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August 16, 2002

The Daily Prospectus

The Day in Labor Quotes

by Gary Huckabay

I spent almost all of yesterday on the phone with a wide range of people with various connections to the CBA negotiations. I can't really put a coherent picture together of exactly where things are headed, but from what I heard yesterday, that puts me right in line with everyone else. Instead of trying to synthesize this stuff, I figured you'd prefer to just have the impressionist version, so here's the highlights of what I heard on the earpiece yesterday. I'll spend most of today charging four cell phone batteries.

"We hit a wall." -- NL Team Player Rep

"There's no way that enough of us can sign off on the deal Don wants to frame. We just can't do it. I love baseball, but I also don't want to just throw money away, season after season." -- Ownership Partner

"Personalities are getting involved on both sides. Players are competitive by nature, and so are successful businessmen. No one wants to walk away with an 'L'." -- Rightsholding General Manager

"They're all on the same bus, and everyone seems to be proud of the fact that they can drive fastest towards oncoming traffic." -- National Broadcasting Executive

"It's like we're dealing with Sybil. I think this would actually be more productive if they just had a plan to break us. I don't think they're on the same page. And that makes it very hard to deal with them." -- NL Team Player Rep #2

"I don't understand their proposals at all. The only thing they know is that they all want to pay less in salaries, but they don't know how to go about that. The plans they've put forward don't help competitive balance at all. If they go ahead with revenue sharing the way they want, it just means a different bunch of freeloaders." -- Agent

"I can run infomercials in those time slots and make more money." -- Rightsholding General Manager #2

"If there is a stoppage, no one will care if they restart this year at all. If they stop on August 30, it's football season, and ESPN, Fox, and all the local broadcasters would just as soon use those 45 extra seconds per game to cover football." -- Rightsholding General Manager #2

"More people here care about the lowliest NFL game than about the local baseball teams. I could probably allocate the time to Bengal games and be better off." -- Rightsholding General Manager #2

"There's no unity among the owners at all. There was a consensus to deal with the little stuff first and slowly, then stand hard and fast on a tax/cap. Then, an impasse is declared, and the owners implement a new system, and we go through replacement players again, this time with serious money as an investment. But that plan's falling apart.

"I think they'll set a strike date by this weekend, the owners will negotiate up until the very last possible second they can and still save the postseason, and then they'll take the best available offer." -- Eastern Seaboard Sportswriter

"I wish all this would stop, so my client would stop showing up on ESPN talking about going on strike. F#$k!" -- Agent #2

More confusion flying around than optimism.

One of the very overlooked aspects of the labor issues is distraction. There are many organizations in MLB that have enormous problems, and those problems won't go away no matter what happens at the bargaining table. Even if the owners get a hard cap of $12 million, the Cubs still have a manager that is more than happy to throw Mark Prior's shoulder to the wolves. The Kansas City Royals still can't convert talented throwers into pitchers, or gifted, dedicated athletes into ballplayers.

Yes, in most organizations, the Baseball side, from the GM on down, is insulated from the labor negotiations, and they don't really spend any significant time thinking about it. But there is no business out there that can run at 100% focus or efficiency with this sort of distraction going on. It just doesn't work that way. And given that a number of clubs need to be doing extra work just to address their current problems, they could use some closure.

For that matter, so could I.

Gary Huckabay is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by clicking here.

Gary Huckabay is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Gary's other articles. You can contact Gary by clicking here

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