Baseball's bad timing

Jonathan Last’s column in The Weekly Standard provides an interesting read on how the timing of the pending baseball strike might be counter productive.

I agree with him. :frowning:

It’s bad enough that we baseball fans know how greedy and yucky these guys are; now they’ll look even worse in direct comparison to the sentimentality of the anniversary.


[This isn’t quite a GD, though a lil heavier than the usual IMHO stuff.]

This came from the Weekly Standard??

Last could start a political organization called Conservatives Against Greed. It’d be a small group, though.

This post isn’t taking any position whatsoever on greed. It’s just that economic conservatives look silly when they speak out against it.

And how come corporate CEOs who get megamillions even when their corporations do poorly, aren’t also being compared with the firefighters? What makes athletes, or even ballclub owners, special in this regard? Who is entitled to earn more than a NYC firefighter, and why?

I can’t identify a principle under the rhetoric. It isn’t that I disagree with his principles; it’s that I can’t identify one here to agree or disagree with.

Sounds more like whining than anything else.

Don’t you think Jonathan Last makes more than an NYC firefighter? If not, he would likely try to go to find a better paying job.

There are very few of us who don’t wish to maximize our earnings.

Well, it doesn’t matter much to me what side of the fence he’s on - it’s not a political column, strictly speaking. Whether he’s a conservative pundit is immaterial here.

The CEOs aren’t being compared because they’re not the ones going out on strike. Look, you can view their labor situation as simply the haves and the have mores, but there’s a good point being made here. If the players do follow through with their plans - which are really in the prelim stages anyway, let’s remember - they will look even greedier now then they do now. The point is that the players - and yes, definitely the owners as well - think the fans will come back even if there is a work stoppage. All right, they’ve got reason to believe this - baseball has had seven of them, and the fans have returned every single time. But this time is different. If the players are on strike on September 11, 2002, the public as a whole, full of the emotion that will accompany the anniversary of the attacks, will consider all parties involved as the lowest vermin on the Earth - the kind of people so self-absorbed that they will bicker and dicker about millions and millions of dollars for them and them alone, while the country continues to morn actual heroes who, in their minds, are far more worthy of their time and attention - and more important, of their heart.

That is the point. Maybe his conservatism colors it differently for you, and maybe I’m misinterpreting it anyway, but if there actually is a strike on 9/11/02, the game could be struck dead.

And BobT, whether Jonathan Last makes more than a firefighter is irrelevant - he’s not going on strike, and even if he did, no one would give a rat’s ass.

I sincerely doubt that if baseball is on strike on 9/11/2002 that fans will never return to the sport.
The fact that there have been numerous work stoppages in baseball and fans have come back each time, seems to indicate that people still want to watch baseball.
Isn’t past behavior the best indicator of future behavior?

Anyway, it is believed that the players would likely set a strike date much closer to the end of the season because it would have much more leverage at that time. Especially if postseason tickets have already been sold. Teams don’t like to give back money.

That’s ridiculous. Since when was being an economic conservative tantamount to supporting greed and fraud? I challenge you to find a sane economic conservative who thinks theft, fraud, and lying are positive traits. I’m an economic conservative and I don’t think greed is good.

Did you READ the article?

Last never suggests, not once, that ballplayers shouldn’t make lots of money. The point to the article is that the decision to postpone a decision on a strike until around the 11th of September has the potential to make the players look unbelievably greedy and horrible.

And Last is unquestionably right. It doesn’t matter if you think the players or owners are right or wrong - I sympathize with the players more than the owners - but if they walk out that week, they ARE going to look like greedy bastards, players and owners alike. They will look absolutely terrible, and the backlash could be awful. How could you possibly not agree with that? What do YOU think the public’s reaction will be? I think the public reaction will be one of total outrage. MLB is driving itself towards a culvery of public anger anyway; if they strike around Sept. 11, I assure you that 100 million baseball fans, including every newspaper and magazine columnist on the continent, will be talking about what greedy pigs they all are as compared to firefighters. Is it a logical connection? No, but it’s one they’ll all make, and it will hurt MLB, and MLB’s failure to predict that - remember that this is an organization that did not plan to play extra innings in its own All-Star game - could be catastrophic.

That’s all Last is saying. The reason you could find no “principle” under the “rhetoric” is because there was no principle to be made and no rhetoric to hide it in. He’s making a prediction, and if they strike then, he will be shown to be absolutely correct.

