The implications of yesterday's Marlins-MLB-MLBPA deal

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Marlins logo.jpgFor those who missed it due to all of the McGwire hoopla, the Marlins were taken to the woodshed yesterday over pocketing revenue sharing money instead of using it for its intended purpose.

The upshot: the Union had the Marlins dead to rights on violating Article XXIV(B)(5)(a)of the Basic Agreement, which commits teams to spending revenue sharing money “to improve its performance on the field.”  The Marlins quite obviously don’t do that, the union quite obviously threatened to file a grievance and MLB and the Marlins quite obviously realized they’d lose, so the Marlins agreed to raise payroll going forward.

Today Maury Brown has a great post up talking about the implications of the deal. Definitely give Maury a read, but in the meantime, here are what I think are the biggest takeaways:

  • Given that the Marlins now have a gun to their head to increase payroll, Dan Uggla and Josh Johnson were just handed the greatest possible leverage in their contract negotiations with the team. More so Johnson, who is currently haggling with the team over the length of a possible long term deal. The Marlins are now committed to raise payroll as they enter their new park in two years. The easiest way to get the heat off of them right now would be to give Johnson a deal that stretches into that time frame. The easiest way to take more immediate heat off would be to stop trying to trade Dan Uggla and give the man his $7 million or whatever he’s expected to get in arbitration.
  • This was a masterful, under-the-radar play by new union head Mike Weiner, accompanied by none of the sort of drama that has surrounded union-league dustups in the past.  While there have been dissatisfied rumbles regarding how certain teams spend their revenue sharing money, no one, not even the sports business junkies, was really reporting this beforehand and no one had leaked anything substantive about threats of grievances.  Such a thing would have been unthinkable when Don Fehr was in charge.
  • We’re really in a new era of union-league relations.  Baseball has had unprecedented labor peace since the 2002 negotiations, but I sort of figured that was more a function of there not really being anything to fight about as opposed to something changing in the overall dynamic. Now, granted, what the Marlins do with their revenue sharing money is not the biggest issue in the world, but it strikes me that this would have played out very differently even a few short years ago. The league would have dug in its heels more. Ideology would have taken over, at least for a while. That didn’t happen here.

As we sit here today, there’s no real reason to think that the 2011 CBA negotiations will be particularly contentious. But even so, it’s nice to see that an issue that could have gotten ugly was resolved with a minimum amount of fuss. 

Now let’s sit back and see how the NFL handles its labor business . . .

People are paying tens of thousands to get into the World Series

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 24:  Chicago Cubs fans visit Wrigley Field on October 24, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs will face off against the Cleveland Indians in the World Series beginning tomorrow. This will be the Cubs first trip to the series since 1945. The Indians last trip to the series was 1948.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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Ticket prices for the World Series are always ridiculous, but this year things are heading to a whole new ridiculous level.

Now, to be clear, some of the figures you hear are not what will be paid for tickets. The Associated Press has the de rigueur story of ticket holders asking, like, a million dollars for their tickets and ticket seekers willing to give all kinds of in-kind goods and services for a chance to see the Cubs play in Wrigley. A lot of that noise will never amount to any real transaction and, in some cases, will likely end up with someone getting arrested. It’s crazy time, you know.

But even if those million dollar and sex-for-tickets stories end up being more smoke than fire, people will end up paying astronomical prices to get in. Some already are. ESPN’s Darren Rovell reports that someone paid $32,000 on StubHub for 4 seats in the front row by the Cubs visitors dugout for Game 2 at Progressive Field in Cleveland. The prices in Wrigley Field for Games 3, 4 and, if necessary, 5 will likely go higher. There’s a ton of pent-up demand on the part of both Cubs and Indians fans, after all.

Still: trying to imagine how an in-stadium experience, no matter how long someone has been waiting for it, is worth that kind of scratch. Guess it all depends on whether that kind of money constitutes that kind of scratch for a given person.

World Series Reset: Cubs vs. Indians Game 1

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 24:  Manager Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs speaks with the media during Media Day for the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 24, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
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The Game: Chicago Cubs @ Cleveland Indians, World Series Game 1
The Time: 8:00 PM EDT
The Place: Progressive Field, Cleveland
The Channel: FOX
The Starters: Jon Lester (Cubs) vs. Corey Kluber (Indians)

The Upshot:

After 2,430 (give or take) regular season games and 28 playoff games, we’ve arrived at the World Series. By now the teams should need no introduction, but if you’d like a general overview, by all means, check out or World Series preview from yesterday. The short version: the Cubs may be the best team in baseball this year, but the World Series is a lot more evenly-matched than many believe. Including the gamblers who have caused the Vegas oddsmakers to set this as a 2-1 affair in favor of the Cubs. We don’t think that reflects baseball reality, even if it reflects gambling reality.

On the field in Game 1 is a classic battle of aces. Jon Lester, who has a chance to win the NL Cy Young Award this year, faces off against Corey Kluber, who won the Cy Young Award a couple of years ago and rounded back into Cy Young form in the second half of this season. At the moment manager Terry Francona certainly sees him as an old school ace, with reports that Kluber could get the start in Game 1, Game 4 and, if necessary, Game 7 should things last that long. Somewhere Bob Gibson is smiling.

Lester is 2-0 and has allowed two runs in 21 playoff innings across three starts this year. He threw eight shutout innings in Game 1 of the Division Series against the Giants, gave up one run in six innings in Game 1 of the NLCS against the Dodgers and gave up one run in seven innings in an Game 5 of the NLCS. For his part, Kluber tossed seven shutout innings against the Red Sox in the Division Series, six and a third shutout innings against the Jays in the first game of the ALCS and allowed two runs in five innings in a loss in Game 5 of the ALCS.

The Indians are hoping, of course, that Kluber can leave with a lead, allowing them to go long with relief aces Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. The Cubs will no doubt be looking to strike quickly, knowing that coming from behind against that Cleveland pen is a tall order. Not that the Indians can count on late heroics themselves given that Aroldis Champan looms late for the Cubs. Both lineups are filled with potential game-changing bats, but bullpens loom large here.

The runup to this has been all about 1908 and 1945 and 1948 with a splash of 1995 and 1997 thrown in. None of that matters as of tonight. At that point, the game will be in the hands of men who weren’t even born for most of that and who have only hazy memory of some of it. The 2016 World Series will be decided by 2016 players, not by curses or the weight of history.

It all gets underway just after 8pm.