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Don't listen when the owners cry poverty

Nov 24, 2009, 1:00 PM EST

More Peter Gammons.  This time, as is his wont, plainly yet eloquently states why we shouldn’t listen to any of the owners cry poverty this offseason:

As unpleasant as it may be, go back to the bleak midwinter of 1994-95, and the strike that canceled the World Series. Revenues at that time were in the $1.5 billion-$1.7 billion range. Owners were begging the players to accept some form of salary cap based on the players’ splitting 55 percent of revenue, claiming that at the time players were actually being paid more than 60 percent. At the recent meetings, players were told their share is now somewhere around 46 percent, so as record revenues held they shouldn’t listen to those owners who make it sound as if they’re facing foreclosure.

It’s one thing for a team to say “we’re not interested in pursuing free agent X because we don’t want to spend that much money.”  At least that’s true and, depending on where the team is on the success cycle, often defensible from a competitive point of view. It’s another thing altogether to say “we can’t pursue free agent X because we’re dead broke and the salaries are too high and baseball needs a salary cap, blah, blah, blah.” That’s just implausible, and such talk is aimed at winning a P.R. game as opposed to reflecting reality.

Even in these dark economic times, the owners are making much more money than they used to, and they’re keeping a much higher percentage of that money than they used to.  It’s all good and sporting to slag on the allegedly greedy players.  Why don’t people get more bent out of shape about the greedy owners?

  1. John_Michael - Nov 24, 2009 at 1:38 PM

    the owners are making much more money than they used to, and they’re keeping a much higher percentage of that money than they used to.
    Exactly. So the Yankees should go out and sign top dollar free agents. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be putting the best possible product on the field for their fans.

  2. Grant - Nov 24, 2009 at 2:00 PM

    Uh, duh? Welcome to the argument any sane person has been making, since, well, 1903. At least.

  3. Simon DelMonte - Nov 24, 2009 at 2:00 PM

    I am sure that some teams lost some money, if only because of how bad the economy is. And if teams in disaster areas like Detroit want to cut payroll, I can’t say I blame them. (Doesn’t mean I approve, but I understand.)
    What gets me angry is how many teams are making money from revenue sharing. If you earn your profit from ticket sales, TV revenue and so on, you can do what you want with it. If you earn them because the Yankees and Bosox paid a luxury tax, I think you have an obligation to plow it into the team. To take the luxury tax money and then plead poverty is just insulting.
    Of course, what would help is getting the teams to open their books. I expect that right after AIG does.

  4. John_michael - Nov 24, 2009 at 2:29 PM

    Exactly. The Yankees look bad for spending a lot on players, but would look worse if the owners pocketed the net income when they kept payrolls down.

  5. Jason @ IIATMS - Nov 24, 2009 at 2:30 PM

    MLB might be the only place in America where the outsiders/fans are decidedly pro-management rather than the usual pro-labor.
    Go figure.

  6. JBerardi - Nov 24, 2009 at 3:12 PM

    MLB might be the only place in America where the outsiders/fans are decidedly pro-management rather than the usual pro-labor.

    Oh, I don’t know about that. Not to get overly political here, but remember when we bailed out the auto industry, and it was all the damn greedy UAW’s fault? Or the various tea-bagger health care protests (“we demand that monolithic insurance companies not be denied the right to continue gouging us”)?

  7. Old Gator - Nov 24, 2009 at 8:00 PM

    You know, it’s probably an exercise in masochism for a Feesh fan even to get involved in a discussion like this, but five years with my first wife qualifies me, so here goes. If you had been listening to Jeffrey Loria and David Samson whinging and puelling about the moth holes in their pockets for all the years we’ve had to listen to it, you would have learned to ignore them already – the way someone who lives behind Abu Ghraib learns to ignore the screaming.

  8. Jeff Lewis - Nov 24, 2009 at 8:13 PM

    If baseball has so much money, how come that can’t pay for their own stadiums? (with the Giants being exempt from my snark)

  9. Kevin S. - Nov 24, 2009 at 8:25 PM

    Though it’s a fair question, the blame for each Field of Schemes lies with the respective municipality. Private entities should strive to maximize their profit, and that includes getting handouts that may be available to them. It’s on civic leaders to stand up for their constituents.

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