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CBSSports.com National Columnist

Hey, Mets, use K-Rod case as hammer to beat down union

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The MLB players union has gone too far. Finally, inarguably, the union has gone too far, and this money-seeking, drug-allowing, behavior-excusing juggernaut must be stopped.

And it must be stopped by the New York Mets.

Francisco Rodriguez could make as much as $29 million over the next two seasons. (AP)  
Francisco Rodriguez could make as much as $29 million over the next two seasons. (AP)  
Francisco Rodriguez is the convenient excuse. That's all he is, because this really isn't about K-Rod and his stadium attack last week on a family member. K-Rod isn't the story here, because this story is much bigger than that idiot. K-Rod ought to appreciate this, because after he hit a family member so hard that he injured his own hand, K-Rod has just become the blunt object that the Mets can -- and better -- use to knock the players union off its pedestal.

The MLB players union is one of the strongest unions in this country. I'm not a union expert, so I can't tell you where it ranks next to the unions for steel workers or pipefitters or pilots, but I can tell you that the average major leaguer's salary is $3.3 million, and that every time there has been a work stoppage the players have beaten the owners, and that the union successfully blocked steroid-testing for years until Congress got involved and forced the union to back down.

That's a strong union. And I myself am not anti-union. We don't have one here at CBSSports.com, but other media outlets do, and newspaper unions in other cities have helped drive up the wages for all reporters. More generically, unions are fabulous because they bind together the small pieces of a work force and use that power to stand toe-to-toe with giant corporations.

There's a saying, "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." That's a union. And it's beautiful.

Only the baseball union has grown too strong. And let's be honest: These aren't $11-an-hour plumbers banding together to take on The Man. These are multimillionaire athletes, guys who "work" nine months a year and travel first class and have fame, fortune and groupies by the dozen.

So if you have sympathy for the MLB players union simply because it is a union, I would ask you to rethink that position. That's a union, all right -- kind of like filet mignon is hamburger.

And with K-Rod, this union has gone too far. It started when K-Rod went too far.

He attacked his common-law wife's father, and notice I'm not using the word "allegedly." Don't tell me about due process, people, because due process is another concept that -- like a union -- has its place. And that place isn't here.

K-Rod didn't "allegedly" attack his girlfriend's father. This wasn't a he-said, he-said incident. K-Rod attacked the man outside a players' lounge at Citi Field. There were a dozen or more witnesses, including other players' family members.

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This case here? It's case closed.

The Mets wanted to crack down on K-Rod hard, because a major league player cannot be beating up people inside the damn stadium, but the players union wouldn't allow it. The union made it clear to the Mets that it would file a grievance if the union felt the suspension was too harsh, so together, the Mets and the union agreed on a two-day suspension.

Two days. For attacking a family member inside the stadium.

Pathetic.

The union went too far, and now, apparently, it's going to go even farther. Turns out, K-Rod injured himself in that attack. He tore a ligament in the thumb of his pitching hand and will need season-ending surgery. The Mets are considering using this injury to void the rest of his contract, which calls for $11.5 million in 2011 and a $17.5 million team option for 2012 that would become guaranteed if K-Rod finishes 55 games next season.

The Mets have every right to void K-Rod's contract. The man suffered a season-ending injury attacking a family member at the stadium. He hurt himself in an incident that saw him charged with third-degree assault.

The Mets' position is unassailable. They are right. K-Rod was wrong. This case here? It's closed.

Only, the rumors out of New York are that the players union would fight the Mets should the team try to void K-Rod's contract. To which I say: Fight the union, Mets. Major advances in labor strife often revolve around one person. Baseball has Curt Flood, the father of free agency. He's a hero to players.

K-Rod could be an antihero to the rest of us, those of us who are tired of paying up to $500 for tickets, parking and concessions at a single baseball game because the team's payroll is $94 million and the cleanup hitter earns $18 million and the fourth outfielder makes $6 million and all of those chumps look like they've used steroids, and some of them no doubt have, and the union has been the hammer the players have swung to make all of that happen.

Enough is enough.

The union must go down. Not all unions, just this one. This union, this MLB players union that has run amok for too long, must go down. Who's K-Rod? He's nobody, really. Just the captain of the ship.


Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. More importantly, he is 4-0 as an amateur boxer, with three knockouts. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.
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