With all of us dying of boredom due to the lack of action in MLB – no, not the “we need more balls in play and we need to decrease time in between pitches” lack of action – the “there are next to no free-agent signings and/or trades being made” lack of action. “Hot stove” action, if you prefer…
A good part of the boredom, if we’re being honest, is being created intentionally. MLB owners are as usual, positioning themselves as the scrappy underdogs who are up against it financially, with the intention of gaining some public support for the work stoppage that is likely to happen after the 2021 season. Discussions about COVID restrictions, whether or not the universal DH will remain, etc. are just smoke screens. The reality is that they don’t want to spend money.
And as usual dear reader, I’m here to remind you once again – do not fall for their bullshit. Not when it comes directly from them or when it comes indirectly and passive aggressively from people who work for them or their business partners. You know, the folks who disingenuously pass themselves off as non-partisan journalists, when really their mission is to simply keep a plurality of baseball fans misinformed.
Over the weekend, Peter Gammons gave us this information, by way of Forbes:
Average player salary, 2017-2020 (last CBA was signed in the winter of 2016):
2017: $4.45 million
2018: $4.41 million
2019: $4.38 million
2020: $4.43 million
Owners’ revenues over the same period:
2017: $9.75 billion
2018: $10 billion
2019: $10.3 billion
2020: $10.7 billion
One of the compliments I can give owners of Major League Baseball teams is that they’ve been remarkably consistent over the centuries. We have 150 years of evidence that shows MLB owners vacillate between lacking transparency and outright lying when it comes to their financial lots in life. This is usually where the owners’ water carriers insert the “Well businesses and individuals are due some privacy with regards to their bottom lines.”
You and I are allowed privacy about our tax returns and P&L balance sheets. But if you own a business that is run in stadiums that are partially tax payer funded, and you’re the beneficiary of a Congressional Anti-Trust exemption, then we’re going to need some good faith transparency about your business finances. Furthermore, if you’re going to suggest revenue sharing between players and owners is the answer to everyone’s problems, as the owners have suggested as recently as last season, then what exactly your revenues are, need to be part of the discussion. Anything short of that is bad faith bargaining at best. The “We get X% of the money pot and you get Y% of the pot, and you’re just going to have to trust us when we tell you how much is in the pot, because we won’t let you look” bargaining position would be funny if it weren’t a serious situation under discussion.
Multiple owners have claimed directly and publicly that they lost money in 2020. Any reasonable organization that checks on such things, Forbes being one, has laughed at such claims. And when pressed for evidence of such losses, due to the reasons mentioned above, essentially the owners’ math goes something like this: “Well we were expecting to make $100 million and we only made $60 million, so we accumulated $40 million in losses last season.” Um…yeah…about that. I’m not an accountant and even I know that’s not how it works. Making less than you expected to isn’t a “loss”.
But even when such mathematical gymnastics are laughed off, the water carriers who work for the national outlets and the regional sports networks will come in, and instead of asking further questions, will simply spread straw man arguments and false equivalencies around to keep fans misinformed. Fans, unfortunately fall for it more often than not. Again, dear reader, I ask you to be better than that.
“Well, business owners are allowed to make money you know…”(Rubs temples). Nobody ever claimed otherwise and they are making money – again, with tax-payer assistance.
“Well it’s still just billionaires and millionaires fighting over more money – they’re all greedy.”
One of the things that has surprised me the most since I started writing about baseball, is how many people don’t really seem to understand the difference between a millionaire and a billionaire. The way they’re typically lumped together in these arguments is simultaneously misleading and confusing – which again, is the point.
Consider this: Statistically speaking, you and I, assuming you’re somewhat close to an “average American” financially, are closer to the average player who makes $4 million annually than that player is to a billionaire – FAR, FAR closer. And that’s a multi-millionaire compared to a billionaire – most MLB owners and teams are valued in multiple billions.
So when you think players are being greedy consider that they are much, much closer to your lot in life than they are to their bosses’ lives.
Let’s add a few more matters to the pile while we’re at it…
MLB players have a skillset that is infinitesimally rare, and that skillset generates billions for their bosses. Team owners, you and I can only dream of having a skillset like that. Just something to remember when your local regional sports network bobble-head is regurgitating some drivel about “durrr…players getting millions to play a kids’ game…durrr…”. And also remember that regardless of your thoughts on the above, players’ salaries are public knowledge, so by definition they’re transparent at a bare minimum when negotiating.
Does that mean don’t get frustrated when there’s a work stoppage? Of course not. But direct your vitriol at the appropriate parties. The sooner we all do that as opposed to parroting owners’ nonsense the sooner such shenanigans will end and we can all get back to baseball.
Did I miss something? Let me know.
Buy me a coffee?
If you like the blog and would like to see more of it, feel free to buy me a coffee – Starbucks, tall, dark, no room. It may not seem like much but every little bit helps keep the blog rolling – thanks in advance!