Some blogger smells a Mike Piazza conspiracy

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Some random unemployed blogger is hurling accusations at Mike Piazza. The claim: it’s a grand conspiracy that his book is going to come out after the Hall of Fame election results this winter. Because it clearly will have steroid-use admissions in it and once he’s already elected to the Hall of Fame there will be nothing anyone can do about it:

Maybe Simon & Schuster has innocently planned the Piazza publication for soon after the announcement for marketing purposes, but it might just as easily have agreed to a post-election publication to insure that the book would not keep Piazza out of the Hall.

If, on the other hand, the book includes a steroids admission, all I can say is shame on Piazza and his publisher. With that possibility in mind, though, the voters would be wise to withhold their votes from Piazza until a future election. He will have 14 more chances.

Because it’s so STRANGE for a baseball book to come out in February!  I mean, apart from the fact that every single baseball book ever has been released to coincide with pitchers and catchers reporting, this smacks of sinister intent!

Oh well, Chass is gonna Chass. He’s been obliquely accusing Piazza of being a steroids user for years now, claiming  res ipsa loquitur regarding Piazza back acne he once witnessed in the clubhouse. Never mind that dermatologists do not agree with Mr. Chass that back acne he witnessed is dispositive of anything.

None of which is to say that Chass is wrong about this. It’s entirely possible that Mike Piazza took steroids. It’s entirely possible that his book is going to talk about it. But if Chass is right about it he’s just guessing here. If he had something more than a hunch and a guess, he’d report it. What would stop him?

Players are waking up and getting ready to fight

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There’s this idea out there that the owners have been eating the players’ lunch at the bargaining table in recent years because the players are, generally, rich and happy and maybe don’t care about a lot of the stuff the previous couple of generations of players did. There is probably some degree of truth to that. The difference between a good deal and a bad deal, in both collective bargaining and on the free agent market, is way less dire now than it used to be and thus the urgency may not have been there over the past several years the way it was in 1981 or 1994.

But it goes too far to say that such a mindset is universal among players. Or that it’s a mindset which, even among those who hold it, will always persist. Players may not have been as vigilant about labor matters over the past several years as they used to be, but they’re not idiots and, at some point, the owners are gonna push ’em too far and they’ll respond.

As we find ourselves in the second straight offseason in which teams simply don’t seem all too keen on signing free agents, it’s starting to happen already.

Earlier this week Dallas Keuchel tweeted out some things critical of the current market and teams’ approach to it (and took another swipe today). This afternoon Giants third baseman Evan Longoria chimed in on Instagram, posting a picture of Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, and saying the following:

We are less then a month from the start of spring and once again some of our games biggest starts remain unsigned. Such a shame. It’s seems every day now someone is making up a new analytical tool to devalue players, especially free agents. As fans, why should “value” for your team even be a consideration? It’s not your money, it’s money that players have worked their whole lives to get to that level and be deserving of. Bottom line, fans should want the best players and product on the field for their team. And as players we need to stand strong for what we believe we are worth and continue to fight for the rights we have fought for time and time again.

Most of that is common sense, the sort of which we’ve been arguing for around here for some time. Fans should care about good players and winning baseball games, not whether or not their front office can get a great bargain for its own sake. It may be interesting to talk about payroll and salaries and wins/$, but the point of baseball is to win, right? When so many teams seem rather uninterested in that, it’s a problem that all of the interesting analytical insights can’t really make up for.

The second part is worth keeping your eyes on. Maybe players have not been on a war footing the likes of which their predecessors were in the 1970s through the 1990s, but it doesn’t mean they won’t get back there if pushed. As is abundantly clear, the owners are pushing. Salaries are dropping in both an absolute sense and, especially, compared to baseball’s revenues. Players are getting a smaller piece of the pie than they have in a while and ownership seems quite pleased to see that continue.

If players are saying stuff like this publicly, it means that players are talking about it amongst themselves privately. The last two years have likely served as quite a wakeup call for them, and they seem to be waking up. Evan Longoria is. Dallas Keuchel is. So are some others. If current trends continue, more and more will wake up.

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires following the 2021 season. What happens over the rest of this offseason and the next two is going to determine the mood of the players. The mood of the players, in turn, is going to dictate the tenor of negotiations. If they were to begin right now, those negotiations would be very, very rocky.