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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

So who kept Marvin Miller out of the Hall of Fame, anyway? - Baseball Nation

It really was a shame that Marvin Miller didn’t get a chance to enjoy being a Hall of Famer when he was alive. The same thing, of course, happened to Ron Santo. But there was never some terrible conspiracy to keep Santo out of Cooperstown, nor has there been one to keep Marvin Miller out. It just happened. Well-intentioned people make decisions for what seem like good reasons to them, and even to us, but even well-intentioned and -reasoned decisions can lead to imperfect outcomes. In fact, they almost always do.

But Ron Santo is now in the Hall of Fame. And the long arc of history is bending toward justice for Marvin Miller, too.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 27, 2012 at 04:12 PM | 74 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, marvin miller

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   1. John Northey Posted: November 27, 2012 at 04:31 PM (#4310822)
Anyone who voted for Bowie Kuhn over Marvin Miller should be ashamed as they made as bad a choice as a manager picking Jeff Mathis to play first base over Albert Pujols despite the fact Mathis is a catcher who can't hit. Kuhn was a very, very poor commissioner while Miller was an amazing leader of the union. There is no comparison and the fact Kuhn is in while Miller is out just blows your mind.
   2. Bob Tufts Posted: November 27, 2012 at 05:21 PM (#4310892)
In 2011, probably Whitey Herzog and Andy MaxPhail.
   3. SoSH U at work Posted: November 27, 2012 at 05:44 PM (#4310924)

In 2011, probably Whitey Herzog and Andy MaxPhail.


Five of these 16 guys didn't have Marvin on the ballot:

Johnny Bench
Whitey Herzog
Eddie Murray
Jim Palmer
Tony Pérez
Frank Robinson
Ryne Sandberg
Ozzie Smith
Bill Giles
David Glass
Andy MacPhail
Jerry Reinsdorf
Bob Elliott
Tim Kurkjian
Ross Newhan
Tom Verducci

We know Verducci wasn't one of the holdouts, and Palmer said he was a Marvin supporter. We don't know for certain about the rest.

Had he received one more vote, he'd have made it.
   4. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 27, 2012 at 05:51 PM (#4310930)
Kuhn was at least an independent commissioner. He ordered training camps opened in 1976 -- which Marvin Miller wanted -- even though there was no CBA and the Seitz decision had thrown the labor situation into chaos.

Not that this makes Kuhn HOF-worthy, but it does offer us a better commissioner model than today's, wherein the Commissioner is merely the owners' flunky.
   5. puck Posted: November 27, 2012 at 06:12 PM (#4310955)
Is it supposed to be obvious that Miller should be in the HoF? From what I know he was admirable and excellent in his role. He certainly helped change the way the game is today, and I think it is a good thing that players have a chance to be fairly paid. Not that achieving fairness against stout resistance is anything to scoff at, but is that the argument? Or has he made the game better, or contributed to its excellence such that he should be a member of the HoF?
   6. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 27, 2012 at 06:27 PM (#4310966)
It wouldn't offend in any way if Miller made the HOF, but it's hard to see how it's so "obvious." He represented the business interests of a faction of the game, and hopped on a trend that was impacting all sports. There's no union in European soccer, and the players are rich and more free than baseball players. Baseball players are still bound to the team that drafts them for a not insignificant period of time.

Basketball players threatened to strike the All-Star Game two years before Marvin Miller was hired by the baseball players; and Oscar Robertson was fighting the Curt Flood battle before Curt Flood. Probably the best part of Miller's legacy was fighting against the arbirary and capricious treatment by players caught up in the drug "scandals" of the early/mid 1980s, for which he deserves commendation. Once that battle was won, his zealousness on behalf of the faction he represented was probably a net negative for the sport of baseball.

Moving money from the owners' pockets to players' pockets is not itself something that lends itself to HOF election. The idea that MLB players were indentured and oppressed servants before 1976 is preposterous. They were well-paid, well-known celebrities and had been for decades. There's, of course, nothing wrong with moving that money; it just isn't anything that people who enjoy the sport part of the business should care about. Ths split of the gross proceeds as between the Steinbrenners and, say, Alex Rodriguez is literally irrelevant to the sport of baseball at its highest level.
   7. Chicago Joe Posted: November 27, 2012 at 06:29 PM (#4310969)
the players are rich and more free than baseball players.


Disagree here. The two institutions are so different, it would be hard to make a comparison.
   8. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 27, 2012 at 06:34 PM (#4310974)
I should be a bit more clear about 6, and the money. Miller deserves credit for moving enough money to the players that they could all afford to become full-time practitioners of their craft -- which does impact the quality of the sport. That trend finalizing probably postdates 1976, but it's an empirical question.

The things you bring Marvin Miller in to do were done by the late 80s. After that, his legacy is decidedly mixed.
   9. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: November 27, 2012 at 06:40 PM (#4310981)
Is it supposed to be obvious that Miller should be in the HoF? From what I know he was admirable and excellent in his role. He certainly helped change the way the game is today, and I think it is a good thing that players have a chance to be fairly paid. Not that achieving fairness against stout resistance is anything to scoff at, but is that the argument? Or has he made the game better, or contributed to its excellence such that he should be a member of the HoF?
1) The shifting of money from owners to players enabled even marginal talents to be professional baseball players year round. This has improved the quality of play.

