Saturday, March 19, 2011

Yankee Fans Boo Rick Scott?

I promise to write about something other than Rick Scott soon, but this struck me as interesting. Political boos at baseball games are pretty commonplace; in fact, finding a way to tie them to Barack Obama is apparently a cottage industry at the National Review. And most of the time, their origins are simple. A recent tax hike or hiring cutback sends fans jeering a governor or president when the policy might well have been the legislature's. Even by those uncritical standards, though, these boos seem a little odd, for four reasons:

1. There's probably no relationship between sports fandom and union support. Fans tend to share most of America's backwards attitude about organized labor, and the fact that the players they cheer for are part of a labor union doesn't factor into their thinking. Sure, if there's a labor dispute, they'll generally be on the side of the players in a vague way, but that's because they already root for them. They know the names and have the jerseys. Not so with ownership. Red Sox owner John Henry seems like an almost preternaturally nice dude by mega-millionaire standards, but even fanatical Red Sox Nation probably can't account for more than a token number of "HENRY" jerseys.

In fact, when you start to get into the nuts and bolts of any sports labor dispute, the vague allegiance to players is almost immediately dispelled (in part or in full) by the old saw, "They make too much goddamn money for playing a game!" And that's probably true. But what fans rarely look at is how much ownership makes at the end of each year — at least in part because ownership is very good at hiding these reports — which is obscene compared to what players make. In fact, even owners of shitty teams get to pocket money from revenue sharing while holding cities hostage, socializing the investment in new stadiums and privatizing the profit from them. To draw another Florida example: just look at the asshole ownership in Miami.

So, yeah, a bunch of baseball fans booed Rick Scott, and it's tempting to think it was a pro-union gesture. But, when push comes to shove, a lot of baseball fans are pretty contemptuous even of the unions related to the game they love. Also:

2. Fanbases tend to reflect their locales. This game was being played in Tampa, which can be very progressive and can also draw a lot of very "red state" fans. God only knows who was booing Scott, because on any given day, the people in attendance could be young urban hipsters from the Tampa/St. Pete area or a bunch of Libertarian McMansion dwellers who made the military-grade Hummer trek from the one-acre plots they bought 30 miles inland — on a hillside with a clear field of fire toward everything below, out where the buses don't run. Besides:

3. This was a baseball game. Even though they face only spring training prices, most fans who can afford to show up to a game these days tend to have a little more pocket change. The game's stopped being a great democratizer, as seats increasingly price out all but those members of the GOP that George W. refused to call "his elite" because he called them "his base."

But even if we discount the two things above, there remains this one fact:

4. These were Yankee fans. And if anyone has gotten used to decorum- and rule-flouting felons who use extreme income inequality to buy themselves titles, it's Yankee fans.

On that note, I'll leave you this farewell message from Rick Scott's chief of staff: