There is a settlement and the NFL is in business again. Most baseball fans will now devote a growing proportion of attention on their football teams as the start of the NFL season begins and the baseball season draws to close. Every columnist I read Bob Glauber (Newsday), Mike Lupica and Gary Myers (Daily News) were all complimentary on the fairness of the CBA and the part that Jeff Saturday played in the negotiations. It amounts to 10 more years without having to revisit lockouts, decertification and a work stoppage. If only the MLB had a Players Association and a Commissioner who did not more resemble the Allied Forces and the Axis Forces facing each other on a battlefield than the NFL joint leadership.
MLB and the Players association have had eight labor stoppages since 1972 with a significant loss of games (712) in 1981 that resulted in two half seasons. The 1994 work stoppage was far more costly when baseball shut down and the rest of the season and post season were lost. The contention was over the subjects of a salary cap and revenue sharing, but the adversarial relationship had been brewing for years.
In an interview with the Biz of Baseball in 2005 former Commissioner Fay Vincent was quoted “The Union basically doesn’t trust the Ownership because collusion was a $280 million theft by Bud Selig and Jerry Reinsdorf of that money from the players. I mean, they rigged the signing of free agents. They got caught. They paid $280 million to the players. And I think that’s polluted labor relations in baseball ever since it happened. I think it’s the reason Fehr has no trust in Selig.” This referred back to the 1990 settlement of three cases of collusion brought by the MLBPA against the owners 1986-88.
At that time, then-commissioner Fay Vincent told the owners:
“The single biggest reality you guys have to face up to is collusion. You stole $280 million from the players, and the players are unified to a man around that issue, because you got caught and many of you are still involved.”
A little more than a year later a 18-9 no confidence vote led by the ‘Gang of Six’ which included Allan Huber Selig and Reinsdorf cost the last independent Commissioner his job and Brewers owner Selig became Commissioner.
We have seen what can happen when men of reason and character like Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith sit down to resolve an issue. This will never happen in MLB as long as the commissioner is a stooge of the owners and lacks the moral fiber to command the trust of the MLBPA.
I entitled this entry ‘Victory’ for the NFL CBA. For baseball fans titles like Defeated, Disillusioned or Disenfranchised might better describe baseball’s relationship with the fan. The game has been sold to the media and Corporate America. If you want to watch a game with your son during the school year, plan on writing him a note for missing school the next day. Unless you are of more than ample means don’t expect to be going to many games. The owners have sold America’s Pastime and with every dollar squeezed out are bring the game closer to the end of the glory that once was baseball.