Tim McCarver says that MLB frowns on its broadcasters acknowledging Pete Rose’s existence

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I missed this in all of the All-Star stuff, but Tim McCarver was on The Dan Patrick Show on Monday and said that Major League Baseball restricts Fox and ESPN (and presumably TBS) from showing video of Pete Rose. Via Awful Announcing, here’s the relevant snippet:

This during the same week where we noticed that MLB likes to deny the existence of the embarrassing 2002 All-Star Game as well. They rectified that, but it’s not a particularly flattering trait if the league just assumes that, if they don’t acknowledge it, bad stuff goes away.

And heck, in this case it’s not even bad stuff. Pete Rose may have committed a mortal baseball sin when he was the manager of the Reds, but his playing career was amazing and memorable. Indeed, it’s hard to think of a player who defined 1960s-70s baseball more than Pete Rose did. To just airbrush-away his existence as if it were the Soviet Central Committee after a purge is pretty stupid and, frankly, insulting. Does the league think we’ll forget Pete Rose exists if they lean on their rights holders to not show him?

If I run Major League Baseball, I don’t run and hide from my sport’s history. I embrace it like nobody’s business. All of it. Because the bad stuff goes hand-in-hand with the good stuff. If we pretend the Black Sox didn’t happen we forget why we have a Commissioner in the first place. If we pretend the 2002 All-Star Game doesn’t happen we forget why, since then, the All-Star Game determines home field advantage.  If we pretend Pete Rose didn’t dominate baseball for over 20 years we forget that the rules against gambling are so important that even a towering figure like Rose is subject to them.

And if that’s too abstract a line of reasoning, let’s go simpler: if I’m Fox or ESPN and I’m paying Major League Baseball billions of dollars for the rights to show games and promote its sport, I’m promoting all of it, not just the stuff that isn’t embarrassing to some nervous nellies in the league office.

MLB Network airs segment listing “good” and “bad” $100 million-plus contracts

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On Wednesday evening, Charlie Marlow of KTVI FOX 2 News St. Louis posted a couple of screencaps from a segment MLB Network aired about $100 million-plus contracts that have been signed. The list of “bad” contracts, unsurprisingly, is lengthier than the list of “good” contracts.

As Mike Gianella of Baseball Prospectus pointed out, it is problematic for a network owned by Major League Baseball to air a segment criticizing its employees for making too much seemingly unearned money. There’s a very clear conflict of interest, so one is certainly not getting a fair view of the situation. MLB, of course, can do what it wants with its network, but it can also be criticized. MLB Network would never air a similar segment in which it listed baseball’s “good” and “bad” owners and how much money they’ve undeservedly taken. Nor would MLB Network ever run a segment naming the hundreds of players who are not yet eligible for arbitration whose salaries are decided for them by their teams, often making the major league minimum ($545,000) or just above it. Similarly, MLB Network would also never think of airing a segment in which the pay of minor league players, many of whom make under $10,000 annually, is highlighted.

We’re now past the halfway point in January and many free agents still remain unsigned. It’s unprecedented. A few weeks ago, I looked just at the last handful of years and found that, typically, six or seven of the top 10 free agents signed by the new year. We’re still at two of 10 — same as a few weeks ago — and that’s only if you consider Carlos Santana a top-10 free agent, which is debatable. It’s a complex issue, but part of it certainly is the ubiquity of analytics in front offices, creating homogeneity in thinking. A consequence of that is everyone now being aware that big free agent contracts haven’t panned out well; it’s a topic of conversation that everyone can have and understand now. Back in 2010, I upset a lot of people by suggesting that Ryan Howard’s five-year, $125 million contract with the Phillies wouldn’t pan out well. Those people mostly cited home runs and RBI and got mad when I cited WAR and wOBA and defensive metrics. Now, many of those same people are wary of signing free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer and they now cite WAR, wOBA, and the various defensive metrics.

The public’s hyper-sensitivity to the viability of long-term free agent contracts — thanks in part to segments like the aforementioned — is a really bad trend if you’re a player, agent, or just care about labor in general. The tables have become very much tilted in favor of ownership over labor over the last decade and a half. Nathaniel Grow of FanGraphs pointed out in March 2015 that the players’ share of total league revenues peaked in 2002 at 56 percent, but declined all the way to 38 percent in 2014. The current trend of teams signing their talented players to long-term contract extensions before or during their years of arbitration eligibility — before they have real leverage — as well as teams abstaining from signing free agents will only serve to send that percentage further down.

Craig has written at great length about the rather serious problem the MLBPA has on its hands. Solving this problem won’t be easy and may require the threat of a strike, or actually striking. As Craig mentioned, that would mean getting the players all on the same page on this issue, which would require some work. MLB hasn’t dealt with a strike since 1994 and it’s believed that it caused a serious decline in interest among fans, so it’s certainly something that would get the owners’ attention. The MLBPA may also need to consider replacing union head Tony Clark with someone with a serious labor background. Among the issues the union could focus on during negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement: abolishing the draft and getting rid of the arbitration system. One thing is for sure: the players are not in a good spot now, especially when the league has its own network on which it propagandizes against them.