"I can turn a $4 million profit into a $2 million loss and get every national accounting firm to agree with me."

Professor Berri ( of The Wages of Wins fame ) breaks down the previously linked to story about the Pittsburgh Pirates & their incentive to improve.

Meanwhile, over at Slate, Phil Birnbaum ( of Sabermetric Research fame ) really nails the crux of the issue with his take. Especially telling is this quote:

As a result, Tampa Bay’s regular-season operating income declined from $22 million in 2007 to less than $1 million in 2008—which means it cost the team $21 million to transition from cellar dwellers to World Series participants. As amazing as it seems, even after adding in $11 million in postseason earnings, the Rays were more profitable when they went 66-96 than when they went 97-65.

Sobering.