Scott Boras wants the first two games of the World Series played at a neutral site

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In a column posted earlier today, the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo wrote about the benefits of Major League Baseball shifting the first two games of the World Series to a neutral site, an idea spawned by super-agent Scott Boras. The aim is to revive interest in the World Series. Cafardo writes that the World Series used to be a can’t-miss event, but even other general managers and agents have stopped attending, choosing instead to watch the game from home.

Cafardo writes:

If you had two games to start the World Series in a warm-weather climate and/or dome, you’d create quite a buzz. The prelude to the game or games, Boras suggests, would be a gala, followed by a big ceremony where the Cy Young, MVP, and other awards would be part of a TV special in the host city. He calls it, baseball’s Oscars.

He adds that added corporate interest would go to a pet interest of Boras: creating a pension fund for Minor Leaguers.

Cafardo goes on, with another Boras idea:

With the inclusion of an awards ceremony, it would create a scenario in which the best players in baseball would gather at the World Series site. Boras even suggested a postseason home run derby, where stars would compete and not have to worry, as they do now at the All-Star Game, about ruining their swings for the rest of the season, which is why some of the best sluggers do not participate.

Whether we like to admit it or not, money is the driving force of this great sport and that happens by generating interest, even if it means breaking with tradition. You will get a lot more eyeballs if your Home Run Derby includes defending Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, who chose not to participate this year’s event due to an injury. Many more people will watch, let’s say, a Pirates-Athletics World Series if, as an auxiliary portion of the World Series festivities, Yu Darvish receives the AL Cy Young award or Cabrera takes home the AL MVP award.

The chances of any of the changes suggested by Boras actually going into effect are pretty slim, but the ideas are worth considering anyway.

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.