Who’s on first? Does it matter? Although the actors change, the same situations repeat themselves, almost, in an eternal cycle. But, baseball is a business. It may be the national pastime, imbued in the national fabric but it remains a market; the entertainment market. The enigmais in the identity, both mythological entwinement in mythology and market based opiate for mass diversion. Markets themselves are quite objectionable by their inherent nature since they necessarily involve a form of commodification, a quantifying of the product as exchange value which skims all the poetic and artistic essence off its appeal.
Is there any market more commodified than that of baseball where the importance of statistical precision places the athlete as automaton on a game board, a true commodity where each play is recorded into a database. The new movie Moneyball starring Brad Pitt is an insightful case into the commodification of the individual. The necessity to record data and make market valuation and the value a physical asset based on productive output the goal of the exercise. The fetish quality of the object, the player and game is simply a public relations angle fto grease the turnstiles. In any event, since few people actually watch the game live, is it really baseball they are watching, or a different social and aesthetic experience mediated by images? …
Peter King:Yet there is a final objection the defender of market socialism can propose: market socialism, with all its failings, might be the best society can have. There is no evidence that it is possible to structure a society for anything but exchange. If that is so, market socialism might be the best of the bad lot of choices we have. This gloomy conclusion may be correct. I hope it is not. Recent events in the former Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe are hardly decisive refutations of centralized command economies, much less of coordination economies generally. If our goal is structuring production directly for use rather than for exchange—and we are morally bound to accept no less until …Common to these proposals is an absence of markets. Instead, they attempt to match production services with consumption needs directly. This is an ideal worth
…That the Rays completed their unthinkable comeback just after the movie version of Michael Lewis’s groundbreaking book, Moneyball, came out in theaters, is a felicitous piece of timing: The book, and the Brad Pitt movie, tell the story of the cash-poor Oakland A’s, who in the early 2000s built themselves, under the leadership of General Manager Billy Beane (played by Pitt) into a contending team by finding new ways of measuring talent and getting the most out of that talent.
Both the book and the movie have come under fire for overstating the impact on Oakland’s unlikely success of sabermetrics and other advanced statistical analysis in baseball—and to be fair, the critics have a case. Also, unfortunately, the movie version omitted one of the book’s most interesting components: a suspenseful and gratifying account of how the A’s used the player draft in innovative ways. But Tampa Bay’s ascension early this morning went a long way toward vindicating the Oakland A’s, if not quite in practice then certainly in spirit. Read More:http://www.indyweek.com/triangleoffense/archives/2011/09/29/tampa-bay-rays-beat-odds-make-the-playoffs-and-dan-johnson-is-the-extra-2a
King: In like manner, workers are also unambiguously treated as mere things. They are (to coin a useful term) commodified. Work takes the form of a commodity. The most evident way in which this happens is that workers appear on the market. Workers are subject to the law of supply and demand just as coal or computers or anything else that circulates on markets. They are hired and fired only for purely economic reasons. The worker must treat the dictates of the market are so many fixed circumstances in his life, as features that determine his well-being over which he lacks control….
Neil Morris: The new film Moneyball may be about an old pastime, baseball, but
8217;s reminiscent of a film about a more contemporary activity: The Social Network. Both are about Gen-Y whiz kids rising up and training their trumpets on the walls safeguarding venerable Jerichos—in Social Network it was Madison Avenue, while Moneyball looks at how detailed statistical analysis shook up the tradition-laden world of major league baseball.
As it happens, Aaron Sorkin, who won a screenplay Oscar for The Social Network, also revised writer Steve Zaillian’s treatment of Moneyball. The long-gestating Moneyball film project, directed by Bennett Miller (Capote), adapts Michael Lewis’ 2003 book about the Oakland Athletics and its general manager Billy Beane, who adopted the principles of “sabermetrics” in identifying undervalued baseball players as a means for cash-strapped clubs to compete with rich rivals like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Read More:http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/moneyball-explores-new-strategies-for-success/Content?oid=2661506
…His lack of control shows up in two ways. First, the worker has no choice other than to sell his labor-power. No choice, that is, other than starving—which is no choice at all. The fact that we cannot point to an individual who is responsible for the lack of alternatives the propertyless worker faces does not mean that the worker has any real alternative than to sell his labor power. The member of the slave pool likewise cannot point to an individual owner, but that does not render him any less liable to commands of a master….
