July 19, 2002
The Daily Prospectus
The Other Side?
Just want to let you know, after buying your book for the fourth year in a row, I'M DONE. Your arrogant, dismissive comment about most fans not knowing the issues or caring about the issues takes the cake. I knew you guys were the official house organ of the Fehr/Orza-led Union, but your total disdain for any kind of COMPROMISE is so elitist, which is what the Union has become, PROTECT THE YANKEES PAYROLL AT ALL COSTS is the continuing mantra. Yes, most of the owners are louts and liars, but the player's are spoiled, arrogant, and out of touch with reality. I loved your cynical line about the players understanding the PR debacle that would occur being on strike on September 11..DUH, boy, that took a real genius to figure out. Take your number-crunching soulless bunch of Fehr mavens and stuff it, The only thing worse than the owners are arrogant,elitist TRUE BELIEVERS like you.
This isn't the first time we've read something like this, so now seems like a good time to talk about what you have to say.
It's not much of a secret that we're strongly pro-player in baseball's labor disputes--a quick look at the contents of the Baseball Prospectus Baseball Labor and Economics page will tell you that. Some of us are more interested in the business side of things than others, but we've discussed these issues amongst ourselves and we're pretty much all on the same side of the fence.
Unlike some of my partners in crime here at BP, I won't froth about labor issues without some serious provocation. While I believe the owners lie about their financial situation with reckless abandon and wield the relocation/contraction stick with all the subtlety of "The West Wing," I can't get too righteously indignant about it.
When an owner poor-mouths his club or threatens to move, they're attempting to get something for free--to mitigate a loss, according to them, or to make a sweet deal sweeter, according to us. Either way, they're acting with the same self-interest that I expect most people would in the same situation. I agree with those who believe that this is a short-sighted strategy, and that the game and everyone involved would be better off if the owners quit running down their product to garner sympathy and instead sold it aggressively to win new fans and their dollars. I doubt the owners will ever learn; they've shown a remarkable ability to ignore the historical record and go after the union many times before, and I don't see the difference this year.
All that is beside the point. Right or wrong, the owners have chosen their weapons and strategy, and faulting them for their motivations seems as wrong-headed to me as grumbling about players making too much money.
There are two things your letter has in common with the others we've gotten of its type, DH:
I'm afraid we don't have the roster to provide the alternate viewpoint on this issue. Like I said, none of us believe the owners are losing money or are otherwise unreasonably or unfairly burdened by the difficulties associated with owning a baseball team. When we've asked people to point out specific examples of bad behavior on the part of the players, we've never gotten any help.
For some reason, some people seem to think that compromise is called for, and the players' refusal to engage in a little bit of give-and-take with the owners is reprehensible. The evidence doesn't back that up. Take a look at Doug Pappas' The Numbers; unless you have a problem with his logic, you're asking the players to give up something to help fix a problem that doesn't exist. It'd be nice if there were good reasoning on both sides of every argument, but as every schoolyard bully knows, that just isn't the case. Getting angry at the union for refusing to give way is like stumping for a compromise with NAMBLA. In this case, everyone can't just get along--not when the owners want more, and the players want to keep what they have. The evidence says that the owners are doing fine as is, and the players should be able to protect themselves. It's as simple as that.
Or is it? We're certainly not omniscient, as anyone who has seen our preseason predictions knows. We'd be happy to run a pro-owner piece that meets our standards for publication. We've done it before. If you have an article that makes a case for the owners' proposals, send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll take a look at it.
We'd be delighted to publish the kind of article you seem to be looking for, DH, but we're not capable of writing it. Hopefully, there's a Samaritan out there with a penchant for working cheap and a knack for explaining the owners' side of things in a positive light who can solve both of our problems.