Lower Player Salaries Will Not Mean Lower Hot Dog Prices

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The last time we wrote a screed against collusion it was to defend (for the umpteenth time) the honor of Barry Bonds. A year later, we're talking about it because new MLBPA head Michael Weiner is accusing owners of colluding through new ways: the media we all love and trust so much.

Weiner accuses anonymous club officials of whining to the newspapermen about the lack of money available to spend on free agents this winter and their inability to spend dollars on salary arbitration with their own players, thus creating the illusion that baseball teams are bankrupt and incapable of paying Matt Holliday his just desserts.

He cited an ESPN blog item by Buster Olney that implied teams would be cutting loose a bunch of veteran players to flood the market, thus depressing demand for the services of the rest of the free agent players and creating a situation that was far more favorable to the teams. This would be similar to Drew, Dmac, Kris, and I creating twenty more baseball blogs that printed recipes for baked goods and showed babies in animal costumes. What value would there be for WoW in that case?

Sayeth Weiner:

"I don't think it's an accident that in recent weeks, management officials, without attribution, have been making predictions about what's going to happen in this year's free-agent market," Weiner said. "There have been predictions about the [money] players will get, what players will be offered [salary] arbitration and what players will be non-tendered [contracts].

"If we could prove there was a plan by management to use the press to try to depress free-agent salaries, in our view that would be a violation of our contract," he said.

Some folks might cast an incredulous sneer at Weiner for using the C-word and DARING to question the sanity of poor baseball teams for opting to be frugal in these dire days of downturn and dread.. But c'mon! Baseball has never been more popular or more profitable while teams are finding brand new revenue streams in every virtual nook and cranny. To associate the high salaries of players with the greed of the owners is simply misplacing one's displeasure with the 'system'.

Baseball players are just like you and me, except with exceptional talent, millions of dollars, and the adoration of fans everywhere. All I have is the talent and adoration! I digress: they deserve to make an honest buck, too, and whether that's 20 million bucks or 600,000 bucks, it's well-deserved.

There is a perception by most fans that player salaries are directly related to the amount of money it costs them to attend a ballgame. While salaries make up a vast portion of expenditures of the typical MLB team, the fact that your favorite team is lowering their payroll by 20% does not mean that your 20 ounces of foamy American lager is going to drop from $7.50 to $6.00. These things are not related.

At the tip of the so-called Xtreme Depression in the spring of 2008, the average ticket prices went up 10%. This past spring, right in the midst of the Xtreme Depression, the average ticket prices still went up 5%, with only a handful of teams slicing prices by more than 7%. Yet baseball attendance between 2008 and 2009 dipped by only 6%, much of which can be written off by reduced capacity in the two new stadiums in baseball's biggest market.

There are definitely teams struggling financially and in no reason should they be criticized for circling the wagons and taking new approaches towards the changes in the economy. Lowering ticket prices and putting deals out there (like the Brewers did last year) should be step one, but purposely cutting payroll and refusing to field a competitive team in the name of a recession is simply ridiculous. For baseball teams to feign a lack of interest in the handful of big names on the market is simply dishonest.

But hey, maybe I just wanted a chance to show you a baby in a money bag.


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44 Comments

implied teams would be cutting loose a bunch of veteran players to flood the market, thus depressing demand for the services of the rest of the free agent players and creating a situation that was far more favorable to the teams.

This is a little scary. The arbitration system in baseball is so broken that teams would rather non-tender players than go through the collectively bargained process. Talk about dirty pool.

The Cardinals took a different approach last year. President Bill DeWitt played to the vanity of the fans by saying something along the lines of "Because more than 3 million people attended Cardinals games again this year, we could afford Matt Holliday."

Now they probably could have afforded him anyway, especially since they gave away top prospects for him to defer costs, but it's a type of positive reinforcement that plays in that town.

Three million total over 81 days versus a few hundred thousand a night over 162 televised games? Where do fans think the bulk of the revenue comes from?

maybe I'm missing something, but I don't understand Weiner's argument. People, whether they by MLB management or blog commenters, speculate on what would be financially and competitively prudent personnel moves. Saying Billy Wagner probably isn't really a "Type A" free agent isn't collusion, it's common sense.
If teams do "flood the market," then that's when the union has to do something, like encourage players to not accept a contract under their worth. If ball players believe in their union, then they'll respect their own and their fellow union brother's talents and not accept an artificially depressed market.

Am I missing something? Because it feels like I'm missing something.

I don't know if that model works without a realistic alternative work environment. THEY STOLE DEY JERBS

Collusion is specifically verboten in the collective bargaining agreement. Obviously the onus is on the MLBPA to prove collusion in any which way possible, and in this case, it's probably impossible. I'm assuming Weiner was just looking to make a splash in the public's eye and cause folks to think twice about baseball spending.

I am pretty sure it's Manbearpigs fault that baseball managers have the audacity to not overpay vets when you can get the same or better work for from a younger player.

for a lot less money

I don't think it's that simple BCTF. Not overpaying vets is one thing, all agreeing to artificially depress the mean wage is another.

There's a reason collusion is specifically verboten in the CBA - The owners were caught colluding against free agents three times before the 1994 strike. The MLBPA filed three collusion grievances in the mid to late '80s and the court sided with the players all three times.

Drew, do you really think that all of the GM's/Owners are getting together in these meetings behind closed doors and coming up with ways to get the media to do their evil bidding? Are they leaning back in their chairs while lighting their cigars with hundred dollar bills and slapping each other on the back for coming up with such a brilliant plan?

I absolutely think that, BCTF.

You know what does mean lower hot dog prices? Dollar Sugardale Nights at the Jake. That and Stadium Mustard collude to make me fat.

Let's be fair. Not all teams are afraid to throw good money at bad veterans. (You can keep the wholphin in his holding tank for that one)

Also:
This would be similar to Drew, Dmac, Kris, and I creating twenty more baseball blogs that printed recipes for baked goods and showed babies in animal costumes.
You couldn't do that. How would you spread your one post per day around?

Let's be fair. Not all teams are afraid to throw good money at bad veterans. (You can keep the wholphin in his holding tank for that one)

Also:
This would be similar to Drew, Dmac, Kris, and I creating twenty more baseball blogs that printed recipes for baked goods and showed babies in animal costumes.
You couldn't do that. How would you spread your one post per day around?

Guy Clark sucks at HTML.

THIS is what I meant to link to.

Players should want to play just for the love of the game. Salaries aren't important.

The full list to NL Gold Glovers here. But just like when he's done with your girlfriend, Jeter cheapens the award.

Utley, Gutierrez go home empty handed; Gilded Leather because industry standard for defensive excellence.

shit. BECOMES industry standard.

Mike Cameron getting jobbed is not cool.

Know what IS cool? This comment thread.

Hey any of you other cunts besides Rob and Nick who have iphones get Words Free, its scrabble and its great

Speaking of which, Matt, it's your turn. Hurry up.

Whatever happened to that Honeynut Ichiros guy, he was funny. For that matter, what happened to Liakos?

That Honeynut Ichiros guy was a fucking hack, a huge-handed ripoff artist.

I'm at a loss for words, Rob...

When the two get together, it's like rubbing French manicured nails over a nylon stuffed with honeydews

I actually laughed. Who knew Gawker still had any talent left.

I honestly think that this news might be the best, happiest, most awesome news I've read in months. PLEASE PLEASE LIVEGLOG JERSEY SHORE.

None of this matters: THE RED SOX JUST SIGNED ROBOT FREMPKINS!

(Please retweet)

Thanks for the link NJ. That was a fun evening.

If Rob or Kris don't, I'll glog it via Tumblrrrrrrrrrr

Agree that we need a NJ Shore glog.

Hey, good news, just got a job.

Hey, good news, just got a job.

If this film has Claire Danes in it, get me a lock of her hair.

Please don't ask why.

Hey, good news, just got a job.

If the film has Scott Caan in it, get me a bag of his coke.

Congrats Chief!
You are a tax-paying member of society once again.

Frempkins!

Robot Frempkins is my new favorite baseball player.

You and Robot Frempkins, Chief. You and Robot Frempkins.

Congrats. I hope it involves Queen Latifa and a Segway chase scene.

You know I just finished a Queen Latifah movie, right? This one is Sandler.

I remember it now. My last comment happened near 5:00 here, when I am typically functioning at the brain capacity of a stroke victim.

Chief- are you working on "Jack and Jill"? That's an um, interesting, um, concept.

I absolutely agree with you guys. Got your point there. I guess there is a reason for everything.
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