The Mainboard MLB Lockout Thread

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OCD SS

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I disagree. The players are the driving force of a ~ $10.7 B industry where payroll used to be about half... OTOH ownership is drawing more of its money from areas other than butts in seats. If the players don't agree to terms, ownership stands to loose a lot more from TV contracts, real estate ventures, etc (to say nothing of doing lasting damage to the perception of a game that is already having a hard time engaging a younger and more diverse populace).

It's been pretty clear that ownership wants to test the union and see how far they can go, so we'll see.
 

Ale Xander

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How much of a delay can a lack of an agreement take in terms of pitchers&catchers reporting date such that opening day is on time? 7 days? 10 days?
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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How much of a delay can a lack of an agreement take in terms of pitchers&catchers reporting date such that opening day is on time? 7 days? 10 days?
I think it's less about P&C reporting and more whether or not they delay the start of exhibition games. At least in terms of preparing for game workload, I expect most pitchers can accomplish much of the work they'd be doing in those first couple weeks on their own (bullpen sessions, side throwing, etc). The only thing that would be missing would be the team's watchful eyes (which obviously could be important for some teams).

Unless they also decide to expand rosters for the early part of the year to compensate (allowing teams to carry more pitchers), losing spring training games is more likely to cause a delay for Opening Day. To me, it feels like the drop-deadline for not affecting the existing regular season schedule is around March 1, allowing for 4 weeks of spring training.
 

OCD SS

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Signing the CBA doesn't just open camps; MLB still has an offseason to complete (so teams can finalize their rosters - it may not do to have players reporting to camp only to be traded right away and have to pack up and report elsewhere) to say nothing of playing catch up on logistics (how did Truck Day work without MLB players sending their gear down?).

I think it's less about P&C reporting and more whether or not they delay the start of exhibition games. At least in terms of preparing for game workload, I expect most pitchers can accomplish much of the work they'd be doing in those first couple weeks on their own (bullpen sessions, side throwing, etc). The only thing that would be missing would be the team's watchful eyes (which obviously could be important for some teams).
While no one wants to loose games and everyone thinks spring training is too long, it seems a bit much to expect the players to get their program going while they've been locked out so that they can hit the ground running and make sure that the owners who locked them out and wasted almost 2 months aren't inconvenienced at the gate.
I can't even speak to if team's player dev & coaching staff would think this is a good idea, but would ramping up while throwing unsupervised lead to more injuries (and should players absorb that risk)? Can the players even effectively ramp up when the time-table is uncertain (doesn't getting ready hand some amount of leverage to the owners)?
 

lexrageorge

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The 1994-95 strike ended on April 2nd. Season started on April 28th.

Money talks, and anything less than a full season will be on a pro-rated salary for the players.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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I disagree. The players are the driving force of a ~ $10.7 B industry where payroll used to be about half... OTOH ownership is drawing more of its money from areas other than butts in seats. If the players don't agree to terms, ownership stands to loose a lot more from TV contracts, real estate ventures, etc (to say nothing of doing lasting damage to the perception of a game that is already having a hard time engaging a younger and more diverse populace).

It's been pretty clear that ownership wants to test the union and see how far they can go, so we'll see.
I think the owners are willing to lose a bunch of revenue this year to get the players to agree to something that will benefit the owners for years to come.

Just to be clear, I'm not on the owners' side. And hopefully I'm wrong. But as others noted, time is running short to get a full season in but the owners do not seemed to concerned about that.
 

edoug

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I think the owners are willing to lose a bunch of revenue this year to get the players to agree to something that will benefit the owners for years to come.

Just to be clear, I'm not on the owners' side. And hopefully I'm wrong. But as others noted, time is running short to get a full season in but the owners do not seemed to concerned about that.
Yeah, the owners "thinking" is short-sighted at best. MLB has enough problems. Self-inflicted wounds should be avoided at all costs.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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While no one wants to loose games and everyone thinks spring training is too long, it seems a bit much to expect the players to get their program going while they've been locked out so that they can hit the ground running and make sure that the owners who locked them out and wasted almost 2 months aren't inconvenienced at the gate.
I can't even speak to if team's player dev & coaching staff would think this is a good idea, but would ramping up while throwing unsupervised lead to more injuries (and should players absorb that risk)? Can the players even effectively ramp up when the time-table is uncertain (doesn't getting ready hand some amount of leverage to the owners)?
Pitchers have long thrown on their own during the off-season, usually on a proscribed plan from the team. I have to think the veterans know how to prepare themselves for camp as well as pace themselves in a camp-style ramp up. But only to an extent. They certainly won't come to camp game ready but it's naive to think they'd come in starting at square one. My point was only that the P&C report date is less important than the dates of the first exhibition games when it comes to the potential of a delayed Opening Day.
 

OCD SS

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Here's a labor update from Rosenthal and Drellich

As the owners’ lockout drags into its third month, the essence of the problem is this: Major League Baseball contends it is proposing a better deal for players than the one they had under the most recent collective bargaining agreement. And the Players Association contends that the deal is worse.

The acceleration of talks is hardly out of the question; in labor negotiations, it’s always darkest before the dawn. But Scott Boras, the game’s most prominent agent, said the players are dug in not only because their salaries are declining, but also because franchise values, even as profits have fallen during the COVID-19 pandemic, continue to soar.

Since 2002, all four of the major U.S. sports leagues have performed better than the S&P 500 companies on the stock market, according to Pitchbook. The return on MLB franchises was 669 percent, above the NFL’s 558 percent and exceeded only by the NBA’s 1,057 percent.
Salaries are down and franchise values are way up, what's not for a baseball fan to love?
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Since 2002, all four of the major U.S. sports leagues have performed better than the S&P 500 companies on the stock market, according to Pitchbook. The return on MLB franchises was 669 percent, above the NFL’s 558 percent and exceeded only by the NBA’s 1,057 percent.
Did the article say why it picked 2002?

