Tag Archive: Billy Beane


For a dwindling number of aging Baby Boomers, the announcement of pitchers and catchers reporting to training camps next week is a harbinger of spring.

Everyone else knows better, particularly those with advanced interests: Football replaced baseball as the nation’s pastime decades ago.

Almost DailyBrett used to be a baseball fan, now he doesn’t care about the World Series, much less spring training and the interminable season that follows.

Many complain about income inequality. There is no part of US society that is more inequitable than … baseball.

Some celebrated Michael Lewis’ “Moneyball” about General Manager Billy Beane and his Oakland Athletics trying to compete in an unfair game.

Now the game is just unfair, and still boring and desultory. Where are the socialist justice warriors when you need them?

Everyone in Washington D.C. has been on pins and needles. Impeachment? No Stephen Strasburg’s salary.

The Nationals’ pitcher turned down the remainder of his $100 million over four years contract. The club ponied up $245 million for the next seven years.

Instead of $25 million per year to throw a baseball, Strasburg will receive $35 million per year to throw a baseball.

Best of all, he will stay in DC. Whew … that was close!

MLB Payrolls Bigger Than Entire Country Budgets?

Almost DailyBrett has never been a fan of socialism. Having said that, a reasonably controlled market (e.g., salary caps) has worked extremely well for NFL and NHL competition. In stunning contrast, the unfettered baseball free agent market has resulted in usually the same low-payroll teams being completely out of the running by June, virtually each-and-every year.

Let’s compare the budgets of sovereign countries in comparison to the baseball team payrolls for … 25 players.

Samoa in the South Pacific provides essential services for its 196,000 citizens with an annual budget of $233 billion. The New York Yankees put food on the table for its 25 studs with $217 million ($8.68 million per player).

Caribbean islands St. Kitts and Nevis serves its 55,345 residents with $233 billion. The sign-stealing cheating Houston Astros allocate $206 million for its 25 heroes ($8.24 million each).

Gambia in West Africa maintains a $230 million budget for its 2.10 million citizens. Conversely, the Boston Red Sox make do with $200 million for its family of 25 ($8.00 million per player).

The average salary for MLB’s 988 players, who mostly stand around for hours in the infield and outfield, is down two consecutive years. In 2019, the average was $4.051 million (1.1 percent less), 2018, $4.095 million, and 2017, $4.097 million.

Should we hold bake sales for these starving players?

Black and Gold Futility Beside the Monongahela

Considering that your author was born in Western Pennsylvania, he has a soft spot in his heart for the black and gold of the Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB, five World Series titles), the Pittsburgh Steelers (NFL, six Super Bowls) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL, five Stanley Cups).

Pittsburgh with its 301,000 residents and 2.36 million in the metropolitan area is considered a small-market sports city. The differentiator for the three teams is the Steelers and Penquins compete under the terms of respective NFL and NHL salary caps. The Pirates ($41 million, $1.64 per player average) fend for themselves in an unfair sport dominated by the most militant of unions (e.g., MLBPA) and greedy sports agents (e.g., Scott Boras for Stephen Strasburg).

Consider that the Penguins won their second consecutive Stanley Cup in 2017. The Steelers hoisted their sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy in 2009.

The We Are Family Pirates last won the World Series 40 years ago in 1979 (Carter was president). Since that time. the Pirates have been a non-factor because they simply cannot compete against the big market teams. Will 2020 be any different? Don’t think so.

For a Pirates fan, the obvious question comes immediately to mind: ‘Why bother with baseball?’ Why bother, indeed.

Some have suggested that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in all of sports. What? Literally hundreds of humans past and present, alive and deceased have hit major league pitching.

How many can carry the ball from the five-yard line (red zone) in an NFL game? How many can hold LeBron to 40 points in an NBA game? How many can stop a Alexander Olevchkin slap shot in an NHL contest?

Let’s face it, baseball is an increasingly unfair and fraudulent (i.e., steroid kings, stolen signs) game, which at best represents America’s sporting past (i.e., Barry Bonds, “Shoeless Joe” Jackson). Traditionalists may still get their collective knickers in a twist in February, but the younger ask the more salient question:

When do college football training camps open?

https://www.spotrac.com/mlb/payroll/

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/28320193/stephen-strasburg-returns-nationals-hopes-never-leaves

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/28341983/average-mlb-salary-drops-second-straight-year

2020 Spring Training Reporting Dates

Pass the Maalox!

