Thanks Pittsburgh: 10 Reasons MLB Is Facing a Labor Dispute

Adam RosenCorrespondent IISeptember 6, 2010

Thanks Pittsburgh: 10 Reasons MLB Is Facing a Labor Dispute

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    We all thought the Pirates and Marlins were in dire need of financial help.

    We all were wrong.

    A few weeks ago, documents were leaked pertaining to the Pirates and Marlins financial situations.

    With the news, fans from Florida and Pittsburgh were outraged, and shock waves were felt around the MLB community.

    What appeared to be two unprofitable teams simply trying to survive, are anything but. It is yet to be scene if the MLB is in trouble, as another strike is possibly looming.

    As I present,10 reasons MLB is facing a labor dispute, we can only wonder what is next for baseball.

    Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

    Let's play ball. 

New Deal or Strike?

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    With the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expiring in December of 2011,  MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has stated the MLB's economic system needs to be tweaked, with hopes of avoiding another lockout for the first time since the 1994 season. 

    The NHL experienced a lockout prior to the 2004-2005 season, and unless a new CBA is agreed upon by MLB and the player's union, MLB will be next. 

    Over the past few years, fans and companies have cut spending due to the economic downward spiral the United States economy is currently facing. Many U.S. sports leagues and organizations have seen attendance and sponsorship revenue fall, and according to MLB general counsel Thomas Ostertag, baseball attendance is down 1 to 2 percent this season. 

    There is still time for a new CBA to be agreed upon, as talks for a new deal will begin sometime between this fall and next spring. 

    Four years ago, MLB was on the cusp of a lockout. 

    While baseball had experienced several strikes and lockouts in previous decades, including a strike that led to cancellation of the 1994 World Series, back in 2006, the union reached a deal with owners two months before the existing deal was set to expire.

    Therefore, are MLB fans on the verge of sweating through the 2011 season with the possibility of a lockout on the horizon?

    We have seen it before. Don't be surprised if it happens again. 

Let's Go To The Video Tape

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    After pitching arguably  the most famous one-hitter of all-time, how different the life of Armando Galarraga would've been if MLB had instant replay?

    Despite some criticism that instant replay takes too long, there is no reason for MLB not to expand replay to calls on the base paths.  As commissioner, Bud Selig must establish widespread instant replay throughout game. 

    Whether he personally decides how the replay will be conducted, or if a committee of executives, players, MLB officials and union officials come together to discuss the proper usage of replay, seeing a 28 year old pitcher, who was one-blown call away from pitching the 21st perfect game in MLB history, should say enough.

    Galarraga was robbed, and so were the fans of Major League Baseball.

    Now, in 2010, MLB has the technology to apply replay to the game.  It's time for Selig and MLB to get off their high-horse, and figure out what's the right thing to do.

HGH Testing

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    This past July, MLB announced that it would begin blood testing of Minor League players for the detection of human growth hormone, becoming the first U.S. professional sports organization to conduct testing for HGH.

    Currently, MLB's testing program for performance-enhancing drugs does not include testing for HGH, which is naturally produced and is extremely difficult to detect.

    The move to begin HGH testing in the Minors could be made by MLB because Minor League players are not members of the Major League Baseball Players Association. While HGH is banned in the Major Leagues, players only undergo urine testing, which is not used to detect HGH, but rather, other Performance-Enhancing Drugs.

    Any such testing on Major Leaguers would be subject to the collective bargaining agreement, and the MLBPA has expressed concerns about including HGH blood testing in the CBA, which expires Dec. 11, 2011.  

    For obvious reasons the Players Union will never agree to HGH testing.

    I don't think I need to explain why. 

Salary Cap

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    With the CBA set to expire in a little more than a year from now, one of the most talked about issues in baseball over the past few seasons - a baseball salary cap—is at the forefront of discussions, once again. 

    Although a cap would ensure fairness amongst all 30 teams, it's essential to understand that when examining  the salary cap, the issue is not over its existence but rather, the lack of one in baseball.

    Without a cap, wealthier teams like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, undoubtedly have a significant advantage over the other teams, and can load their rosters will all-star players at every position.

    Do I really need to name the Yankees infield?

    While a salary cap would prevent astronomical contracts, and would provide equal opportunities within the sport and ensuring that competitive play continues, but the Player's union would never allow it.

    Major leaguers earn too much money, and despite the economic downward spiral the United States is facing, the players will never give up the opportunity of signing a mega-contract. 

    However, even without a salary cap, the wealthy teams do not always win and the less wealthy always lose, as proven by the 2003 Florida Marlins or the 2008 AL Champions, Tampa Bay Rays.  Both of those teams did not have unlimited funds at their disposal, but yet, still managed to win a championship, and represent their league in the World Series, respectively. 

    There are criticisms of salary caps, as well.

    If MLB were to implement a salary cap, teams like the Yankees would  be punished, and  would be forced to re-adjust their roster and release some important players due to the salary limit.  While the cap, will also make trading players between teams difficult, too.

    Until a salary cap is implemented, the imbalance in baseball will remain, and when next season rolls around, the same issue will be discussed?

    Does MLB need a salary cap?

    Some say yes, others say no.

    And until a drastic change happens, we will never no, as we continue to wait and wonder if things are ever going to change. 

A Harsher Luxury Tax

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    Baseball already has a luxury tux, but it does not affect the teams with the highest payrolls.  Those teams are simply willing to go beyond the payroll limit, in order to better their chances of improving their roster, with hopes of winning a World Series championship.

    When the financial statements from the Marlins and Pirates were revealed, it raised the question of whether or not baseball should eliminate the revenue-sharing program, or simply, enforce a harsher luxury tax - a tax teams will be afraid of paying. 

