A rant I posted in response to a Facebook post wherein the writer announced that the recent salary increase given to Seattle pitcher Felix Hernandez had made him hate baseball.
never understood all this rooting for management in baseball. It's
unique to sports, especially baseball. No one is going to post that they
hate computer software because Google pays a top software designer 20
million, or they hate Hollywood because Leonardo diCaprio gets 20 mil for Blood Diamond.
But baseball owners are so historically stupid -- they're the one
group of capitalists who have led the fight to denigrate their own
product, because they hated free agency so much...they preferred the old
indentured servitude system where a Ralph Kiner had to accept a pay cut
after leading the league in home runs, because he had nowhere else to
go. What other business would have done this? Can you imagine, in the
same era, a movie studio advertising BATMAN -- starring Jack Nicholson,
who got paid $6 million plus a percentage, and boy, did that ham ever
not deserve it?
Putting this in historical perspective again, at the same time that
baseball owners were waging a PR campaign against their own product, a
Broadway producer who understood publicity, Sonny Werblin, took over the
Jets, and immediately paid a young college quarterback, Joe Namath,
twice what the competitive rate at the time was. And instead of bitching
and moaning about the salary, Werblin played it up -- built a positive
PR campaign around it. Result -- the AFL shot up in the awareness of
fans and players, and became a gold mine. This was around the same time
that Lamar Hunt of the Hunt oil family was losing a million dollars a
year with the Houston Oilers. A shocked sportswriter -- probably one of
those in the pocket of baseball management -- reported this to daddy H.
L. Hunt, who said "Uh-oh. At that rate, he'll only be able to run the
team for another 200 years."
Seattle's ownership made what looks to be a smart business decision.
They've made their fan base feel proud by locking up the team's best
and most popular player. They've shown that they're serious about
building a winning team, and that will make the Mariners a more
attractive proposition to other free agents. And are you really going to
root for those owners who've taken the luxury tax established by
baseball to give small market teams a chance to compete, and put it in
their own pockets?