May: Busting Out All Over

Welcome to another bi-monthly update, as once again I managed to be too busy to update this page in April. And all that busy-ness makes for lots of business to catch up on, so let’s get to it:

The last two months marked the denouement of the city approval process for new New York Yankees and Mets stadiums – the latest numbers have the buildings costing a combined $1.5 billion, with the projects receiving about
$800 million
in taxpayer subsidies. I spent way too much of my time of late sitting around city council hearing rooms, resulting in a flood of articles for the Village Voice on: elected officials’ headlong rush to approve the projects without waiting for public input or analysis; the need for the National Park Service to sign off on the Yankees stadium, since it would use federally funded parkland; the need for IRS approval of the stadium bonds, which several fiscal experts say might just be illegal; and an up-close look at how sausages are made. And for a change of pace, I penned an op-ed for Metro New York on how the New York deals reflect the growing trend of hiding stadium subsidies where only trained economists can find them.

With the New York stadium drama done for now – no one knows when the NPS and IRS rulings will be handed down – I had time to investigate some other ways in which your elected officials are screwing you over. In a followup to last year’s City Project report on how state authorities are costing New York City billions in property tax revenue comes a new study of how private universities are raking in big bucks through dubious tax breaks – including Cooper Union’s $17-million-a-year windfall from the Chrysler Building, which isn’t anyone’s idea of a seat of learning. (Unless you count learning misinformation about Aztec gods.) I also spent some time digging into the likely impact on New York residents of the new, even-stricter-than-ever federal welfare rules set to go into effect this year – the resulting story is slotted for this week’s Voice, so check the Village Voice site starting May 2 around noon. (Or check the right-hand column here once I’ve updated it.)

Back on the baseball front, I’ve been interviewed a bunch in the last few weeks, by publications ranging from the New York Sun to amNewYork to the Sacramento Business Journal to SI.com to an excellent article in the Augusta Free Press on the failures of sports journalism. I also engaged in one of my periodic Baseball Prospectus chats; and am featured in a podcast
interview
on Chicago’s 360thePitch (mp3 here), wherein I discuss why I’m beginning to suspect that I’m not the
kind of fan that baseball wants these days.

Finally, “Baseball Between the Numbers” is out, and is getting lots of good reviews; I see as of right now it’s #764
at Amazon
, so order a copy yourself and watch the ranking rise! For a taste of what’s inside, visit ESPN.com, which featured a bunch of excerpts from the book, including a condensed version of HREF="http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=betweenthenumbers/salarycap/060405">my
chapter on whether baseball needs a salary cap.

Phew. I need a rest now. With any luck one month will do it this time, but if you don’t see a new update here on June 1, you’ll know why.

THIS MONTH’S OBSESSIVE MUSIC LISTENING: “En Este Momento” by Cordero has been in heavy rotation on my CD player, and not just because my son
keeps insisting that I play “Come On, Dear” (which he instantly misremembered as being titled “Come On, Moose”) for him every five minutes. Jon
Langford
‘s “Gold Brick” is a winner as well, though I think I prefer the way he’s been performing the songs on his subsequent tour; fortunately, you can hear them that way as well, thanks to the intrepid live music recording community, and the equally intrepid Archive.org. It’s all kept me so busy, I haven’t even had a chance to listen to my new Yo La Tengo Is Murdering the Classics CD – despite the presence of such classics as “Roundabout” and “Meet the Mets”! I must remedy this forthwith…

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