2) The Hall of Fame has scads of owners already and a bunch of commissioners. In most of their cases, you could ask the same questions - what exactly did they contribute? We have an established precedent of inducting important people involved in the business of baseball to the Hall. The most important man in the history of the MLBPA clearly qualifies under that precedent.
   10. Tom Nawrocki Posted: November 27, 2012 at 06:40 PM (#4310982)
Is it supposed to be obvious that Miller should be in the HoF?


I would support his candidacy, but it's not at all obvious to me. There are no people like Marvin Miller already in the Hall of Fame, in part because there are no other people like Marvin Miller.

Putting Miller in would open the door for people like Bill James, Sean Forman, HOK... I can see an argument that that's not what the Hall of Fame is for. I guess maybe Henry Chadwick would qualify as a precursor for those guys.
   11. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 27, 2012 at 06:48 PM (#4310990)
Putting Miller in would open the door for people like Bill James, Sean Forman, HOK... I can see an argument that that's not what the Hall of Fame is for.

It isn't what the HOF is for. What's next, the guy who first brought microbrews to the concession stands?

Some owners have influenced the game on the field, and the commissionership pre-Selig was an independent role. There's reasons for at least some of them to be in the HOF (but of course the primary reason most of them are in is because the guys with the money like to give each other awards.)

Beyond fully professionalizing the trade, Miller didn't really contribute much to the sport itself, and his factionalism (his job) arguably acted to the sport's detriment. If you don't have or feel the urge to "get even" with the owners and commissioners in there, his case isn't that great.
   12. Chicago Joe Posted: November 27, 2012 at 07:04 PM (#4310997)
his factionalism (his job) arguably acted to the sport's detriment

How?
   13. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 27, 2012 at 07:07 PM (#4311000)
How?

'Roids for one. His primary concern wasn't the competition on the field (again, his job), and that's what's most important.

I don't know -- if I'm starting a Film Hall of Fame, I'm not sure the leader of the Screen Actors Guild is going in. I'd put top-grade producers in first and the producers of baseball are the owners.
   14. Chicago Joe Posted: November 27, 2012 at 07:07 PM (#4311001)
The things you bring Marvin Miller in to do were done by the late 80s.


Miller was done as union head by 1982, IIRC.
   15. Chicago Joe Posted: November 27, 2012 at 07:14 PM (#4311004)
I'd put top-grade producers in first and the producers of baseball are the owners.


I, too, remember John Galbreath's climactic homer in the 1960 World Series.
   16. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 27, 2012 at 07:25 PM (#4311009)
Miller was done as union head by 1982, IIRC.

Which means he left right after the silly strike of 1981 and wasn't responsible for taking away the power of the owners to discipline drug users. That worsens his case.
   17. Tom Nawrocki Posted: November 27, 2012 at 07:34 PM (#4311011)
The Hall of Fame has scads of owners already and a bunch of commissioners. In most of their cases, you could ask the same questions - what exactly did they contribute?


I don't find that very persuasive. People rightly don't use Bruce Sutter and Tommy McCarthy as precedents for inducting their pet players. Tom Yawkey and Bowie Kuhn were mistakes; we shouldn't use them as an excuse to induct Marvin Miller.
   18. slackerjack Posted: November 27, 2012 at 07:51 PM (#4311026)
Marvin Miller was an absolute giant in baseball history. He beat extremely long odds to even become their union leader, because he was being sabotaged the whole way by the owners. His list of accomplishments is huge:

- in the first CBA in 1968, raised the minimum salary from $6,000 to $10,000 in 1968 (the last time it was raised, it went from $5,000 to $6,000 in 1947!)
- won grievance rights with a independent arbitrator (instead of the Commissioner, who was not neutral)
- won salary arbitration rights
- assisted Catfish Hunter in his grievance after Charlie Finley reneged on his contract (Hunter went from $100,000/year to $750,000/year when he changed teams, which helped illustrate just how underpaid players were)
- used the Messerschmidt/McNally case to get the reserve clause overturned, and parlayed that into Free Agency
- assisted Carlton Fisk and Fred Lynn in gaining free agency when the Red Sox failed to offer them contracts (their agents were completely incompetent, and failed to let their clients know about the contract deadline)
- successfully defended Free Agency against the "direct player compensation" scheme the owners tried to impose, which led to the 1981 players strike

Under Miller between 1966 and 1982, the average player salary went from $19,000 to $326,000.

The most important thing he did was unite the players. He was an excellent communicator, and did a great job explaining to players what was important, and what was worth fighting for. Few people know it, but Miller advised the players against striking in 1972, but they overruled him.

After hearing the recent Hamrlik and Neiwerth comments in the news over the weekend, blasting their own leader Don Fehr, I cannot help but think of a speech Miller gave to the players in 1990, when there were cracks beginning to show in their solidarity:


The dissenting remarks made by certain players had given new strength to the owners' resolve. The result was that a settlement had already been delayed, and the settlement they were going to get out of the negotiations would not be as good as it could have been. But, I said, whatever happens you'll get a better deal if you stay together. I told them what I had told the players from the beginning: Stay solid, because you are irreplaceable. Stay solid, and you can have anything that's reasonable and fair.




