Results tagged ‘ MLB Players Union ’

The Answer

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about the rough shape that major league baseball is in when it comes to parity and competitive balance.  I was then challenged by another blogger to provide a solution to the problem.  To me, the solution is relatively simple…it’s the implementation that is the tough part.  Here are my thoughts…

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First and foremost, baseball needs a salary cap akin to the system in the NFL.  Sure, baseball has the luxury tax, but that is like asking a billionaire to pay a thousand-dollar fine everytime he does something wrong.  It sounds like a lot, but to the billionaire it is relatively little, thus he will continue to repeat his bad behavior (e.g. buying up and keeping contracted all the best players).  In the NFL, teams can only spend a certain amount (in 2009 the figure was $128 million) per season.  Plus, there is even a “minimum floor” clause of sorts that says a team has to spend at least so much money (like a minimum speed limit on the freeway) in order to prevent some franchises from just packing it in and hoarding $$$ to line their wallets if the season isn’t shaping up as planned.  Sure, there would still be bad teams.  However, general suckish-ness would be based on poor team management, like, say, starting this guy at QB…

 

Secondly, the TV pot needs to be broadened as well…

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Once again, the NFL (which I considered to have the best professional sports economic system out there today) requires TV rights to be shared between both teams competing.  In baseball, all the revenue goes to the home club.  So, the Yankees, because of their enormous and populace viewing area, can create their own TV network and rake in the dough, while the Twins (after trying that approach with Victory Sports Network and failing miserably) plod along with Fox Sports North and, comparatively speaking, get chump change in return.

Those two changes would go a long way towards making baseball much more economically sound (in terms of honoring the heritage of the game, not just turning the biggest possible profit by assuring the Yankees and Red Sox in the playoffs every year), and would not be all that difficult to implement.  However, major obstacles still exist in the implementation of the plan.

The biggest problem (and this will probably be the biggest understatement I ever post on this blog) is this guy…

confused.jpg Allan H. “Bud” Selig, baseball’s commissioner, was once an owner himself (of the Milwaukee Brewers), so he is very sympathetic to their causes.  Thus, he will NEVER impose sanctions on their freedom, even if it means destroying the fabric of the game in the process.

Because of this, the Players Union (once headed by Donald Fehr, but now led by Michael Weiner, pictured below)…

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…won’t, and doesn’t, budge an inch, as they are always terrified that former owner Selig is out to get them.  That is why implementing a salary cap or steroid testing is like pulling teeth.  A new, much more impartial commissioner would go an incredibly long way towards rectifying the situation, but since the players are still raking in the dough and the owners are protected by Buddy-Boy, the status quo hasn’t quite been shaken enough yet to oust Selig.

Of course, in a certain humerous turn of events that even I can smile at, Selig’s contract expires after the 2012 season.  In other words, right before the world is supposed to end (!)…

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So, I guess our only hope is to pray that the Mayans were wrong…as after ’12 baseball might get back on the right track!

Union Man

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A day or two ago, MLB Commissioner Buddy-Boy Selig had a few harsh words for those criticizing his stand against steroids in the game.  Selig said that it “annoys the you-know-what out of me” to be criticized for the Steroid Era, and that he tried to institute a tough testing policy in 1995 but was fought by the MLB Players Union (led by Donald Fehr) every step of the way.

Now, while I can understand Selig’s frustration with Fehr’s Union, which has gotten completely out of hand with too much power the last decade or so, the commish seems to have forgotten one certain thing: the title in front of his name.  As commissioner, what Selig says is what WILL happen in baseball.  If he was frustrated by Fehr in 1995 while negotating the new bargaining agreement to avoid a longer players strike, why didn’t he just come to the public with the information?  He could have easily just held a press conference and told baseball fans that the Union is impeding my efforts to clean up the sport.  So much pressure would have been place on the Union at that time that they likely would have complied.  However, Bud instead chose to overlook the entire issue at the time (think all the U.S. Presidents before Abraham Lincoln overlooking that “little” issue call slavery) in order to gain a brittle trust with the Union.  That was his big mistake, and he is paying for it royally now.

So, when I hear Selig getting defensive about all the negative press he is currently receiving, I think he deserves every bit of it.  Only certain commissioners (Kennesaw Landis being first and foremost) have truly tried to do what was best for the game, but Selig is not one of them.  He THINKS he is (because he got the players back on the field in ’95), but really he just mortgaged the next decade to steroid issues.

The Slippery Slope Of Steroids

romero1.jpgI found out the other day that former Minnesota Twins reliever J.C. Romero (who now plays for the Philadelphia Phillies and was instrumental to their World Series title last year) has been suspended for the first 50 games of the upcoming 2009 baseball season due to testing positive for a banned substance.

Romero’s defense is that the product (6-OXO Extreme) is readily available in most health supplement shops, and in that defense he is correct, creating a new wrinkle in the “war against steroids” in professional sports.

Though it is very difficult for me to sympathize with athletes who defend themselves after testing positive for a banned substance, there has been a rash of incidences lately in which players plead guilty and had a decent case.  Take Pat and Kevin Williams of the Minnesota Vikings, as well as Deuce McAllister and a lineman from the New Orleans Saints of the NFL.  They all faced suspensions for taking banned substances, but their defense was that they were just taking weight loss pills and the banned substance was not listed in the ingredients.  Romero is essentially saying the same thing, as he claims the substance was approved by his team-hired trainers in Philly.

Cases like these are why the steroid problem in professional sports is so hard to untangle.  On one hand, Romero could be a victim of an unscrupulous company.  On the other hand, though, he could just be using the newest defense of ‘roids (“it wasn’t on the label”) and trying to worm his way out of punishment.

Of course, the MLB Players Union supports Romero fully.

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