I would just like to note that making a 5-year maximum contract the “hill you want to die on” is completely irrational even on its own terms. I suppose on one level that very long-term contracts allow you to “subvert” the salary cap (only because of the maximum salary that the owners wanted, of course.) But it’s also true that you can “subvert” the salary cap this way only by taking the enormous risk of taking a substantial cap hit to pay a player who will be well past his prime down the road. Long-term contracts carry very substantial risks, and it’s not obvious that a collective bargaining agreement should make the tradeoffs in advance. On the other hand, long-term contracts can also be good mutual deals that provide stability for small-market teams — do you think the Rays would be better off having to negotiate with Evan Longoria every 3 years? Ask Cavaliers fans about this.
But at this point rationality has nothing to do with it; it seems clear that it’s more about crushing the union than any concrete objective, and if the union agreed on the 5-year limit I’m sure the owners would find another pretext for blowing the season up. Which won’t stop these scumbags from acting as public trusts the next time they go hat-in-hand to the taxpayers asking for another handout. And it won’t stop sportswriters who should know better from giving us a little of the ol’ “it’s everyone’s fault, by which we mean the players who were locked out.”