   19. slackerjack Posted: November 27, 2012 at 08:00 PM (#4311032)
Which means he left right after the silly strike of 1981 and wasn't responsible for taking away the power of the owners to discipline drug users. That worsens his case.


Que? There was nothing silly about the 1981 strike.

The 1981 strike was all about protecting free agency. The owners wanted to strangle free agency in the crib by imposing a serious "direct compensation" penalty on any team that signed a free agent. It would have eliminated free agency for all but a handful of star players.

What, exactly, was so silly about that?
   20. asinwreck Posted: November 27, 2012 at 09:04 PM (#4311065)
What is the argument for including Bowie Kuhn and excluding Marvin Miller? What accomplishments did Kuhn have as commissioner, other than losing to Miller, making odd "for the good of the game" rulings against Charlie Finley, and getting canned when owners tired of his incompetence? Pioneering tax evasion methods in Florida? Maybe so, as a forefather to Loria...
   21. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 27, 2012 at 09:10 PM (#4311069)
What accomplishments did Kuhn have as commissioner,

Ordering training camps opened in 1976, against the owners' wishes.

That doesn't qualify him for the Hall of Fame, but it was a great accomplishment.
   22. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 27, 2012 at 09:16 PM (#4311070)
Kuhn also shepherded the admission of Negro Leaguers fully into the HOF, against the wishes of the HOF board -- another great accomplishment.

   23. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 27, 2012 at 09:21 PM (#4311072)
Making the Braves play Hank Aaron on the road in the first series of 1974 (where he hit 714) was also a very wise and judicious exercise of the power of an independent commissioner.

Bowie Kuhn was actually a far better commissioner than the used car salesman currently occupying the office -- if for no more than the ability to make a decision without farming it out to a committee for a year of study. He was simply a more professionally accomplished man than Bud Selig in virtually every way.
   24. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: November 27, 2012 at 09:31 PM (#4311077)
Under Miller between 1966 and 1982, the average player salary went from $19,000 to $326,000.

Meaning the average baseball player's salary went from four times the average workingman's salary to twenty-two times. Now it's $3.4 million, or about eighty times what the ticket-buying public is earning. Eighty. Freakin'. Times. Is this really a good thing?

Look, I know you can't put the genie back in the bottle; if tomorrow they slashed salaries to a bare-bones (ha!) average of just one million dollars a year, the owners would proceed to keep the extra money; they wouldn't be giving it back to the fans. And you can't deny the current financial model is working: somebody's paying for those thousand-dollar seats in Yankee Stadium, and somebody's buying the products that allow advertisers to support TV networks that give MLB a kajillion dollars every year.

It's just...geez. Is this really the way it's supposed to be? Games in played in soulless, billion-dollar concrete palaces? A night out at the ballpark costing a week's pay? World Series contests stretching past midnight so the networks can sell more soap? Really?

I know, I know...you can't stop progress. But...this is progress? Really?

   25. Bhaakon Posted: November 27, 2012 at 09:34 PM (#4311078)
Not that this makes Kuhn HOF-worthy, but it does offer us a better commissioner model than today's, wherein the Commissioner is merely the owners' flunky.


I'm not really sure that that's true. It seems to me like an independent commish just throws another potential monkey wrench into labor relations, and that a commissioner who is effective at organizing and moderating the owners to speak with one, sane voice (or close to it) is better for the stability of the league.
   26. KT's Pot Arb Posted: November 27, 2012 at 10:01 PM (#4311084)
Kuhn was at least an independent commissioner.


LOL. Every single commissioner has worked for and been paid by the owners. Judge Landis may have come in with some independence due to the severity of baseballs need at the time, but any commissioner who has ever gone against the majority of owners in important matters was soon replaced. Bowie Kuhn, who spent 20 years as the owners stooge lawyer acted independently only when it wouldn't offend a majority of his bosses.

Bowie should have been banned from the HOF for his idea to segregate negro leaguers in the hall. He's a buffoon who after it blew up in his face pretended it was some brilliant idea to force their hand, which of course is laughable.
   27. Bob T Posted: November 27, 2012 at 10:49 PM (#4311096)
I wandered into this thread and wondered if I was actually reading Slate.

Slate Sports: "Why teams that score fewer runs should be allowed to win the game." "Ted Williams' offense was overrated." "Your parents hate you, and why they are right."
   28. Ray (RDP) Posted: November 27, 2012 at 10:52 PM (#4311098)
From Joe Sheehan's newsletter. I agree with his point about the HOF becoming irrelevant:

"There was great frustration expressed today by some that Miller, like Ron Santo before him, had died before being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Frankly, I don't care. The Hall of Fame is rapidly losing its ability to honor, owing in part to its abdication of a leadership role in the PED mess, which is allowing the BBWAA to destroy the credibility of the institution. We'll soon have a Hall with Jim Rice and Bruce Sutter and Kirby Puckett and Jack Morris, but one without Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens and Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell. We'll have committees devoted to inducting long-dead ballplayers who were legitimately scrutinized and passed over as being unworthy, but no such examination of why voting eligibility is established by the media landscape of the Depression. The Hall is drifting into irrelevance and it's doing so by choice.