Also, I know you are just posting the article but it seems to me that measuring a baseball team franchise against the broad S&P is a form of cherry picking, particularly since there has been two generational events that have affected the stock market since 2002.
 

OCD SS

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Pitchers have long thrown on their own during the off-season, usually on a proscribed plan from the team. I have to think the veterans know how to prepare themselves for camp as well as pace themselves in a camp-style ramp up. But only to an extent. They certainly won't come to camp game ready but it's naive to think they'd come in starting at square one. My point was only that the P&C report date is less important than the dates of the first exhibition games when it comes to the potential of a delayed Opening Day.
That's fair, and of course I assume everyone is getting ready with their own programs, but that does presume spring training starting reasonably close to when it should. The longer the lockout continues the less tenable a truncated ST is, if you're trying to keep players healthy (edit: IMO, and to be clear we're discussing how truncated, as I agree we'd see the fat we all know is there trimmed off ST).

Until there's a reasonable start time on the horizon how long can they stay idling? Given the vagaries of pitcher health (especially with the Sale and the Sox staff as constructed) I'd rather they loose a few more games and ramp up safely.

Did the article say why it picked 2002?

Also, I know you are just posting the article but it seems to me that measuring a baseball team franchise against the broad S&P is a form of cherry picking, particularly since there has been two generational events that have affected the stock market since 2002.
I don't think that's cherry picking, it's the only relevant comparison: the players are looking at the financial health of the industry that they are the primary drivers of. Unless the owners are going to open their books, this is the best measure we have of their financial health, and they seem to be doing very well (their protests of only ever breaking even aside).
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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I don't think that's cherry picking, it's the only relevant comparison: the players are looking at the financial health of the industry that they are the primary drivers of. Unless the owners are going to open their books, this is the best measure we have of their financial health, and they seem to be doing very well (their protests of only ever breaking even aside).
It's not the only relevant comparison. Sure MLB seems to be doing better than NFL and NHL just from % returns but isn't doing as well as NBA plus no mention of other comparable sports like top-tier soccer. You know that S&P is a broad measure of businesses and owning a sports franchise isn't like a lotnof companies on the S&P 500 (but note S&P return since 2008!).

But my point is that yes owners have done pretty well for themselves but so have players. In fact, I think most on this board agree the players have the best deal of any union in U.S. professional sports even as owners have tried to manipulate the rules to put a lid on salaries.

So given all of this, my guess is that the last two years have shown that the owners bear most of the risk of loss so they are going to make every attempt to get concessions from the players. Sure, you and I can say the owners are being unreasonable but that's not going to get baseball back on the field more quickly. Which, fortunately in my case, isn't going to make that much difference to me as I have found baseball's product stopped engaging me a little bit ago.
 

lexrageorge

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That's fair, and of course I assume everyone is getting ready with their own programs, but that does presume spring training starting reasonably close to when it should. The longer the lockout continues the less tenable a truncated ST is, if you're trying to keep players healthy (edit: IMO, and to be clear we're discussing how truncated, as I agree we'd see the fat we all know is there trimmed off ST).

Until there's a reasonable start time on the horizon how long can they stay idling? Given the vagaries of pitcher health (especially with the Sale and the Sox staff as constructed) I'd rather they loose a few more games and ramp up safely.
The spring training ramp in 1995 was slightly less than 4 weeks. That's probably the bare minimum. One difference is that there were spring training games played by replacement players, but only a handful of them remained on rosters. So, probably March 1st is a key date if we go by the 1995 timeline, but they can probably still slip a week or so and still force the season to start on time by agreeing to something like expanded rosters for the month of April.

April is probably the easiest month for owners to sacrifice. The stands are typically full for all of one game, and in many stadiums it's too damn cold. TV ratings are comparatively low. NBA and NHL playoffs get underway, and the former will generate a lot of interest given that it will be the first "normal" NBA playoff season in 3 years, and there are a ton of compelling story lines this year in both conferences. For players, it's a different story as they would probably be losing about 10% of their pay. Another problem for the players is that the owners could easily let the season start on Memorial Day weekend and not break a sweat.
 

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<a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/236213/mean-salaray-of-players-in-majpr-league-baseball/" rel="nofollow">Statistic: Average player salary in Major League Baseball from 2003 to 2021 (in million U.S. dollars) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

So I don't think Boras' characterization is quite fair either. Yes in the year of COVID, salaries were down last year. In reality, salaries have been flat for the last 6 years and are almost double 18 years ago.

You really can't compare the appreciation in the value of franchises to salaries either. One is income and one is an investment. Certainly, the owners should not be complaining about their investment returns. It is hard to feel bad for either side in this, although it certainly would be nice if both the owners and the MLBPA cared about the salaries of minor league players and worked toward boosting their pay and living conditions.
 

Ale Xander

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That's not quite fair as owners (well, the majority of them anyway) both have annual operating income and capital gains. I would venture that they're steeper than the players' increase in salary, too. Not sure if they have opened the books =so we can compare though.
 

jon abbey

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<a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/236213/mean-salaray-of-players-in-majpr-league-baseball/" rel="nofollow">Statistic: Average player salary in Major League Baseball from 2003 to 2021 (in million U.S. dollars) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

So I don't think Boras' characterization is quite fair either. Yes in the year of COVID, salaries were down last year. In reality, salaries have been flat for the last 6 years and are almost double 18 years ago.

