The economy is officially in a recession. You have undoubtedly cut back on your spending, second guessed some investments, and possibly feared for your job.
Unless you are Greg Maddux or Randy Johnson, or coming off of Tommy John surgery, chances are that fear has not been instilled within you as a member of the Major League Baseball Players' Union.
Yesterday, AT&T cut 12,000 jobs and the Chief Executive Officers of "The Big Three" begged and pleaded with Congress for their slice of bailout pie. This was the second go around for them, and lessons learned in the first were evident.
Two of the CEOs carpooled from Detroit, giving publicity to the Chevy Volt concept along the way. The third flew commercially: how inhumane!
Also occurring yesterday, Mike Lincoln received $4 million over two years and Jorge Julio agreed to suffer through a sub-$one million dollar contract for one year in Milwaukee.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco (that's a fun name), Edgar Rent-a-wreck inked a contract worth at least $18.5 million. Elsewhere, the Marlins continued to say they will be active, tossing Jorge Cantu on the block, and G.M. J.P. Ricciardi waived the white flag on A.J. Burnett, saying he was out of their price range.
Let's not forget the record setting contract the Yankees have on the table for C.C. Sabathia. Or what Mark Texiera might rake in over the next month.
While we are at it, call to mind the monumental pricing the Bronx Bombers are instituting in April across from the old Monument Park. And, just for your information, players salaries, on average, did raise again this year, and ticket prices are forecasted to do the same.
Did I mention that we're in a recession? Apparently the power that be in baseball, those who represent the players and those that give in to their every demand, didn't get the memo.
A year ago, we felt for those thousands laid off from car production facilities, and frankly, I still do. But perhaps they would not have been laid off if their union did not demand $60 an hour wages. I do not get paid to write this article, and my full time job, comes out to about $20/hour.
I am not against unions in anyway, I support collective bargaining agreements and have several family members in unions. I hope that one day Wal-Mart employees can unionize and get the benefits and payments they deserve. However, in some cases, the power derived by a union reaches dangerously high levels.
The power of the automakers unions have forced such large expenses for the companies that they cannot compete with the overseas companies unless they outsource their work.
When the Montreal Expos had World Series dreams, something that may have saved their franchise (cough doubtful cough cough), it was ruined by players demanding higher salaries.
How many of you reading this would gladly play professional baseball, albeit not at the same level the current pros can, for the wage you are making now, or less? I certainly would, and I can name about 18 other kids that were on a team with me that would too.
A few years ago, NHL owners grew the cahones to stage a lockout. They recognized what escalating salaries were doing to an already struggling sport and they put a cap on it.
The time has come for Major League Baseball owners to do the same. Sure, the Rays, Marlins, Phillies, and Rockies have proven that low budget teams can compete. But, all owners and fans know marquee players put butts in the seats.
The Marlins saw some of their highest attendance this year when Ken Griffey Jr. came to town, and their fan base was screaming to "bring home" Manny Ramirez - a player that could have catapulted them into the playoffs like the Dodgers.
But the Marlins did not trade for Manny. Why? Because they knew in three months they wouldn't be able to afford him. They couldn't expense their fans the luxury of watching Manny be Manny.
You may suggest that the fans are to blame for not showing up in hordes to see a winning team. Perhaps, like the minor leagues show, there is more to the game than 54 plus outs. There is the entertainment factor, and frankly, The amazing Amezaga's sub time isn't enough.
It is time for the Major League Baseball owners to take a hint from their counterparts in the NHL. Add a cap on salaries. Force players to have realistic expectations. They are fulfilling millions of peoples' dreams on the diamond, and taking the fans and owners for a ride in doing it.
A salary cap will lead to fewer expenses for owners. More parity on rosters leads to increased competition and more exciting games. Less expenses could lead to lower pricing, but lower pricing and more exciting games may lead to higher demand. Higher demand could equal revenue management opportunities for owners anyway!
The Yankees, Angels, and Red Sox, the luxury tax teams, are not going anywhere. But teams are going to have to start relocating, starting with the Marlins and potential Atlantic City, NJ. Rays, if the revenue streams cannot balance out or exceed their expenses.
It is a classic example of the rich getting richer, for the players and the teams that can afford them, and the poor getting poorer.
With all of us losing money by the day in this economy, it's for MLB and the players, to take one for the team. Take one for the fans. Perhaps if the MLBPA would provide an economy lesson for their players it would help.
But right now, right here, I beg you, please do not let the salaries of players handicap the sport, be it one team or 30. Do not make Bud Selig go to Washington for bailout help instead of steroid hearings.
Major League Baseball players, think of the fans who sit in the nose bleeds, who are forced to buy scalped tickets. Listen to Rascal Flatts "This One's for the Fans" before you let your agent negotiate this off-season.
Look at what excessive salaries have done to the big three; don't do it to America's past time.
Because of the economy, because we care, because we've supported you for one week or 86 years, because we wear clothes with your name on it, or get shoes customized to your teams colors.
Take one for the team.
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