August 14, 2006

 

Strike Two


Bud Selig, Major League Baseball Commissioner (USA Today Photo)

...There are a few things that puzzle me. Why did kamikaze pilots wear helmets? Why do criminals on death row have their arms swabbed with an alcohol pad before having their lethal injection administered? How has Major League Baseball stayed afloat considering how much they despise their fans?
...Earlier this year a fantasy sports company found themselves in court, squaring-off with Major League Baseball over the right to use MLB player names and statistics in their fantasy leagues. CBC Distribution and Marketing argued that names and statistics can’t be “owned” by an organization, even though Major League Baseball brass determined that anything and everything related to the top-level of professional baseball should be considered Major League Baseball’s intellectual property and that unlicensed use of any statistic will “commercially exploit the identities and statistical profiles” of its players.
...Last week, United States Magistrate Mary Ann Medler showed that there is still a semblance of common sense in the judicial system and ruled in favor of CBC saying that athletes are public figures, and that statistics cannot be copyrighted as they are nothing more than historical facts.
...That didn’t sit well with the Bud Selig Army, though, and Major League Baseball wasted no time in filing an appeal.
...I’m not really sure what is more disturbing in this: (1) the sheer stupidity of Major League Baseball and the players’ association by risking the loss of millions of fans, considering that it’s estimated that a minimum of 15 million people play fantasy baseball (Yahoo! has reported that they have 6.7 million registered players alone, so I suspect that the 15 million number is underestimating the popularity); or (2) the sheer arrogance of Major League Baseball and the players’ association in thinking that historical occurrences can somehow be “owned,” simply because the occurrences are related to their business.
...I ranted about this when the initial lawsuit story was reported in mid-January, but I feel the need to reiterate (I’m plagiarizing myself here.)
...Statistics are a numerical record of historical incidents. In this case, they show how many times a player came to the plate, how many hits that he had, how many RBI he drove in, etc. Similarly for pitchers, they act as a record of how many innings that he pitched, how many hits given up, how many runs that he allowed, etc. These numbers are not logos, they’re not photographs of the games, and they’re not audio/visual accounts of the games such as video that might find their way onto television or the Internet for viewing. Logos, photographs, and video segments fall into a different category, as ownership of those is more concrete than “ownership” of numbers, and subsequent profits made from their use is more readily apparent.
...While statistics are, indeed, a recorded account of what transpired in a game that is sanctioned by particular organizations—in this case Major League Baseball and the players’ association—a push to “own” such numbers might make us wonder how far Major League Baseball and the union will go in the future to control anything and everything related to it.
...Will it become so controlled that even the use of team names on blogs will be subject to licensure? Will bloggers who wish to discuss their favorite teams or players be required to pay royalties to the league and MLBPA? It might happen if those same blogs happen to have advertisements on them, as many do. It could be argued that they were “commercially exploiting” the statistics and players’ names, and even the team names.
...I’m not a public relations specialist, but you don’t have to be one to see that it’s becoming more and more difficult to be a baseball fan. I don’t mean that it’s difficult to be a fan of the sport, per se; I mean that it’s becoming more difficult to follow and enjoy the sport due to limitations that are being imposed by the very league that is supposed to promote it and encourage its popularity.
...Some things in life might be more attractive the more that they’re inaccessible, but baseball isn’t one of those forbidden fruits. Those of us who are fans enjoy it because we have access to it.
...People often wondered if sky-rocketing salaries and player strikes would be professional baseball’s undoing. Who would have thought that it might be due to Major League Baseball and the players’ association biting the hand that feeds them?

6 Comments:

Blogger Ms. B said...

Does this mean that every time I keep score at a Yankee game, I have to use code names for the players? Will I need to burn my score card to destroy the evidence?

August 14, 2006  
Blogger J.P. said...

As of now, no. If Bud Selig and the players’ union win the appeal, that might be a possibility. That is, of course, unless you’re willing to pay a licensure fee to all parties involved. Otherwise it’s “exploiting” the players and Major League Baseball as a whole.

Who would have ever thought that a person can be “exploited” when their base salary is $327,000 a year?

August 14, 2006  
Blogger a.m. said...

Is it simply enough for me to say that I hate Bud Selig?

August 15, 2006  
Blogger J.P. said...

I’m trying to come up with a list of people who actually like him.

August 15, 2006  
Blogger CalvinPitt said...

A list of people who like Bud Selig?

I think that can be completed by simply listing the names of the owners of the 30 major league teams.

And maybe his family.

Maybe.

August 15, 2006  
Blogger Random Vixen said...

Bud Selig is hella crazy.
If i recall correctly baseball took what 6 years to get make to pre-strike numbers? And now they want retired but not yet int he hall people to come and talk about steriods then all *wink wink* took?
Ever notice oh some of the things Bud says are initiated from him and the players assocaition is just tacked on the end?

I'm just noting observations of batshit crazy.
and i'm almost positive Steinbrenner thinks Bud's an idiot.

August 16, 2006  

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