Strike Three?: Baseball's Labor Woes

Jeff SugarSenior Analyst IAugust 21, 2007

IconI remember a certain baseball season—1994 to be exact—when my very own Chicago White Sox were poised to make a serious pennant run and possibly do some damage in the playoffs.

Instead, I was forced to abandon a team that had so much potential for a baseball strike.

Players like Tony Gwynn, Frank Thomas, Carlos Baerga, and Matt Williams were forced to abandon seasons in which they could have set records, and the first-place Expos (74-40) had nothing to show for a campaign that could have been magical.

And for what?

The owners said that baseball needed a salary cap, lest the small market teams be ultimately ruined. Money this, control that. At the time, I thought it was just the owners being greedy.

But fast-forward to 2007.

The Expos, once on the verge of that winning season, were forced to fold and be reborn as the Nationals. Can't win championships if you can't afford to splurge on star players.

Other small-market teams like the Devil Rays and Royals are forced to trade away talent (coming soon to a trade block near you: Carl Crawford) for cheap potential, and rarely contend for a title.

On the other side of things, the Yankees and Red Sox control the AL East, virtually ensuring that one of them (if not both) will make the playoffs every year.

If one of the teams isn't good, the owner will simply throw money at it until it is. It's not a good time to be an Orioles fan.

History shows that we have a strike about every 10 years, and until management learns (or until the Texas Rangers are banned from signing players to absurd contracts), we're due for another one.

Every year, contracts get more and more out of control. A player like Barry Zito nets 18 million a year—and he has an ERA close to 5.00. Oh, and Alex Rodriguez...not even going to go into that.

So what do we do? Well, we do what we should have done last time—we strike.

And I don't just mean the players; I mean the fans, too.

The way things are going, the Yankees will buy the D-Rays as a farm team, Boston will follow suit with the Marlins, and eventually the league will be down to this:

AL: Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, White Sox, Rangers

NL: Cubs, Mets, Dodgers, Cardinals, Mariners (they'd be moved to the NL to even things out)

Is this what we want as fans? I don't think ESPN could cover the East Coast any more than they already do...but I'm sure they'd try in this environment. 

Fans, back your managers instead of telling your owners to open their wallets, and reward a player who takes a paycut. Hopefully, one day, players will learn to lower their asking price if they want to keep playing baseball. I would say that A-Rod will have to if he opts out of his current contract, but who knows—Texas might re-sign him for more.

Which reminds me...

The one good thing about the '94 strike? 

No one had to watch the abysmal Rangers finish their division 10 games under .500 (52-62 at the time of strike).