Good evening guys, and welcome to the Peachtree Pennant! The other admins and myself are very excited about this new effort to produce high quality articles for the baseball fan. Of course, excluding Atlanta teams, most of our reading audience will be from the state of Georgia. However, I think I can speak for all the contributors of this site when I say we will try to give you the type of substance and well-prepared takes on interesting subjects that you would hope to expect from a more broad-reaching fan site. Anyways, hope you guys enjoy the articles written in the coming months and, hopefully, years to come. As always, and from now on, any of the articles I post are completely interactive between the readers and ourselves…PLEASE give us feedback. The only thing I like doing more than writing about baseball, right below watching it, is discussing it! So, without further ado, lets get the first one out of the way!
This is the last week without baseball we will have to suffer through until November…..let that sink in!
As we inch further towards Spring Training, fans are left with a strange empty feeling as their respective teams head into camp for the reporting of pitchers and catchers. Unless your team was beaten out of the playoffs or, perhaps your team has just trotted out a less than impressive mascot to represent the team to all adoring children who attend games (you know….something completely ridiculous and idiotic like that…😒), then you’re probably feeling that sensation due to the fact the offseason free agent market was less than impressive and the stove was less than luke warm.
Try frigid…immovable like a glacier or some deep space planet light years away from their solar system’s sun.
That’s the kind of offseason it’s been.
Last count, I believe, was some 50 or more true bona fide big league talents are still available for team’s to sign. Usually there are a few hidden gems out there by Spring Training. In this case, the entire gold mine of the 2017/2018 offseason is still basically out there. Taken at face value, it seems strange. “Why, in the name of Prince Fielder, are these players available in February?” That, followed usually by the “Why aren’t the (insert favorite team)’s going after (insert free agent seeking far too much)? We need that guy and probably can get him for less since it’s so close to camp!”
The answer, it seems, is that none of this is accidental. Whether by owners working together in collusion, or simply by the players asking for too much…something has happened this offseason that hasn’t happened in years: the possibility of strike.
I would like to preface by saying, as a 25 year old baseball fan, I’ve never seen the likes of this before. Ever. I was 2 when the work stoppage of 1994 happened so obviously I wasn’t aware of it. I just remember the lingering anger that was expressed and felt by men and women older than myself. Men like my grandfather, who saw it as the ‘Rich vs the Richer’ and it was fans like himself who suffered.
In this three part article, I’d like to tackle first all the reasons why this came to be, the perspective in this fight of both the owners and the players, and finally what it means for the Atlanta Braves and baseball in general if, Heaven forbid, a strike occurs.
PART 1: 2017…Drama Preludes to Disaster
Since the organization of baseball’s player’s union, the collective bargaining agreement has usually been the forfront of most of the drama between the players and the owners. The game ceased to be played in late 1994 because of disputes. A potential world series team in Montreal was derailed because of this, resulting in the team never being able to achieve that success again, eventually seeing that city lose it’s ballclub…but that’s besides the point. They’ve usually been able to come to a deal before the deadline and all is usually well, for the sake of the peace. This year, something interesting occurred…
The incredibly long, detailed CBA document had many pros for the players’ benefit. Things like improvement of players’ clubhouse chefs, quality of travel in relation to game times, getaway days, as well as days off and other seemingly less important things were agreed upon by the players. However, the owners are burdened with a huge luxury tax, one that basically can be considered a salary cap, for all intent and purposes. Not really a big deal to these guys…after all, thats the owner’s problem, not theirs. The revenue of baseball is unlike any other in US sports…player continuously get paid more. TV deals, growing media markets in MLB-team’s cities, the popularity of baseball overseas…many attributes of a growing sport with an immense amount of money being made off of it. So, in concordance with this, players have being getting raises every. Deals presented for players at the highest level 10 years ago are now being eclipsed by players of less caliber. Its the same as the price of oil…just goes up over time. The trend being set of late though, extended that sentiment to the effect of how certain free agent markets developed in the vacuum of that particular year alone. For instance, the best pitcher of this offseason may be the 30th best pitcher in baseball…but because he’s #1 THIS off-season, he seeks money like a Cy Young winner. After all, he’s waited his whole big league career to be a free agent and set himself up for the rest of his, and his family’s lives. And guess what? The big market teams like Los Angeles, New York and others, if they covet that player or pitcher, will overpay if they think a playoff spot is in sight. Now comes the new CBA… The luxury tax was set at a level low enough to be in those same sights…and it’s stifled any of that kind of action from teams with ordinarily gigantic pocket books. The players, who’ve been used to those types of deals eventually getting handed out, even if it does take until Jan/Feb, are left scratching their heads and crying foul to the owners. Owners in turn, have pointed to flaws in the market and the players’ position on the matter as having muddied the waters further than any collusion they have claimed. Pitchers and catchers report in a week, and those 50 plus bona fide’s are looking for work…something has got to give.
Next up, I’ll talk in detail about the owners and players’ individual platforms during this trying period. Comment and lets discuss it!