Friday, August 29, 2003

I'm starting to feel like a sportsblogger, but it's August and there's not that much in the news except for Iraq and Tony Blair, who seems to have given a bravura performance during his testimony. This whole deal about the "45-minute" intelligence report has been blown massively out of proportion. There were thousands of facts, all damning to Saddam and his government, in the British dossier on Iraq that was released to the public. (I linked to it back in the day--just hit "search this site" if you want to find it again.) One of those facts turns out to probably have been wrong. One error does not a liar make. And as for David Kelly, I'm sorry he's dead, but if you're a government official and you go around leaking stuff to the media, your ass is going to be called on the carpet. If Kelly, who seems to me to have had the same problems I have (major depression, possibly bipolar, along with a couple or three personality disorders--trust me on this one, I've spent enough time institutionalized with really crazy people to be an authority on this subject) couldn't handle pressure, he should simply have avoided pressure situations for his own health. That's what you do if you're unstable.

So here's the sports.

In American Major League Baseball the payroll maximum is $117 million; if you exceed that, you have to pay a "luxury tax", so teams try to stay below that amount. Teams close to the limit are the Yankees, the Mets, Texas, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Boston. The Yankees' total budget is something like $150 million. In baseball, the smallest payrolls are in the $20-40 million range, putting the smallest possible total budget at around $40m.

Here are this year's total budgets, in millions of euros, in the Spanish soccer First Division:

Real Madrid 293
FC Barcelona 163
Valencia 90
Deportivo de La Coruna 75
Atletico de Madrid 54
Betis of Seville 48
Celta de Vigo 42
Athletic de Bilbao 38
Mallorca 36
Real Sociedad of San Sebastian 35
Malaga 29
Villarreal 27
Espanyol of Barcelona 26
Sevilla 24
Racing de Santander 23
Valladolid 18
Zaragoza 18
Osasuna of Pamplona 13
Murcia 7
Albacete 4

Gee, who do you think is going to win? And can you predict which teams are almost certain to drop down to Second? They really ought to go to a 12 or 14-team First Division--who wants to see Madrid play Murcia?--but that ain't gonna happen. It's fascinating that American sports leagues are much more "socialist" and European leagues are more "capitalist"--e.g. the NFL's sharing out, equally, the TV money among all teams, or the fact that all the leagues are closed to new teams and that teams that perform badly don't drop in category. In baseball even the most pathetic team wins three of every ten games. If Albacete wins three games all season (out of 38) I'll let Baltasar Porcel, Chemical Lali, and Ballpark Nacho take over this blog.

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