You really can't compare the appreciation in the value of franchises to salaries either. One is income and one is an investment. Certainly, the owners should not be complaining about their investment returns. It is hard to feel bad for either side in this, although it certainly would be nice if both the owners and the MLBPA cared about the salaries of minor league players and worked toward boosting their pay and living conditions.
Even if you ignore the massive increases in franchise valuations, MLB revenues have almost tripled since 2003, so salaries are not close to keeping pace.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/193466/total-league-revenue-of-the-mlb-since-2005/
 

Manramsclan

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While no one wants to loose games and everyone thinks spring training is too long, it seems a bit much to expect the players to get their program going while they've been locked out so that they can hit the ground running and make sure that the owners who locked them out and wasted almost 2 months aren't inconvenienced at the gate.
I can't even speak to if team's player dev & coaching staff would think this is a good idea, but would ramping up while throwing unsupervised lead to more injuries (and should players absorb that risk)? Can the players even effectively ramp up when the time-table is uncertain (doesn't getting ready hand some amount of leverage to the owners)?
I work in Sports Performance, and the MLB players I work with are already throwing up to 60 throws at 180 feet. One in particular says he "isn't airing it out yet" but the more I work with these guys the more I see that there is no break from the preparation and training of the body. Even just a slight recovery period post season then right into training. This varies from player to player and I see less than 10 MLB guys but I get the sense that this is the norm. There are still the guys who show up out of shape but that is more outlier than norm. These guys stay ready, even if there is no game action or quick turnaround of an MLB season.

Spring training seems a lot more about letting players see live pitching and vice versa the pitchers getting feedback from real hitters, for which there is no substitute in the offseason.
 

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Did the article say why it picked 2002?

Also, I know you are just posting the article but it seems to me that measuring a baseball team franchise against the broad S&P is a form of cherry picking, particularly since there has been two generational events that have affected the stock market since 2002.
Wasn't August of 2002 when the 11th hour CBA was hammered out?
 

OCD SS

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I work in Sports Performance, and the MLB players I work with are already throwing up to 60 throws at 180 feet. One in particular says he "isn't airing it out yet" but the more I work with these guys the more I see that there is no break from the preparation and training of the body. Even just a slight recovery period post season then right into training. This varies from player to player and I see less than 10 MLB guys but I get the sense that this is the norm. There are still the guys who show up out of shape but that is more outlier than norm. These guys stay ready, even if there is no game action or quick turnaround of an MLB season.

Spring training seems a lot more about letting players see live pitching and vice versa the pitchers getting feedback from real hitters, for which there is no substitute in the offseason.
That's really interesting, thanks. Do you have any insight on how the athletes (and pitchers in particular) ramp up to being able to air it out, and how long it takes to get to that point (is it within the month of ST?) and how long they can maintain that level before they get into game shape? Would a longer delay be something easily absorbed or something they have to have to back off of?

It's not the only relevant comparison. Sure MLB seems to be doing better than NFL and NHL just from % returns but isn't doing as well as NBA plus no mention of other comparable sports like top-tier soccer. You know that S&P is a broad measure of businesses and owning a sports franchise isn't like a lot of companies on the S&P 500 (but note S&P return since 2008!).

But my point is that yes owners have done pretty well for themselves but so have players. In fact, I think most on this board agree the players have the best deal of any union in U.S. professional sports even as owners have tried to manipulate the rules to put a lid on salaries.
When I brought up revenues in MLB as the only relevant point of comparison, it was in regards to these labor negotitations. What the S&P or other sports leagues are doing is irrelevant because the members of the MLBPA are not in the NBA or NFL, nor are they teachers, autoworkers, plumbers, electricians, or carpenters. What you or I or anyone else happens to be making is not relevant to the discussion of how much the best baseball players should make. All that matters is how much MLB is making, and by all accounts they are pulling in money hand over fist, so the question is how much should the players make, since there is no $10 billion industry without them.

So given all of this, my guess is that the last two years have shown that the owners bear most of the risk of loss so they are going to make every attempt to get concessions from the players. Sure, you and I can say the owners are being unreasonable but that's not going to get baseball back on the field more quickly. Which, fortunately in my case, isn't going to make that much difference to me as I have found baseball's product stopped engaging me a little bit ago.
How much actual risk is there in owning a MLB franchise? In the early years there was a risk that AL or NL might collapse, but now? The only real risk seems to be that their returns might be less. There's a reason a lot of really rich people are looking to buy teams. "Biblical losses" in 2020 seems like a PR talking point to use as cover to extract concessions from the union going forward, while MLB's revenue streams diversify in ways where the players don't see any of it. (If you buy up all the real estate around your stadium, you get to count that as a loss...)

Sure us talking about this won't bring games back, but I'd rather wait out a lockout than see the union fold and MLB Owners be rewarded for jeopardizing the long term health of the game with fairly obvious financial untruths all aimed at increasing their own margins.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Sure us talking about this won't bring games back, but I'd rather wait out a lockout than see the union fold and MLB Owners be rewarded for jeopardizing the long term health of the game with fairly obvious financial untruths all aimed at increasing their own margins.
It doesn't really matter to me how the parties split up the billions. I'll reiterate that baseball players probably have the best deal in professional sports but that's what they've managed to get out of the owners so good for them. I think most people would agree with this.

Given that background, my fear is that we may end up with what may be the worst of all worlds - waiting out a lockout and watching the union fold.

And again I want to say I'm not saying all of this because I agree with the owners or the players. I'm just trying to read the tea leaves. I'll note that in all this posturing about splitting up the billions, neither side is really thinking about the third parties who really pay the bills - we the fans. Ticket prices aren't going down; beer prices aren't going down; jersey prices aren't going down; etc.

