The Man Who Changed Professional Sports

Marvin Miller passed away last week.  When this happened I immediately began work on a post detailing the important impact Miller’s work -- as the first leader of the Major League Baseball Players Association -- had on sports.  And then I noticed that many other people had the same idea (see Jayson Stark, Jon Wertheim, Lester Munson, and Richard Justice – among many others).  Given all the wonderful writing on Miller’s life and career, I decided to focus on how Miller impacted our understanding of both sports and economics. 

Such a post... well, I could write more than a few thousand words on just that topic.   Since few people want to read that many words at a blog, I am going to focus on Miller’s work to end baseball’s reserve clause (and what that has meant for baseball, sports, and economics).

Our story begins back in the 19th century. As noted in a wonderful article by E. Woodrow Eckard in the Journal of Sports Economics, the National League began in 1876 with a labor market quite similar to the markets we tend to observe outside of sports. 

A Parting Shot, Reconsidered

Yesterday we blogged about Mark Bittman’s acrid comment about the death of a Chick-fil-A executive. (It would make a good postscript to our "Legacy of a Jerk" podcast.) Bittman has now apologized and removed the offending language from the original article.

Speaking Ill of the Dead Apparently Okay if the Dead Worked for Chick-fil-A

We recently put out a podcast called "Legacy of a Jerk," which deals in large part with the ancient injunction against speaking ill of the dead. For the most part, this injunction is still widely obeyed. So I was quite surprised to see what Mark Bittman recently wrote on his N.Y. Times blog:

Sysco is the latest food giant—it’s the largest food distributor in the country—to come out against gestation crate confinement of pigs. The National Pork Producers Council’s communications director was quoted in the National Journal saying: “So our animals can’t turn around for the 2.5 years that they are in the stalls producing piglets…I don’t know who asked the sow if she wanted to turn around.” Really.

Speaking of pigs, the VP of PR for Chick-fil-A dropped dead of a heart attack the week after the chain’s latest homophobia/anti-gay marriage scandal. Here’s an obit, and here’s more about him. Meanwhile, Chick-fil-A had record-breaking profits after its President, Dan Cathy, drew a line in the sand over same-sex marriage.

I read that "speaking of pigs" line three or four times to make sure I understood. At first I thought that Bittman was speaking metaphorically -- that no one had in fact died. (But he did: the man's name was Don Perry.) Then I thought maybe the Times page had been hacked, but that doesn't seem to be the case either. FWIW, here's a screenshot:

Father Earth Is Dead

If you had to point to one person who helped the global population surge over the past several decades to nearly 7 billion rather than succumbing to mass famine, as was widely predicted (and, indeed, has been predicted throughout history), a person who well understood the paradox that population growth was both the reward of his life's work as well as the problem that necessitated it, that person would likely be Norman Borlaug, the most important plant scientist behind the Green Revolution, who has died at the age of 95.

The Woman Behind New York State's Abortion Law

The Times recently reported the death of Constance E. Cook, a former assemblywoman from upstate New York who co-wrote the measure that legalized abortion in that state in 1970, three years before the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade did so for most of the rest of the country. While the history of Roe […]

Why the Obituary Page Is My Favorite

Great reading on The Times‘s obit page today. Not just “Jack A. Weil, 107, the Cowboy’s Dresser” — a cowboy couturier and a centenarian?! — but two other gentlemen, Henry B.R. Brown and L. Rust Hills. Hills was the longtime fiction editor at Esquire, a landmark job that he took very seriously. Brown was a […]