Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News usually writes thought-provoking, well-researched pieces. That is why his last two articles on the baseball labor situation have seemed so odd. He has apparently taken on the role of the owners' pit poodle. It's as if he has started channeling George Will. He admits that "Bud Selig isn't a saint here," but then proceeds to blame the players for all of the evils of the game, real or imaginary.
Witness the following bits from the two articles:
- He bases his second article on this statement by Joe Torre: "My feeling is, one day (of a work stoppage) is too much." Joe Torre is entitled to his opinions, but he really has nothing to say one way or the other in the other. He works for management and with the players, but he's neither fish nor fowl.
- "So at a time when Fehr should be making a deal, he leaks a memo to the media and calls the owners' current proposal for a luxury tax and revenue sharing a salary cap, something he says he could never accept." A) How does Lupica know that Fehr leaked this. It was sent to the players, any of whom could have leaked it. B) He is making a deal. He is just informing his constituency in the process.
- He claims that Fehr would rather have another work stoppage "than sit down and make the compromises both sides need to make." But the players are not asking for anything and therefore are not compromising but rather conceding. I've said it already, but the palyers would re-sign the expiring agreement in a heartbeat. How much do they need to concede before Lupica is happy? The players have conceded an additional $66 million ($169 to $235 M) on revenue sharing while the owners have only budged $12 million ($282 to $270 M). Who's compromising more, if that's what you want to call it?
- "This isn't all the other negotiations. This isn't all the other wars, no matter how much Fehr wants it to be. Or perhaps needs it to be." Stop with the psychoanalysis already. Have you had a heart-to-heart with Don Fehr and now know his innermost thoughts?
- He quotes Angels manager Mike Scioscia as saying, "You can't shut the game down over pennies," and paints it in the worst light possible for the players. He only mentions in passing that Scioscia doesn't think that there will even be a strike.
- In the previous article (entitled "Effective tax is no luxury to the game"-and I thought I was the only one with a gift for a bad pun-is no longer available at the site for free. It can be purchased for a fee.), Lupica claims that "there shouldn't be a strike, not in this country." Well, that's why you live in a country where people's rights are protected by laws. Players are allowed to organize and bargain as a unit whether or not Mike Lupica likes it.
- He claims that "Don Fehr and Gene Orza...think they run baseball." They are not demanding a damn thing.
- He then admits that "they are only fighting to preserve the status quo here. But they always want more. They want salaries to keep escalating." Yes, they want the salaries to continue to keep pace with the revenues. Actually from the owners' Blue Ribbon Panel's published numbers, since 1996, the beginning of the current collective bargaining agreement, the revenues have trebled while salaries have doubled. Fehr and Orza do want salaries to escalate. Don't Selig and the rest of the owners want revenues to do the same?
- He then devotes two paragraphs to how the players will not give in on steroids, but by the time he had written the article, this issue had been resolved amicably by the players and owners. The agreement may not be effective but both sides agreed on it.
- He claims that the owners are willing to come down ("maybe way down") from the 50% luxury tax proposal. Well, as it currently stand, the owners have come down 12.5% to 37.5%, but at the same time the players have come up from 0 to 15%.
- He derides Fehr for having "actually been convinced that the current system doesn't need drastic reform." Lupica forgets that the players' union have seen something closer to the owners' real financial numbers, not the cooked books presented to Congress. Remember how Fehr alluded to additional information that he was not allowed to discuss. Believe me, he knows a lot more about it than you or I do, Mike.
- But that doesn't stop iron-headed Mike from asserting "The economic system has to be changed, and changed even now." Why? What's so special about now, other than the owners are making more money than ever. They are spending more than ever but not all of it is on the players.