On Labor and Sports

OK, so first of all, I know this isn’t the most important issue in the world.  But having just gotten to the end of one labor dispute, seeing this post today brought up issues which are several of my pet peeves.

After four postseasons and two Cy Youngs, all of which made tons of money for the Pohlad family, Santana, could, with one more year’s work, reap the fruits of his labor and do what all too many major leaguers never do and hit the open market.

It was this set of circumstances caused that Jim Pohlad to utter the statement: “There’s loyalty and wanting to stay in Minnesota, and it varies from player to player.” What did Pohlad mean by this? In all practical terms in meant that Santana’s loyalty should translate into accepting less money than he is worth in baseball’s marketplace.

If Santana accepted this route, what would happen in the grand scheme of things-who benefits? Will the savings cause prices to watch Twins games to go down?

No.

Will it reduce the costs of going to games in the new park?

No.

Will your cable/satellite package that carries Twins games go down?

No.

Will the extra money be ploughed back into the roster?

Possible, but the Pohlad family’s track record indicates otherwise.

What then happens to the money Santana forgoes?

It goes right back into the pockets of the Pohlad family.

What the Pohlads are saying in effect is that the loyalty means that a kid from Venezuela who worked at his profession for 14 years to get to this point in his life should subsidize one of the wealthiest men in one of the richest countries on the planet.

The quote is from the article Who Wants to Subsidize a Billionaire? by John Brattain.  You ought to read it if you are a fan of professional sports – it is one of the best I’ve ever read.

Among many of my pet peeves is the use of taxpayer money to fund sports stadiums, which I consider a gross misuse of public funds.  But the article goes so much deeper than that – for example, it explains why I’m no longer a fan of the NFL.

Salary caps are awful popular.  People believe that professional athletes make too much money.  Perhaps they are right, relative to the value of sports.

But I consider them both wrong and immoral.

Because one thing is very simple.  Salary caps don’t mean shit for the fans of the game.  The strict salary cap in the NFL doesn’t make my ticket to a Giants game any cheaper.  Nor the $8 beer or the $5 hot dogs.  Nor the $100+ official jerseys for sale at the arena and sporting goods stores, nor the $25 baseball caps with the team logo on them.

All that it means is that the players who I am watching crash into other 300 pound men in peak physical condition are getting a smaller and smaller slice of those revenues.  Men who I might add have a union so shitty that it can’t cover the medical expenses of its former players, which are considerable.

The libertarian in me has an easy answer to why I think A-Rod is worth $300 million – because that is his value to a business which sells millions of tickets to games per year, along with millions more in TV revenues and sponsorship and a host of other ways the team makes money.  That being said, I can easily see the reasoning behind the argument that all he does is hit a ball with a stick (really, really well!) and that isn’t such a valuable skill.

But what I don’t understand is why anyone, on the political left or not, would prefer to see more money in George Steinbrenner’s pockets than Alex Rodriguez’s.  

It is a sick system when we care more about limiting the amount of money that goes into Michael Strahan’s pockets than into those of the ownership of the New Jersey Giants.  It is a sick system when we lament the lack of loyalty of workers who have their income limited by exception to the laws of our nation by Congress for the first eight years of their career when they will not accept discounts to further enrich billionaires.

If we can accept that Hollywood screenwriters deserve their fair share of billions more than giant media corporations, it seems beyond obvious that we should demand that our athlete entertainers deserve their compensation more than the greedy billionaires who control their industry.

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    • Jay Elias on February 14, 2008 at 9:08 am
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    Or, back to your regularly scheduled politics.  Whichever.

  1. I am left to ponder why the people in control had to divert the United States Congress yesterday with the blatantly obvious goat-fuck  of “hearings” on steriod use in professional baseball.  What happened yesterday that was so evil the social engineers needed this type of attention diversion operation.

    Arlen Spectre wants Americans to believe “spygate” applies to the New England Patriots and not to the governments galactic abuses of power in forming a totalitarian police state?

    Tavistock is the social engineering organization built to manufacture public opinion but they are mainly concerned with England.  There is an American equivalent but that’s on the other computer.

    Like I said to my wife this morning.

    “Hon, it’s scary, like that Invasion of the Body Snatchers movie, has it really happened”.

    In the background the talking heads continued to sell me their world and that world was geared towards five year olds.

  2. but ive long felt that salary caps were a poor solution to the diparity issue.  i understand that small-market teams have a harder time competing without them….but to screw the players…the ones who are bleeding, sweating and crying…is about the WORST possible solution

    once i was at the YMCA with my pre-school class for their bi-weekly summer swimming lesson when we were invited to attend one of those PR thingys that pro sports teams do, and shoot some hockey balls around with then-flyer todd fedoruk and local tv color-commentating twit steve coates.  it was the year before the players’ association’s collective bargaining agreement was to expire, and the owners were threatening (and did execute) a lockout until the players association agreed to a salary cap.

    ‘coatsie’ and i got into a rather loud and protracted argument (in a room full of kids…quite surreal) about the proposed cap, wherein i accused him of not understanding capitalism because he’s canadian.  not my finest moment 😉

    and then when the eagles got their new stadium, they charged some kind of weird fee to anyone who wanted season tickets to the new building.  in addition to the cost of their first year’s season tickets in the new stadium, fans had to pay a fee to even be allowed to purchase the tickets…and iirc it was a grand or fifteen hundred per seat…something like that..

    and if you watched any of the steroid hearings yesterday, you could hear a definite partisan slant with repugs lambasting the trainer and defending ‘the rocket’.  sickening.  because the owners are either looking the other way or actually encouraging the use of substances that cause long-term ill effects just to make their teams more marketable and increase their tv revenues…with, it appears, the full support of their cronies in washington.  

    and dont even get me started on the gold mine of the NCAA, and the money that’s being made on the backs of these kids who arent even allowed to accept a free meal!!!!!

  3. of public money for the building of stadiums and I wish I could find the article if I ever do I will let you know but essentially they are not a good investment and rarely bring money back into the public coffers they way enthusiast say they will. My general feeling, if one is smart enough to and wealthy enough to operate a successful sports team these days one should be smart enough to figure out how to build their own stadium. Seems like corporate welfare to me.

    Guess I sound a bit sour grapes with that assessment. Example. Vancouver. Owner convinces city to use public money for basketball arena. Leaves after five years. Arrives in Memphis where public money is used for basketball arena amid  crumbling public school system.

    Memphis is a huge basketball town but also a relatively mid-market/small market one. Ownership has already been “restructured once. Makes me leery.

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