Baseball91's Weblog

July 17, 2008

Give Me An All Star Break

Today there is an article by a one-time writer of Baseball America in the New York Times on a brewing scandal in baseball about the signing of Latin American ballplayers. In reading the article it struck me of the problem I had always had with this writer and his own conflicts of interest. In this piece he discusses scouting, the cost of signing free agents, the politics in the game between what spin doctors call “small market” teams competing with big market teams. But one paragraph really struck me in the piece:

“In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, with greater scrutiny of visa information, falsified documents lessened and the need for greater oversight of the ages of a player in a system where ages were lied about, falsified so they could appear younger and more promising,” had diminished.

The Allan Schwartzs of the world go about their business with a blind eye to the morality off modern baseball. I think it is safe to conclude he actually believes that baseball players are worth the average $3 million they earn in 2008. It was not just the pay scale that had changed over the years. The culture, the environment had changed. Those who had grown up in the players’ association, the Joe Torres, the Ted Simmons, the Paul Molitors, those who had been led by Donald Fehr and his predecessor, were given jobs in management. Little wonder that front office people looked the other way in the era of steroid use. Not many general managers took their players to arbitration any more.

The Allan Schwartzs of the world do not tell you Andy MacPhail’s track record on arbitrations in Chicago. The Allan Schwartzs of the world do not tell under the current owner how many times the Baltimore Orioles had gone to arbitration. Those national writers never offered criticism of the local sports hero. That was why they now could break the big news story. Players had a way of snuggling up with those who never were critical. Those Allan Schwartzs of the world who were not true journalists. The Allan Schwartzs of the world, snuggling up to power, were manipulated by the Donald Fehrs, the Bud Seligs.

MacPhail’s reward was to work on the most recent basic agreement, achieved with peace. I have not done the research but from what I have read I think MacPhail never has been to arbitration since he left Minnesota more than once. If even that. Which makes him a perfect fit with the Orioles.

And it was not just MacPhail. He was just emblematic of the age. Where sports teams now are owned by conglomerates, the culture had changed. Cost containment does not apply to baseball operations. The passions seem to have burned out in the owners’ boxes. So what does this change in culture all mean? How baseball really changed was the acceptance that these guys really were superstars, who could do anything. Ticket prices kept escalating because the environment had changed, some executive well were eligible for benefits from the players’ association, and everyone deserved what they got. Ballplayers were no longer like the neighbor kid next door. A-Rod and his wife cavorted with the gods of music. Ticket prices kept escalating because no one challenged the superstars.

In this environment, the ball players were not punished for the use of steroids. What exactly had changed with the Mitchell Report in 2009? And those reporters who had been around clubhouses during the days of the Roger Maris chase, those Allan Schwartzs, where were their breaking stories?

And by the way, that spotlight sure has burned out in Congress since the Mitchell Report. Since no one was doing anything about steroid, including punishment, it was time for Congress to provide oversight on the issue, and remove it permanently as an issue from labor negotiations.

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1 Comment »

  1. Comment by baseball91 — April 20, 2012 @ 5:04 AM | Reply

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