Believe it or not, this was the very last year of the MLB collective Bargaining Agreement. Usually, this is discussed over weeks, with many many sportswriters and sports commentators talktalktalking about it. This year, it merited 1-2 paragraphs on the ESPN, Fox and CBS Sportsline sites, mostly written by some anonymous AP writer.
The longest article, in fact, was on the mlb.com website, explaining some of the provisions:
The expiration and renewal of the CBA this year, unlike every other last year, Bud Selig wasn’t whining his usual whine about how all the teams (except the Hated Yankees) were losing millions and millions and it was all the players fault.
They tried to get people to believe that the players salaries alone were responsible for elevated ticket prices and they pretended they were all about to fold their franchises because of millions upon millions dollars of losses. Uhhunh. Like successful billionaires would really keep a business that bled 30 million dollars a year.
But this year, FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME EVAH, the deal was worked out with NO “leaks,” NO badmouthing of the “state of baseball” by Bud, no threats of striking from the Union.
The MLBPA had absolutely no reason to strike, since they weren’t hearing all kinds of bullstuff about how the owners were bleeding money and “needed” a salary cap, how there should be contraction, how the players were all overpaid greedy worthless scum, blahblahblah. And they don’t give a rat’s patootie about the drafted players or minor leaguers, really, so they don’t particularly care how much the owners squeeze them,
Well more than half of the owners have stadium debt and can’t afford a strike. The teams and owners are simply rolling in dough – even the Pirates and Royals are making plenty, thanks to revenue sharing, lucrative TV contracts and other income from MLB lisencing. So WHY would they want to stop all that lovely money from rolling in? They could, of course, want more – hey, they didn’t all get to be ultrazillionaires by deciding they had enough already…
I know that 2 decades ago, the owners were obsessed with revenging themselves on the players who had won their freedom from the enslavement of the shameful reserve clause and agreed among each other to not hire other teams’ free agents. Of course, they saved themselves money in the short term, but they lost so much money in collusion damages that they foolishly opened 4 new franchises to recoup the losses. They learned exactly nothing from this experience, trying one last time to seek revenge in 1994. They lost a TON of money that year and had to work to reclaim the audience they had lost. (And people wondered why the owners ignored the steroid use of sluggers like McGwire – there’s no secret, it was money in the bank. Money talks and principles walk.)
My Granma used to say – don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. Or maybe, I should say, what’s the point of revenging an old loss if the revenge causes you to have a new and greater loss. Money talks. The players are raking it in in spite of some huge contracts and the owners are rolling in dough. Scott Boras, the shark de la shark has a nose for money (as Drayton McLane found out) and he says that MLB is awash in money. Now THAT I believe, because you best believe he is gonna get as much of it as possible for each of his clients, and all of his clients are doing VERY well.
It’s funny – Marvin Miller himself once said (back when they formed the union in the 60s) that the smartest thing the owners could do would be to make all the players free agents EVERY year and that would actually keep the salaries at the lowest possible market value. But you look at slaveowners over time and they set the slaves free when the cost of keeping the slaves exceeds their value.
Fact is that with all the other sports available to elite athletes, the owners couldn’t get the best athletes to put on the field if there were somehow able to pay the players a pittance and return to the reserve clause. The quality of play would sink and we’d be seeing mostly minor league quality players and there is a reason that those ticket prices are lower and the attendance is lower than the Marlins’. The revenue would dry up and the owners would lose money.
I read somewhere (sorry, I’ve forgotten where) that perhaps the amicable negotiations were made possible by the fact that almost all of the owners who were hell bent on revenge and participated in the collusion and the 94 strike are mostly gone and replaced by new owners who have no interest in someone else’s old war, ESPECIALLY because they are making money hand over fist and see no reason to do anything that would stop its flow.
We’ll see if the conflict will resume in 5 years if the money decreases. Youneverknow….