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When the owners make it impossible to Both Sides it

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“We can’t afford to give up another dime”

This is an excellent summary of the core issues behind the MLB lockout:

So take this all in. Young players are underpaid relative to their production. They’re the preferred method of building a roster by all 30 teams. That’s already enough to deter teams from veterans, but just in case, there are artificial restrictions. The whole system is stacked against the youngest (read: best) players.

Now consider what the players are asking for. You’ll read things like, “Oh, both sides have to make concessions,” but this ignores that the players are not asking for this system to be blown up. They’re not asking for a revolution. Even with their most recent proposal, they’re conceding that the basic framework of this system remains intact. Young players will still be underpaid relative to their production. There will still be artificial restrictions on free-agent spending. The players are asking for the young players to continue to be underpaid, just less so. They’ve given up on eliminating the artificial restrictions, they’re just asking for them to be slightly less onerous.

The relatively long period of labor peace after 1995 was premised on a sort of social contract where players would be played way under-market value for the first years of their careers, but players who reached free agency would get paid on the back end. But now owners want the market to determine the value of past-their-prime players but for salaries of younger and more valuable players to be greatly suppressed. The players are asking only for very modest reforms — as well as incentives for more teams to compete — and the owners are still willing to risk the season to say no.

As Erik noted recently, this seems to have finally turned mainstream reporters heavily against the owners:

But the tone of the coverage has changed. ESPN’s Jeff Passan just wrote a lengthy article that could hardly be more blunt. The invaluable reporting of Evan Drellich comes with a reminder that if the lockout were about what’s fair and what should be, this would have ended months ago. Even the headline in this Ken Rosenthal article is a banger. And if you burp up a “millionaires vs. billionaires” take in a Twitter reply to any of them, there will be a high comment-to-like ratio on your reply, and it won’t be fun.

The coverage seems one-sided because nothing I wrote up there is controversial. They’re the basic facts of the case. And once you realize that, just writing the truth seems like bias. The players aren’t asking for a lot because they’ve already lost. They’ve lost in the last two collective bargaining agreements, and they’re trying to recoup just a fraction of those losses. Even if the owners capitulated completely and agreed to the players’ last proposal, it would still be a rout.

Not enough of a rout, though. The owners have won, and now they’re trying to win more. They’re willing to shorten the season to do it. Maybe they’re willing to cancel it.

For the American plutocracy in 2022, too much is never enough.

Well, hopefully this will be the conclusion of a 7-game Western Conference Final preview:

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