Dodgers star Justin Turner gives St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt a lesson in finance.
As Major League Baseball owners and players squabble over millions of dollars while the rest of the country confronts a pandemic and remains engrossed in a discussion about social injustice, St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt is crying poor, which Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner isn’t buying.
On an interview with 590 The Fan in St. Louis, DeWitt claimed the baseball industry isn’t very profitable.
"“The industry isn’t very profitable, to be honest,” DeWitt said on 590TheFan in St. Louis, via ESPN. “And I think they [the players] understand that. They think owners are hiding profits. There’s been a bit of distrust there. It’s a bit of a zero-sum game. They have by far the best deal of any players in any sport.”"
DeWitt is not the first owner to make such assertions. Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts told ESPN last week, “baseball owners don’t take money out of their team.”
According to an economic forecast presented to the players in May, teams would lose $640,000 for every game played this season in empty ballparks over the course of an 82-game schedule. The report put the Dodgers losses for such a season at $232 million, second most in baseball.
Dodgers star Justin Turner isn’t buying the owners’ numbers.
After an article appeared in Baseball Prospectus in response to DeWitt’s comments about profitability, Dodgers infielder Justin Turner took to social media to articulate his thoughts on the matter.
Turner started a Twitter thread on Wednesday, detailing the reasons why owners are well-compensated, both financially and intangibly, for being part of a select group of individuals who have the privilege to own a Major League baseball team.
"DeWitt has been earning outsized returns, year after year after year, for 24 years,” Turner tweeted. “Oh, and about the $150 million he paid for the Cardinals—he got half of that back within a year, selling four parking garages received in the club’s purchase for $75 million.”"
The charitable third baseman used to work as a Wall Street financial analyst, and his understanding of finances showed in his thread.
"“As I’ve written, baseball team owners engage in activities that distort free markets,” Turner said. “They have a thumb on the scale, abetted by legislators from the federal to local level. A cadre of free-market capitalists, clambering for state-supported industry.”"
DeWitt became owner of the St. Louis Cardinals when he partnered with two other investors to purchase the team from Anheuser-Busch for $150 million in 1995. The deal included Busch Stadium and its parking garages. The Cardinals are currently valued by Forbes to be worth $2.1 billion.
"“And here’s what I find particularly galling. Bill DeWitt has a net worth estimated by Money at about $4 billion,” Turner continued. “Take away the Cardinals’ $2.2 billion, and that leaves $1.8 billion. The net $75 million he invested in the Cardinals (after the parking garage sale) is 4.2 percent of his net worth. For that 4.2 percent investment, he’s gotten on TV holding two World Series trophies, walked through the clubhouse having all the famous athletes call him ‘Mr. DeWitt,’ and, yes, been interviewed on 590 The Fan and other outlets. He’s reaped intangible benefits that you and I could never dream of. For a 4.2 percent investment.”"
While Dave Roberts hopes to make Justin Turner manager of the team when both of their times in their current roles are up, perhaps the player’s union should consider making Turner their next leader.