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Thursday, June 04, 2020

The Athletic: How baseball’s players hatched a plan for a wild barnstorming tour in 1995

If the owners followed through with their threat to begin the 1995 season with replacements, the established players figured they couldn’t sit around and take it. They needed to answer. So, they reached deep into the history of the sport, borrowing a concept as ancient as paying ballplayers to play. This wouldn’t be just another barnstorming tour, union head Donald Fehr said at the time, “it could be something better.” In the background, acrimony had given rise to another radical idea: the players eventually launching a league of their own. Barnstorming might serve as a useful dress rehearsal. If all went well, if Reebok could be locked in as the sponsor, if CBS could be brought in as a broadcast partner, then anything was possible.

The tour was to begin in early May. The first stop was RFK Stadium in Washington, a decade before the Nationals brought major league baseball back to the District. It would pass through places without their own teams: the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, the Superdome in New Orleans and BC Place in Vancouver, and also minor league towns like Buffalo, Louisville and Portland. And, in a delicious twist for the players, it would pass through big league ballparks controlled by municipalities. This way, the owners couldn’t flex their muscles and force out the players. They’d already tried this once with the Florida site that had been leased to be used as a spring training site ahead of the barnstorming tour. They had failed.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 04, 2020 at 10:39 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: strike

Sunday, May 03, 2020

How Shortened Seasons Affect Future Projections

It’s interesting, surprising, and a bit discouraging.  Go read the article and give Fangraphs some traffic.  Click on an ad while you’re there.

Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: May 03, 2020 at 03:23 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: projections, statistics, strike, zips

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Today in Baseball History: Opening Day canceled due to the first-ever players strike

Moving forward somewhat:

To understand what led to the 1972 strike — the first ever players strike in baseball history — you have to go back a few years.

From the advent of baseball until the 1960s there were multiple efforts to organize players in an effort to get a better deal from the owners, including players even forming their own league one time. Nothing ever really came of those efforts, however, and the status quo held: the owners controlled basically everything, whatever the players got was given to them by the owners pursuant to the owners’ whim, and players were expected to simply be thankful to have jobs playing baseball. The only matter that players and owners talked about back in the day that we would currently recognize as one pertaining to actual labor relations were player pensions. A pension plan existed. It was not a very good one, but owners would, on occasion, go through the motions of negotiating with players over it, but it wasn’t really a negotiation.

By 1966, however, the players’ concerns about the pension being underfunded began to grow and, finally, after years of players themselves being skeptical and even fearful of the implications having a strong union, they decided to hire a full time executive director of their union with an eye toward having the union actually behave like a real labor union. Their first choice for the job was the then-existing players union’s part time legal advisor, a man named Judge Robert Cannon. Cannon actually had a pretty big conflict of interest in that he always wanted to be Baseball Commissioner and openly lobbied owners for the job while putatively serving the players’ interests. They even offered Cannon the job but he asked for too much money so they revoked the offer and went with a former chief lieutenant in the United Steelworkers union. His name was Marvin Miller.

The story of a strike, with a coda that ties into other news of the day.

 

QLE Posted: April 07, 2020 at 12:58 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: history, opening day, strike

Thursday, February 27, 2020

MLB’s Winning and Losing Efforts to Conquer TV, Part I: The Strike

When massive television dollars from broadcast giants ABC, CBS, and NBC stopped flowing directly into baseball owners’ pockets 25 years ago, the downturn in revenue helped to cause a strike that the sport took years to recover from. In the earlier part of this decade, a similar specter loomed in the form of a cable bubble, the bursting of which threatened to take away the millions that teams receive to broadcast local games on Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) like the Yankees’ YES Network or the Cardinals’ Fox Sports Midwest. Due to a diversification of revenue, an emphasis on developing streaming technology with a impact felt beyond the sport, and an increasing number of bidders, both traditional and non-traditional, that want to broadcast baseball games, Major League Baseball has been able to avoid a bubble similar to the one that severely damaged the sport 25 years ago. But, as exemplified by the recent Sinclair acquisitions of RSNs and the Blue Jays’ decision to remove Canadian access to their games on MLB.TV, a short-sighted approach could undo their victory in the long-term.

First, how we got here.

In 1988, CBS won the right to broadcast Major League Baseball’s marquee events, including the All-Star Game and World Series, beginning in the 1990 season. The network would spend $1.08 billion over the following four years for those games, reportedly beating the offers of rival networks ABC and NBC by as much as $400 million. While the deal was massive in its size, its importance was outweighed by a smaller but more significant deal signed the same year.

One concern with CBS’ new deal was the dramatic decrease in the number of regular season games broadcast nationally, moving from more than 30 games per season down to just 12 beginning in 1990. Commissioner Peter Ueberoth laughed off those concerns, noting teams’ ability to sell local broadcast rights. Around the same time as the CBS deal, the New York Yankees announced one such deal

A consideration of national TV contracts over the last few decades, or, why we’re stuck with Joe Buck to the end of time…..

 

QLE Posted: February 27, 2020 at 01:41 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: broadcasting, cbs sports, strike, the baseball network

 

 

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