The billionaires are wrong: MLB owners are trying to choke the life out of baseball



There are a multitude of things inherently wrong about not counting down the days before the Major League Baseball season starts. By now, if you follow sports, you know the team owners/league have locked the players out and have no real intention of seriously starting a season before the end of April.


We know the owners and the players union, after taking oh, a couple months of doing nothing, decided to start discussing options for a labor agreement. We know the two sides are roughly the distance of one foul line to the other apart after a few incremental agreements. The center of the dispute, competitive balance, remains the biggest sticking point.

Why?


Why would someone who owns a franchise valued at well over a billion dollars be against making sure most every team has every opportunity to try and compete with the other franchises? In theory it makes no sense.


The players are trying desperately to come up with solutions to get more teams trying to compete for at least a playoff berth and entry level players a better deal.


Unlike most any other sport--or even business, young players/employees are forced to suffer with little to no pay in the minor leagues while trying to earn an opportunity to make it to the majors. Then, when they get to the majors, the ownership has set things up so those players can't maximize their earning potential for at least five years. AND....the team can wait until a certain period of time so they can squeeze an extra year of not having to pay a reasonable salary to said player.


Note--to those of you who still thing "they get paid to play a game, why should they complain"---fuck off! Would you like to make half of what your co-workers make when you start a job just because you are younger or less experienced? Or have to spend three to four years making less than minimum wage while competing for the opportunity to make it to the corporate office only to see the company manipulate your service time so you can't get paid equally for six years?


Yeah, thought so.


Baseball players have seen their salaries decrease over the past five years while the value of every single MLB team has increased exponentially. Yet the owners continually plead poverty. Commissioner Rob Manfred claims teams are losing money each season but the league won't let anyone look at the ledger sheet.



The one team who has to report their earnings publicly, the Braves, well, they made north of nine figures this past season. Yeah,

making it to and wining the World Series certainly helped, but don't believe for a minute they aren't profitable. This is the same team who refuses to pay their best player, team and community leader and spokesman Freddie Freeman because they are concerned he might not be as good at age 37 as he is and will be at 32.


The other teams, don't shed a tear for them. Don't shed a tear for a billionaire who owns a sports franchise, it's just another item on their ledger sheet. If it isn't profitable, they write off the loss. They don't lose money, they just don't make as much.


When was the last time you heard or read about a professional sports team going bankrupt or out of business because ownership lost too much money and couldn't make payroll or function? I'm talking NFL, NBA, MLB, Hockey, not the XFL or USFL or CBA or some other small scale league that didn't make it.


In the meantime, baseball continues to try their hardest to make fans hate it. The team owners seem to have this misguided belief that the public will side with team over the players because the players "are rich". And yes, they make obscene amounts of money. No argument there. There are very, very few people in life who deserve $30-$40 million a year for anything, never mind throwing a baseball really well.


But guess what? You know who keeps pushing the payrolls higher and higher every year? The team owners. You know, the guys who drop $70 million for a guy like B.J. Upton who hits .170 for the Braves or pay $18 million to a Cole Hamels to throw three innings. (I'm using Braves references because as a fan, they are the freshest in my mind).


If you squander millions on a bad investment, that's on you for not doing your homework. Don't take it out on everyone else.


Don't get me wrong, I think, like many, that baseball will return at the end of April because that's when it starts hitting the owners in the loss column on their accounting ledgers. It's when they have to begin paying their RSN"s money for missed games. The players just need to hold strong.


Sure, it sucks for the minor league guy making $1000 a month during the season to not have that money, but that just means they can work their off-season job a little longer. It isn't great for rookies and young guys with signing bonuses but still in the minors either, but they'll survive.


Baseball needs to get on the same page for the first time in decades. It's mind boggling just how tone deaf the game is. Already struggling to get noticed in a hyper-crowded market place means if you are making the highlight shows you are forgotten.


And "America's Pastime" or not, even baseball isn't immune to become irrelevant from a short-attention span driven culture that struggles to remember anything that happened longer than a year ago.