We’ve seen this coming for a couple of years now, but on the occasion of the 2011 draft, Bud Selig once again called for the hard slotting of draft picks and the extension of the draft to cover other countries:
“I believe in slotting and I believe in a worldwide draft. I think it’s important,” Selig said, pointing out that the draft began in 1965 as a way to improve competitive balance. “I think the draft has worked, but I think there are some things that have happened in the last five or six years that are worrisome.”
Worth noting that competitive balance is leaps and bounds better now than it was at the time the draft was implemented. And that, at present, people are writing articles all over the place about how much parity is in baseball. Then again, reality has never been a terribly tall hurdle for those engaging in public relations campaigns.
The NBA currently has a rookie pay scale and NFL owners would like to implement one as well. New players entering the NHL are subject to maximum salaries.
And based on how those leagues are going, the NBA and NFL should clearly be emulated when it comes to labor relations.
Selig said owners and general managers have voted in favor of a slotting system. Now, it’s a matter of getting players to agree.
Shocking: Selig has offered a proposal that will dramatically decrease players’ negotiation rights and wages and the other owners have agreed to it. Well, I guess we’re halfway there …
Look, I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again: I hate the slot — and actually, I’m not terribly keen on the draft — because I think that a person should be able to shop their labor as they see fit and a business should be allowed to decide what — or if — it wants to pay for said labor. Of course that’s a philosophical point, not a practical point. We know the draft isn’t going anywhere even if kooks like me talk about it being unfair.
But there’s a practical point to be remembered as well: In 2009 — in his introductory press conference after taking over for Donald Feher — Union head Michael Weiner referred to the idea of hard slotting as “a salary cap”. The term “salary cap” is a rallying cry for the union. It always has been. The owners know this, and they have publicly abandoned any effort to impose one because they know the union will gladly strike over it and will likely win.
Maybe it’s different for the draft — players have often thrown draftees and minor leaguers under the bus when it comes to work rules — but I don’t think enough people have taken notice of Weiner’s use of that term. For that reason, I think they people are underselling just how hard the union might fight the imposition of hard slotting for the draft. It may happen, but it will come at a higher price than the owners suspect, I think.