Today In Accusations Of Extortion

A story (via ESPN) broke earlier today quoting St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Lance Berkman (that just reads weird) as he accused MLB Commissioner Bud Selig of extortion.

I feel basically like the commissioner extorted Jim Crane into moving the Astros. If he called me, I would tell him. I think that’s exactly what it was. To tell [Crane], “We’re going to hold the sale of the team up until you guys agreed to switch?” It just happened that the Astros were being sold at an optimal time for that to happen.

I’m not sure when exactly Berkman took the mantle of veteran shit disturber from the retired Frank Thomas, but as fun as it is to be the old guy on the porch who gets to run his mouth off without repercussion (for now), Berkman’s sticking up for the Astros, while perhaps noble, is rather misplaced.

Sure, you can define an extortionist as one who benefits from coercion, and that’s certainly what Berkman is accusing Selig of doing here, but in all honesty, his argument falls apart the moment you consider the financial considerations that Crane received for agreeing to move his team to the American League West.

The owner of the Astros refers to the $65 million he received from the 29 other Major League Baseball to compensate him for the league change as “just a business deal that got renegotiated.”

There’s little doubt that Selig used the opportunity with the impending sale of the Astros to find the sacrificial National League lamb who would be offered up to the American League. However, I’m not that certain that it was entirely necessary. I wonder if other NL teams would have considered such a move for $65 million if they were given the option.

What Selig should have done to avoid claims like the one Berkman is making here, is to follow the suggestion of Tom Tango and exercise a little bit of the Wisdom of Solomon, or perhaps more accurate, pure and free market capitalism.

If you have 16 people on one side, and none of them want to go to the either side, how do you incentivize one of them?  Why, with money of course.  Think of it as if each of the NL team kicks in 100,000$ into the pot.  That’s 1.6MM$ in the pot.  First one to say “I do”, gets the 1.6MM$ and moves to the AL.  No one takes?  Ok, each team kicks in yet another 100,000$.  And on and on it goes, until someone yells out “Bingo!”

I love it. Do you think such a pot would ever climb as high as $65 million?