I liked to Shaughnessy earlier, so why not link to Murray Chass?
He spoke with former union head Marvin Miller — they’re bffs, you know — about the MLBPA agreeing to submit to HGH blood testing in the new collective bargaining agreement. Miller is perplexed by the union agreeing to this and to earlier concessions regarding drug testing:
“I don’t understand the rationale of this. I don’t understand the rationale of a lot of things. It’s an unproven test. We don’t know the basis for this. I haven’t heard any rationale for this and there is no rationale for it … I understand Selig wanting it, but I don’t understand why the union would agree to it … It’s not a step forward … They didn’t get anything when they agreed to reopen testing when there was no reopening in the agreement to test. I can’t imagine anything appreciable to make you think twice about saying yes.”
Setting aside that Marvin Miller is 94-years-old and may not completely have his finger on the pulse of what’s going down in labor relations at the moment, he has a narrow technical point regarding negotiation tactics. You don’t, traditionally, give something up in this way. And he’s right that the HGH test is kind of a joke.
But Miller’s position is also some pretty old thinking when it comes to baseball labor relations. What the union finally figured out — too late, but did figure out — was that there was a serious downside to the public thinking that everyone was on ‘roids. And that that perception was going to eventually translate to lower confidence in the game and ultimately lower revenues.
So, like Miller, you could just view this through the lens of owner-player politics. Or you could see the longer game in which the players giving in on drug testing was actually in their own financial interests. And that’s before you talk about how, you know, getting on board with drug testing was the right thing to do anyway.
I agree with Miller that the HGH test thing is kind of silly — I’ve spoken about why before — but I don’t think you can give the union much hell for agreeing to go down this road, even if they’re doing it for reasons other than “HGH is bad, mmmkay?”