Say these four things, and I know you

I’m sure you’ve been in this situation:

There is a topic under discussion about a field in which you’re knowledgeable and someone makes a statement that tells you that person is not knowledgeable – candidly, they have no clue what they’re talking about, but they keep talking anyway. It may be a common straw man argument, it may be a poor analogy or an anecdotal fallacy – but as someone who has a deeper understanding of the topic with more information at your disposal, you know it’s complete bull snot.

Mind you, this doesn’t make the ignoramus a bad person per se, but it does mean that you have to tactfully find a way to explain their ignorance to them. Of course, ignoring them is always an option, but if you’re trying to better this little particular slice of life that doesn’t help – neither does being harsh or condescending. (I know you’re thinking I need to work on that…)

Now there aren’t too many areas of life in which I’m knowledgeable, but – if I may be so bold – baseball is one of them. As a result, when folks start throwing their less than informed opinions about the MLB lockout out there, I know when they have no clue what they’re talking about. So in my effort to make baseball discourse less dumb (hey, that’s the tagline of this blog), here are four things that are commonly said in baseball times like these that tell me that you’re…hmmm…”uninformed”. See, I’m getting better at not being condescending already.

When speaking about MLB owners, if you say “It’s a business like any other and they can run it how they want to…” you have no idea what you’re talking about.

This one literally makes my head hurt. MLB team owners are permitted to collude to freeze out any competition – that’s what the anti-trust exemption does for them. Additionally, they get taxpayer-funded infrastructure without having to show their balance sheets to the public, and far more often than not their building comes rent and/or real estate tax-free. They have well below market value and cost-controlled labor for every employee’s first six years with the company, and can’t lose an employee to a competitor for those six years. And the best part is they don’t even need to produce a good product to turn a profit – heck, they don’t even have to try to produce a good product in order to be profitable. It’s not quite a license to print your own money, but it’s close.

Now, if you know a person who owns the local hardware store, or any business for that matter, that is legally allowed to freeze out competitors, gets their buildings built for them by taxpayers but don’t have to show taxpayers their income, don’t pay rent on their building, get to low ball very good employees on salary knowing the employees aren’t allowed to leave for a competitor and don’t need to provide a product their customers enjoy – THEN YOU CAN SAY OWNING AN MLB TEAM IS JUST LIKE ANY OTHER BUSINESS.

If you say “both sides” I know you haven’t been paying close attention for 150 years. Since the advent of professional baseball in the late 19th century, owners at every turn have failed to bargain in good faith, outright lied, avoided transparency, and sometimes even broke laws in an effort for them to benefit at the complete exclusion of everyone else – fans included. This is not opinion, it’s documented. (Read “Lords of the Realm” by John Heylar, then “The Game” by Jon Pessah, then “Field of Schemes” by Neil deMause. Links to the first two are on the side of this page. When you finish those I’ll give you more to read.) Any transgression on the part of the MLBPA over the years is microscopic in comparison. With particular regard to the current lockout, if you think “both sides” bear responsibility, then you’re really not paying attention.

“Millionaires vs. billionaires”. Uuggghhh…Statistically speaking, your financial lot in life is far, far, closer to the average MLB player than that player’s financial situation is to his boss. Bluntly, if you say “millionaires vs. billionaires” I’m not sure that you know what either word means. It’s not even apples and oranges, it’s like comparing an apple to an apple orchard.

“They’re getting paid to play a kids game.” Counterpoint: MLB players have a skill set so rare, the chances of having it are infinitesimal and they’ve spent their lives working at it and honing it. This skill set is worth billions (with a “B”) to their bosses who don’t pay the players proportionate to that value. My apologies if those facts make you feel jealous and resentful, but that doesn’t mean you need to make condescending, oversimplified, misrepresentations when discussing MLB players.

I’m sure there are more, but that’s a good start for today. Again, if you say those things, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person – we can still break bread or enjoy a sudsy beverage or four together. But you need to help me raise the bar on baseball discourse, and saying those things isn’t helping.

Thanks in advance.

Did I miss something? Let me know.

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