It's all a matter of perspective.

Friday, August 23, 2002

Now I realize that nobody who reads this blog loves baseball as much as I do, and I further realize that none of my friends and family who love baseball read this blog. That is not going to keep me from discussing the forecast work stoppage and what a dishonest load of bunk that it is. It is so frustrating how none of the fans seems to know what the issues are, and none of the players or owners seem to be honest about what is going on. Once again, Allen Barra seems to have the best take on it. I apologize for quoting so much of the article, but it really is the only sorce that I have been able to locate that tells the dern truth about what is going on.

Though the economics-impaired writers and commentators covering the negotiations don't seem to understand it, so-called revenue sharing is not and never has been Bud Selig's primary motive. If the owners simply wanted to share more revenue, they'd have gone to the players and said: "Let us share X amount of dollars, and we will guarantee you that that money will go to players' salaries instead of into our pockets." But of course they haven't done that.

The fans and so-called small-market cities have been driven to a fever pitch by the commissioner's carefully calculated rhetoric regarding revenue sharing. They honestly believe that the selfishness and greed of a few owners (almost all of them it seems, with the name Steinbrenner) are keeping them from a big nest of golden eggs and that Bud's war against the players is going to get them their share of these golden eggs. They're right about the first part: The big-market owners are greedy and they are sitting on golden eggs. But the small-market owners are dead wrong if they think Commissioner Bud's plan is going to get them some of those eggs.

Apparently what is going on is that Bud the Dud wants to raise the so called “Luxury Tax” to fifty percent. The luxury tax is assessed any time a team exceeds its payroll limit. The Tax is currently twenty percent and is placed in a pool that goes to the teams with the lowest revenue. The problem is, if the tax were raised to fifty percent, no one would be able to afford to go over their payroll limit, and no one would. This would not distribute more money to the poorer teams and it would not distribute better players to the poorer teams, it would only serve to keep player salaries down.

Now I am not going to try to convince anyone that the players are not getting paid enough, but it is obvious that the players are getting paid what the market will bear. If the owners could not afford to pay the players as much as they are paying them they would not offer them such expensive contracts. Back to Mr. Berra:

For instance, there was a photo in the New York Times last Tuesday, Aug. 20, which showed a banner from Pittsburgh Pirates fans: "Better a Strike Than Five More Years of Yankee $tranglehold." One would like to point out that it hasn't been the Yankees oppressing the Pittsburgh Pirates the last two years, but the leading team in their own league, the Arizona Diamondbacks. One would also like to point out the principal reason the Pirates are a small-market team has to do not with the success of the New York Yankees but with the decline of the U.S. steel industry. No, forget all that. What I'd really like to say to the Pittsburgh fans with the banner is: "We're sorry in New York that you suck so much," but let that pass.

This is another example of how uneducated the fans are about this. Just look at your history books. Free agency started in 1976. If you look at the years before that when player salaries were often moderate to low compared to almost any other profession, will you discover that a different team won the World Series every year? Get Real! Baseball is a sport of dynasties. It is one of the things that make it great. The greatest fans in baseball are the ones that eternally root for the Cubs or the Red Sox, two large market teams that have not won a Series in any of their current fan’s lifetimes.

Also can you imagine Major League Baseball in a world where there was no good reason to hate the Yankees and Steinbrenner? Over to you, Allen:

One dummy who is, is San Diego Padres' John Moores. "If the players strike," he says, "I'll be prepared to sit out a season. I'm not going to be part of a crazy system where we have to keep raising ticket prices." Moores is either a dummy or he's blatantly dishonest. He knows very well that the players' salaries don't have a damn thing to do with the price of tickets, a figure that is dictated entirely by supply and demand, and that if the players went back to the salaries of 1976 (the first year of free agency), he wouldn't lower the price of a ticket to a Padres game by so much as one nickel. (They don't pay the players in college football or basketball games, but college ticket prices rival those of the pros.)

Did you hear what he said? ”They don't pay the players in college football or basketball games, but college ticket prices rival those of the pros.” Again, this is simple economics. Ticket prices are what the market will bear. Player salaries are what the market will bear. It cost just as much to go to a Arkansas Razorback football game as it does to go to a Texas Rangers Baseball game, and perhaps even more. Does anyone really think that if all of the Major League players started volunteering their skills and playing for free, the owners would knock ticket prices down to two dollars each?

The reason Moores is a dummy is because he is willing (or at least he says he's willing) to lose a season to support a plan that, if it succeeds, will almost certainly give him less money than the one in place but will greatly benefit the teams who are economically advantaged, such as his giant neighbor slightly to the north, Rupert Murdoch in Los Angeles. When is it going to occur to owners like Moores that their enemies are not the players but the commissioner and the handful of powerful owners who keep leading them down the path of disaster?

Why, in short, don't John Moores and his fellow small-market owners threaten to sit out the season if Ted Turner, Rupert Murdoch and a handful of others don't come up with a fairer system of dividing the revenue before it even reaches the players? In other words, why don't the small-market owners simply strike against the big-market owners? It's the biggest mystery in this whole sordid mess, because if the small-market owners are desperate enough to go to war, why not go to a war they can win? The Players' Association has never been beaten; the commissioner and the big-market owners have been beaten every time out. I know who I'd choose to fight

Major League baseball can be saved, but a strike would kill it.
Three easy moves that would vastly improve the future of baseball:
1) Remove the anti-trust exemption.
2) Immediately remove Bud Selig from the office of the commissioner and put him in prison on trumped up charges. (OK, that last part would not help baseball, but would make a lot of people happy)
3) Make a new rule that the Commissioner of Baseball may not be a current or former owner, and must be a former baseball player, even in the amateur ranks. I don’t think that Bud Selig ever even played Tee Ball. He was too busy dressing up in three piece suits and turning the neighborhood kids against each other.

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