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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Zen Master And Amateur Baseball Players

You know, I’ve found that anger is the enemy of instruction.

Wow. Five more years of labor peace ensured, zero public rancor between the owners and the players, and yet all anyone’s talking about in the TwitterBlogoSphere is how terrible the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is…

One thing that everyone seems to forget about labor negotiations (and politics, and just about everything else): they’ve got nothing to do with right and wrong. They have everything to do with interests and leverage.

Of course the new CBA shifts money from draft picks to union members. The owners made it very clear that they wanted to save money (that’s an interest) and the union members didn’t want it coming from their pockets (that’s another interest). Both sides have leverage, of course, so the obvious solution was to find someone with no leverage at all: amateur baseball players, both in the States and beyond international borders.

Tough darts. It’s too bad for them, but that’s the way the world has always worked and always will…

Leaving aside the morality of the new rules about amateur players, there’s been an incredible rush to judgment regarding the practical impact… If Major League Baseball loses just one extra player to football or basketball, the scouts and the draft experts will be pained. I don’t blame them. I don’t want to lose any great players to other sports, either. But I suspect the number of great players who will actually be lost is being greatly exaggerated today.

It’s been said many times today that the new rules hurt the Royals and the Pirates, who have been spending a great deal of money in the draft in recent years. But what if they can get the same players they’ve been getting, while spending less money? Doesn’t that actually help them?

I’m not saying I have all the answers. We both know I don’t. But I think it’s far too early for say exactly what effect the new rules about amateurs will have on competitive balance and quality of play, generally.

My guess, though? Whether positive or negative, the overall impact will be small enough that it’s difficult to measure.

Sure, maybe it’s the end of the world. But we can’t know that yet. Today, I feel fine.

And I’m reminded, as I so often am, of the story about the Zen master and the little boy.

The District Attorney Posted: November 23, 2011 at 02:42 AM | 10 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: amateur, business

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   1. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 23, 2011 at 03:54 AM (#3999928)
It’s been said many times today that the new rules hurt the Royals and the Pirates, who have been spending a great deal of money in the draft in recent years. But what if they can get the same players they’ve been getting, while spending less money? Doesn’t that actually help them?


The Pirates won't be able to get the same players for less money, since it was only those players dropping in the draft due to bonus demands that enabled the Pirates to take them with lower-round picks.

That's the whole point, you ####### moron.
   2. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 23, 2011 at 04:03 AM (#3999932)
Wait, Neyer's the one who wrote this crap?

Very disappointing...
   3. The District Attorney Posted: November 23, 2011 at 04:07 AM (#3999937)
Yup, sorry, I usually do put that info in there.
   4. McCoy Posted: November 23, 2011 at 04:23 AM (#3999943)
But what if they can get the same players they’ve been getting, while spending less money? Doesn’t that actually help them?

No. Because even if it is true that that they'll get those players at a lower price the money they save can't be used for anything other than to line the pockets of the owners.

So they save 1 to 3 million dollars a year. So what? Signing Pat Meares is going to be the difference maker?
   5. Jittery McFrog Posted: November 23, 2011 at 05:07 AM (#3999959)
One thing that everyone seems to forget about labor negotiations (and politics, and just about everything else): they’ve got nothing to do with right and wrong. They have everything to do with interests and leverage.


I don't think people forgot those things about labor negotiations. They're just saying that they produced a bad outcome.
   6. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: November 23, 2011 at 05:24 AM (#3999967)
Apart from the line Vlad bolded (granted, that's a big caveat), I think this piece wasn't that bad.
There is the possibility of increased corruption / loss of players to other sports in places like the Dominican (I'm thinking of what's happened with basketball in Puerto Rico here), but the latter shouldn't start happening too dramatically right away.

Oh, I also disagreed with: Whether positive or negative, the overall impact will be small enough that it’s difficult to measure.
It may be tough to measure if our questions are nebulous and given certain longitudinal issues - but the effects on the distribution of amateur talent for one (which impacts comp. balance, obviously) will likely be large.
   7. Walt Davis Posted: November 23, 2011 at 07:01 AM (#3999989)
In addition to signability picks, there's also buying HS draftees out of college commitments which will presumably be at least somewhat reduced. Potentially, but I suspect minimally, this could lead to a greater reliance on college players as there will be less incentive for HS players to pass up college.

I will say I don't buy the multi-sport star "problem." If you're really making that decision based on maximizing lifetime income (not to mention health), baseball almost certainly still has to win that comparison for most anybody this side of LeBron. And of course I wish the Cubs hadn't bought BPJ out of his NFL dreams. So I do agree that I don't think this will happen more than occasionally and it's not like there's a guarantee the kid would have chosen MLB anyway.
   8. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 23, 2011 at 03:05 PM (#4000041)
If you're really making that decision based on maximizing lifetime income


What leads you to believe that kids are making decisions that way? These are 18-year-olds... not a demographic group typically renowned for their foresight.
   9. JJ1986 Posted: November 23, 2011 at 03:12 PM (#4000045)
I will say I don't buy the multi-sport star "problem." If you're really making that decision based on maximizing lifetime income (not to mention health), baseball almost certainly still has to win that comparison for most anybody this side of LeBron.


I don't know. A five-year football scholarship can be worth a lot of money, not to mention a degree. If you're a superstar it might not matter, but for lower tier prospects who might never sniff the majors, that's worth a lot.
   10. frannyzoo Posted: November 23, 2011 at 05:40 PM (#4000160)
And given the astronomical rise in tuition costs, the import of a scholarship has rocketed. Of course this is largely important to kids who don't dominate the media via athletic prowess, so we shouldn't care about them or the fact they're saving them/their folks $100k or more. Still, the Jock Premium has never been higher. If I had kids in this market, I'd make damn sure they were left-handed and could throw a curve ball over doing stupid things like algebra and explaining the causes of the Civil War.

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