A lot of people want to see Adam Greenberg get an at bat in the bigs

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Adam Greenberg made his major league debut for the Chicago Cubs in 2005. In his first trip to the plate he was hit in the head and suffered a severe, major league career-ending concussion and positional vertigo.

Though he came back and played in the Cubs, Dodgers, Royals and Angels organizations — and while he has taken his hacks in indy ball — a man named Matt Liston has started a push to get the Cubs to give Greenberg another chance at a major league at bat:

Sports activist Matt Liston, a diehard Chicago Cubs fan, has rallied more than 10,000 people who have signed a Change.org petition calling on the Cubs to give former player Adam Greenberg one more opportunity to bat in a Cubs uniform … “For anyone who’s ever dreamed of playing professional sports — Adam was there and had his dream taken from him with one pitch,” said Liston. “As a lifelong baseball fanatic, I want to see Adam get the at bat he deserved after working so hard in college and the minor leagues to pursue a career in Major League Baseball.”

I am sympathetic to the impulse, and it’s sad that Greenberg was never able to make it back.  But there are a lot of guys who never even got Greenberg’s chance. And a lot of guys who, even if given the chance, also had their careers ended by bad luck and injury.  Even if he’s never had an official at bat, he has had a plate appearance, and as everyone knows, that counts. And even if he gets one more shot, his real legacy is and always will be fighting for three years to make the bigs in the first place. Which is noble, honorable and is a far greater success than almost every other person who has played organized baseball.

I won’t mind if the Cubs give him another shot, but even though it makes me something of a killjoy, I don’t know why Greenberg should get it when no one else gets it. And I don’t know what it accomplishes.

Must-Click Link: Do the players even care about money anymore?

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Yesterday I wrote about how the union has come to find itself in the extraordinarily weak position it’s in. The upshot: their leadership and their membership, happily wealthy by virtue of gains realized in the 1970s-1990s, has chosen to focus on small, day-to-day, quality of life issues rather than big-picture financial issues. As a result, ownership has cleaned their clock in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. If the union is to ever get back the considerable amount of ground it has lost over the past 15 years, it’ll require a ton of hard work and perhaps drastic measures.

A few hours later, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan dropped an absolute must-read that expands on that topic. Through weeks of interviews with league officials, agents and players, he explains why the free agent market is as bad as it is for players right now and why so many of them and so many fans seem not to understand just how bad a spot the players are in, business wise.

Passan keys on the media’s credulousness regarding teams’ stated rationales for not spending in free agency. About how, with even a little bit of scrutiny, the “[Team] wants to get below the luxury tax” argument makes no sense. About how the claim that this is a weak free agent class, however true that may be, does not explain why so few players are being signed.  About how so few teams seem interested in actually competing and how fans, somehow, seem totally OK with it.

Passan makes a compelling argument, backed by multiple sources, that, even if there is a lot of money flowing around, the fundamental financial model of the game is broken. The young players are the most valuable but are paid pennies while players with 6-10 years service time are the least valuable yet are the ones, theoretically anyway, positioned to make the most money. The owners have figured it out. The union has dropped the ball as it has worried about, well, whatever the heck it is worried about. The killer passage on all of this is damning in this regard:

During the negotiations leading to the 2016 basic agreement that governs baseball, officials at MLB left bargaining stupefied almost on a daily basis. Something had changed at the MLBPA, and the league couldn’t help but beam at its good fortune: The core principle that for decades guided the union no longer seemed a priority.

“It was like they didn’t care about money anymore,” one league official said.

Personally, I don’t believe that they don’t care about money anymore. I think the union has simply dropped the ball on educating its membership about the business structure of the game and the stakes involved with any given rule in the CBA. I think that they either so not understand the financial implications of that to which they have agreed or are indifferent to them because they do not understand their scope and long term impact.

It’s a union’s job to educate its membership about the big issues that may escape any one member’s notice — like the long term effects of a decision about the luxury tax or amateur and international salary caps — and convince them that it’s worth fighting for. Does the MLBPA do that? Does it even try? If it hasn’t tried for the past couple of cycles and it suddenly starts to now, will there be a player civil war, with some not caring to jeopardize their short term well-being for the long term gain of the players who follow them?

If you care at all about the business and financial aspects of the game, Passan’s article is essential.