Baseball Incorporated

Are you upset over the steroids scandal in baseball? Do you feel ball players that took them should be punished?

If you do, how do you feel about movie stars? The ones who have their breasts enhanced with silicon. Those who get their lips filled, their buttocks enhanced, their wrinkles lasered away. Those that get the fat sucked out with lipo extraction. Those that get everything lifted, from face to eyelids. Those that have their fat schnozzes turned into perky pug noses.

What is the difference?

Please do not tell me that movie stars are working in a business. While ball players are playing a sport.

You must know by now that ball clubs are pure business. They are as much into business as the movie studios. And you ought to recognize by now that players are businesses. Yes, the players are.

Alex Rodriguez Incorporated will have sales of $275 million over the next 10 years. Those sales are for baseball. There will be many millions more for various endorsements.

When teams like the Yankees play the Tigers the “game” is between two large businesses. Each business uses subcontractors. Suppliers. Namely the players. Like Roger Clemens Pitching Inc. And Barry Bonds Long Ball Enterprises. And Rodriguez Inc.



So, are you surprised when businesses cheat? Or when they take any advantage they can, in order to succeed at their businesses?

You know many businesses bilk customers. You know some businesses steal information from competitors.

In the baseball business, teams steal signals and playbooks. And the companies known as ball players resort to corked bats. And juiced up baseballs. And steroids, to turn 40-home-run-hitters into 60-home-run-hitters.

You are not offended when a movie star “cheats” by having her body re-crafted. And by the way, that star is also incorporated. The star is a supplier to the movie studio.

You would not be offended to learn your favorite singer took steroids to improve her voice. You would not think she “cheated”.

Baseball is show biz of the same type. It is no more a sport than making computers. The business happens to be based on a sport. When your youngster plays in Little League it is a sport. When guys in pinstripes play it for George Steinbrenner it is 100 percent business.

Your youngster might race others in his sailboat. If years from now he races in the America’s Cup, believe me, he won’t tell you he is in a sport.

Too many of us forget that adult sports are not sport. They are business. We somehow think the Yankees play a sport. That is because the business they are engaged in looks a lot like the sport or game the kids play at.

You can see your kid’s project win first prize in the science fair this week. And twenty years from now you can watch his high-tech company blast competitors into submission.

You can enjoy your daughter’s victory in a high school debate this weekend. And you can watch her, decades from now, debate her way to an election victory, maybe for the White House.

Similar activities. But one is an activity and one uses an activity for business. Or to gain elective office.

You can pretend that the guys who create companies do it just for fun. They probably do get some fun out of it. But most of their enjoyment comes from making the money.

You can pretend the contenders for the White House are campaigning for the fun they derive. But most of their fun comes from gaining power and exercising it.

You can pretend actors are like the characters they create on screen. But the tabloids and divorce courts will tell you they are not.

You can pretend that ball players are playing a sport. And that they are ruining the sport by cheating, by taking steroids. They are not. They are running their businesses. They are supplying services to larger businesses called “teams”. If they have to bend a few rules to beat the competition, that is okay with them. And it is okay with Baseball Incorporated.

Call the behavior sleazy. I agree with you. Call it business as usual and I will agree with you again.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.

For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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