On August 15 of 2002 I wrote an article for Baseball Prospectus called “The Zumsteg Plan” in which I proposed a revenue-sharing plan that attempted to even the playing field for teams in a rational way that didn’t hurt well-run teams in modest markets.
Singled out were the Phillies, who in 2002 were eagerly taking revenue-sharing money from much smaller teams like the Indians:
At the same time, revenue sharing based on payroll or revenue is wrong. If teams want to invest in their product, to put a good team on the field, to try and bring a pennant home, why should they be punished? If a team builds its fan base in limited circumstances, why should it ever have to give money to a lazy and stupid team playing a much larger market? The Indians gave money to the Phillies last year, and that’s not just pathetic, it’s wrong: There are 2,910,000 people in Cleveland and 5,999,000 in Philly. What kind of a stupid system rewards the Phillies for their ability to alienate their fans?
Also, later, after a table showing the Phillies were the worst team in baseball at making money in their market, I commented that they “suck”.
A year after I left BP as a regular contributor, three and a half years after writing this column, I get this off the BP feedback form:
From – Wed Feb 22 20:24:26 2006
Received: (qmail 18106 invoked by uid 99); 22 Feb 2006 08:23:44 -0800
Date: 22 Feb 2006 08:23:44 -0800
Subject: [bpsite] August 15, 2002 The Zumsteg Plan
From: email@example.com (timmy)
Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org (timmy)
X-Mailer: Baseball Prospectus Hyper Fighting Email Script 0.1
BP Username: (Not a registered BP User)
timmy how come you dont put your email adress on your articles?
you obviously have the courage to call out the city of philadelphia
if I were you i would be very careful
watch ur back
Never mind that I didn’t say anything about the city.
This happens all the time. People go through old articles and they’ll find some random aside from four years ago (“I saw player X in spring training this year and while he’s supposed to have a great arm, I saw him make three throws from right field and they weren’t that good.”) and then email me when that guy throws a runner out running second-to-home. I haven’t written a column for BP in ages, and I still get a trickle of email from (say) White Sox fans, who are ticked I poked fun at Ozzie Guillen for some bizarre in-game strategy he tried out ages ago.
I’ve never understood what drives people to do this. Do people really look up “random player” in Google, stumble across the article at page 500/a billion, read the whole thing, and then decide that it’s about time I got my comeuppance? Does finding some tiny observation and trumping it really make them feel that much better?