Ode to the A: Trying Times For The Fans
By Elio Velez
I’m a little vague on the new burning issue of contraction in baseball. The MLB baseball owners tell me that 25 of 30 teams lost a lot of money this past year. They have to erase two teams from existence, most likely the Montreal Expos and the Minnesota Twins. Then they tell me that they actually had a league wide attendance record and the highest revenues they have attained in years. So what am I supposed to believe? The MLB owners talk from both sides of their mouth is obvious but the players’ stance of wanting mo money, mo money, mo money is also obvious.
If 25 of 30 teams are losing money, what teams are actually making a profit? The public does not know that because the owners do not release their accounting records. It’s hard for the owners to gain sympathy from fans if they’re not even clear on what stance to take this week. They try to preach to the media and themselves about fiscal sanity and the need to maintain it in these troubled economic times. The Texas Rangers’ fans didn’t tell management to sign Alex Rodriguez to a 10 year $252 million dollar contract. Just last week, the Rangers signed Todd Van Poppel to a 2.5 million a year contract to be a middle reliever. $2.5 million dollars is given to a pitcher who might pitch one inning a game and maybe pitch 2 games a week. The owners might wonder why people and especially families may not go out to the ballpark anymore. If a hot dog and a 20 oz. Pepsi cost $3.50 each, the rising player salaries and costs might increase the price to $20 each and the need to take out a loan.
You may think I’m killing the owners and not the players, but here comes my rant against them. The players union is always looking out for # 1. Themselves. Donald Fehr, president of the union, does not really care about ticket prices and hot dog prices. The union’s # 1 goal is to protect their players at all cost. When contraction came about, the possible loss of 60 jobs scared the daylights out of Fehr. There was no way the union would let the owners contract teams without their input. The MLB Players Union is the strongest sports union of the major sports and they will not give up easily. The players got the ammo they needed in contraction if they ever wanted to squirm at the table.
Once again, baseball falls short of satisfying the fans. Two days after a great World Series, gloom and doom appeared as Bud Selig announced baseball was in trouble. Announcing baseball is in trouble is all good but the one solution in contraction is bad. It is not the single solution in trying to solve all the economic disparities that baseball faces, especially after Sept. 11th. Revenue sharing, salary cap and realignment have also got to be discussed. The two sides have got to come to the table now. Stop the PR spins and get down to business. If baseball wants fans to go away like they did back in the ‘94 strike, just continue what you guys have been doing the last 2 months. It’s an A+ job.