January 31, 2006
How not to settle the Bagwell situation

I have to agree with Tom - this column by Richard Justice about how Drayton McLane and Jeff Bagwell should settle their differences is just plain ignorant. I mean, among other things, a little thing called the Collective Bargaining Agreement would prevent Bags from agreeing to give up money that's contractually owed to him. You Red Sox fans, you remember why the Manny-for-A-Rod trade fell through? That was the CBA in action. Seems to me that a professional sportswriter ought to have at least a passing familiarity with this sort of thing.

What's not surprising is Justice's attitude that Bagwell needs to give some money back. There's a distressing tendency among sportswriters to believe that professional athletes are somehow undeserving of the money they're paid. The runup to the CBA agreement of 2002, in which a strike looked likely for much of it, featured some particularly egregious examples of this kind of thinking. You want to make the argument that society would be better if athletes earned less while teachers, nurses, social workers, or whoever earned more, that's fine. But the next time I see a sportswriter cop that same attitude about a team owner, it'll be the first.

The crazy thing is, Justice isn't necessarily out in left field here. I'm not a CBA expert, but perhaps Bagwell could agree to give back some money this year in return for more in the future. Say, in return for giving up $10 million this year, which ought to help the Stros with any remaining payroll quandaries (*cough* *cough* Roger Clemens *cough* *cough*), Bagwell could agree to get paid $7 million in 2008 and 2009. Or something similar, as long as Bagwell gets future value for present. Maybe that would be appealing to both sides and maybe not, but at least it's not a clearcut violation of the CBA. Too bad Justice couldn't get past his preconceived notions and see that for himself.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 31, 2006 to Baseball | TrackBack