...We are all better off for what Miller achieved with the MLBPA. He is one of the most important men in baseball history, and neither he nor we need the imprimatur of a dying institution to recognize what he meant to the game.
   29. Ray (RDP) Posted: November 27, 2012 at 11:00 PM (#4311100)
How?

'Roids for one. His primary concern wasn't the competition on the field (again, his job), and that's what's most important.


Huh? The drug wars - and certainly the steroids wars - basically came after Miller left the MLBPA.

The bottom line is that if someone like Kuhn is in, you have to work too hard to argue that Miller should be excluded.
   30. Gaelan Posted: November 27, 2012 at 11:17 PM (#4311106)
The things you bring Marvin Miller in to do were done by the late 80s. After that, his legacy is decidedly mixed.


You obviously haven't been paying attention to what is happening in hockey. Marvin Miller and then Don Fehr saved baseball from the pernicious machinations of its owners.


   31. susan mullen Posted: November 28, 2012 at 02:01 AM (#4311161)
4/25/2008, AP, "Fehr said changes in the format of the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee made it a "foregone conclusion that Marvin Miller would never be elected." Miller, the former union leader whose strategies helped create free agency and multimillion-dollar salaries, received 51 of 81 (63 percent) in early 2007, falling 10 votes shy of the needed 75%. Miller got just three of 12 votes in December. "It makes me sort of very sad," Fehr said." This item at the end of the column."Selig may not fine brass implicated in Mitchell Report"
   32. SoSH U at work Posted: November 28, 2012 at 02:38 AM (#4311175)
4/25/2008, AP, "Fehr said changes in the format of the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee made it a "foregone conclusion that Marvin Miller would never be elected." Miller, the former union leader whose strategies helped create free agency and multimillion-dollar salaries, received 51 of 81 (63 percent) in early 2007, falling 10 votes shy of the needed 75%. Miller got just three of 12 votes in December. "It makes me sort of very sad," Fehr said." This item at the end of the column."Selig may not fine brass implicated in Mitchell Report"


HOw is this more relevant than the most recent Vet's Committee vote, where Marvin came up just one vote shy?

   33. Bhaakon Posted: November 28, 2012 at 04:25 AM (#4311182)
The Hall of Fame is rapidly losing its ability to honor, owing in part to its abdication of a leadership role in the PED mess, which is allowing the BBWAA to destroy the credibility of the institution. We'll soon have a Hall with Jim Rice and Bruce Sutter and Kirby Puckett and Jack Morris, but one without Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens and Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell.


I wouldn't say that it's losing it's credibility. I think the stance on PED users is much, much softer here than in the general public. Most fans, if not out right agreeing with the permanent exclusion of such players, at least prefer to keep them in limbo for the time being (either as a punishment, or because they're not really sure how to evaluate them). TBH, I myself can't see why there's a militant demand to include them post haste. The effects of PEDs are still poorly understood, and (unless they're way more dangerous than even the crazies believe) these players aren't at any particular risk of dying before their election.
   34. Flynn Posted: November 28, 2012 at 06:50 AM (#4311191)
I know, I know...you can't stop progress. But...this is progress? Really?


Your problem isn't really with baseball but with capitalism. The owners took the genie out of the bottle pretty much from the time they tried to stamp out the Federal League.
   35. John Northey Posted: November 28, 2012 at 07:43 AM (#4311195)
I just shake my head at people saying it is the players fault drugs were in MLB. There have been many reports of amphetamines being openly handed out to players like candy, the owners were very happy to look the other way during the 1998 home run race, and ignored the potential issue when Canseco was clearly using in the late 80's (fans chanted 'steroids' at him often). I'm sure I could come up with more but that is off the top of my head.

Owners will never complain about PED use unless it started to negatively affect the bottom line. Once congress started to complain then the owners went nuts and blamed the union for not letting them put in any rules they wanted. Players wanted some rules, but it was not to be Olympic style ones where you get caught and your career could be over - who in their right mind would want a rule that could cost you your career if a false positive occurred? It is annoying how slow the process is, Ruiz being caught months after he last played for example, but it is safe to say that if the owners set it up we'd see kangaroo court type setups leading to only non-fan draw players getting caught.
   36. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: November 28, 2012 at 08:07 AM (#4311199)
Meaning the average baseball player's salary went from four times the average workingman's salary to twenty-two times. Now it's $3.4 million, or about eighty times what the ticket-buying public is earning. Eighty. Freakin'. Times. Is this really a good thing?
I don't know if it's a "good thing" in a vacuum, but if I knew to a decent certainty that I was one of the best 800 or so people in the world at a difficult job most people lack the ability to do, that at best I could do for only about 20 years, and that tens of millions of people care about and enrich the entities that employ me because of it...I'm pretty sure I'd be pissed if someone was artificially holding down my salary.
   37. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: November 28, 2012 at 09:30 AM (#4311224)
i guess it's the human condition that folks will be interested in what other people earn.

