Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Baseball Players Should Strike! by Jeff Herz

Once again it seems that MLBPA and former car salesman Bud Selig are heading towards a colossal collision similar to the strike tainted 1994 season. Neither party is willing to bend or break away from their position of being greedy moneygrubbers, looking to screw the fans…AGAIN1.

Personally I think the owners are wrong in saying they are always losing money, since they are continually trying to upgrade teams like some people upgrade cars. They could do this by putting a better product on the field, but NO, they try doing it by purchasing a “better” franchise and diluting the product known as Major League Baseball. Now I can write a whole diatribe on why one franchise is better than another, but I won’t now. If this industry were such a dog, as Heir Selig claimed to Congress this past winter, then why would these smart successful business people want to upgrade?

All 30 owners were and are successful business people prior to their association with baseball that has afforded them the luxury of purchasing a major league franchise. They are not getting into this business (and lets face it, that is what it is) to lose money. I find it just a little ironic that Forbes magazine, a very credible periodical, states that the Milwaukee Brewers (Bud Selig’s team in trust, being run by his daughter while he acts as league dictator) was the most profitable team after profit sharing. In my business acumen, this makes no sense. You work with what you have and you attempt to make a profit. Now Commissar Selig disputes the Forbes report because Milwaukee is supposedly a small market team and according to his figures is supposed to be losing gobs and gobs of money, thereby forcing large market teams to support him through profit sharing. So in fact he wants to show that the majority of teams are losing money so he has a better bargaining position with the players. Blah, blah, blah.

Now with that said, I don’t think the players are beyond reproach here either. They have become a group of filthy millionaires themselves who no longer seem to care about who is ultimately paying their bills. Once again, my business acumen says if there are no paying fans, the owners cannot afford to pay the exorbitant salaries, which the players have easily come to accept as normal. The best way the players can keep the support of the fans, and hurt the owners, and crush King Selig would be to stage a short three-day strike in the middle of the season. And they should do this at a time when their actions will have no effect upon the pennant races…The All Star Break. Coincidently enough, this year’s All-star extravaganza is to be held in Milwaukee’s recently built Miller Park. By staging a strike for those three days, the only folks who will shed a tear will be the merchants in Milwaukee who are looking for a quick economic boost from the folks coming to town. If the local merchants knew that this was the players’ plan, they would urge local boy Selig’s hand to the negotiating table and force him to make peace with the players. He cannot afford to lose the support of the hometown fans, and the players need to seriously threaten this action in order to break this negotiating impasse.

So players, strike. Nobody really cares about the All-Star game anyway. That way you prove your point saying you can hurt the owners and you can hurt the commissioner, but don’t hurt the game and you don’t hurt the fans.


1 Let’s look at what happened this off-season, which makes the owners look like a bunch of swindling folks, who don’t seem to concerned about collusion.

The owners attempted to contract two teams (Twins and Expos) a few days after then end of a great World Series, and just when the collective bargaining agreement with the MLBPA was expiring. This failed only because the good people of Minnesota filed a court injunction asking that the Twins honor their lease at the Metrodome, which expires after the 2002 season.

They allowed one of the owners (Jeffrey Loria, more on him later) of whose teams (Expos) were supposed to be contracted, to purchase another franchise (Marlins) so that another owner (John W. Henry) could purchase yet another franchise (Red Sox) at a huge (tens of millions of dollars) discount. Remember the bastard Dolan family who owns Cablevision (which are still preventing me from watching Yankee games) offered to buy the Red Sox for $700+ million, while Selig successfully bamboozled the Yawkey estate (the previous Red Sox owner’s for 60+ years) to accept Henry’s bid of $660 Million. Selig did this so he can keep control of the owners and ensure that they continue to tow the party line. If that is not collusion, I am not sure what is.

It was revealed Commissioner Selig and the Milwaukee Brewers accepted loans from Carl Pohland, the owner of the Minnesota Twins, a team that Selig wants to eliminate. Then Selig claimed there was no deal where the Twins would be contracted and Pohland would be bought out for more than market value.

Lastly, the joke that is Jeffery Loria. He was the same guy that promised to do what it takes to bring the Expos back to respectability when he purchased them. He told the fan base, however small it was, that he would spend the necessary dollars (Canadian or American) to make this team competitive again. Essentially he told the consumers that he was going to put a good product on the field to justify them spending their weakened Canadian dollars at the ballpark. Just a few years later after doing just the opposite and driving the team into a Triple A franchise for the rest of the league he sells the Expos to a MLB trust, so he can go destroy another team on the brink of failure. Now he is doing essentially the same thing in Florida. Now I don’t think Miami has done anything to justify keeping the team, but for whatever reason they were spared from the contraction guillotine this year. I think the fans in South Florida, if there are any and if they can afford to spend their social security to see a ball game, deserve better. Since the winter of 1997 when Wayne Huizenga dismantled the then World Series champions, they have been doing nothing but rebuilding and I don’t see that Jeffrey Loria is going to change that based on his Montreal track record.

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