Sports

We’ve been Robbed!


Does anyone like Rob Manfred?

Does anyone like Rob Manfred?
Illustration: Getty Images

Rob “Piece of Metal” Manfred came out into the Florida sun, made an announcement that everyone knew was coming about the cancellation of Opening Day, as well as the first two series of the season, and then proceeded to tell some lies, which everyone should have known was coming.

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It’s a credit, in part, to good reporters that there’s higher awareness that the commissioner talking about the millions of dollars being offered by management is designed to sound like generosity, when in fact it’s owners seeking to continue to grow their wealth at labor’s expense. In the first MLB work stoppage of the social media age, simply going up to a podium and saying stuff isn’t enough — it can be taken down within minutes.

But it’s not just because of the media environment and players’ ability to platform themselves that Major League Baseball is finding it harder than before to swing the public to the idea that the players ought to thank their lucky stars that they have the ability to play professional baseball and take whatever is on offer to start playing. There are still those who will try to both-sides it, but the big reason is that amid a rising tide for unions, people can see MLB owners doing what their own bosses do at the negotiating table.

A line from the MLBPA statement on Tuesday after Manfred’s announcement: “Against the backdrop of growing revenues and record profits, we are seeking nothing more than a fair agreement.”

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Well, it was just last November that Kellogg’s was posting $307 billion in profits while simultaneously suing its striking workers. “John Deere posts record profit despite strike” was another headline late last year. And people can see that baseball players are being treated similarly, even if it’s at a higher pay level, when salaries have dropped at a time when MLB just opened up a whole stream of gambling revenue. Idiots pointing out that Max Scherzer drives a Porsche are fewer and further between. Of course Max Scherzer drives a Porsche, he’s one of the greatest pitchers of all time, and isn’t it better for him to have that Porsche than John Henry to get another yacht?

“Players want to play, everyone knows that,” said MLBPA chief Tony Clark. “But the reason we are not playing is simple — a lockout is the ultimate economic weapon.

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“In a $10 billion industry, the owners have made a conscious decision to use this weapon against the greatest asset they have — the players. But the group won’t be intimidated. I’ve seen more unity over the last few years than at any time in our recent history.”

It’s not just the money grubbing, but the behavior of management in negotiations that’s ringing bells for people. One union currently on strike has noted that, “every session, the company’s outside counsel sidestepped and delayed, refusing to provide written counter proposals to the union’s good-faith proposals. How can you bargain a contract when the people across the table won’t even clearly state what they’re advocating for?”

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At least the management group in that situation is showing up to bargaining. After unilaterally implementing the lockout, MLB didn’t give the players so much as a proposal for six weeks.

And now it’ll be at least another six weeks until baseball season. For once, we all know who to blame.

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