Yes, it has indeed been a very good week for big money. That is to say – big big big money! On Tuesday, multi-millionaire mayor Mike Bloomberg won re-election after spending tons and tons and still more tons of money on his campaign for about half a year. Then, last night, the New York Yankees, having spent tons and tons and still more tons of money on players, won the World Series.
Let’s start with the mayoral election. Bloomberg is estimated to have spent about 90 million dollars of his own money on his campaign. That means that he outspent his Democratic rival, Bill Thompson, by about 15 to 1. As I wrote last time, hardly a day has seemed to go by when I didn’t get a mailing or see a TV ad extolling the virtues of Bloomberg – always failing to mention his complete contempt for the voters of this city by overturning the term limits law the people voted for. In the days leading up to, and including, Election Day, there were Bloomberg people annoying me with the phone calls, too.
So, how’d he do in the election? Well, when he won re-election four years ago, it was by a margin of about 20 percent, and he and his people were looking for a similar blowout. So how much did he win by? Less than five percent. That’s right. After swamping his rival with 90 million dollars of advertising, Bloomberg won by less than five percent. I guess it’s a good thing for Mayor Mike that he didn’t spend only 70 million, because who knows? He might have lost!
Despite his winning, hopefully Bloomberg and people like him who place themselves above the voters will take this as a lesson. (Voting him out would have been an even better lesson.)
Now on to the Yankees. Unlike Bloomberg, who I fault for steamrolling over the voters to get a chance for a third term, it is the Yankees job to win every year. The problem is that it’s hard for any other team to compete given the difference in payroll. Unlike other pro sports, baseball has no salary cap, so the sky’s the limit.
Before the World Series started, I saw a statistic on TV showing the total players salaries of the two teams. The Yankees total was $145 million, as I recall. The Phillies – $58 million. (Or was it $85 million?) Either way, that is a huge difference, and it’s hard for any other team to have real chance. With the players that they pay, the Yankees ought to win every year.
The Yankees, being an American League team with the Designated Hitter (that is, a hitter – normally a good one with weak defensive skills – who bats in place of the pitcher but doesn’t play the field) also had a big advantage. When the Series games are played in the National League park, the pitchers bat for themselves, as they do in the NL. (That, to me, is real baseball.) Most pitchers are not particularly good hitters, and I don’t think there’s that much of a quality difference between the batting skills of NL and AL pitchers.
In the American League park, however, the DH rule is in effect, and that’s where the big difference is. The Yankees’ DH was Hideki Matsui – an excellent power hitter who the Yankees can afford to pay millions of dollars to because he can come up to bat four or five times every game as a DH. I don’t know who the Phillies’ DH was, but you can bet he wasn’t as good as Matsui, because no NL team is going to pay a player millions a year just to sit on the bench and maybe get one at-bat a game during the regular season – and it’s typically a bench player that NL teams use as their DH.
Oh, yes. There will be a parade for the Yankees tomorrow, culminating at City Hall, where the mayor will greet them. It’s only fitting – isn’t it? – given their mutual spending habits.
And for those who are wondering, that’s Joceline at the top showing how wonderful and desireable Mammon is.
On to something photographic, I went today to see the current show at the Soho Photo Gallery in Tribeca. This month, it’s the winners of the annual Alternative Photography competition. As I’ve said before, in an age when people are letting machines do the work by going digital, it’s good to see that some people are still committed to doing things hands on. There were some good platinum prints and cyanotypes, among other methods, but my favorite prints were those produced by the wet plate collodion process, which had a sheen, luster and richness to them unmatched by anything else.
Finally, something completely different. This is a story that is so touching that I had to pass it on, in case you haven’t already read about it yourself. Two years ago, a six year old girl in Ohio named Elena died of brain cancer. Her parents never told her the diagnosis, but she must have had an idea of what was going on, because she wrote and drew notes – hundreds of them – expressing her love for her parents and her family. She then hid those notes in the nooks and crannies of the family’s home, to wait to be discovered by her family after she was gone.
Now this story has gone public, and the family has published a book of the notes, with proceeds of the sales going to fight pediatric brain cancer. You can read the story here and read about the book here. Watch the video there, too – but be sure to have some tissues or a hanky nearby.