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Protecting the Players

One of the reasons I make the Hardball Times a part of my daily reading is that they have writers like John Brattain who offer the kind of brilliant analysis that I wish I had the time to think up:

The players union is an organization that defines itself by the salary bar. Every other consideration is secondary to seeing how high player salaries can go. Further, in recent decades, its strength has been based not on unity but rather in the disunity of the other side. Back in 1985, splintering economic interests made the two-day strike an iffy affair. The MLBPA was relieved when then-commissioner Peter Ueberroth stepped in and demanded a deal gets done or he'd toss the dispute into binding arbitration. ...

In the 1990 and '94-95 work stoppages, the union again counted on owner disunity and pressure on the commissioner (Fay Vincent and Bud Selig). It worked in 1990, but the owners under Selig held tough the next time through. No longer could the MLBPA assume that ownership's ranks would crumble. Since then, the last two collective bargaining agreements have been negotiated without an interruption of the schedule and both contained numerous concessions to ownership despite staggering revenue growth.

The union clearly failed the players. As dismaying as it is, we're going to have to watch a generation of former players face the ravages of steroid use, just as we're watching some football players suffer the results of their sport.