Balking at the Strike
The All-Star game debacle earlier this week was not the straw that will break the camel's back. At best, I suppose major league baseball has about a good month left before the players strike. The main contention with the owners is the issue of money. The owners want a luxuryt tax on teams with payrolls over $90 million and revenue sharing to keep small-market teams operational. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig over the past year has tried two operational tricks to force the players' union's hand -- threats of contraction and the latest gambit of asserting that two MLB teams cannot make payroll on Monday. Neither has resonated with the public or the players. It would have been a better negotiating tactic for Selig to just let Detroit or Arizona simply fail to make payroll. The sudden impact would have been more convincing for the players. However, this being an imperfectly constructed world, that didn't happen. The players, with the relevant case law on their side, are fundamentally in a better position than the feckless owners.
Put simply, 30 cold-blooded capitalists (the owners) want a system of socialism and high taxation to protect themselves from their own terrible decisionmaking in assembling players and talent. Plus, let's remember something here -- people harp about the "golden age" of baseball, which, depending on who you talk to, is any year before the 1994 strike that obviated the World Series. The 1990s up until that point were a guilded exeption to the general rule. Small market teams like Toronto became dominant. However, baseball is usually about a hegemonic large-market team crushing its unwitting opponents.
This really ought to be a showdown between the small-market owners and their larger contemporaries. I do not see the Yankees, Braves, or Dodgers willing to compromise on their capability to buy the players that they need in order to ensure that baseball in, say, Tampa Bay remains viable.
That is why the owners are trying to fit an elephant into a Yugo. There are competing interests within the owners big enough to force a split in their negotiating position. The players are all in it for the money. That's a selfish assessment. But then again it's an honest movitivation.
Sean Mullaney (B'00) thinks that baseball will "die" if the players move to strike. I initially agreed with that, but as of late I am altering the deal. Pray that I don't alter it any further. The fans will come back, well, because both the players and the owners can rely on the chronic collective American sickness known as "short-term memory." Just 4 years after that August in 1994 when the players walked out, we were all gazing on the McGuire-Sosa home run chase. In the immediate aftermath of the 9.11 attacks, we as a country truly missed the game when games were cancelled. We all watched Barry Bonds eclipse McGuire last fall. There will be some white-hot anger as pennant races are stunted and championship dreams go unfulfilled. But eventually, the same fans who moan and groan will most likely return to the stadiums.
The owners cannot be trusted with the well-being of the game. They as a group are fundamentally unable to act decisively and creatively. When tasked with a need to act spontaneously during the All-Star game, Selig simply let the game play out to a tie. He didn't even consider a mini-home run derby, or didn't pause to consider how to declare a winner in the circumstances. Imagine if Selig had boldly asserted himself Tuesday night. Could his public perception have changed? No, and in fact all about what is wrong with the owners crystallized on that surreal July night. The game didn't even offer an MVP award. This is what owners do. Given the choice between being memorable and being infamous, Selig chose the latter. No one goes to the diamond to watch the owner's box.
The Iverson Brief
It was the product of a historical hiccup that Allen Iverson arrived at Georgetown in 1994, having only just been pardoned by Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder for his role in a fight. Iverson's mother went to Coach John Thompson himself to ask that Iverson receive the master's tutelage at the Hilltop. Instead of playing football at the University of Kentucky, Iverson donned the Blue&Gray for 2 seasons, providing Coach John Thompson and the Hoyas with a brief happy time of NCAA Tournament runs and an Elite 8 appearance in 1996.
Yesterday's announcement that Iverson will face charges of assault and threats is another turbulent chapter for the Answer, and it makes the recent squawking with Philadelphia 76ers head coach Larry Brown seem all the more insignificant. Iverson has a troubled past, but what is disappointing is that he still has a temper that could jeopardize his standing as a multimillion-dollar athlete. Iverson's skills on the court make him a freak of nature. His darker side inhibits any progress on the hardcourt he makes. What argument would lead to Iverson throwing out his wife from their home? What in turn motivated Iverson to allegedly bust into his cousin's apartment demanding to find her? Iverson surrenders to police on Tuesday. This has only just begun.
"The gun can give you power, but you also need the authority."