whole damn thing.

As for us dragging Nate down...

1. Sure, why not.
2. Nate not only invited Watson and I to participate, but continues to encourage it. My original post is, in fact, based off an discussion he and I had over beers about the subject, which ended in a "you should post that, it's different from everyone else's opinion".
3. And finally.... Nate was part of this "noise" with Watson and I for a lot longer than he was writing beautiful noir-fiction. (Which was quite good, actually)

If you don't like my stuff, ignore it. So far, if anyone is really viewing others as "mouth-breathing assholes", I don't think it's me. I think the history on my "Annotated Yuda" Wiki entry shows who has the sense of humor about it and who doesn't.

Dave said...


To your "cut to the point".

Well, you're wrong. I don't feel that way. I don't feel I said that.

I'm sorry you feel I said that. That wasn't the message, and if that's all you took away, well, I'm a crappy writer. You shouldn't read my stuff. Maybe no one should. :)

I think there is another message in that post -- my one line summary is "All that baseball cares about is money, and I don't think MLB thinks any fan really has money they care about, and you need to think about that when considering all these angles" -- and that is the message intended to take away from it.

Chris Needham said...


I've been nothing but respectful in the tone of my comments to you, and have been willing to discuss these things. Your comment to me in number three was overly dismissive and rude. It also seems that you're conflating other debates with what I've actually said. I may not have responded with a substantive post, but I've engaged you on a few points. I guess that wasn't good enough.

Dave said...


You have been very respectful, and quite engaging. My apologies -- very much so, in fact. I did lump you in, and that was not the intention.


Yuda said...

I think I see the basic problem here. Your initial post seems to have been written in anger; my first response, and at least a couple more after that were written in anger: people don't communicate well when they're angry.

Ultimately, I think the fundamental disagreement is this: you think, since MLB doesn't really care about fans, we may as well buy the tickets anyway. I think, since MLB doesn't care about the fans, that kind of bad customer relations should not be rewarded.

Ultimately, either one is a valid opinion. And I was close to renewing tickets this year anyway (actually, I was close to upgrading). What ultimately changed my mind is that I'd rather choose the games I want to go to rather than go to the 41 games MLB thinks I should go to.

Dave said...

That is certainly a good way to summarize. Agree to disagree!