The Dow lost 651 points on Xmas Eve.

The Dow gained a record 1,066 points the day after Christmas.

The Dow lost 611 points Thursday morning only to finish up 260 points in the very same afternoon.

What’s the lesson for retail investors competing in an unfair market?

Don’t go all wobbly over the Dow Jones.

More to the point: Never panic.

And let’s not forget: Don’t morph into Gloomy Gus or Negative Nancy when the market gyrates downward.

Just as important, never become a Pollyanna when the markets surge. Stay grounded.

Since October 3, the ever-downward market psychology has resulted in traders selling the rallies as opposed to buying the dips.

Buy Low, Sell High has been redefined … at least for now.

Algos Giveth; Algos Taketh Away

Almost DailyBrett clearly recognizes the Wall Street playing field is not level; it tilts downward to the “institutions,” the Buy-Side and the Sell-Side traders.

Similar to Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) in “Money Ball,” the Charles Schwab retail investor (e.g., me) is competing in an unfair game.

Isn’t the easy solution to simple not invest in Wall Street, stick your money in a bank with pathetic interest rates or maybe even under the mattress?

Having said all of the above, the markets remain the choice investment vehicle for the 54 percent of Americans who constitute the Investor Class. These optimists about America’s future devote discretionary revenues in stocks and stock based mutual funds to pay for retirement, health care, children’s education or that dream vacation.

There is a ton of advice out there about taming the markets – some counsel is sound, other “advice” is dubious.

What is the humble advice from Almost DailyBrett, who has invested in markets for 25 years and who taught Corporate Communications and Investor Relations at two major universities?

There are Bulls. There are Bears. And Pigs Get Slaughtered

 “Know what you own, and know why you own it.” – Investor Peter Lynch

  • Your author believes in building your own mutual fund, instead of always paying a fee for someone else (e.g., Fidelity) to manage your money. And when you do structure your very own mutual fund make sure you know why you own each stock (thank you Peter), and make sure you diversify these holdings (everything can’t be tech).

For example, Almost DailyBrett presently owns Apple, McDonald’s, Nike and Salesforce; just sold Boeing. Two are differing tech stocks, one feeds 1 percent of the world each day, and the swoosh just does it as the leader in athletic apparel.

  • Passive investing is a loser. Building wealth is work. Far too many just purchase mutual funds at work through pensions and 401Ks or IRAs at home and literally forget about them. Really? This is your money. What is being done with your money? What are your returns? Forget passive. Be active.
  • Use or consume the product/service of the companies you own (i.e., Apple iPhones, McDonald’s Big Macs, Nike running shoes …). Understand very clearly how a company makes money. If you can’t comprehend why shares are increasing (e.g., Bitcoin), don’t invest. There is a world of difference between investing and gambling.
  • The harder mental gymnastics is not when to buy, but when to sell. Think of it this way: On Wall Street, there are bulls, there are bears … and pigs get slaughtered. Set upside-and-downside sell targets for your stocks. When they reach these points, ring the register. Sure wish your author always followed his own advice.
  • Accept the algorithms. The big institutions (not you) have pre-programmed servers with instruction algorithms that automatically to the nanosecond buy or sell large blocks of stocks whenever certain market price points are triggered. The game is not fair. Accept it.
  • For the longest time the bulls have been running (e.g., November 2016 – October 2018), and corresponding market psychology has been optimistic (bad news discounted). Since the start of the bear market on October 3, the psychology has dramatically shifted to the negative (good news is irrelevant). If you invest, you will experience both moods.
  • Most of all: Don’t panic. Stay active. Remain calm. Sometimes strategic retreat is necessary. Sell underperformers and convert to liquid. Cash is always king. There will be a bottom. There will be a day to buy low with the hopes of selling high.
  • Know your level of risk. If you can’t accept gaining $10,000 one day, and giving $9,000 back in the next day (a $1,000 gain for those scoring at home), you shouldn’t be investing in markets. Pathetic bank interest rates or under the mattress is right for you.

