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So, What’s Next?

By – Ed Botti

February 25, 2022


Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire

This week it was made official what all of us have known for a while, MLB has postponed Spring Training games until March 5th, at the earliest.

Personally, I keep going back and forth on who’s to blame for this latest greedy manipulation. I do not have a dog in this fight, I just want baseball back. But, I suppose if you really pressed me for an answer, since this started I was more on the players side. That is, until it was revealed last week that Juan Soto and his Agent Scott Boros turned down a 13-year contract worth $350 million made to him earlier this offseason.

I had to sit back for a moment and think about that. What type of environment exists that would compel a 23 year old kid to turn down $350 million dollars to play the game he supposedly loves?

I have no answer printable.

Young Mr. Soto would be able to provide for his family back in Santo Domingo for, conservatively speaking, the next 5 generations? Maybe more?

The fact that a 23 year old kid turned down more money than most people in this world could ever imagine making tells me more than I need to know.

The system is broken and unsustainable. The problem? You can’t put the toothpaste back into the tube.

The way I look at it is if you are 23 years old, and can’t figure out a way to “survive” on $250,000.00 a year, there is a problem.

Let’s not forget that MLB teams cover travel expenses and lodging (and I can promise you they are not staying at a Red Roof Inn off the side of I 80). Moreover, major-league players get a per-diem of $100.50 per day on the road, which is enough for 1 person to eat at some pretty good restaurants. That is if they even need to because there usually is a postgame spread in the locker room anyway, so they don’t have to pay for food there.

How many of you reading this spend $100.00 a day for food?

A table for 1 at Fresco by Scotto works pretty well on that budget.

What exactly is it that Juan needs to buy that $350 Million would not enable him to do so? Does he want to buy the Washington Senators? Does he want to buy Bruce Springsteen’s catalog from Sony Music? Is he looking to purchase the New York Post? Maybe he has his eye on the Empire State Building? Or is he just an egotistical greedy kid that is being influenced by his egotistical greedy Agent?

Photo AP

All at the cost of us, the forgotten fans. The fathers and sons. The mothers and daughters. The little league teams that sit in the nose bleeds down the right field line. The camp groups that wash cars during the summer to afford tickets to a game.

The people that park themselves in front of the TV or radio 162 times a year.

We are the ones that underwrite this entire industry.

We are the ones that no one considers.

This will be the third consecutive screwed up MLB season in a row. Covid ruined 2020. 2021 was compromised by limited fans at the earlier games and the Blue Jays played most of their games in Florida.

Now we have 2022 on target to be ruined once gain. This time from within.

How much do the powers that be think we can take?

According to the most recent survey the average household income in Santo Domingo is $22,732 with a poverty rate of 57.15%.

Amortizing this contract on a straight line basis means Juan would be guaranteed $26,923,076.92 each year from age 23 to age 35 (pre tax).

If we applied Juan’s 2021 numbers to this annual salary he would have been paid $41,166.78 per at bat.

So, Juan would get $41,166 per at bat, while his countrymen earn $22,732 a year breaking their backs in the sun and heat and struggle to put food on the table.

Sounds like a pretty good deal to me. But, no. It wasn’t good enough for Juan and Scott.

Is it just me, or does anyone else see something wrong with that?

And where does it end? We now have a player signed for 2022 that will make $43.3 million. What exactly does Max Scherzer need $240,555 a day for anyway? If you factor in to the equation that he may start approximately 30 games in 2022; he gets paid $1,443,333 per start.

As an aside, I saw footage of Francisco Lindor speaking out about the lockout this week. That would be the same Francisco Lindor that signed a 10 year $341MM contract last year, then proceeded to hit .230 last season while dissing the Mets’ fans, and couldn’t figure out why he was booed.

I wanted to throw my ice tea bottle at my TV! It’s insanity.

I am probably the most critical of Rob Manfred of all of us here at SSTN. I honestly belief he is in way over his head and makes one bad decision after another and that he is incapable of leading the League.

He has made a habit of using his autocratic like powers to banish anyone who opines on his errors and bad judgement. We just saw him use those powers to banish Ken Rosenthal out at the MLB Network because he had the audacity to do his job and went public with criticisms of Manfred’s rule changes.

Manfred has made it unambiguously clear that he does not care about the integrity of the game.

Some say he doesn’t care about the needs of the players, but instead the bank accounts of the owners.

To be fair, first off he works for the owners. Secondly, on his watch a 23 year kid just turned down $350MM and a 37 year old pitcher signed for $43.3MM this off season.