…Second, the fact that a given worker can always be replaced by another member of the reserve army of the unemployed is a powerful weapon by means of which workers have to submit to employer’s commands (both individually and as a class). In each case, the employer gains authority over the worker, an authority ultimately grounded in the employer’s right to hire or fire anyone for any reason. The employer’s authority has nothing to do with the work at hand. The unowned worker is subject to the authoritative employer, forced into accepting a subordinate position without the economic ability to exercise his distinctively human power of self-determination. Commodification, then, is a form of dehumanization. In all relevant respects the worker is like the slave. Read More:http://individual.utoronto.ca/pking/unpublished/Slavery_and_Commodification.pdf
Peter King:Second, the fact that luxury goods are by definition non-necessities does not trivialize the dehumanization involved in their commodification. It is less important than the indignities visited on individuals by labor markets or markets in welfare goods, but that does not mean it lacks moral weight. Likewise, being severely beaten is less important than being murdered, but neither is negligible. People take what they want seriously (sometimes more seriously than what they need), and this fact alone should entitle luxury goods to our due consideration.
Third, consent can no more legitimize accepting an inferior moral status here than it could in the cases considered previously. On labor markets,
individuals were themselves commodified, just as much as they are on slave markets. Furthermore, lives were distorted by the effects of the labor market on the nature of work. If welfare goods are commodified, then human lives are themselves downgraded and devalued. Here too human lives are deprived of recognition: they are treated as long strings of consumption episodes, instrumentally useful to others. Being granted less than complete moral agency is equally objectionable. Consent is beside the point since these are not consensual activities. Persons are treated as means whether they want to be or not. Thus consent cannot and should not legitimize such treatment.
…Fourth, any appeal to the range or variety of choices made possible through the market, or to any purely economic goods delivered by the market, depends on the market being a morally permissible forum for interpersonal activity in the first place. Yet that is what the argument above denies. Murder may be a simple and elegant solution to personal difficulties, but its simplicity and elegance, while they might recommend it, cannot sanction it. The advantages of theft over honest toil make it no better. So too with the economic virtues of the market. Production for exchange under market socialism, then, is morally jectionable, in much the same way we found slavery to be morally objectionable.
There are many consequences of the fact that market socialism structures production for exchange. For market exchange is a system geared
to the production not of useful things but rather of salable things. On the one hand, desires that cannot be satisfied through some form of exchange or sale will be systematically ignored. Such are solidarity, love, trust, and the various forms of self-actualization: self-expression, integrated and healthy development of one’s talents and capacities, and the like. On the other hand, desires that can only be satisfied through consumption will be developed and exploited, despite their effect on the individuals who have such desires (including whether the desires can be satisfied). Such are goods with built-in obsolescence, goods that are fashionable and trendy, harmful products (the Dalkon Shield), and addictive products (cigarettes). Market socialism will inherit these glories of capitalist production through its market organization.Read More:http://individual.utoronto.ca/pking/unpublished/Slavery_and_Commodification.pdf
Neil Morris:The climax to Moneyball boils down to a will-he-or-won’t-he affair over whether Beane will accept a lucrative offer from the Red Sox and their owner John Henry (Arliss Howard), whose soliloquy on the sea change brought by sabermetrics is a high point in the film. The sequence is meant to echo the last time Beane had to decide whether or not to take the money. A more skillful treatment, however, would have turned his conversation with Henry into a tragic arc, the moment Beane realizes this new method developed to level the playing field for the have-nots is destined to be co-opted as yet another weapon for the benefit of wealthy haves.
Like a batter checking his swing, Miller seems torn between the crowd-pleasing tropes of the baseball movie genre—the Big Hit in the Big Game—and a commitment to distilling the sport down to a binary essence. Indeed, the film teaches us little about the particulars of sabermetrics (the term itself is never uttered), leaving the viewer to sometimes wonder what all the fuss is about…. In the end, the film is much like a sporting event—a lot of fun but ultimately a finite distraction. Read More:http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/moneyball-explores-new-strategies-for-success/Content?oid=2661506