Yes there will be a day when it is time to buy the dip, while those who try to sell the rally end up losing their … fill in the blank.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Teddy Roosevelt

teddyroosevelt

Self-indulgent … Weak, unimaginative songs…” – Rolling Stone magazine review of Led Zeppelin I.

“(The first album) just went over their heads. Absolutely. Absolutely, so. It was way beyond them…” – Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page reflecting on the initial reviews.

Take that, critics.

There are no statues or monuments to critics.

Ancient and modern-day versions of the Pharisees have always been and will always be with us.

Will Tim Tebow make it in the NFL? If he doesn’t, is it because of his home schooling? His belief in a higher being? His long-time commitment to clean living?

You would think that he never won the Heisman Trophy.

Give him credit for one thing: He is a man in the arena.

In our digital society, our ability and our incessant need to calibrate, to crunch data to smithereens has never been greater.

Didn’t Intel get into major PR trouble in 1994 because the Pentium chip (floating point unit FPU) didn’t compute correctly four or more digits AFTER the decimal point?

When a big league hitter comes to the plate, we all know his batting average, average with RISP (runners in scoring position), home runs, RBIs…all the data that makes Billy Beane, as played by Brad Pitt, salivate.

In nanoseconds, we measure the direction of stocks, market capitalization of companies, price-to-earnings ratios and the “churn” as institutional investors or hedge funds move in-and-out of a security.

In God we trust; All others bring data. – Professor/Author William Edward Deming.

And yet, despite our unquenchable thirst for data, figures and factoids, our lives still remain largely subjective. And there are “Russian judges” that from time-to-time are thumbs down on even our best efforts.

Most sports have a scoreboard. You either win or lose, pure and simple. That is not the case for figure skating, particularly during the troubled days of the Cold War. An American skater would receive the following marks for her performance in the short or long program: 5.8, 5.9, 5.8, 5.7, 5.9, 5.8, 4.5…Wonder who gave her the 4.5? The Russian judge.

The point is the critics are still here. The world has never been more technologically advanced with 90 percent of the scientists, who ever lived, walking around the planet right now. Despite all of this innovation and advancement, we are still for the large part evaluated subjectively by our peers.

We live, and maybe always will reside in a subjective society.

This undeniable fact requires us to remember the most important public relations of all are personal public relations. How do you enhance your personal brand? How do you protect your reputation? Did you “Google” yourself today? Do you like what you see? Or do you need to change course?

Even though job applications with digital cover letters, curriculum vitae, portfolios and URLs are all submitted, and in most cases search engine instantly evaluated for desired “tag” words, the decision whether to hire or not is made by flesh-and-bones people. And of course, people can be political.

As CNBC’s Jim Cramer says, “I don’t care about a stock’s past, only its future.”

cramer

Interviewers are only concerned about whether you will add value to the bottom line. They want to know how you will fit into an organization. They want to know how you will contribute. They want to know whether you have the gravitas to interact effectively with management, customers and other stakeholders. They want to know whether you will be a team player.

How about romance? We might be able to devise a pithy profile with nice JPEG mug shots for Match.com or eHarmony or some other dating site, but whether you succeed or fail in the game of love comes down to the subjective opinion of another person. Are you immediately placed on the friendship track or the romance track? That is the mother of all analog decisions. At some point, there will be a decision whether intimate human contact is in the cards. The ones-and-zeroes play absolutely no role.

Even blog writers are subjected to…ah…subjectivity. Do these words work for you or not? Do you enjoy that picture on the wall? What about the architecture of this building? Or that outdoor landscaping? And how about Led Zeppelin I? Is it “self-indulgent”? Or does it go right over the heads of the critics?

Sometimes, we are talking about questions of taste. Sometimes a critic’s upbringing comes into play or pre-set political philosophies. And maybe despite your best efforts and effective personal public relations, the critic simply doesn’t care for you. It all comes down to eternal subjectivity in a digital world.

Those damn Russian judges. They will always be there to torment us.

http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trsorbonnespeech.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhyW3_2f02w

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Tebow

http://t.foxsports.msn.com/nfl/tebows-nfl-days-numbered-after-zero-snaps

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentium_FDIV_bug

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_percentage_of_all_scientists_who_have_ever_lived_are_alive_today

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming

http://www.cnbc.com/id/15838187

 

 

 

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