For as much worship as billionaires seem to get around here, and the runway they receive to shape our society to benefit them more and more, they are a cranky bunch. There’s always more money to be made, money they’ll never know what to do with, there’s always someone else to fuck over, and as it seems there’s always another billionaire to keep from earning more than they do. At what point do security and happiness come, one wonders.
The latest exhibition of “As The Billionaires Whine” is Evan Drellich’s piece in The Athletic on Sunday that told the world that MLB owners have formed an “Economic Reform Committee,” which has the express purpose of figuring out ways to fuck over not only the players come the next CBA negotiation, but how to fuck over other owners who don’t want to play their little game. And of course, by extension, fuck over the fans who just want the owners to act like guys who want their teams to win.
The owners will tell you the impetus for this is the impending collapse of Diamond Sports Group, which will send nearly half the league’s local television deals into the shit-zone, and MLB will have to figure out what exactly to do about that. But the real cause is the imagined “income disparity” that MLB owners have heaped onto themselves. Mainly, they don’t want a Steve Cohen to be possible ever again, or a Dodgers, teams who can and do thumb their nose at whatever luxury taxes and fees they try to install to prevent massive spending.
Here’s some manure that Rob Manfred was shoveling onto the waiting press from Drellich’s article:
“When you start thinking about the opportunities in terms of a more national (broadcasting) product, it did lead into a conversation about our disparity issues on the revenue side,” Manfred said. “We have businesses that are literally not similar in terms of the overall revenue that they’re generating. And to the extent that you could find a new distribution model that actually helped on that disparity side, that would be the daily double. So people are having conversations that haven’t been had in baseball, and it’s really been owners talking to owners, which is a good thing.”
Prove it, asshole.
While it’s certainly believable that the Pirates aren’t pulling in the same money as the Yankees and probably never will, for one no MLB team has ever opened their books. We have no idea what the disparity is. It could be anything, and most every fan is, or at least should be, wise enough to not simply take whatever the owners are saying as verbatim.
Second, and two-pronged. This is the system the owners have created. The players association hasn’t really fought all that hard against them in recent negotiations, and what we’ve gotten is a system where teams don’t have to win to turn a profit. Thanks to those local TV deals that are now going poof, and revenue sharing, teams like the Pirates and Royals and Rockies and whoever else don’t have to do much to go whistling to the bank. They’re not dependent on selling tickets, and they’ve made that clear by the utter dogshit they’ve sent on the field that only the truly bewildered want to watch.
This is the way he wants it. Well, he gets it.
Yes, there will always be a disparity between New York and Pittsburgh, but how big is that disparity when the Pirates are actually trying? Pittsburgh is a great baseball town, or at least was once. It was only eight years ago that the Pirates were winning 98 games and collecting their third-straight playoff appearance (and the recipient of this incredible burn I will cherish forever) while drawing 2.5 million fans. Bob Nutting will tell you that even with all that income from tickets he couldn’t possibly keep that team together, but again, there’s no proof of that. He just yells, “small market!” orders his GM to clean house, and pretty much everyone goes along with it. Because it’s been that way for decades now.
Perhaps feeding the Cohen paranoia to the point of forming a committee to basically be a bitch-session on how he’s making everyone look bad is the collapse of DSG. But instead of turning the tables and looking at this lost RSN revenue as a call to put a better team on the field to make up the difference with tickets, these thumb-dicks just want to alter the system so that other owners have to play the way they do. If that means getting a hard cap in, they’ll do it. If it means finding a way to make bigger teams pay them more in revenue sharing, they’ll do it. But don’t ask them to show their math, because this committee will be showing exactly nothing to the public.
And what they’ll also do is come for several pounds of flesh from the players come 2026, unless they figure out a way to flame the current CBA sooner. While this fight is owner vs. owner, it’s never actually staged that way. The strike that killed the 1994 World Series was essentially owner vs. owner but played against the players, and small market teams decried the unfairness of it all and had just enough control, and found just enough big market owners who liked the sound of paying the players way less than they should (*cough* Reinsdorf *cough*) to move the fight to the union.
That’s what’s going to happen again, except baseball doesn’t have a competitive balance problem. Everyone except the Angels seems to find their way into the playoffs every so often when they decide they want to. Tampa and Cleveland have been regular playoff contenders even with the hamstringing their ownerships put them through. The Nationals just won a World Series. And with the expanded playoffs they’ve only made that easier.
What it has is a system that owners installed that made on-field results not matter nearly as much as the real-estate conglomerates they’ve become, except that system is about to take a major dent without the RSNs, along with one dude in Queens who’s making more and more fans say, “Hey wait a minute…”. But they don’t want to have to work any harder, i.e spend more money, so they’ll prep themselves for an extended lockout come 2026 where they try like hell to get a salary cap installed with anything else they might desire. They’ll burn a whole season to do it, you can be sure. Maybe more. Anything to keep more dollars they’ll never notice.
Money clearly doesn’t buy satisfaction unless you can use it to keep from spending any money, and more importantly, keep someone else from making it. And then there’ll be something else to bitch about. What a way to run a railroad.