First Pitch: Day Sixty Eight – The Pittsburgh Bob Nuttings

We’re on Jaromir Jagr day of the MLB lockout.

This week, MLB owners plan to meet on Tuesday-Thursday in Orlando, which is actually where I live.

This week, me and the MLB owners will pool our collective billions of dollars in resources to decide if we’re ever going to yield a financial inch to the players association, and if we’re going to try that Pho restaurant we keep passing.

The owners have taken the following measures so far:

**Initiated an unnecessary lockout the moment the previous CBA expired

**Went six weeks without any negotiations

**Received proposals from the players and tried to respond with a federal mediator

Now, they’ll meet to decide if Spring Training games will be delayed, because this has all been dragging on for some reason.

None of this has to happen. The owners don’t need to do a lockout. If they didn’t, then things would proceed mostly as normal right now, under the rules of the 2021 season.

One key issue that would take place if they lifted the lockout is that there would be no luxury tax in place. That would allow for unchecked spending — which there should be anyway, if the luxury tax weren’t operating as an unofficial salary cap. If that took place, it would all but confirm that the luxury tax has been used for these purposes. Or, the owners could collude to remain below that total, and the owners have never been above collusion to hold down player wages.

It seems unlikely that the owners will come to any conclusions that the players would agree to. The whole approach by the owners seems to be putting pressure on the players.

The players are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to public opinion.

Most baseball fans cheer for teams, not players. That’s increasingly true over the last three decades, where unchecked free agency has made it so that no team’s fanbase can ever get attached to their star player. The players are no more than hired guns for the team, and the team is ultimately the owner.

Except, we don’t call them the Pittsburgh Bob Nuttings. We call them the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Ultimately, Bob Nutting gets money to run his business — either from the fans in Pittsburgh, the local TV deal with whatever FSN/ROOT/AT&T is called these days, and from the bigger market teams in the league that ensure small market owners like Nutting stay afloat. He chooses to spend a percentage of that money on players — you know, the actual product on the field.

The problem is that this percentage has gone down over the years, and threatens to go down further. Owners are now in a situation where they don’t even need to attempt to bring fans to the stadium in order to draw profits. The Pirates lost one million fans in attendance from 2015 to 2019. Their payroll has been absolutely shredded — and it should, since they’re rebuilding right now. But do you think that payroll will go up rapidly before attendance returns rapidly? We didn’t see that happen last time, with the payroll only increasing after attendance increased.

There’s a clear separation in the minds of fans. Pirates fans clearly aren’t Bob Nutting fans. The franchise of the Pittsburgh Pirates has been around since before Bob Nutting’s great-grandfather started Ogden Newspapers in 1890. In theory, Bob Nutting doesn’t own the Pirates. He’s just renting the organization.

Except, the reality is that America is now mostly owned and controlled by generational wealth. Bob Nutting was born with such a big lead off third base that he was standing in the right-handed batter’s box before the pitcher delivered the pitch. His family used their wealth to buy the Pirates, and have seen that purchase soar to become their biggest asset. He’s already stated his intention to pass the franchise on to his daughters.

The reality is that there’s no Pittsburgh Pirates. There’s Bob Nutting’s company, and the players who work for him. This company is now a family business, at least until something happens where Nutting is forced to sell and collect his billion dollars. By 2122, the great grandchildren of his daughters will still be living off of the wealth that he has today.

And yet, there will be baseball fans who will get upset at the players — the majority of them who haven’t made more than a few hundred thousand in their careers by age 24, all because they made way more money than the average worker at one of Bob Nutting’s newspapers, or one of his old ski resorts.

This same situation is going on across every single franchise in baseball. There’s an extremely rich owner who could cash out at any time and set his family up for life. Instead, they’re collectively haggling to keep wages low.

That makes sense when you think about how the Pirates aren’t really worth a billion dollars. That’s a fictional number, made up on the assumption that the team continues to keep wages at their lower rate. If wages go up, the potential for profit or the potential to purchase additional assets goes down. That decreases the value of the franchise over time.

Bob Nutting’s great-great-great-grandchildren would still be fine. Don’t worry about them. They’ll be able to afford their flying cars. At worst, MLB makes a change where small market owners would need to fund payroll with their own money, which might force an owner with lower liquidity like Nutting to sell. And his great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren would still inherit the land that they will eventually rule on Mars, thanks to the generational wealth from their ancestors on Earth.

The owners will meet this week and try to figure out how they can hold their ground, and add pressure to the players. Because they know most fans don’t think the way I just laid it out. Most fans just want baseball to return. They don’t like the owner, but they like his company. The players have no ownership or long-term attachment to any team, and make more than the majority of baseball fans.

Who do you think the public will turn on when games get cancelled?

Daily Links

New Article Drop Tomorrow!


Top 100 Prospects: The Pirates Have a Strong Showing Heading Into 2022

“Strengthening Between the Ears,” Quinn Priester Preparing For 2022

A Clear Mindset Drives Roansy Contreras to the Top 100 and the Majors

Williams: The Capacity For Change

Tsung-Che Cheng Gains Valuable Experience in Winter Ball

Logan Hofmann: Spin Rate Makes Righty Interesting Prospect to Watch

Prospect Notes: Logan Hofmann, Brad Case, Nick Dombkowski, Tsung-Che Cheng

**EL Toro Rides Again: Former Pirate Pedro Alvarez Joins the Brewers in Assistant Role

**Five Things That Need to Happen for the Pirates to Take a Step Forward in 2022

**Youth Movement: Five MLB Umpires Retire, Five New Ones on the Way

**MLB Lockout: The Floor and Ceiling Farce

**This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: February 7th, Nine Former Pirates Born on This Date

**Card of the Day: 1968 Topps Juan Pizarro

PBN Updates

First Pitch: Day Sixty Two – This Month on Pirates Prospects

Song of the Day

Last Week on First Pitch

MONDAY: Lockout

TUESDAY: This Month on Pirates Prospects

WEDNESDAY: Black History Month


FRIDAY: Andrew McCutchen

SATURDAY: Killer Mike

SUNDAY: EndlessPursuit

This Week on First Pitch

MONDAY: The Pittsburgh Bob Nuttings

TUESDAY: This Month on Pirates Prospects

WEDNESDAY: Site Updates

THURSDAY: Marvel Comics/MCU

FRIDAY: Willie Stargell

SATURDAY: Jimi Hendrix

SUNDAY: Sadness

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