Wasn't August of 2002 when the 11th hour CBA was hammered out?
That would make sense, thanks.
 

lexrageorge

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How much actual risk is there in owning a MLB franchise? In the early years there was a risk that AL or NL might collapse, but now? The only real risk seems to be that their returns might be less. There's a reason a lot of really rich people are looking to buy teams. "Biblical losses" in 2020 seems like a PR talking point to use as cover to extract concessions from the union going forward, while MLB's revenue streams diversify in ways where the players don't see any of it. (If you buy up all the real estate around your stadium, you get to count that as a loss...)

Sure us talking about this won't bring games back, but I'd rather wait out a lockout than see the union fold and MLB Owners be rewarded for jeopardizing the long term health of the game with fairly obvious financial untruths all aimed at increasing their own margins.
The answer to the bolded is that there is actually a substantial amount of business risk involved.

Yes, owning a professional sports franchise, MLB or otherwise, has been a great investment over the past 20 or so years. But, like all investments, past returns are not necessarily predictive of future returns. The hundreds of millions required to purchase a team and stadium have to come from somewhere, usually investors in the form of limited partners. And those partners invest because they want to get real returns from their investment; otherwise, they would just invest their money in an S&P500 index fund. Actually, it is more complicated than that, but the point I am making is that those limited partners do expect returns, and if those returns don't materialize, the lead owner either has to raise more capital to buy them out or sell the team. And, if the returns are low, the selling price of the team may be less than hoped. Few business folks would call buying the Oakland A's or Tampa Bay Rays a low risk venture right now.

These risks may seem immaterial to us, but they are definitely something the ownerships class considers when deciding on when and how to build a new stadium or voting on new labor agreements. And, to be clear, the owners can be both cognizant of these risks and short-sighted at the same time. There are certainly downside risks to an extended labor dispute that may not be all that predictable right now. The owners may think the antitrust exemption is safe, especially given that fact that getting anything through in Washington requires at least 10 Senators from the opposition party to agree on a repeal. But the public mood can sour quite quickly and it's not inconceivable that at some point enough Senators from both parties decide that a repeal would be good politics back home and voila it is gone. It's also possible that the owners don't think the exemption means a whole lot anymore (which may be true).
 

Manramsclan

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That's really interesting, thanks. Do you have any insight on how the athletes (and pitchers in particular) ramp up to being able to air it out, and how long it takes to get to that point (is it within the month of ST?) and how long they can maintain that level before they get into game shape? Would a longer delay be something easily absorbed or something they have to have to back off of?
Throwing ramp up is really simple actually. Common is starting with 20-30 throws from a prescribed distance (say 45 feet) every other day. If no issues simulate an inning by sitting down and resting between an additional 20-30 throws. Then you repeat that progression (1 set of 20-30 throws from a prescribed distance then an additional set) while gradually increasing distance by 30-45 feet. Normal mortals (HS Baseball players for instance) will be up to 120 feet in 4 to six weeks if there are no issues. MLB athletes get up to 250 or so in 8 weeks. All of that can be done unsupervised barring any issue/pain/injury that requires therapy. With proper support I see no reason that those pitchers can't throw bullpens or start dialing in their pitches NOT with the team. Taxiing at long throwing would be wise if they anticipate a normal spring training. If not they can start throwing of the mound to get ready etc.

Two major caveats to this:
1. The target date is unknown: How does a player back off from, or continue on, a progression toward something when they don't know the end date?
2. Injured players/players coming back from injuries/developing players on 40 man rosters are really getting screwed here. No coaching, no full training staffs etc. They are in an entirely different situation and it will impact their season tremendously I think.

So to summarize, they aim to get to that point where they can play with no restriction in spring training, but the "getting there" starts way before then. After that, it's all about maintenance to get through ST and the season. A post season assessment looks at what injuries they dealt with during the season and aims to treat and or train areas of injury and weakness, recover, and get ready for the ramp up.

The pitching thing is especially hard, because it's not really injury risk but rather how hard it is to actually simulate game action as a pitcher, and the "bullets" idea which I think is what your question is getting at. A position player fielding a rifled game ball into the hole from a coach is much more similar to game action, than throwing a curve to a High School buddy at your home town field (extreme exaggeration here, but I think you get the point.)
 

OCD SS

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The answer to the bolded is that there is actually a substantial amount of business risk involved.

Yes, owning a professional sports franchise, MLB or otherwise, has been a great investment over the past 20 or so years. But, like all investments, past returns are not necessarily predictive of future returns. The hundreds of millions required to purchase a team and stadium have to come from somewhere, usually investors in the form of limited partners. And those partners invest because they want to get real returns from their investment; otherwise, they would just invest their money in an S&P500 index fund. Actually, it is more complicated than that, but the point I am making is that those limited partners do expect returns, and if those returns don't materialize, the lead owner either has to raise more capital to buy them out or sell the team. And, if the returns are low, the selling price of the team may be less than hoped. Few business folks would call buying the Oakland A's or Tampa Bay Rays a low risk venture right now.

These risks may seem immaterial to us, but they are definitely something the ownerships class considers when deciding on when and how to build a new stadium or voting on new labor agreements. And, to be clear, the owners can be both cognizant of these risks and short-sighted at the same time. There are certainly downside risks to an extended labor dispute that may not be all that predictable right now. The owners may think the antitrust exemption is safe, especially given that fact that getting anything through in Washington requires at least 10 Senators from the opposition party to agree on a repeal. But the public mood can sour quite quickly and it's not inconceivable that at some point enough Senators from both parties decide that a repeal would be good politics back home and voila it is gone. It's also possible that the owners don't think the exemption means a whole lot anymore (which may be true).
Maybe this comes down to us assessing risk differently, but there is essentially no risk of MLB failing and going under. MLB is not going to contract less-profitable teams. Can you point to any example of a team being sold at a loss?

