On baseball and energy policy: A word (and a graph) from the Chicago School

Matt McKenna writes:

What, then, is the primary driver of rising fuel costs? The answer, while difficult to capitalize on politically, is straightforward: since 1998, the major contributor to the price of gas has been an aging Chicago White Sox ball club.

To illustrate the point, the price of gas has increased from $1.44 in 1998 to $3.94 in 2012, adjusted for March 2012 dollars. The consistency of this rise allows us to rule out the political affiliation, environmental consciousness, and personal motives of any particular President as a major factor. Clearly, something bigger is at work here.

Over that same time period, the Chicago White Sox have gone from a roster with an average age of 26.85 years in 1998 to 29.2 years in 2011. Due to the White Sox’ magnificent World Series victory in 2005, concern over rising ages and fuel costs didn’t particularly bother White Sox fans or Americans at large. And nor should they have–Jerry Reinsdorf and Kenny Williams built some good teams between 2000 and 2005.

Since 2005, however, White Sox teams have been generally mediocre and, as the chart above indicates, getting older. By 2010, the average age of a White Sox player was up to 29.8 years, the fourth highest in the league. By 2011, the price of gas skyrocketed to $3.58 a gallon, and it is no wonder why.

The baffling twist to the Republican’s faux fusillade on Barack Obama’s energy policy is that they actually do have a legitimate gripe on the subject, even if they fail to recognize it: Barack Obama is the world’s most powerful White Sox fan. Obama was an Illinois State Senator between 1997 and 2004 and a U.S. Senator between 2005 and 2008. It was during these years that, while occasionally punctuated with brilliant baseball, the White Sox slowly aged and created the situation in which we currently find ourselves mired: $3.94 for a gallon of gas. One would think Obama might have held enough sway with Chicago’s sports leadership to successfully warn them of the national impact of signing big contracts for aging, once-great players.

The bottom line is that the President has little influence on gas prices outside of calling up Chicago White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams and demanding fresh talent be brought up from the minors to replace the pricey veterans on the current squad. Looking at the 2012 roster, perhaps that’s exactly what has happened–the average age for a White Sox player has dropped to 28.1 years. That may not be a big enough decrease to bring the price of oil down to a reasonable level, but it certainly can’t hurt. And who knows, maybe these young guys can hit.

Read the full piece at McSweeney’s, which also includes this graph:

Keep these trends in mind when the team from Motor City travels to face off against the White Sox in a three-game set this weekend.