David Einhorn, New York hedge fund mogul, is reportedly buying a minority stake in the New York Mets from New York money mismanagers, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, because the team is hemorrhaging dough and the Bernie Madoff victims’ lawyer is squeezing them for a billion dollars they entrusted to the Ponzi artist.
I ask this question: Why would anybody buy a major league baseball team, much less a minority stake in one?
The older I get the more I understand that “ownership” of things is ephemeral and usually a losing proposition.
I love baseball, always have, but owning a team would take all the fun of it away. It would become a business, with millions of stakeholders constantly carping about my stupidity in paying $10 million a year to a washed up outfielder like Carlos Beltran or a Jose Reyes, who seems to have lost interest in stealing bases. I don’t even get “owning” season tickets just to get the opportunity to see the Pittsburgh Pirates on a 36 degree night in April. Better to rent a seat for the couple of games a year that excite me.
I’ve had a similar revelation about “owning” a magazine. You can never really “own” your readership. You have to earn it with every issue. Advertisers may delude themselves by thinking that they buy an audience when they purchase a print ad, but I am convinced that most business-to-business magazines are thrown away before they are opened because their content is known to be trivial and boring. Most mass emails are not opened for the same reason.
People want to buy experiences, but I think they cannot readily be packaged and sold. So 42-year-old David Einhorn is going to buy a “piece” of the Mets because he a is huge baseball fan of the Milwaukee Brewers, his home team? I find this reasoning fatally flawed. What he’s doing is acquiring some documents—and the invaluable opportunity of trying to understand Jose Reyes attempt to speak English to his masseuse.
Question: If you were a billionaire, would you buy a sports team? If so, which one would it be?