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THE TAX MAN IS NOT WELCOME IN N.Y. AND L.A.

By Murray Chass

January 14, 2018

The Yankees and the Dodgers may very well play each other in the World Series in October, as the odds established by the Las Vegas bookmaker Bovada forecast, but before they get there they have a common opponent they’re determined to overcome. It’s called the luxury tax threshold.

In the threshold’s 15-year existence the Yankees have never conquered it, paying a luxury tax every year ranging from $11.8 million to $34 million a year for a total of $340 million. The Dodgers, a latecomer to the challenge, have a five-year streak in progress, having contributed $149.6 million to the luxury-tax pool, their annual payments soaring as high as $43.6 million.

Both teams want to avoid the tax this year, though the Yankees have been more outspoken about it than the Dodgers.

“There’s no chance, zero chance of going over the threshold,” Randy Levine, the Yankees’ president, said “It’s not going to happen. There’s too much involved – money, draft picks.”

Avoiding the luxury tax was the reason the Dodgers made a blockbuster five-player trade with Atlanta last month, though they haven’t acknowledged it publicly.

When I recently asked Stan Kasten, the Dodgers’ president and CEO, about the luxury tax, he said, “I won’t discuss it at all. I’ve never discussed that since I’ve been here.”

Andrew Friedman, whom Kasten hired as president of baseball operations in 2014 after the Mark Walter group bought the Dodgers for $2 billion, didn’t utter the words “luxury tax threshold” when he slashed the team’s luxury tax payroll by trading Adrian Gonzalez and three other players to Atlanta for Matt Kemp.

“Obviously,” Friedman said at the time, “one of the main considerations in this deal were economic. But also the bigger picture, the long-term plan. It’s a necessary, strategic part of moves yet to come. Whether that’s this offseason, in July or next year, this move allows for increased flexibility going forward at a time when we have some depth.”

But he did not mention the luxury tax. It’s as if the commissioner has instructed club officials not to …

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BASEBALL BECOMING EXTINCT IN NY TIMES

By Murray Chass

January 7, 2018

On my way to writing about Major League Baseball’s luxury tax and the desire of the high-spending Dodgers and Yankees to stay under the tax threshold in the coming season, I received an e-mail from a reader who for years has been a reader and supporter of The New York Times, my former and four-decade employer.

Peter Wagner has written to me before, usually decrying the Times’ treatment of baseball. I have never found him to be wrong in his view, and I didn’t disagree with him this time, even though the subject wasn’t baseball but the National Football League playoffs.

I’m sure Jason Stallman, the Times sports editor, thinks I put Wagner up to writing the e-mail; he has made this accusation before, apparently thinking Times readers don’t have …

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PLAYING A GAME BY ANOTHER GAME’S RULES

By Murray Chass

December 31, 2017

Plenty of people play fantasy baseball so join me as I engage in my own form of fantasy baseball.

Let’s say we get to the end of the regular season and we decided to extend the playoffs and allow all of the teams to participate, no matter their won-lost records or place of finish in the standings, However, we exclude the top two teams in each league, giving them byes to the semi-finals, better known as the league championship series. We pair the other 26 teams by whatever means we would like.

In the first rounds, let’s say, the Orioles (75-87) would play the Athletics (75-87) and the White Sox (67-95) would play the Tigers (64-98) in an American League round, and in the National League …

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