i also accept that if it's a good thing to be interested when it's discovered that a person or a group is being exploited by virtue of finding out the wage scale then the flip side is also going to happen. that folks are going to resent those who earn a lot of money.

i am ok with the former. i find the latter pathetic
   38. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: November 28, 2012 at 09:47 AM (#4311235)
I don't find that very persuasive. People rightly don't use Bruce Sutter and Tommy McCarthy as precedents for inducting their pet players. Tom Yawkey and Bowie Kuhn were mistakes; we shouldn't use them as an excuse to induct Marvin Miller.
Indeed we shouldn't. And I'm not doing that. I'm saying that Miller was at least as important a figure in the business of baseball as the average owner/commissioner inductee.

These are the people in the Hall based pretty much entirely on their work on the business side of the game:

Morgan Bulkeley, Happy Chandler, Barney Dreyfuss, Ford Frick, Will Harridge, William Hulbet, Ban Johnson, Bowie Kuhn, Kenesaw Landis, Walter O'Malley, Bill Veeck, Tom Yawkey

I'd say Miller fits in nicely around the midpoint there.
   39. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: November 28, 2012 at 09:50 AM (#4311237)
Look, I know you can't put the genie back in the bottle; if tomorrow they slashed salaries to a bare-bones (ha!) average of just one million dollars a year, the owners would proceed to keep the extra money; they wouldn't be giving it back to the fans.
There's no evidence that the genie ever was in the bottle. Baseball owners have always been capitalists. The difference now is that the profits are shared with the people who do the actual work of playing baseball and making baseball great.
   40. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 28, 2012 at 10:04 AM (#4311247)
Indeed we shouldn't. And I'm not doing that. I'm saying that Miller was at least as important a figure in the business of baseball as the average owner/commissioner inductee.

Bowie Kuhn's work extended beyond merely the business of baseball. Note: I'm not saying that Marvin Miller is thereby disqualified from the HOF, merely that he doesn't fit merely because of what he did with regards to the business of baseball. I'm warming to his candidacy. He became a zealot later in his life, but when it counted, he compromised in the first post-Seitz Basic Agreement, which was a big boon for the game. He also helped professionalize the trade, as you noted. For all the bluster, he was a terrific caretaker of the game and helped forge the 1969-84 era, arguably baseball's best. (I'd say it was baseball's best.)

The "revolution" in the business of the game turned out in retrospect to be rather bloodless (the only "blood" being the relatively marginal 1981 strike). I'd give both Miller and Kuhn very high marks for that.

The difference now is that the profits are shared with the people who do the actual work of playing baseball and making baseball great.


As they were pre-Miller. A good major league baseball player made far more money than most people, even under the reserve clause.
   41. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: November 28, 2012 at 10:15 AM (#4311257)
I don't find that very persuasive. People rightly don't use Bruce Sutter and Tommy McCarthy as precedents for inducting their pet players. Tom Yawkey and Bowie Kuhn were mistakes; we shouldn't use them as an excuse to induct Marvin Miller.

This was mostly addressed in post 38, but adding my 2 cents: I think this is comparing apples and oranges. The point isn't that Miller is similer to the weakest members of the HOF, it's that a precedent has been established for a class of candidates -- people involved in the business of baseball who didn't have a direct impact on the actual games. If you accept that the HOF should include those types, and I absolutely think it should, Miller is a slam dunk candidate. He's a towering figure in the history of the game.
   42. AROM Posted: November 28, 2012 at 10:15 AM (#4311258)
It isn't what the HOF is for. What's next, the guy who first brought microbrews to the concession stands?


I don't know who that great American hero is, but I would vote for him.

To what extent are the players getting greater shares of revenue than they did pre-Miller?

I found an article on Forbes, a year old, stating that revenue was 212 million per team, or 6.3 billion total, and player expenses was 3.5 billion, so players got 55%. Anyone have a source estimating what the percentages were at earlier points in the game?
   43. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: November 28, 2012 at 10:21 AM (#4311261)
Meaning the average baseball player's salary went from four times the average workingman's salary to twenty-two times. Now it's $3.4 million, or about eighty times what the ticket-buying public is earning. Eighty. Freakin'. Times. Is this really a good thing?

I agree that in the abstract this is depressing, but this trend isn't limited to baseball. The average CEO makes far more relative to his employees than he did 30, 40, 50 years ago. At least with baseball the guys who are actually creating the product, the players, are getting a good piece of the pie. And that's thanks to Miller.
   44. AROM Posted: November 28, 2012 at 10:35 AM (#4311272)
Meaning the average baseball player's salary went from four times the average workingman's salary to twenty-two times. Now it's $3.4 million, or about eighty times what the ticket-buying public is earning. Eighty. Freakin'. Times. Is this really a good thing?


