The MLB Players' Association has finally set a strike deadline date of August 30, and the reaction from the sportswriters is sadly predictable. Jack cites this article from Arizona, while Rob has this one from MSNBC.
I've left comments on each of their entries that basically says the following:
The players have one weapon in their arsenal, and that's a strike. If they don't set a deadline (and that's what this is, a deadline), the owners can simply declare an impasse and impose a lockout in April until they get what they want. That's a consequence of the antitrust exemption.
The players aren't making any extra demands. They're asking that things stay the same. It's the owners who are making demands. The players, very reasonably, are refusing to give back what they're won fair and square in the past.
I remain optimistic that there won't be a strike, but I'm really pissed about the lousy coverage that the major media gives to the subject. Blaming "greedy players" as Celizic [in the MSNBC article] does is just ignorant.
Getting back to my point about coverage, Joe Sheehan, who has sadly retired from the Baseball Prospectus, addressed this a few weeks ago, and I think he's dead on:
I was pretty frustrated and angry after reading a column Phil Rogers wrote for Sunday's Chicago Tribune, another in his long series of economically illiterate pieces on the current CBA negotiations. Rogers is probably the most openly pro-owner shill out there, and this article fit right in with the rest of his work: Bud Selig is a heroic figure who only wants to do the right thing for baseball, and if the greedy players would just do what their NFL and NBA brethren have done, everybody would be a lot happier.
I'm guessing Rogers gets a lifetime pass to the front of the press-box buffet line for this piece, but any resemblance to this or any other reality is entirely coincidental.
The coverage of baseball's economics by the nation's largest media companies would be an embarrassment if said companies actually cared. But because so many of them have an active interest in baseball's anti-marketing campaign--how many of you have consumed information this morning from Disney, Fox, the Tribune Company or AOL/Time Warner?--the work they do on the back page or in Section C is held to a standard so low you can't see it without a shovel and a miner's hat.
It's frustrating to read a Phil Rogers, or a Hal Bodley, or a Dave Kindred and know that their message of jealousy and their counter-factual argumentation reaches so many people and drives so much of the discussion. The cacophony of pro-establishment media drowns out reasoned voices, ones that acknowledge the complexity of the issues and the forces involved. It's hard for a Doug Pappas or an Allan Barra to reach enough people to counteract that.
I, and many others here at BP, take a lot of grief for our "pro-player" stances. The point I try to make, over and over, is that I'm not necessarily pro-player as much as I'm pro-honesty, pro-not-having-my-intelligence-insulted. When Don Fehr stands in front of a microphone and tells me Alex Rodriguez made $6.45 an hour last year, then I'll equate him with the people who still insist Wayne Huizenga lost money in 1997.