Is there a meaningful difference between a "substantial amount of business risk" and suffering profit margins that aren't as high as maybe the owners would like (but which have been shown to be quite high)? You mentioned stadiums twice, but how often do MLB teams pay for those? They seem to prefer to prefer to have the taxpayers foot the bill for those whenever possible. I think the current revenue and franchise value numbers speak for themselves, especially compared to the stagnation of salaries.
 

lexrageorge

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Maybe this comes down to us assessing risk differently, but there is essentially no risk of MLB failing and going under. MLB is not going to contract less-profitable teams. Can you point to any example of a team being sold at a loss?

Is there a meaningful difference between a "substantial amount of business risk" and suffering profit margins that aren't as high as maybe the owners would like (but which have been shown to be quite high)? You mentioned stadiums twice, but how often do MLB teams pay for those? They seem to prefer to prefer to have the taxpayers foot the bill for those whenever possible. I think the current revenue and franchise value numbers speak for themselves, especially compared to the stagnation of salaries.
There was talk of contraction in 2002, with the Expos and Twins high on the list.

The A's are trying to finance their own stadium, although they are pushing for the city of Oakland to fund some infrastructure upgrades. The future of a new stadium remains in doubt. If one doesn't get build the team will certainly have to move, as the A's are definitely not profitable in their current stadium. Neither are the Rays.

Also, part of my point was not that any of these loss events are likely. Just that the owners do game out various scenarios when deciding to make major investments in the team. Prospective buyers do the same when they are looking to make a purchase. And those scenarios do include both the upside cases as well as the potential disaster scenarios. And the owners are certainly doing the same when it comes to determining what they want to spend on payroll, which, in turn, drives the CBA negotiations.

FWIW, I am mostly taking the side of the players, as I think players should be rewarded when they are younger, and teams should be discouraged from tanking and manipulating service time. At the same time, we don't want to replicate the English Premier League here, and having a structure where the Dodgers, Yankees, and Red Sox can year-in, year-out buy the best players and fight for league dominance every year doesn't work either. So I'm perfectly OK with the CBT being a de-facto salary cap.
 

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MLB has asked for a federal mediator to help resolve the lockout
Major League Baseball today requested immediate assistance of a federal mediator to help resolve the sport’s lockout, sources told ESPN. Under their request, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service would help assist with the proceedings.
View: https://twitter.com/JeffPassan/status/1489347138001776646
What's the tactical significance of this, if any? I just haven't tracked the labor law side of the negotiation at all this time around...
 

jon abbey

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What's the tactical significance of this, if any? I just haven't tracked the labor law side of the negotiation at all this time around...
To make it seem like they're actually interested in negotiating and striking a fair deal when in reality they have shown basically no signs of that? The players turned it down, there's no reason for a mediator if one side isn't even trying to negotiate.
 

PedroKsBambino

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I very much understand cynicism about MLB owners, but we probably need higher standards than just saying this is about good guys and bad guys. Also, they have been negotiating so I don't think we have any basis for saying either side is not even trying to negotiate. Is there some reporting or data which suggests that?
 

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I very much understand cynicism about MLB owners, but we probably need higher standards than just saying this is about good guys and bad guys. Also, they have been negotiating so I don't think we have any basis for saying either side is not even trying to negotiate. Is there some reporting or data which suggests that?
When one side pushes for a mediator after they haven't entered real negotiations, it's 100 percent bullshit. And the owners haven't entered any real negotiations.
 

PedroKsBambino

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How are you assessing who did and didn't do what, though? I fully appreciate few of us trust the owners. But I think we need to be analytical about that not just conclusory. Are there specific things you have or haven't seen that suggest the owners are the logjam here? What I've seen reported is a bunch of unrealistic asks from both sides. that is totally unsurprising. But doesn't make either a bad actor yet.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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I very much understand cynicism about MLB owners, but we probably need higher standards than just saying this is about good guys and bad guys. Also, they have been negotiating so I don't think we have any basis for saying either side is not even trying to negotiate. Is there some reporting or data which suggests that?
I think I'm pretty neutral and I agree that the owners haven't seriously negotiated.

Appointing a mediator is a PR move by the owners. The mediation is non-binding so the players (and their lawyers) understand that it's a stalling tactic. The issues aren't that difficult; I mean they've been described in this thread. They don't need a mediator to get the two sides to understand each other.

And one other thing, here's some evidence that the owners aren't negotiating. Per tweet below, it is being reported that they are not making a counter to the players' proposal.

The owners are trying to roll back gains that the players have gotten over the years. That's really hard to do. People get used to the status quo. I think that if the players can get an agreement to something that is close to the status quo, they should grab that because the longer they wait, the more the owners are going to want. But guys don't get the Show by being okay at losing, even if they are only losing a little bit.

View: https://twitter.com/EvanDrellich/status/1489355453985431559
 

jon abbey

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I very much understand cynicism about MLB owners, but we probably need higher standards than just saying this is about good guys and bad guys. Also, they have been negotiating so I don't think we have any basis for saying either side is not even trying to negotiate. Is there some reporting or data which suggests that?
Yes, all of it. The owners locked the players out and have basically not tried to negotiate since.

View: https://twitter.com/theathleticmlb/status/1489675138517934084?s=21
 

canderson

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How are you assessing who did and didn't do what, though? I fully appreciate few of us trust the owners. But I think we need to be analytical about that not just conclusory. Are there specific things you have or haven't seen that suggest the owners are the logjam here? What I've seen reported is a bunch of unrealistic asks from both sides. that is totally unsurprising. But doesn't make either a bad actor yet.
MLB hasn't made any counters - just vetoing any proposal and not countering. They aren't meeting in good faith.
 

