No, Derek Jeter will not play the anti-PED hero for you

47 Comments

If that headline sounds familiar it’s because I used one remarkably like it two weeks ago. Then, as now, I do so in response to a Bob Klapisch column. Then, as now, Kalpisch is using his column in a desperate effort to make Derek Jeter into some kind of anti-PEDs hero.

Two weeks ago he did so via comparison between Jeter and A-Rod. Today Klapisch actually tries to get Jeter to say all of the anti-PEDs things he likes to say. To get Jeter to come out firing against A-Rod and everyone who uses PEDs, whom he refers to as “baseball’s felons” (yes, really). The best/worst part: there’s a desperate fanboy element to it all which is almost embarrassing:

That’s why I asked the captain about his message to young fans about steroids — specifically whether he’ll use the farewell tour to renounce performance-enhancing drugs once and for all . . . All it would take is a few words from Jeter about the dangers of using PEDs — to one’s career, health and reputation — and he’d likely get through to some kid on the fence.

And of course Jeter doesn’t do that. Because there is absolutely zero in his history or what we know of his character that would inspire him to put himself out there on a controversial subject like this. He is far too smart for that and, based on his very words, both in the past and here, explains that he is not going to do it. Yet, despite him not taking Klapisch’s bait, Klap concludes thusly:

I have no doubt Jeter disapproves of both players’ use of PEDs and the lies they’ve told along the way.

He has to believe that. To not believe that may cause him to question whether the guy he thinks is some cross between God and Superman has a nuanced thought about a topic that isn’t nearly as black and white as Klapisch likes to claim it is.

I really can’t recall when I’ve ever seen a more blatant instance of a baseball writer projecting like Klapisch is projecting here. It’s almost enough to make me feel sorry for him.

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

Getty Images
12 Comments

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.