How Can Baseball Players Be Better Paid? Former MLB commissioner Fay Vincent has an idea

Fay Vincent expects an “ugly fight” to unfold in a year, when the current collective agreement between the 30 owners of Major League Baseball and the players’ union expires.

Although sport has enjoyed labor peace for more than 25 years, friction between the two sides has deepened and the split was no more apparent than last June when, amid a global pandemic, owners and the union argued over many issues – most including player salaries and how they would be paid – before trying to save a season.

Current commissioner Rob Manfred had already upset many players earlier in 2020, when he called the World Series trophy a “piece of metal” following the publication of his report on the sign theft affair. Houston Astros. No player has been disciplined in this matter.

The atmosphere is no less resentful when the two sides meet at the negotiating table after the 2021 season, and Vincent, the former baseball commissioner, says it’s time for players to start thinking about a different compensation model beyond traditional contracts.

“What has to happen is that the union has to be prepared to talk to the owners to allow the players to own a part of the squad,” said Vincent. “No player owns a piece on a team. The union has achieved all of its goals, but it has not converted ordinary income into capital gains.

Vincent, 82, said that unfortunately the union “still operates in the dark ages” and that if such a negotiation or discussion were to take place over which players have the means to become stakeholders, there should be at least a major concession. by the Players Association.

“The owners would agree to sit with the union in exchange for the union waiving federal protection,” said Vincent, referring to the National Labor Relations Act, the federal law designed to ensure fair labor practices on the job. work place. “That way the union will not be able to go to federal court and say, ‘you did something illegal.’ The owners (of the MLB) should be interested.

Mistrust between players and owners dates back decades, and Vincent pointed to the mid-1980s when MLB owners colluded so that there was no tendering. for player services. The owners ended up paying MLBPA a judgment of $ 280 million.

“The collusion debacle changed the whole chemistry between the owners and the Players Association,” said Vincent. “It was a violation of the collective agreement. This led to the union receiving a huge sum of money because the owners cheated on the players. “

Most recently, baseball partnered with online gaming company FanDuel in a multi-year deal, following the 2018 Supreme Court decision to lift the ban on legal sports betting in the states. . The ruling raised many legal and ethical questions about how sports leagues would take this new path, especially in light of the baseball gaming scandals involving career hit king Pete Rose and the 1919 Black Sox. .

But the Supreme Court ruling also paved the way for a potential new source of revenue for professional sports leagues. Vincent said if sports teams get a share of that sports betting income, players should have the option of being compensated in other ways as well.

“Look at Fred Wilpon – he and (brother-in-law Saul Katz) hit the golden ball when they sold the New York Mets (to Steve Cohen),” Vincent said. “This is the most money ever paid (around $ 2.45 billion) for a club. As a player, would you have given up part of your salary for part of the Mets? The union believes in this federal law as a defensive mechanism, which can be the end of any hope that players own a part of a team. ”

Vincent said it was not for him to criticize current MLBPA executive director Tony Clark, a former player. Instead, Vincent recalled a past conversation with a sports agent who told Vincent that there is an unwritten rule, that agents do not ask owners for equity for their clients.

“The officers know it would be refused and there would be a big fight,” Vincent said. “And the agents don’t want to bring it up because everyone already thinks the players are already making a lot of money.”

Still, Vincent said he hopes the status quo changes in the future, where the ownership structure changes to include the union as part of that ownership.

“It stands to reason that we are getting there,” said Vincent. “I hope that in 30 years there will be this change. It doesn’t make sense if it doesn’t happen.


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