Evan Drellich has a great breakdown of how a Major League Baseball lockout would work this winter over at The Athletic.
The current MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement between the owners and players will expire at 11:59 PM on December 1st. By most expectations, the league will impose a lockout on December 2nd, exactly one month from today.
Drellich explains how that’s the strongest negotiation tactic that the owners can take, with the counterpart for the players being a strike.
Honestly, I don’t think it would matter either way.
This is a league where every single dollar that the players could make are public knowledge before the ink on the contract is dry. It’s also a league where revenues for owners are obfuscated behind promises that every owner is spending as much as they can to win, and none of them are actually making a profit.
In any work stoppage — whether that’s a lockout or a strike — the players are set up to be the bad guys.
Considering the current landscape of this country, a work stoppage will be received in one of two ways.
There will be some who will knee-jerk call the players greedy. These people will know exactly how many millions of dollars the players make, and will be expressing their disdain that the players are negotiating for more.
I’d like to think these people are merely projecting their own inability or unwillingness to demand more from their employers.
Meanwhile, there will be others who side with the players. In our current “No one wants to work anymore” economy, the players will essentially be fighting the same fight that so many people at the lower levels are currently fighting: Pay us what we’re worth.
Never forget: Being a Major League Baseball player is a job. It’s a very demanding job, with no guarantee for long-term security. It’s a job where the players make the owners billions of dollars per year, and the owners respond by paying the players millions.
The biggest issue in the game has been the revenue split between the owners and players. There was a time when the players were making closer to 50% of the revenue in the game. Over the last decade, that has dropped to below 40%, despite MLB making record-levels of revenue every year.
The biggest reason for this has been a shift to higher revenues in areas where players receive less money, or no split at all. As an example, the MLB owners’ investment in MLB Advanced Media, and the sale of BAMTech to Disney was not part of the revenue sharing plan. The payout received by owners in these types of investments — which are formed as a way of selling the game that the players produce — doesn’t have to be shared with the players.
On another major front, we’ve seen a battle play out between a high profile company and a highly paid employee.
Scarlett Johansson recently sued Disney for earnings on the recent Black Widow movie. Disney released the movie in theaters and on their streaming service. The streaming revenues cut into the box office revenues, which wasn’t an issue for Disney, who made money either way. However, it was an issue for Johansson, who received less money from streaming revenues than she did for box office revenues.
Wanting to be paid her fair share, Johansson sued Disney, and the two sides eventually came to an agreement. However, there were the predictable reactions from both sides of the debate, with either Johansson or Disney getting called greedy.
Such is the outcome with any battle between billionaires and millionaires.
But, the millionaires fight in these scenarios is always the fight of the working person, regardless of how much money is at play. The only thing that matters is getting compensated based on your worth.
Compensating players what they’re worth would be a good long-term practice for MLB to attract the best athletes. While Major League Baseball owns a legal monopoly on the game of baseball in the United States, they do not own a monopoly on professional sports. Continuing to underpay their players will drive talented athletes to other sports that have more equal revenue sharing.
It looks like we’re a month away from this fight really starting to take shape…
Pirates Prospects is back behind a paywall. If you are having any issues with your subscription, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.