• phil cantor/@osgphil

MLB owners think players and especially fans are stupid



Why do we put ourselves through this? Why does baseball continually end up in labor arguments that end up with the fans losing?


And why is it so many assume its always the fault of the players?


Perhaps the best example of this conundrum--the proposal by Major League Baseball to shorten the season by a month and add teams to the playoffs. The proposal was almost immediately shot down by the players association as it should have, for more reasons than a reasonable person can count.


The offer, according to multiple reports would have given the players a split of gate revenues for the extra playoff games. But only that.


More playoff games means multiple millions of dollars for MLB, none of which they would share with the players.


To sweeten the pot, MLB's proposed 154 game season would have paid the players for the extra eight games. It would mean finishing the season a week or two later, but compressing the schedule, something the players don't want to do if they don't have to.


Mind you, this was all done outside the negotiating window between the two sides: Players and Owners. The players simply stated, just said they would not negotiate, had they said otherwise, it would have opened a huge can of worms.


I could go on and on about this because, well, since the actual current labor agreement between the two sides actually does expire at the end of 2021 and I'd be willing to bet money on that dragging out to a strike.


Here's where my real issue lies. And, well, honestly its where the argument between the union and the league lies: Money.


For reasons I've never totally understood, the fans/general public seems to side with the owners. Why? Does anyone really believe they have the fans best interest at heart? Yeah, sure, for the most part, the players don't either but they are getting played too.


Baseball owners plead poverty. The claim losses mounting in the billions after 2020 when fans were not allowed in the building. And yeah, I do believe they lost some money in 2020. But not in the traditional sense.


Call it bookkeeping, cooking the books or the advantage of being rich, but not making the same revenue as you did the year before does not mean you lost money. If you didn't spend as much as you made, that means you are in the black, right?


I'm not even going to get into the idea of any losses being a tax write off as the mega-rich tend to do when they lose money on investments.


As I've said before, outside the Braves and I believe the Blue Jays, every other team is "Private" and doesn't have to reveal their income/cost statements. The Braves owners, Liberty Media say revenue was down some 68% in 2020 because of COVID related issues such as no fans. I get that.


But how much did their costs go down?


I'm not going to sit here and trash the economic system we live and work in because in large part I'm not an economist and am not that great with statistics. But....


I've never understood how a business is considered a failure if they don't make more money than the year before. How is it that having more money coming in than going out is a bad thing?


The short answer for publicly traded companies is because they're beholden to show more profit to shareholders, but is it all not a self-defeating premise?


Baseball owners I believe purposely don't show their cost sheets, not even during negotiations and no business owner wants to lose money, I get it. Nobody wants to pay more in labor costs without an offset of revenue, it only makes sense.


If you've read this far, I haven't mentioned players--they aren't totally off the hook, but most of the labor peace is not their fault. Players should not be faulted for trying to make as much money as they can because the people who run the teams are utilizing their skills to maximize their profit.


Should you fault a player for taking a $200 million contract if a team owner offers them one? Would you take a pay cut or be willing to watch as your boss kicks you out the door for someone younger and cheaper? Would you go quietly if that happened?


The fan argument is always "Players shouldn't complain, they're making millions to play a kids game". And yeah, you're right, they are. They're getting paid millions by people worth billions to perform so those making billions can make more.


If this kind of sounds like the world in which we live currently, you wouldn't be wrong. Rich people battling richer people with no thought or concern over the non-rich. Sounds a little like life, doesn't it?


Hey, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe we should side with owners and tell the employees you should be happy with what you've got.


Again, I'd argue that you wouldn't accept it in your workplace, why should a professional athlete accept it in theirs?


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