Friday, February 11, 2005

The Kevin Brown Rule

There's a lot of hand wringing.
The presidential campaign war chests, especially for that of Republican nominee George W. Bush, whose campaign raised an excess of $100 million in contributions before the 2000 convention. But we should be unimpressed, perhaps even outraged, about this miniscule price tag for four years of rent in the White House.
Heck, before he was rented to other teams, Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Kevin Brown cost more to Ruppert Murdoch, who owned the team, than that year’s presidential nomination drivee.
Since the new economy has thrown all of our numbers out of whack, apply the Kevin Brown contract -- $105 million for seven years -- to gauge just how big a deal it actually is. The nice thing about life in the information age is numbers crunching like this can be done in just a few minutes.
So let's explore the Kevin Brown Rule.
Now, most sports fans will know that if they go to ESPN's online site, there are other athletes who now make more money than Kevin Brown. They will also learn the Dodgers haven't done diddley since Rupert Murdoch -- the megarich media mogul who owns the Dodgers and Fox-TV -- signed the hard-throwing righty in 1996.
No matter.
Follow me here. The same year Rupert signed Brown, an F-117 Stealth fighter was shot down over Yugoslavia. I think the Yugos used a fully registered handgun (street value, $50) to bring it down. Or maybe it just ran out of gas. The price tag for one of those planes is $45 million. That is, you can have one Kevin Brown, or, two Stealth fighters with, say, $15 million left over for a few days of stealth fuel. Interestingly, that aircraft's stock really dropped when the Yugoslavians brought it down (but it surely doesn't cost any less).
Prior to that, the Stealth had been a hero in the Gulf War in 1991, dropping laser-guided bombs with pinpoint accuracy over Baghdad. The plane is unique since its design deflects radar. No matter that the Yugos found more success in using the naked eye to shoot it down, the real point is it made a hero of the current Republican candidate's dad, President George Bush.
The F-117 flies combat missions at night since its Batmanesque-shaped plane and black color could be targeted with a spear in the daylight, just as Bush's policies -- and the entire Reagan era, for that matter -- looked fairly vulnerable after the smoke cleared over Baghdad.
Moving on, we had President Bill Clinton. Independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr spent close to $60 million to try to get Clinton out of office. What a waste. He could have bought a Stealth fighter, strafed the White House with pinpoint accuracy, and saved the taxpayers $10 million.
Sure, they would have had to rebuild the White House. But public construction projects only help the economy.
George W. Bush, who used to own a baseball team, and frequently argued that building a baseball stadium with taxpayer money -- The Ballpark at Arlington -- also helped the local economy, raised a record amount of pre-convention money for a presidential candidate at $100 million (according to figures by The Center for Responsive Politics). Not quite enough to buy Kevin Brown, but enough to buy two Stealth fighters, and certainly enough to buy the White House.
If Kevin Brown bought one Stealth fighter, and launched his own investigation by an independent prosecutor, then he would probably owe about $6 million. At that point in his career, prior to moving onto the Yankees, it wasn’t the right move. With the Dodgers, sure, he’s still got that Stealth-like pinpoint accuracy working for him, Rupert has got plenty of money to spend in a league that doesn't have a salary cap, and then there was that big G.W. Bush tax cut.
Brown is a hard-nosed battler on the mound, but I don't think he can parlay his fame into lucrative commercial endorsements. Surely, his lack of personal magnetism, or charisma, is a liability. Just as it is for both guys named George. I mean, just look at what the newest George had to spend to make his mug palatable to the American people.
No, I think Brown should invest in high-tech. Specifically, in an IBM RS/6000, code-named "Blue Wave," a powerful supercomputer bought by the Department of Defense for $18 million.
You geeks out there know what I'm talking about.
Brown would be able to test his chaos theories in the privacy of his own home, generate weather patterns digitally, puzzle out the bizarre shifts of human behavior, hitter's tendencies and more. Sure, it's only the fourth-fastest supercomputer in the world, but if he bought four for $72 million, he's still on par with what Vice President Al Gore raised to this point to make himself unelectable.
With $38 million left over, Brown really looked strong going into the fall campaign. Some might argue, hey, if he only bought three supercomputers, he could buy one Stealth Fighter, a fully registered handgun, and have enough left over to see a movie, go to dinner or buy a CD every now and then.
Kevin Brown will rule, regardless.
Or, I mean, Rupert Murdoch will rule. He owns Kevin Brown, a baseball team, and a media empire that could skewer anyone, anywhere, far better than an independent prosecutor. Murdoch once bought an entire satellite system on a whim, and probably the only thing keeping him from spending $500 million on an entire pitching staff is it would make him a social pariah with the other owners.
One might wonder why Murdoch didn't buy Stealth fighters instead. But since Murdoch, a so-called conservative, is a media mogul, his investments don't benefit much when Stealth fighters bomb and strafe invisibly, thus limiting programming footage to entertain the masses. Also, since his investments are literally everywhere, that's more territory than two Stealth fighters can reasonably protect with any efficiency.
Especially when you consider fuel costs. Hiked up each campaign season, no less, by oil and gas interests that helped George W. Bush raise $100 million to buy the White House.
See how it works?


Angels are everywhere. They are in the Bible and they are making a big comeback in more recent media outlets. Big enough even, to grace the cover of Time magazine. When it comes to baseball, you can find them in the outfield.
For instance, they roam the movie remake of the semi-classic tale of the player who gets a little help from heaven, Angels In the Outfield, opening next month at a theater near you. In the new version, Danny Glover stars as a baseball player for the California Angels, a team cast (sorry Angels' fans) as a team that doesn't have the chance of winning a pennant. Naturally, the Angels get cherubic assistance into contention.
The original film featured Paul Douglas as Guffy McGovern, the crusty manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. For historians, the film is one of those rare occasions to see the old Forbes Field in its splendor.
Even before the original was released in 1951, angels were in the deep, deep centerfield of baseballology.
For example, since the turn of the century, the term angel has indicated a cloud that comes to the aid of a fielder by blocking out the sun, thus making it easier to make a catch. According to the Dickson Baseball Dictionary, the term first appeared in print in an August 1909 issue of Baseball magazine: "Pitilessly, the sun beats down from the sky, broken only by the fleecy-white clouds that players call 'angels' because they afford so benevolent a background for the batted ball."
Of course, the advent of domed stadiums made such divine intervention unnecessary. Further evidence, say fretful traditionalists, that the end of the world is at hand...


Post a Comment

<< Home