Explaining Southern California's economy

The Dodgers, the McCourts, Bud Selig, and the dictatorship of Major League Baseball

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Frank McCourt has lost control of the Dodgers franchise as Bud Selig and the Major League Baseball association has seized ownership.

It's not clear to me that big-time sports is a business in any meaningful sense of the term. It seems based on economic principles drawn from the pre-capitalist era, when circuses roamed the landscape and people put their faith in shamans. But the way the Dodgers/McCourt psychodrama is playing out here in LA has led me to revise my view. Major League Baseball isn't even charming in some retro-feudal sense. It operates like a backwater banana republic, ruled by the iron hand of a Maximum Leader, Commissioner Bud Selig.

The sports media seem to have accepted this yucky paternalistic arrangement, which is worrisome. Here's Bill Plashcke in the LA Times:

Bud Selig owes us. The baseball commissioner who allowed a seriously underfunded McCourt to take the team from desperate Fox in 2004 owes us a strong and viable owner this time.

Selig will pick the person, believe me. No sports commissioner has a stronger influence over who is allowed entry in his league. Selig will pick this owner like he has picked other owners, but never before has his selection been more important, more mandated, and more tied to his legacy.

Selig owes us. He owes Los Angeles a well-funded, competitive-minded businessperson who understands that the Dodgers are about a family experience, Hollywood entertainment and, most important, winning.

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Vacation now! LA Times employees lose control of their time off

As LA Observed reported last week, Los Angeles Times employees are getting a sort of nasty double-whammy, when it comes to vacation time. According to the LAT memo that Kevin Roderick published

As of October 2, 2011, we will put into action a temporary freeze of vacation accrual and mandate the use of vacation days. Given that many of you have more than two weeks of vacation already accrued and the holiday months are traditionally a season when time off is scheduled, our hope is that this will be manageable and not create undue difficulty. 

Just what you want to see in your email in-box on the Friday before Labor Day weekend! This move is happening in the wake of the LAT's owner, Tribune, asking its bankruptcy court judge to authorize between $16.4 million and $42.5 million in — and unfortunately there's no other word for them — performance bonuses for company management. 

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