Monday, May 12, 2008

One and eight! This is what $139 million--the second richest payroll in baseball--gets the Tigers. Since 2000, fans have had to contend with bad-weather Opening Days, a string of losing seasons, and a promising upturn in fortune followed by an inexplicable collapse to the underdog St. Louis Cardinals in the 2006 World Series. Now their much heralded team verges on ignominious collapse. Are the Tigers hexed?

Karma matters. How did Tigers' ownership secure funding for its extravagant payroll? Acting on the Tigers' behest, state and municipal governments in 1999 fleeced Michigan's beleaguered taxpayers--many of whom have since lost their jobs and homes--to the tune of $100 million for a "community investment" in the new stadium. This forcible transfer of wealth from Michigan's working families to the richest family in the state freed up funding for the Tigers' payroll, which itself is made up of millionaires. Those tax dollars certainly didn't subsidize Little Caesars pizza franchise purchases for the poor!

Be not deceived. God is not mocked. One does soak the poor on behalf of the rich and forsake the hallowed ground of Tiger Stadium without reaping bitterness in the wake. For 86 years, fans of the Red Sox lamented the ill-fated sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees and tagged their team's ensuing futility the "Curse of the Bambino." With a nod to the pizza-magnate owner, Tigers' fans should now brace themselves for their version of the affliction: the Curse of the Little Bambino. (OK, wrong chain, but you get the picture.)



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