So please spare me the violins MLB players. You live in the lap of luxury.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not dumping all of this on Tony Clark. However, he has plenty to answer for as well.

He has not exactly led the MLBPA very well.

He more than too often panders to petty and tit-for-tat conduct with a much too laid-back of an attitude for a union leader.

I certainly understand that he has his hands full when dealing with the owners. But he is the union leader, and he knew what he was getting into before taking the job.

So my question is what exactly has he done for the players when there isn’t a CBA being negotiated to earn his $2,276,695 salary?

If you look back at his past CBA deals, well let’s just say they have not gone very well. In fact, his past performance is probably one of the reasons why MLB thinks they can get their way in this CBA negotiation.

Frankly put, he is not exactly Nelson Mandela when it comes to negotiations.

I will give him credit for the securing a victory with the minor leaguers finally getting housing benefits. In my opinion, that was an easy win, and frankly should have be done years ago.

It’s a travesty that they let it go on for such a long time.

Oh by the way, minor leaguers aren’t even in the MLBPA (for the most part).

So if a major leaguer thinks about it, he hasn’t done much for them.

I heard a really ridiculous stat earlier this week by Anthony Recker on Baseball Night in New York. The MLB/MLBPA meeting this past Tuesday was by far longer than all 6 of the previous meetings combined.

And we wonder why there is no spring training. Unbelievable.

Photo Ross D. Franklin/AP

From my perspective, the way these two “leaders” are handling the situation months later makes me and other fans wonder whether either of them really wants any baseball in 2022.

I know that is a crazy statement, but look at how they go about their business. No urgency. No deadlines. No resolve.

They act as if they have a 10 game lead with 9 games to play.

Just as bad, they talk out of both sides of their mouths.

Case in point, previously this offseason MLB said “no take backs”, and informed the MLBPA it would not make a counter offer to their demands, despite saying they would counter just two days earlier.

Instead of truly and honestly negotiating and making their counter proposal, MLB then decided to request a federal mediator to settle the dispute. MLB requested the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) to get involved.

The FMCS are an independent agency of the United States Government

As I stated in a previous article, (I hope you read it!) the people that can’t agree on anything, are now going to get involved with Baseball labor relations?

Just what the Doctor ordered!

This week’s meetings, yes they actually had more than one, between MLB and the MLBPA have actually been the most productive to date, even if the progress so far has been at a snail’s pace. While the exact details are still clouded, it appears that MLBPA has made improvements to one of their proposals. The owners remain steadfast on their positions.

It looks like MLBPA is holding firm on their minimum salary plan but has a little wiggle room in their arbitration proposal. If you recall the original deal asked that all players with two years of service time would become arbitration eligible, instead of having to wait three years.

That move would modify the pre-arbitration bonus pool system. The MLBPA had proposed a concession on the bonus pool proposal size to $100 million. Clark decided once again to play a little tit-for-tat and brought the amount back up to the initial $115 million proposed. This would now shelter the top 150 pre-arbitration players.

Another issue still being discussed is if there should be a limit placed on how many times a player can be optioned to the minors each season, and what that number should be?

This has been a valuable tool for the teams, but a reasonable limit makes sense.

One that really gets me angry is the owners are also still stuck on having the capability to further downsize the minor leagues. Tony Clark states that he wants no part of that. But based on Clark’s history, that could change in a New York minute.

Each time these two sides meet it seems to leave baseball in a worse place than they were December 2nd, when this all started.

Each time I look at this, I seem to go back to the Juan Soto(s), Francisco Lindor(s) and Max Scherzer(s) of the League. If the players are so concerned with lower and middle class player’s finances, maybe, the top tier guys should not demand so much money, and by not doing so, there would be plenty to go around for the middle and lower tiered players.

The smaller market teams should not be the minor leagues for the Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox and Mets. In 2021 the Cleveland Indians had a team payroll of $23.5 million. 30 MLB Players, so far, will make more than the entire Cleveland team in 2022.

That is a bad system.

While the rest of the world struggles in these hard times, the Players want more and want us to believe that getting paid millions is somehow unfair.

I for one, am not buying it.

So, where are we?

On Wednesday February 23, MLB echoed a statement they initially made at their February 12 negotiating session in Manhattan: If they don’t get this deal done and in place by Monday, February 28 then there will not be a 162-game season.

So whoever’s side you are on, it is nothing but frustration and anger building up.

Figure it out guys! We the fans deserve it.

As they say, “Ya take what ya need and ya leave the rest”.

Interesting Fact—In 2018 Miguel Andújar became the first rookie third baseman in MLB history to have at least 40 doubles and 25 home runs in his first season.

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