GAME OVER! “I don’t like it. People won’t be able to come to these games anymore, and I don’t like that.” A sad nine – year – old fan voices his concerns on the 1994 major League Baseball strike. The ’94 baseball season has come to an abrupt end. Players have ceased play because they feel they are being treated unfairly with the owner’s plan to impose a salary cap. Owners are finding it difficult to come to terms with their own disagreements.
small market teams are rising to power with their demands while large market team owners are finding it hard to deal with the teams and their issues, while still trying to please the players. In essence, it is a three – way battle between the two sides of large and small market owners and the players. Neither side is showing any sort of sympathy for the other side. They are sticking with their proposals without any thoughts of changing them. Confusion is setting in on both sides. They are finding it hard to lean toward a goal when they do not know what they want.
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The baseball strike involves greed, uncertainty, and lack of desire to resolve the issue on both sides. While confusion mounts among owners and persistence rides high among players, things are only going to get worse until they come to some sort of an agreement. The baseball strike of ’94 officially hit the hearts of America on August 12, three quarters into one of the most intriguing seasons in a long time. A season on the verge of breaking many long standing records. As the strike began, the people of the world looked with sadness, as well as disgust towards players and owners.
Officially, the strike is the players verses the owners, but at a closer look, it is much more complicated. Within the owners meetings, there is feuding as well. Small market clubs such as Montreal, Milwaukee Cincinnati, and Kansas City, are addressing their needs which conflict the needs of the large market owners. The main concern the owners have is that players salaries are eating up an increased percentage of the owners revenues. Small market owners are now insisting that all twenty-eight ball clubs share their income equally, not only to maintain parity in the league, but also so the smaller clubs can survive. Money began disappearing from baseball in 1989 when owners, found guilty of collusion, boycotted free agent markets, and were ordered to pay players 10.
5 million dollars. Then, in 1990, a huge television deal was set that was going to accumulate more than one – billion dollars throughout major league baseball. The TV package failed, and the owners lost all the money they were counting on. Finally, in 1992, Fay Vincent, the commissioner of baseball at the time, tried to intervene and help out with labor negotiations, only to be forced to resign by the owners who thought he was out of his place. Now, there is not a commissioner to resolve any problems that baseball has. At this moment, small market teams are coming into control.
Last January, the small market owners introduced a revenue – sharing proposal by threatening the big market teams to share radio income with the small market teams. The plan would only be set forth if players agreed to a salary cap, which is where they are now. The large market teams such as Los Angeles, both New York teams, and both Chicago teams, are disregarding the smaller teams problems. They do not believe revenue should be shared among teams. They say it’s a business.
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Revenue sharing would break the business. The truth is that teams with smaller revenues cannot keep up with players salaries, while the teams who can pay them more receive the high price, high talented players, who increase chances of winning and bring in more money. Smaller teams make a good point in saying that a business is not always a competition. They say that this business will not prosper until all aspects, and all job positions in the game are profiting.
The only thing both sides agree on is that baseball must have a salary cap, which would reduce team’s spending for salaries from 58 to 50 percent of baseball revenues. This would cumulate more money to please small market teams, and more profit to make the whole baseball industry more secure. The large market teams are proposing plans to the small market teams, but it is not going to matter when the large market teams do not comply with small market pleas to have revenue sharing. The small market owners promise to block any settlement that they believe does not let them compete with wealthier teams.
“Salary cap!” Insist the owners. “NO WAY!” Reply the players. The players are not flinching on this issue. The players chose their strike date before spring training, rather than later in the season.
This allowed owners to think their side through the season and time after the strike date to crack under the pressure of resuming play and preserve the post season. The players realize that they have control if they play or not when they have control if they play or not. When they stopped playing, they had already earned most of their 1994 salary, which averages over 1. 2 million dollars per person.
Next month each player will receive 165, 500 as a part of a 200 million dollar rainy day fund. The owners are losing money over the work stoppage, but yet they know they will lose a lot more if these salary increases continue. The players on the other hand could not care less about the owners. They feel they have been cheated for years and now this is their time. They feel that retired players are being treated unfairly by owners because the owners did not deposit the tri-annual 6.
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million dollars into the person fund. What the players do not realize is that the pension money was not available because the owners are paying the players’ outrageous salaries. The saddest moment in baseball occurred on the afternoon of Sept. 14 when Small Market owner Bud Selig of Milwaukee Brewers announced the cancellation of the rest of the regular season along with the post season. After an 89 year world series run, we can only say two words to describe the fall classic: Game Over.
While owners are arguing the future of baseball and players do not want to break a nail on their ring finger, there is one party that is seemingly forgotten, the precious fans. They find it hard to sympathize with the people of baseball and their multi-million dollar problems when they earn a living to pay for overpriced tickets, soggy hot dogs, flat beer, and all of the other novelties that accompany a day at the ball park. America is waiting for someone to stand up, wake up to reality, and realize this is just a game. It has become a billion dollar business and all the parity and fun is being sucked out by people who are missing the whole reason America is in love with this game.
Maybe baseball can look back to when it was a game and learn a thing or two, making some changes for the better. America is silently pleading with baseball to not collapse but it seems baseball does not care. On labor day of this year, when the players were lounging around their mansions watching television, Oakland A’s pitcher Ron Darling said, “What do real people do on Labor Day”, wanting sympathy because of his own boredom. Well Ron, maybe next Labor Day, you will be playing baseball, but the “real people” of this land will be fed up and not watch you play.