I've never had a problem with baseball. I grew up in a family that loved baseball and football was something to watch during the cold months. I was the typical American boy growing up in the Midwest playing ball during the day and sitting in the stands at night, eating hot dogs and nachos, cheering on the hometown team.
But with time, baseball lost it's impact on mainstream America -- and me. Oddly enough, I don't blame Bud Selig as much as I blame the player's union. Personally, I think unions are ruining professional sports. There was a time they fairly represented their clients. Their work in the past gave incredible benefits to modern athletes. But today, there's no need for men to be represented playing a sport while getting paid more than most CEOs in America. My opinion on Unions in America is subjective. It depends on the industry. In sports, it's a world gone mad.
In 1994, the player's went on a 232-day strike that canceled over 900 games -- including that season's World Series. Owners demanded a salary cap similar to football complete with revenue sharing. Their proposal allowed players to become free agents using a similar structure football uses today. Arbitration would also be eliminated. Donald Fehr said there was no benefit to players and therefore rejected the proposal. After federal court intervention, the strike ended. And fans have been bitter ever since.
However, there was a time unions were needed to counter the owners -- especially in football.
In the fall of 1968, the players struck training camps over a variety of money and other issues. The NFL owners countered with a lockout of the training camps, and the dispute ended in compromise without much apparent enmity. Essentially, the same situation occurred in 1970, 1974, and 1975, During each of these training camp strikes the players' initial optimism gave way to frustration, as the owners held their ground or gave up little. The 42-day strike in 1974 was particularly discouraging for the union because solidarity crumbled with one-fourth of the veteran players crossing the picket lines. This strike marked the debut of Edward Garvey as the union's executive director.
Garvey, a lawyer who had formerly worked for the law firm representing the union, expressed determination to obtain concessions from the owners in 1982. A new television agreement had increased each owner's annual share of television revenue from $5.8 million to $14.2 million, and the players wanted a bigger share as well. Also, the United States Football League (USFL) was going to start play in the spring of 1983, which would create new employment opportunities for NFL players. The timing looked good for a generous settlement for the players' association, if it could maintain solidarity.
The 1982 strike, which lasted 57 days, produced unexpectedly good player solidarity but few gains for the players. Although average player salaries in the NFL rose from $90,000 in 1982 to $230,000 in 1987, most of this increase was due to opportunities for players to jump to USFL clubs for a higher salary or to be paid more by their NFL clubs to stay. A number of issues-free agency, pensions, severance pay, and artificial turf- remained in dispute. In 1987, the new television agreement was paying each owner $17 million annually, inspiring a new struggle between players and owners over revenues.
When players demanded more, owners bemoaned then granted. Sometimes the Unions were justified in their position (like the NFL). Sometimes the Owners were justified in their position to prevent a Yankees/Red Sox generation of spending, spending and spending. From a fan's perspective, it doesn't matter who does what. In the end, game tickets skyrocket and taxes go up so teams can build state-of-the-art multi-million dollar stadiums. Not only do most fans blow off athletes who demand more millions, but they suffer as a result because they are paying more.
As sports have grown, billions of dollars have been integrated into teams, players and leagues. As a result, Unions have played their trump card knowing that if players go on strike, then owners suffer greatly. Unions are generally so invincible, they can demand damn near anything and get rewarded. The more confidence they acquire, the more they demand. Baseball is a perfect example of that.
Today, baseball struggles to clear up the steroid issue. Football, for some reason, gets a free pass because no one wants to create waves in the money pool. When players are suspended in football for violating substance abuse policies, it's a blip on SportsCenter and goes away. Baseball violations generate columns, specials and one-long analysis on sports radio. Personally, I think it's hypocritical to slam baseball and not football.
Even so, players are protected when they are caught. Until now...
Albany County District Attorney David Soares met officials from the National Football League and Major League Baseball last week and will provide names as his probe advances, a spokeswoman said on Thursday.
Soares alleges the ring involves doctors at nine Internet-based companies in Florida, New York, Texas and Alabama who prescribed steroids and human growth hormone without meeting patients, providing at least $40 million worth of performance-enhancing drugs to tens of thousands of people.
Twenty suspects have been indicted.
"He will be releasing the names to the respective leagues as soon as they have finished going through the evidence," said Heather Orth, a Soares spokeswoman. "The expectation is that they will go to the leagues within a week or two."
I can't wait to hear the reaction. Will people go nuts? Will people hold judgment? Will people only react to the superstars or the fact that the superstars are protected? How will the Union react? When this list is released, the reaction will be very interesting with the parties involved.