PedroKsBambino

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A different way to view that (which is consistent with the publicly reported offers, as an aside) is that the players asks for change are so large the owners don't see the point of a counter. That is not a value judgment by me players are wrong, it's an assessment of the 'why' for the owners. The fact they are both showing up for these and making concessions suggests to me they are both negotiating. All these moves---owners not countering and players refusing to work with a mediator---can be spun as 'not negotiating' if one is biased.

I think people need to think harder about separating two things: which group do I feel has had a better deal or should get a better deal....and how do we assess the specific tactics day-to-day. Few here think the owners haven't had the better deal, but that's a little different than what I am seeing or reading on the tactics. Posting stuff about the historical profitability is 100% about the former question and not the latter (which is what I was asking about)

I get a lot of folks think this is about good guys and bad guys. I don't think there's a lot of difference among posters here on that; I was more focused on the tactical question and trying to think through how you get back to playing baseball.
 
Last edited:

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Here's a twitter thread from a federal labor lawyer about the topic. Spoilered for size.
Note: "Halem" = Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem; "Meyer" = Chief Negotiator for the Union Bruce Meyer; and "Clark" = Tony Clark.
Nothing like breaking labor relations news to get a lot of DMs and tags.

FMCS has a lot of different mediators, but this is a high profile case of a national contract, so I think Scot Beckenbaugh would likely be assigned if he's not already engaged. I haven't worked with him, 1/


but he has a terrific reputation.

Mediation can be very helpful to move the parties toward and even to agreement if the parties are motivated and the right mediator is involved. I've worked with a few great ones and a one who didn't help at all.

A strong mediator can also be 2/


helpful to move your own obstinate side by having them hear from a neutral third party about what is fair and reasonable. It's possible Halem is requesting mediation to get his own side to stop playing with their food and start making real proposals that might lead to 3/


agreement. That would be a very subtle and astute maneuver, one that is not exactly in MLB's normal playbook.

It also could be a tactic to place some blame on the Union, if they don't accept mediation. It would seem premature - mediation is usually engaged at a point when 4/·


the parties are getting close to impasse or have reached what they believe to be impasse. That's not the case here. Not even close. The only thing that's clear is that the lockout did not produce the results that the Commissioner claimed were the goals of the lockout - speed 5/


up negotiations and move the parties toward resolution.

Should the Union accept mediation now, at this early stage in the proposals, so far from impasse? That's a tough question without knowing if there have been behind the scenes communications between the principals. 6/


If Halem is trying to move his side, and there have been subtle mentions of that among the principals, then yes the Union should engage in mediation. If, however they feel it's a PR stunt, then it makes little sense. A mediator won't move an immovable object. MLB has to want 7/


to reach agreement across the wide range of subjects (many of which are interconnected) in order to have effective negotiations or effective mediation. Only Meyer and maybe Clark know the true answer to that question and it doesn't behoove them even to tell their own team. 8/


When the type of subtle maneuvering is happening behind the scenes, the circle has to be very tight and only disclosed, if at all, after the fact.

I hope I didn't tip their hand by explaining all these possibilities.

In light of the lack of trust, this may be wishful thinking.


There's also a more cynical possibility. That is that MLB is attempting to reach impasse so that it can unilaterally implement its last, best offer. We've seen that game before. But, then it comes down to whether or not it is premature impasse or real impasse - see 1994. The 10/


FMCS mediator could give some credence to an argument that they are at impasse. Albeit, I assume the Union's argument would be based on a surface bargaining argument. Should we see this cynical possibility come true, having Jennifer Abruzzo as the confirmed NLRB GC definitely 11/


makes it more likely that the NLRB would seek a 10(j) injunction preventing unilateral implementation in the event the Regional Director found there to be bad faith including a lack of impasse.

It just seems that tactically, that would be a terrible decision from MLB, but 12/


history tends to repeat itself.

Some of us haven't forgotten, even these long 27 years after Judge Sotomayor's ruling in Silverman (NLRB) v. MLB.

View: https://twitter.com/EugeneFreedman/status/1489351415705358340
 

canderson

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A different way to view that (which is consistent with the publicly reported offers, as an aside) is that the players asks for change are so large the owners don't see the point of a counter. That is not a value judgment by me players are wrong, it's an assessment of the 'why' for the owners. The fact they are both showing up for these and making concessions suggests to me they are both negotiating. All these moves---owners not countering and players refusing to work with a mediator---can be spun as 'not negotiating' if one is biased.

I think people need to think harder about separating two things: which group do I feel has had a better deal or should get a better deal....and how do we assess the specific tactics day-to-day. Few here think the owners haven't had the better deal, but that's a little different than what I am seeing or reading on the tactics. Posting stuff about the historical profitability is 100% about the former question and not the latter (which is what I was asking about)

I get a lot of folks think this is about good guys and bad guys. I don't think there's a lot of difference among posters here on that; I was more focused on the tactical question and trying to think through how you get back to playing baseball.
The issue is this isn't a strike, it's a lockout. The owners created this situation and aren't doing any work to end it. It's all on them

The lockout wasn't necessary. It was done to hurt the MLBPA.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Here's a twitter thread from a federal labor lawyer about the topic. Spoilered for size.
Note: "Halem" = Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem; "Meyer" = Chief Negotiator for the Union Bruce Meyer; and "Clark" = Tony Clark.
Nothing like breaking labor relations news to get a lot of DMs and tags.

FMCS has a lot of different mediators, but this is a high profile case of a national contract, so I think Scot Beckenbaugh would likely be assigned if he's not already engaged. I haven't worked with him, 1/


but he has a terrific reputation.

Mediation can be very helpful to move the parties toward and even to agreement if the parties are motivated and the right mediator is involved. I've worked with a few great ones and a one who didn't help at all.

