Dr. Glenn Fleisig is the Smith and Nephew Chair of Research at the American Sports Medicine Institute, an organization founded by noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews dedicated to improving the understanding, prevention, and treatment of sports-related injuries through research and education. Fleisig has worked closely with players and coaches at all levels, from youth leagues to the big leagues, teaching performance optimization and injury prevention methods. With the 22nd annual “Injuries in Baseball” course starting Jan. 29 in Orlando, Fleisig chatted with BP about the growth of ASMI, warning signs for pitching injuries, and the challenge of generating awareness among major league teams.
Although it’s been blamed for everything from higher salaries to the decline of the American family, arbitration has been a net benefit for the baseball industry. It has eliminated holdouts, which were an annual event in the not-so-long-ago days when salary negotiations were a one-sided affair. The romantic memories of the good old days of baseball tend to leave out the vicious treatment of holdout players by management, media and fans. General managers are often quoted as saying that they hate the arbitration process because it’s confrontational. I don’t mean to state the obvious, but salary negotiations are confrontational. The process of asking for a certain amount of money, and trying to employ someone for a lesser amount, is necessarily going to be adversarial. To point at arbitration and declare that it drives a wedge between player and team without acknowledging that it replaces a process that was responsible for some of the most divisive player/management confrontations in the game’s history is both ignorant of that history and more than a little deceptive. The salary increases many players see through arbitration have more to do with the transition from having no leverage–the condition of all players in their first three seasons–to having some, as opposed to some structural problem in the system. Over the next month, you’ll read about how some player lost his arbitration case and settled for a $3 million raise. (This is often reported as a percentage: "Jones lost his case and will be stuck with a 400% increase over last year’s salary.") The eye roll is implied in print, explicit on television, but the skewed number isn’t the new salary, but the old one, which is held down by the rules which leave players without recourse until they reach three years of service time.