What's the alternative? The public is willing to spend 6-7, going to 8 billion a year on baseball. What doesn't go to the players will stay in the pockets of the owners. It would be nice to see some of this this revenue paying 100% of the cost of stadiums, but good luck getting that racket under control.
   45. bachslunch Posted: November 28, 2012 at 10:43 AM (#4311278)
Meaning the average baseball player's salary went from four times the average workingman's salary to twenty-two times. Now it's $3.4 million, or about eighty times what the ticket-buying public is earning. Eighty. Freakin'. Times. Is this really a good thing?

I don't see why not. For one thing, no one gripes about other marquee folks in the entertainment industry (actors, pop stars, etc.) making untold millions of dollars for their work. Why shouldn't sports players make this kind of money, too?
   46. DL from MN Posted: November 28, 2012 at 11:04 AM (#4311297)
the average workingman's salary ... the ticket-buying public


Are these the same thing anymore? They're making a lot of their money off other wealthy people.

I think it's a very good thing. There's a reason athletes play baseball in places like Australia and the Dominican - it's a path to economic security.
   47. Ray (RDP) Posted: November 28, 2012 at 11:59 AM (#4311357)
I wouldn't say that it's losing it's credibility. I think the stance on PED users is much, much softer here than in the general public. Most fans, if not out right agreeing with the permanent exclusion of such players, at least prefer to keep them in limbo for the time being (either as a punishment, or because they're not really sure how to evaluate them). TBH, I myself can't see why there's a militant demand to include them post haste. The effects of PEDs are still poorly understood, and (unless they're way more dangerous than even the crazies believe) these players aren't at any particular risk of dying before their election.


I think one of the big problems is that as time goes on, the inclusion of Rice and Sutter while Bonds and Clemens and <etc etc etc> are on the sidelines begins to look so ludicrous that the HOF's credibility collapses on the weight of its own faux moralism.

And that's without even getting into the crowded ballot issue.

Kid: "Daddy, why is Kirby Puckett in while this guy Bonds is out?"
Dad: "Because Bonds took steroids."
Kid: <blank stare>
   48. Ray (RDP) Posted: November 28, 2012 at 12:02 PM (#4311359)
i also accept that if it's a good thing to be interested when it's discovered that a person or a group is being exploited by virtue of finding out the wage scale then the flip side is also going to happen. that folks are going to resent those who earn a lot of money.

i am ok with the former. i find the latter pathetic


And the other thing is, how many people in the private sector have their income made public?

How many people in the private sector have been "chosen" by their employer, instead of the other way around, and then have their income artificially suppressed for six years? And during this period, if the player suffers a career altering injury, he has missed out on his chance to make market value for his services; and we can be sure the team isn't going to pay him a dime more than they have to.
   49. Ray (RDP) Posted: November 28, 2012 at 12:07 PM (#4311366)
If you accept that the HOF should include those types, and I absolutely think it should, Miller is a slam dunk candidate. He's a towering figure in the history of the game.


Right; this class of inductees is based on soft factors. And why in the world would a figure of Miller's importance not be included? Why put up a Stand against him?
   50. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: November 28, 2012 at 12:20 PM (#4311383)
post 48

various folks or groups have their wages made public to some degree.

public officials obviously
municipal workers
armed services
entertainers
ceos
execs in public companies

those are some that spring to mind

   51. Random Transaction Generator Posted: November 28, 2012 at 12:22 PM (#4311387)
I think the stance on PED users is much, much softer here than in the general public.


I'm not sure about that.
If you ask the question to a regular sports fan in the middle of a conversation, I don't think you'd get much righteous indignation about PEDs.
If you ask the question in a poll after an article about a player being caught for PED use, I think you'll get a lot of anger about the subject.

I don't think people really care as much as we think, unless the media provokes them into caring about it.

It's probably the same way about all this fiscal cliff stuff in the news. Since the last time the media talked about it (summer 2011) until now, I don't think the average Joe gave a damn about it. But now, after the media has decided to whip up some frenzy about this issue, it's suddenly VERY important to a lot of regular folks outside of Washington.
   52. AROM Posted: November 28, 2012 at 12:32 PM (#4311397)
I've never been in a situation, at least in my jobs after college, where I didn't know what others were making. I'm in government now, but when I was in the private sector I did payroll accounting.

A lot of people would buddy up to me, and try to turn the conversation to how much the boss was making. I found it amusing. Eventually I'd say I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.
   53. Ron J2 Posted: November 28, 2012 at 01:03 PM (#4311440)
Huh? The drug wars - and certainly the steroids wars - basically came after Miller left the MLBPA.


How can I put this. It's technically true, but the reality is quite different.

Ken Moffett was his chosen successor. When Moffett talked publicly about the need to cooperate with ownership to get coke out of the game, Miller arranged his removal. In other words, Don Fehr got the job because Miller didn't think Moffett would do an adequate job of protecting the player's interests.

Miller had enormous influence in the 80s even if he wasn't actually running the union.

Now by the time we got to the steroid wars Miller had no real influence. He actually opposed the deal the PA made with MLB (and the subsequent reopening of the deal to allow for much harsher penalties) but it simply didn't matter.
   54. Ron J2 Posted: November 28, 2012 at 01:07 PM (#4311444)
Anyone have a source estimating what the percentages were at earlier points in the game?