A strong mediator can also be 2/


helpful to move your own obstinate side by having them hear from a neutral third party about what is fair and reasonable. It's possible Halem is requesting mediation to get his own side to stop playing with their food and start making real proposals that might lead to 3/


agreement. That would be a very subtle and astute maneuver, one that is not exactly in MLB's normal playbook.

It also could be a tactic to place some blame on the Union, if they don't accept mediation. It would seem premature - mediation is usually engaged at a point when 4/·


the parties are getting close to impasse or have reached what they believe to be impasse. That's not the case here. Not even close. The only thing that's clear is that the lockout did not produce the results that the Commissioner claimed were the goals of the lockout - speed 5/


up negotiations and move the parties toward resolution.

Should the Union accept mediation now, at this early stage in the proposals, so far from impasse? That's a tough question without knowing if there have been behind the scenes communications between the principals. 6/


If Halem is trying to move his side, and there have been subtle mentions of that among the principals, then yes the Union should engage in mediation. If, however they feel it's a PR stunt, then it makes little sense. A mediator won't move an immovable object. MLB has to want 7/


to reach agreement across the wide range of subjects (many of which are interconnected) in order to have effective negotiations or effective mediation. Only Meyer and maybe Clark know the true answer to that question and it doesn't behoove them even to tell their own team. 8/


When the type of subtle maneuvering is happening behind the scenes, the circle has to be very tight and only disclosed, if at all, after the fact.

I hope I didn't tip their hand by explaining all these possibilities.

In light of the lack of trust, this may be wishful thinking.


There's also a more cynical possibility. That is that MLB is attempting to reach impasse so that it can unilaterally implement its last, best offer. We've seen that game before. But, then it comes down to whether or not it is premature impasse or real impasse - see 1994. The 10/


FMCS mediator could give some credence to an argument that they are at impasse. Albeit, I assume the Union's argument would be based on a surface bargaining argument. Should we see this cynical possibility come true, having Jennifer Abruzzo as the confirmed NLRB GC definitely 11/


makes it more likely that the NLRB would seek a 10(j) injunction preventing unilateral implementation in the event the Regional Director found there to be bad faith including a lack of impasse.

It just seems that tactically, that would be a terrible decision from MLB, but 12/


history tends to repeat itself.

Some of us haven't forgotten, even these long 27 years after Judge Sotomayor's ruling in Silverman (NLRB) v. MLB.

View: https://twitter.com/EugeneFreedman/status/1489351415705358340
What I read from that thread is that it could be a move by MLB to manage internal divisions, it could be a way to have a mediator helpfully break a deadlock and craft a solution, and it could be a cynical move to try to get an impasse declared. All helpful---and back where I started, we clearly don't have enough information to really assess it (at least in the eyes of expert labor negotiators). We'll see.

As an aside, it is quite believable to me that the owners are less a single perspective than a complex composite with some owners being ludicrously hard-line and some being more practical. So I can imagine (as alluded to in that thread) that managing the ownership side of the table internally---Manfred, owners, negotiator etc.---is a tricky part of this which we don't see but which very much matters. Sometimes in these types of negotiations the game is not about the negotiators but instead about the mandate they are each given.

I believe, and some I am sure will not, that in complex negotiations it is generally unhelpful to start with the premise that whoever initiated the action has some form of burden as canderson suggests. To me, they had---and seek to have again---a joint agreement and so each side is making tactical choices to maximize their position at all points in time. What is more interesting to me, and perhaps not others, is trying to understand how those tactics might play out and what they suggest about the walkaway positions each is managing the negotiation against.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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The A's are trying to finance their own stadium, although they are pushing for the city of Oakland to fund some infrastructure upgrades. The future of a new stadium remains in doubt. If one doesn't get build the team will certainly have to move, as the A's are definitely not profitable in their current stadium. Neither are the Rays.
I don't believe that the bolded is true at all. The A's and Rays are profitable in that they are not losing money. For example the Rays signed a TV deal in 2018 that will pay them $82m a year, just ESPN signed a $550m per year deal with MLB which is another $18m and change, plus the $729m per year deal with FOX (another $24m)--so we're already at $124m per year without the rumored Apple deal all without selling one ticket, hot dog or beer. Or factoring radio rights, corporate sponsors, etc. Their 2021 payroll was over $70m and I doubt that it will go much higher than that in 2022.I don't know how much their taxes and other employees make, but I'd be shocked if it added up to $54m*.

I would suspect that the A's are in the same--pardon my pun--ballpark.

* I am definitely forgetting other things, but this is very quick math and I'm very much not an accountant.

But the idea that any team "is not profitable" is laughable. The reason why multi-millionaires get into the professional sports game is to become billionaires. It's a license to print money. It's why no one is selling and there's a line of millionaires and corporations as long as Mr. Fantastic's right arm to be an owner.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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I believe, and some I am sure will not, that in complex negotiations it is generally unhelpful to start with the premise that whoever initiated the action has some form of burden as canderson suggests. To me, they had---and seek to have again---a joint agreement and so each side is making tactical choices to maximize their position at all points in time. What is more interesting to me, and perhaps not others, is trying to understand how those tactics might play out and what they suggest about the walkaway positions each is managing the negotiation against.
I agree with you that it's more interesting to discuss tactics - even if we are admittedly just guessing - than trying to describe a narrative. I also don't think there are "good guys" versus "bad guys" as it's billionaires versus millionaires trying to split up a $10B revenue stream.

And I agree with you that the owners are probably not monolithic.