    MLB has found a major flaw in the revenue-sharing system, and instead of always blaming the Yankees for spending all of its profits on trying to improve their roster, it's time to focus on the  bottom of the barrel teams, who apparently aren't spending any money at all.

    MLB must enforce them to spend their profits, and if teams such as the Pirates or Marlins are unwilling to oblige, punish them.

    A  "minimum-payroll" number should be implemented, and if any teams fail to meet that minimum threshold, besides for enforcing a tax, take away a draft pick or suspend players. 

    The MLBPA would never allow that, but it's not fair for the cities of Pittsburgh and Florida to see their respective teams and owners just pocket their earnings, and watch their franchises fall by the wayside, while they finish in last place every season. 

    Something must be done to make sure certain teams start becoming competitive.

    Hopefully, commissioner Bud Selig will realize this as well. 

Revenue Sharing

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    MLB's revenue sharing program was supposed to take away money from teams that make a lot of it and give it to teams that need the financial support.

    Through the end of the current CBA (2011 season), all 30 teams pay 31 percent of their local revenues into a pot each season. This pot is then evenly distributed among the 30 teams.

    While a  team in New York or Chicago pay more into this pot than a team in Tampa Bay or Kansas City,  MLB distributes a portion of their Central Fund, which is comprised from sources like the television contract with the various networks, among the 30 teams with the teams that have the lowest revenues getting the most money.

    Now that everyone understand how revenue sharing works, wasn't this money supposed to help the teams that didn't sell out every night, or help the teams that didn't make the playoffs, and finished in the last place every season?

    That's what I thought. 

    But after documents were leaked the Pirates were revealed to have made $29.4 million in profits in 2007 and in 2008, the Marlins took in $95.2 million in revenue sharing, central-fund and local radio-TV payouts in 2008 (before they sold a ticket) and turned a $29.46 million profitand had a $36.8 million payroll, should revenue sharing continue?

    It appeared the Pirates and Marlins were in financial trouble, and since many of us were under that impression, we were fooled to think the money these teams were receiving from the revenue sharing program were aiding these franchises in helping them stay afloat.

    It has been reported, that although MLB and the MLBPA already knew that some of baseball's "poor" teams have been making small profits, the public did not.    

    According to, since 2000, 23 of  the 30 clubs in MLB have made the playoffs, and two of the seven that have not reached the playoffs (the Cincinnati Reds and the Texas Rangers) are on track to participate in the postseason this year.

    Despite baseball's attendance being down roughly two percent this season, the growing attendance that baseball has seen over the years, and the revenue that has been coming in over the past decade, continues to prove that fans are not turned off by any perceived imbalance, and revenue sharing does not appear to help poor teams compete.

    Not every season, the teams who have the highest payroll play in the World Series, ala the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays. Therefore, instead of tweaking the current revenue-sharing system, baseball should eliminate it completely.

    Because as we have seen, the public's perception of the smaller market teams unable to turn a profit is incorrect.

    Why should the Yankees and the Red Sox continue to give "their money" to the Pirates and Marlins, when they don't even use their profits to improve their team?

    The Rays have improved and succeeded by drafting players like Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, Evan Longoria and David Price.

    They have done it the correct way.  That's how it should be. 

Do the Wealthier Teams Run the Show?

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    It's simple. 

    As long as the teams with the highest payrolls continue to win, people will always have an issue with the way the economics of baseball work.

    So here's my advice, if you want change, start rooting for the Orioles, Pirates, Royals and Indians.

    Then, people will start realizing the Yankees don't win every year.

    (just most of the time)

Mega Contracts

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    The Good:

    Alex Rodriguez signed a 10-year, $275 million dollar contract.

    CC Sabathia signed a 7-year, $161 million dollar contract.

    Mark Teixeira signed an 8-year, $180 million dollar contract.

    The Bad:

    Vernon Wells signed a 7-year, $126 million dollar contract extension with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2006.

    Barry Zito signed a 7-year, $126 million million dollar contract with the San Francisco Giants in 2006. 

    Chan Ho Park signed a 5-year, $65 million dollar contract with the Texas Rangers in 2002. 

    Mike Hampton signed an 8-year, $121 million dollar contract with the Colorado Rockies in 2000. 

    Get my drift.

    Therefore, until all contracts are performance based (not guaranteed), an injured player does not get paid while he's on the disabled list, or there is a maxmimum amount a player can earn, baseball will continue to have labor issues. 

    Then again, if baseball follows some of these ideas, we'd all be better off. 

Does MLB Really Want A Royals/Pirates World Series?

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    October baseball is meant to be played in the City of Brotherly Love or under the bright light s of Yankee Stadium. October baseball is meant to played in the Golden or Sunshine State.

    Although baseball is facing another labor dispute when the current CBA expires and changes will be made, does MLB really want to implement a salary cap, or have parody in the game?

    I am not speaking on behalf of commissioner Bud Selig, but my gut tells me, Selig does not mind if the Yankees represent the American League, and  the Phillies represent the National League in the World Series come October?

    If you don't,  do us all a favor, and re-think what is in the best interest of the game, because if the Royals and Pirates are playing in the World Series, you'll be wishing the Yankees were there.


    Because the Yankees are great for baseball.

    Let's not ever forget that. 

Things Will Never Change

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    Let's be realistic.

    Although a new CBA will eventually be agreed upon (we hope), and whether or not it includes a different revenue sharing program or a harsher luxury tax, until the Yankees stop spending millions of dollars every off season by signing the best players available to massive contracts, the smaller-market teams, and Yankee  haters alike, will always find flaws in MLB's financial system.

    But we all know, baseball is perfect the way it is.

    There is no need to change anything about it.