I'm pretty sure it's covered in Baseball and Billions. Having moved fairly recently I'd have to find my copy.

But I'm confident the players got a much lower percentage in the 50s and before.
   55. Steve Treder Posted: November 28, 2012 at 01:14 PM (#4311454)
various folks or groups have their wages made public to some degree.

public officials obviously
municipal workers
armed services
entertainers
ceos
execs in public companies

those are some that spring to mind


Well, the first three categories you list there aren't in the private sector.

I've been a compensation specialist for 30 years, and I can tell you with 100% confidence that the wage/salary/variable pay program details are confidential both within and between U.S. employers nearly all the time. Whether this is a good thing for employees is a debatable point, but the factual nature of the confidentiality of the data is not.
   56. BDC Posted: November 28, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4311486)
We could make a WAG on players' share of revenue based on the figures given in several comments upthread, notably that the average player salary is now 180 times what it was in 1966. If the average revenue is now $212M per team, then if that ratio were constant, teams in the mid-1960s would have been taking in about $1.1M per year. Average attendance in 1965 was about 1M per club: was the average 1965 ticket price $1.10? I doubt it was that low, though you could have gotten into some grandstands or bleachers for a buck (one source suggests the average 1965 ticket price was $2.29).

So that's double the current ratio just in tickets, not counting TV and radio income, and concessions and other amenities, not as fully developed as now but not nothing, either. I suspect the players' share has gone up considerably, if not astronomically.
   57. Ron J2 Posted: November 28, 2012 at 01:43 PM (#4311493)
#56, I do know that when Drysdale and Koufax made their shared demands in 1966 they had done some back of the envelope calculations as to what the Dodgers were taking in and were staggered. It was absolutely clear to them that they had been lied to repeatedly in past negotiations.
   58. bachslunch Posted: November 28, 2012 at 01:51 PM (#4311502)
Is this really the way it's supposed to be? Games in played in soulless, billion-dollar concrete palaces? A night out at the ballpark costing a week's pay?

I'm having a hard time seeing most recent ballparks as being "soulless." In fact, parks like those in Baltimore and San Francisco would seem to be attempts away from that description -- as opposed to '70s parks like Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium and Montreal's Olympic Stadium. The latter is the most soul-sucking, depressing place I've ever seen a baseball game.

And there's no reason why a night out at a ballpark should cost a week's pay. Sit in the cheap seats, eat at home, take public transportation to and from the park, and avoid shelling out for souvenirs and you can see a game for a most reasonable price per person.
   59. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 28, 2012 at 01:51 PM (#4311503)
Franchise values have gone up more than 180 times since the mid 60s, most likely. The $2B sale of the Dodgers implies an $11.11M price tag, mid-60s. The Yankees sold for $8.8M in 1973.

Which further implies that owners weren't getting any richer, in relative terms, because of the reserve clause.
   60. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 28, 2012 at 01:53 PM (#4311506)
The latter is the most soul-sucking, depressing place I've ever seen a baseball game.

Try New Yankee Stadium. Your soul ain't surviving that intact.
   61. puck Posted: November 28, 2012 at 02:01 PM (#4311518)
Am I reading this right? The argument for Miller is:

1) helped bring improvement to quality of play via players being able to be players full-time (no part time jobs, no off-season jobs

2) getting players their fair share of the revenue (or at least, much much closer to it)--I assume the growth in salaries per se this isn't interesting to anyone but the players and their relations, but is part of the HoF argument because economic justice is good.

3) the standards for executives is shockingly low anyway
   62. Don Geovany Soto (chris h.) Posted: November 28, 2012 at 02:20 PM (#4311548)
Franchise values have gone up more than 180 times since the mid 60s, most likely. The $2B sale of the Dodgers implies an $11.11M price tag, mid-60s. The Yankees sold for $8.8M in 1973.

Which further implies that owners weren't getting any richer, in relative terms, because of the reserve clause.

That oversimplifies things greatly. It only implies that if no other external factors have developed since then that affect franchise values.

The rise of RSNs, for example, would be one of those external factors.
   63. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 28, 2012 at 02:34 PM (#4311563)
That oversimplifies things greatly. It only implies that if no other external factors have developed since then that affect franchise values.

The rise of RSNs, for example, would be one of those external factors.


True, but franchise values completely negate the idea that the reserve clause was some kind of sui generis license to print money. Any objective owner would prefer, say, a publicly-funded luxury-box-encrusted stadium to the reserve clause. The monopoly the owners have over territories has proven to be significantly more valuable than the monopoly they once had over players.

None of those monopolies are right or fair, but their relative value should be understood to put the reserve clause in its proper historical perspective.
   64. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: November 28, 2012 at 02:35 PM (#4311564)
Bowie Kuhn was actually a far better commissioner than the used car salesman currently occupying the office -- if for no more than the ability to make a decision without farming it out to a committee for a year of study. He was simply a more professionally accomplished man than Bud Selig in virtually every way.


