The answer to how baseball got to the mess it’s in is long and complicated, but can be boiled down to: there is no trust, and the leadership on both sides is more interested in winning than in progress for the sport we love.
i doubt many in such leadership positions for the MLBPA read ESPN or NBC Sports, let alone fan blogs, but they should. If they did, perhaps the levels of disgust and anger they see at both sides might finally make them realize they are strangling the goose that lays the golden egg—and stop.
Seriously, Mr Cardinals Owner? You really want us to believe you don’t make much money from baseball, when your franchise value has increased ten-fold since you bought it? The laughter you hear is derision, Sir.
Seriously, Mr Cubs Owner? You have a cash flow problem? You’re a billionaire, and you’re arguing about a gap between players and owners of roughly $10M per team. If anybody can get an easy term loan to cover that, it’s you. You should also be aware that 40 million Americans are currently out of work and millions more—including me—have faced pay cuts. We don’t give a damn about a wealthy person being slightly less wealthy in the short run.
Really, Mr Nationals and Mr A’s Owners? What the hell were you thinking even considering cutting the paltry $400/month stipends to your minor leaguers. That was just…pathetic.
And you, Tony Clark, et al of the MLBPA…you start by saying an 82 game schedule at full proration is okay but every counter proposal since then has been for more games than that. Even if you feel MLB is not negotiating in good faith, countering with numbers that move away from the original stance does not help.
So, what’s needed? First, there are supposedly moderates on both sides—they need to rein in the mouthpieces from their extreme intransigent positions. Stop answering absolutes with other absolutes. Friggin’ realize the pooch has already been screwed for this year, put on whatever level of season is going to happen and immediately begin working on the new CBA.
That CBA is going to be contentious, and work stoppage for next year will only be avoided by trust and compromise. That means both sides have to be willing to extend real olive branches.
The MLBPA keeps saying “no” to anything that sounds like a salary cap, but that horse is out of the barn. The competitive balance tax is being used as a soft cap. All one has to do is look at the actions of the Dodgers and Yankees the past two years to see it. However, there is no salary floor, which makes it possible for owners to do complete tear downs and rebuilds, to tank for several seasons to try to rebuild competitive teams with cheap players. No salary floor means no safety net for free agents, too, BTW. Genuine revenue sharing might mean a per team cap on spending, but it would also at least blunt the likelihood of teams like the Marlins from holding fire sales. The NHL, NBA, and NFL all do revenue sharing, and their players get around 50% of the take. MLBPA: your constituents are reported to be getting around 40%. Revenue sharing, even with a cap likely means your members make more money. Also when the first offer back in early May from the owners for this season was for a 50-50 split on the take, and you immediately rejected it on the grounds of being too much like a salary cap…well, that was a very bad look for you and dredged up all the times you’ve been called “greedy” by fandom over the years whether justified or not. History has shown you cannot win in the court of public opinion over money…indeed, you do even worse there than the patently greedy owners…so quit trying.
Owners: YOU propose revenue sharing, yet don’t want a floor and won’t open your books to the MLBPA without lots of redactions. That’s not revenue sharing. If you’re going to split the take, you have to do real revenue sharing amongst each other first, then you have to be completely above board with all income with the players’ union. If the income is not verifiable in its entirety, there is no revenue sharing.
One definition of insanity is to keep performing the same actions and expect different results. Letting the extremists dictate the conversation is insane. Inflexibility is insane. In 1994 a strike began. The owners responded by trying to break the union, and a World Series got cancelled. The work stoppage lasted months, and the following season started late. Attendance and ratings did not get to pre-strike levels until 1998. The NHL lost an entire season, 2004-05, to a lock out…and still has not fully recovered.
MLB/MLBPA: Take your blinders off and realize you are on the verge of damaging yourselves worse than you did in 1994 and even worse than the NHL did to itself. You can step back from the precipice by stopping the stupidity. Sadly, my confidence in you doing so is not high.