It sure is, and you know what? Past behaviour tells me a strike this year will result in many fans not coming back.

Major league attendance has not been on a continuous upward swing throughout modern baseball history; it HAS gone down, quite dramatically, at times. The 1994 strike put a larger dent in baseball attendance than had been seen since the 1950s, a dent that has never really been made good.

I believe that the 1994 strike was completely different from all other work stoppages; cancelling the World Series obviously had an enormous effect on attendance, setting back seven years of progress. If it happens again this year I believe the attendance effect will be two to three times as bad; I think they’ll be down 20-40% next year. The cumulative effect of cancelling the World Series TWICE, plus the generally deteriorating reputation of major league baseball, will very seriously damage the economic prospects of the major leagues. Many fans simply will not come back anytime soon. I absolutely guarantee it.

I didn’t say they never will - I’m saying that it’ll put a serious dent in the number of people who do come back. There will be fewer fence sitters back when they resume play.

Regardless of how much leverage they think they’ll have, they wound up having the postseason cancelled last time; the owners proved in 1994 that they have few qualms with forgoing the playoffs and all that cash.

Public perception of an ongoing strike will differ after 9/11 from what it would be in August.

If it’s possible to be extremely cynical and extremely stupid at the same time, it looks like that’s what the owners are doing. Yes, a strike date near 9/11 is going to make the players look awfully bad in the eyes of most people, which is probably exactly what the owners want. They’re so caught up in trying to finally win one against the players that they seem willing to do anything, no matter how dumb, to do so (exhibits A, B, C: the contraction straw man, the lies to Congress regarding the financial state of the clubs, and the recent claims that two teams might not be able to meet payroll or survive the season financially). The owners, led by Selig, are still pathetically clinging to the ludicrous notion that the players will succumb to the pressure of public opinion if the owners simply close ranks and feed the public a steady diet of lies and misinformation. It’s a sad commentary on the mental abilities of Bud Selig and his cronies that they seem to genuinely believe that the players are responsible for the management incompetence of several of the owners, and that they should be willing to give up large chunks of the gains they’ve won, at great cost, over the last 30 years in order to protect those owners from their own bad choices. All you need to know about the owners’ intentions this time around can be deduced from the fact that Selig coerced MLB President Paul Beeston, a respected baseball man who had a decent relationship with the Players’ Association, to resign, and replaced him with his personal counsel, Bob DuPuy, who is nearly as fond of lies and distortion as Bud is, as pointed out by Doug Pappas.

There will be a strike. It’ll wipe out the postseason. The owners, instead of bargaining, will trot out the contraction canard again. This time, since MLB already owns the Expos, and Carl Pohlad won’t make the mistake of renewing the Twins’ lease on the Metrodome again, they might pull off contraction – assuming that the MLBPA’s grievance on the issue is decided in favor of the owners. If they do, you can be guaranteed that within a year or so of resuming play, there’ll be two new ownership groups paying hundreds of millions of dollars for franchise rights for expansion teams so that they can “lose money” too.

I’m not so sure there will be a strike, actually. Yes, both sides are hideously out of touch with public perception. But I think the players are slightly more sympathetic than the owners - slightly. Yes, they’re all filthy rich. But when a work stoppage occurs, people boo the players, and some of this has gotten through the thick skulls of the players. This doesn’t mean any of them have a clue about how we feel, exactly, but since the players bear the brunt of the antagonism, they might have a slight inkling.

At any rate, I feel that if they do strike it’ll likely be a short one. Of course, short is relative - I don’t think it’ll be as long as the 1981 or 1994 strikes, but it could run into September (given a mid-August start). And if it runs into Sept… forget any sympathy for any side.

It’s a lot easier to boo the players than the owners. The owners aren’t on the field and TV. However, Selig, an owner, was booed rather lustily by fans in his own hometown and that was even before Tuesday. He was booed at Monday’s Home Run Derby.

I can’t see the owners or players having any PR edge in this dispute.

Selig does have quite a bit of ill will toward him, yes, but there’s two things to keep in mind:

  1. Players would be on strike; fans remember they went on strike in 1994 and blame them. They may think the owners are creeps, but it was the players who broke the fans’ hearts.

  2. Players, not owners, are considered heroes and role models to the fans. Therefore they’d blame the players and consider the owners to be merely culpable.