The final sentence works just as well if you insert just about any random Primate's name in place of "he" & change the verb tense to the present.
   65. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: November 28, 2012 at 02:49 PM (#4311590)
steve

not saying that the stuff cannot remain public. just that details of compensation get out there all the time. folks can find out what any exec of a public company makes because it has to be published. entertainers apparently like others to know what they are getting paid. i think it's crazy that the matt guy on today gets paid 21.5 million annually but it's out there for whatever reason

this also filters down when unions negotiate. it's not hard to find out what the different memberse of an auto assembly line make on an hourly basis.

i don't think it's anyone's business but the info is available
   66. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: November 28, 2012 at 03:13 PM (#4311621)
Am I reading this right? The argument for Miller is:

1) helped bring improvement to quality of play via players being able to be players full-time (no part time jobs, no off-season jobs

2) getting players their fair share of the revenue (or at least, much much closer to it)--I assume the growth in salaries per se this isn't interesting to anyone but the players and their relations, but is part of the HoF argument because economic justice is good.

3) the standards for executives is shockingly low anyway


No, it's more that Miller had a profound and lasting impact on MLB.
   67. Bhaakon Posted: November 28, 2012 at 06:21 PM (#4311824)
No, it's more that Miller had a profound and lasting impact on MLB.


So did Jose Canseco.

Just sayin'
   68. Steve Treder Posted: November 28, 2012 at 06:47 PM (#4311846)
i don't think it's anyone's business but the info is available

The info is not available for non-executive managers/supervisors/individual contributors in non-unionized private employers -- in other words, the great bulk of employees in the U.S. It isn't. The employers universally hold it confidential, and in the cases when they share it with firms like mine (for the purpose of conducting salary surveys) it is expressly under the condition of confidentiality to all eyes except my third-party firm, and only released in aggregated form in the survey (and generally, the survey data is available to participating employers only). This is a hard rule in the U.S. If we were found to violate it, we'd be out of business tomorrow.
   69. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: November 28, 2012 at 07:04 PM (#4311856)
What impact did Canseco have on MLB? Lots of players would have taken steroids with or without him.

(And, of course, I think Miller's impact has been mostly positive.)
   70. Bhaakon Posted: November 28, 2012 at 08:41 PM (#4311945)

What impact did Canseco have on MLB? Lots of players would have taken steroids with or without him.

(And, of course, I think Miller's impact has been mostly positive.)


Well, much like with Miller and free agency, I think we'd still have widespread steroid used and testing without Canseco, but he helped hasten both.

But, as you say, Miller's impact was positive (unless you're an Ayn Rand-style robber baron kook). Conseco's was not.
   71. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 28, 2012 at 08:48 PM (#4311950)
But, as you say, Miller's impact was positive (unless you're an Ayn Rand-style robber baron kook).

Actually, that might have been one of the 2 or 3 times in her life when Little Orphan Aynie probably would've come down on the right side of an issue, though I don't think we would have seen too many of her pimple-faced dittoheads scribbing "Who is Curt Flood?" above their dormitory urinals, at least without misspelling his name.
   72. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 28, 2012 at 08:56 PM (#4311955)
I'm having a hard time seeing most recent ballparks as being "soulless." In fact, parks like those in Baltimore and San Francisco would seem to be attempts away from that description -- as opposed to '70s parks like Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium and Montreal's Olympic Stadium. The latter is the most soul-sucking, depressing place I've ever seen a baseball game.

The soul of a stadium has never been in its design, but rather in the spontaneous noise generated by the crowds in reaction to events on the field. Baltimore's Memorial Stadium had infinitely more soul than Camden Yards, in spite of its grim outward appearance.

And there's no reason why a night out at a ballpark should cost a week's pay. Sit in the cheap seats, eat at home, take public transportation to and from the park, and avoid shelling out for souvenirs and you can see a game for a most reasonable price per person.

Sure, but back in the 70's you didn't have to sit in the nosebleed sections to get a good price, and you didn't have to shell out months in advance or pay even more inflated prices to see a "premium" game. StubHub has mitigated this somewhat, but good seats for high demand games still cost a ton more now than they did in the not so distant past.

You can summarize the difference this way: Before, you were hard pressed to spend all that much money at a ballpark. Today you're hard pressed not to, unless you bring your binoculars or resign yourself to going to see nothing but low rent attractions.
   73. Steve Treder Posted: November 28, 2012 at 09:04 PM (#4311961)
there's no reason why a night out at a ballpark should cost a week's pay. Sit in the cheap seats, eat at home, take public transportation to and from the park, and avoid shelling out for souvenirs and you can see a game for a most reasonable price per person.

That depends. In San Francisco, there is no such thing as a cheap seat. Ever.

In Oakland, there's cheap seats (some of them good) aplenty.
   74. Bhaakon Posted: November 29, 2012 at 01:54 AM (#4312108)
Sure, but back in the 70's you didn't have to sit in the nosebleed sections to get a good price, and you didn't have to shell out months in advance or pay even more inflated prices to see a "premium" game. StubHub has mitigated this somewhat, but good seats for high demand games still cost a ton more now than they did in the not so distant past.


Back in the 70's crowds were half the size or less. I'm not really sure that 10K people scattered around a 50K seat concrete bowl produced a more soulful experience.

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