This story in The Atlantic may be the biggest, juiciest bit of Craig-bait ever composed. I want to take this story out for long walks and tell it all of my deepest secrets and have it love me for me. I want to make a serious commitment to this story and show it I’m not like all those other bloggers who will link them and forget them. It’s serious between this story and me.
Actually, I’m linking it because it will enrage most of you people and if you haven’t guessed it in the past four years, enraging most of you people gives me endless satisfaction.
The upshot: a philosophy professor citing Plato, Kant and others to counter the usual anti-PED arguments. Which, given the usual tenor of PED debates, will convince you anti-PED folk out there about as much as a Nikolai Volkoff soliloquy about why Hulk Hogan sucks would have convinced wrestling fans circa 1985. I mean, if you’re the sort of person who calls Alex Rodriguez “A-Roid,” I don’t feel like Immanuel Kant and Plato and references to the Socratic dialogue Euthyphro are really going to have a lot of persuasive power for you.
Actual honesty now: I agree with reason number 7 listed for why PEDs are bad: the arms race they create. As in, how Player X using PEDs may coerce Player Y into using them. At that point someone is being pressured into taking risks they may not have otherwise taken and I feel like that reason in and of itself is enough to justify the ban of PEDs. At least PEDs which present health risks. If there is some imaginary PED which, one day, is confirmed to be harmless, it changes things.
Anyway: I expect most of you to rail against this as stupid and to repat your “cheating is wrong” mantra. But it would be really great if you actually dug into the reasons why it’s wrong and admit that not all of the arguments tossed out by strongly anti-PED people hold logical water.
There’s something interesting deep in Ken Rosenthal’s latest notes column. It’s about arbitration, with Rosenthal reporting that the players union believes that all 30 teams will take a “file-and-trial” approach to arbitration this winter.
If you’re unfamiliar with this, it breaks down thusly:
- In mid-January, teams and players who are eligible for arbitration will exchange proposed salary figures. The player says what he thinks he’s worth based on comparable players of his quality and service time and the team will propose a lower counter-figure;
- Generally, the parties then use these proposals as negotiable figures and eventually reach a compromise deal, usually near the midpoint between the two figures, avoiding arbitration;
- If a deal cannot be reached, they go to an arbitration hearing and arbitrators pick one of the numbers. They CANNOT give a compromise award. It’s either the higher player’s number or the lower team number.
In the past, a handful of teams — most typically the Blue Jays, Braves, Marlins, Rays, and White Sox — employed a “file- and-trial” approach, meaning that they treated the figure exchange date as a hard deadline after which they refused to negotiate and stood content to go to a hearing. As more teams have adopted this approach, there have been more arbitration hearings. As Rosenthal notes, last year there were more hearings than in any offseason for the past 25 years. Now, the union thinks, every team will do this. If they do, obviously, there will be even more hearings.
There is certainly an advantage to file-and-trial for a team. It makes the player and the agent work harder and earlier in order to be prepared to negotiate with the club before the file deadline. It also makes them work a lot harder to come up with a defensible filing number given that, rather than merely being an opening salvo in an extended negotiation, it’s something that they will certainly have to defend in open court. It’s also simple hardball. Teams have greater resources than the players and the agents and it’s less painful for them to pay for lawyers and hearing prep and to conduct the actual hearing. There’s risk to the team, of course — they might lose and pay more than a settlement would’ve cost — but teams are obviously concluding that the risk is worth it.
The only question I have is, if the union is right and all 30 teams will now proceed this way, how was that decided? Everyone suddenly, after several decades of arbitration, simply decided to take the same approach? Or was there, I dunno, a meeting in which the strategy was coordinated? Inquiring minds want to know!