That being said, my sense is this lockout is more like the 2004-05 NHL lockout than past labor disputes. If people recall, the 2004-05 hockey lockout took multiple "marathon" negotiating sessions to break the deadlock even after an entire hockey season was lost. (Wikipedia describes it this way: "Bolstered by the thought of losing yet another season to a labor dispute, the sides began meeting again in June, with many pundits believing the lockout would end on July 4, 2005. That date eventually came and went, but sources were reporting to media that marathon sessions were taking place. Indeed, the sides met again for ten consecutive days (July 4–13), and a deal was reached "in principle" (meaning the sides have agreed, but nothing is signed) on July 13. According to reports, the July 12 session lasted through the night and until 06:00 on July 13, at which point the talks broke off for five hours, and resumed in time to complete the deal. ")

Right now, the parties have had, what, one zoom negotiating sessions and two face-to-face sessions? To me, until they actually sit down at a table and start hammering things out, it's all for show. On both sides.
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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Maybe this comes down to us assessing risk differently, but there is essentially no risk of MLB failing and going under. MLB is not going to contract less-profitable teams. Can you point to any example of a team being sold at a loss?
Not that a recent example, for sure, but radio entrepreneur Jeff Smulyan supposedly lost a fair bit of money when he bought the Mariners in 1989. People may recall that his problems caused him investigate moving the team to Tampa or elsewhere, and he ultimately sold the team to a group that controversially included Nintendo in 1992.

If I recall correctly (not sure that I do), I think some investors in the Colorado Rockies also lost money early in the franchise's life when the main owner proved to be a crook who had embezzled a bunch of money from a pharmacy chain he ran called Phar-Mor.
 

LogansDad

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Right. This isn't about Scherzer, nobody is trying to argue that the superstars don't get paid enough. This is about the player who get stepped on. I wish there was more going on to help the minor leaguers, who make next to nothing, have shit living conditions, and get treated like dirt, but that would very quickly lead to a lost season or sport. The owners have not acted in "good faith" for three CBA's now, one of the biggest differences this time is Bruce Meyer. The league isn't negotiating with Tony Clark anymore.

The window for players to earn is getting shorter and shorter, as outside of the superstars, less players are playing deep into their thirties, and I don't blame these guys one bit for going all in on trying to get fairly compensated.
 

jon abbey

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Not that a recent example, for sure, but radio entrepreneur Jeff Smulyan supposedly lost a fair bit of money when he bought the Mariners in 1989. People may recall that his problems caused him investigate moving the team to Tampa or elsewhere, and he ultimately sold the team to a group that controversially included Nintendo in 1992.

If I recall correctly (not sure that I do), I think some investors in the Colorado Rockies also lost money early in the franchise's life when the main owner proved to be a crook who had embezzled a bunch of money from a pharmacy chain he ran called Phar-Mor.
Smulyan’s group paid $75M to buy the Mariners in 1989 and sold them for $125M three years later.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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Not that a recent example, for sure, but radio entrepreneur Jeff Smulyan supposedly lost a fair bit of money when he bought the Mariners in 1989. People may recall that his problems caused him investigate moving the team to Tampa or elsewhere, and he ultimately sold the team to a group that controversially included Nintendo in 1992.

If I recall correctly (not sure that I do), I think some investors in the Colorado Rockies also lost money early in the franchise's life when the main owner proved to be a crook who had embezzled a bunch of money from a pharmacy chain he ran called Phar-Mor.
To quote a great and nearly forgotten TV Show:

Anybody who can't make money off Sports Night should get out of the money-making business.
 

chrisfont9

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I don't believe that the bolded is true at all. The A's and Rays are profitable in that they are not losing money. For example the Rays signed a TV deal in 2018 that will pay them $82m a year, just ESPN signed a $550m per year deal with MLB which is another $18m and change, plus the $729m per year deal with FOX (another $24m)--so we're already at $124m per year without the rumored Apple deal all without selling one ticket, hot dog or beer. Or factoring radio rights, corporate sponsors, etc. Their 2021 payroll was over $70m and I doubt that it will go much higher than that in 2022.I don't know how much their taxes and other employees make, but I'd be shocked if it added up to $54m*.

I would suspect that the A's are in the same--pardon my pun--ballpark.

* I am definitely forgetting other things, but this is very quick math and I'm very much not an accountant.

But the idea that any team "is not profitable" is laughable. The reason why multi-millionaires get into the professional sports game is to become billionaires. It's a license to print money. It's why no one is selling and there's a line of millionaires and corporations as long as Mr. Fantastic's right arm to be an owner.
Payroll is only part of the equation. What's the ownership group's debt situation? Stadium financing? Those are going to be just as big obligations for the team as payroll. It's been over a decade since I was looking at "business of baseball" numbers, but player benefits are another $10M at least for every team, and operational costs were hardly insignificant, so a ballpark mid 8 digits sounds perfectly reasonable. Depending upon their debt situations, I think it's possible that a team could be losing money.
 

lexrageorge

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I don't believe in firing someone for making mistakes, but whoever staged that graphic of a chain on a baseball should be sent home early today, with a note to think about what they did before coming back to work.
It's to show a lockout. Not sure the problem.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Payroll is only part of the equation. What's the ownership group's debt situation? Stadium financing? Those are going to be just as big obligations for the team as payroll. It's been over a decade since I was looking at "business of baseball" numbers, but player benefits are another $10M at least for every team, and operational costs were hardly insignificant, so a ballpark mid 8 digits sounds perfectly reasonable. Depending upon their debt situations, I think it's possible that a team could be losing money.
I don’t doubt that there’s is more than just player salary and I literally used part of one stream of revenue. That shows that thousands streams alone ( for the Rays) pay off a huge portion of the team’s operating cost.

As we all know a good accountant can “prove” that the Yankees lost money last year. We also all know that’s not true either

I’m not worried about the owners. They’re not going broke over the business of baseball. No one ever does.
 
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