Don't Feel Sorry For Jim Bowden's "Long Week" Of Work
[November 8th] -- Oh, the tough life. For the next week, Nationals general manager Jim Bowden and his MLB peers will be "meeting" [read: golfing, swimming and drinking too much] at the Indian Wells resort, about 85 miles northeast of San Diego.
Some interesting facts about the city of Indian Wells:
- Population: about 4,000
- Median age: 64
- Median cost of homes: $94,000
- Average home cost: $423,000
- Race in Indian Wells: 94% white, 4% Hispanic, 2% everyone else
- Percent of population with at least a 4 year degree: 55%
- Foreign born: 7%
- Political donations: decidedly Republican
Most representatives of large corporations, management groups and professional sports franchises understand that perception is reality. Regardless of their real beliefs and intentions, if they choose meeting places that are diverse, middle income and populated by average Americans, they are seen as understanding the "common" guy and better able to fulfill the wants and desires of the middle class. Nike hires the poorest of the poor of the third world to glue together their running shoes, but because their corporate meetings are held in Chicago and Charlotte, they are viewed as the personification of middle class America.
You would think that Major League Baseball, with its billionaire owners and millionaire players, would chose a locale a little less, um ... well, white, rich and conservative [not that that's bad ... I'm proudly two of those three] for their meeting. Indian Wells isn't a place where the rich meet, it's a place where the ridiculously rich meet, where they lounge around marble swimming pools and watch the likes of Anna Kournikova and Andy Roddick play before crowds of 16,000 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden [Oh, what the Devil Rays new G.M. would give for that kind of crowd every night in Tampa]. The complex features five "Club Suites," nine "Deluxe Suits," thirty "Stadium Suites," twelve broadcast booths with an interview room that seats 100+ and an 8,000 square foot food commissary and dining area.
This is a guess, mind you, but I'm doubting that, say from the top seat in the "Garden," that you won't be able to hear the clanking "swish" sound of metal nets as the basketball brethren enjoy a game of pickup on an outdoor basketball court somewhere in the city. I'm also guessing that all those employees that turn down the beds, bring the cocktails, polish the shoes, cook the steaks and park the cars have to drive miles and miles and miles from Indian Wells to find a place they can afford to live.
Now, don't get me wrong. I don't begrudge people who earn zillions of dollars and then spend them at places like Indian Wells. They've earned that right. Creates jobs. Trickle down economics and all that. I do, however, begrudge Major League Baseball, who has the worst public persona of all the professional sports [and this includes the NHL, who lost the 2004-05 season to a players strike/owners lockout]. The lavish life at Indian Wells is a slap in the face of the blue-collar baseball fan, who has to spend nearly $200 to take his family of four to a baseball game. It's not a case of MLB officials not caring, but rather a case of them not thinking.
That said, Bud and the boys have made an attempt to "return to the people." The November owners meetings, set for the 16th through the 18th, are to be held in Milwaukee. My guess is that two days in Milwaukee pretty much cancels out a week in Indian Wells.
C'mon guys, think for a change.