Tony Clark says something odd about the upcoming CBA negotiations


The current Collective Bargaining Agreement between the owners and the players expires after the 2016 season. One of the issues which some — notably Scott Boras — has thrown out as a possible topic of the upcoming CBA negotiations is the apparent disparity between baseball’s revenues and the share of those revenues taken by the players.

On the surface it appears that, while everyone in baseball is getting rich these days, the owners are getting far, far richer than the men who actually play the game, proportionally speaking. Indeed, those who have studied the matter or who have at least spoken out about it, including agents with skin in the game like Boras and less-agenda driven analysts like Nathaniel Grow of FanGraphs, have been in agreement that the players’ piece of the pie is shrinking.

Last spring Grow reported that since baseball’s last labor stoppage, in 1995, MLB’s revenues have increased nearly 650% (from around $1.4 billion to over $9 billion in 2014). During that same time period, however, MLB payrolls have only increased by around 378%, from roughly $925 million in 1995 to just under $3.5 billion last year. The spilt, Boras says, has gone from 60/40 in favor of the players to 57/43 in favor of the owners.

While revenue splits between owners and workers have, historically, been on the front burner of labor disputes, whether that split is actually a huge issue for the players heading into the next negotiation is unknown. Maybe they don’t care about it too much and are more concerned with other matters. But there is that history and, of course, when you negotiate it’s NEVER in your best interest to give away an issue or to claim it’s unimportant ahead of time, even if it is. Indeed, the key to winning a negotiation is to “give in” on stuff that, secretly, you don’t care as much about as your opponent thinks you do.

As such, it would make perfect sense for MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark to claim — even if he does so only for tactical purposes — that revenue split is a concern of the union. Clark spoke with Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times today, however, and he said something rather odd on the matter:

I can find no one who studies such matters who has claimed what Clark claims here regarding revenue splits. And, at least from the outside, it would be hard to come up with such wildly divergent numbers. Payroll figures and baseball revenue are more or less publicly reported. We know what each player makes and the league itself likes to crow about how much it brings in (it helps shout down the “baseball is dying, you guys” crowd too). Simple math gives us percentages, of course.

Which isn’t to say that Clark is wrong. He’s the head of the MLBPA, after all, and after Rob Manfred and some accountants one presumes that he has better information than anyone. He also doesn’t have any incentive — as owners certainly do and as owners have frequently claimed throughout history — to disingenuously understate baseball’s revenues, to portray the league as poorer than it really is or, for that matter, the players richer than they really are. Again: he’s the Executive Director of a labor union. If he did that, he’d be committing malpractice.

So what the heck is going on here?

At the moment I can’t for the life of me figure it out. One possibility that fits here is that, in reality, those $9 billion+ revenue numbers that get passed around each year are bogus and that, in reality, baseball makes far less than it claims. If that were the case, Clark wouldn’t be “crying poor” the way the owners have done in the past. He’d just be operating from financial assumptions which he can reasonably defend in a negotiation. If that’s the case, a reasonable takeaway here would be for the media to never again credulously report baseball’s revenues as reported by baseball and, further, to criticize baseball for claiming the crazy-growth it has claimed for the past 20 years.

If that’s not the case — if the $9 billion+ and the payroll figures which get reported are legit — I’m at a total loss. And utterly unable to comprehend why a union boss would downplay the size of the golden goose. A golden goose from which he has a fiduciary duty to carve a larger part for the workers he represents. Or to at least claim he wants to for purposes of negotiation.

Anyone have any ideas?

Anthony Volpe, 21, wins Yankees’ starting shortstop job

Dave Nelson-USA TODAY Sp

TAMPA, Fla. — Anthony Volpe grew up watching Derek Jeter star at shortstop for the New York Yankees.

Now, the 21-year-old is getting the chance to be the Yankees’ opening day shortstop against the San Francisco Giants.

The team announced after a 6-2 win over Toronto in spring training that Volpe had won the spot. New York manager Aaron Boone called the kid into his office to deliver the news.

“My heart was beating pretty hard,” said Volpe, rated one of baseball’s best prospects. “Incredible. I’m just so excited. It’s hard for me to even put into words.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, hitting coach Dillon Lawson and bench coach Carlos Mendoza were also present.

Volpe was able to share the news with his parents and other family members near the Yankees’ dugout and said it is something he will never forget.

“It was pretty emotional,” Volpe said. “It was just an unbelievable moment to share with them.”

Volpe, who grew up a Yankees fan, lived in Manhattan as a child before moving to New Jersey. Jeter was his favorite player.

“It’s very surreal,” Volpe said. “I’ve only ever been to games at Yankee Stadium and for the most part only watched him play there.”

Volpe is hitting .314 with three homers, five RBIs and a .417 on-base percentage in 17 Grapefruit League games. He has just 22 games of experience at Triple-A.

Spring training started with Volpe, Oswald Peraza and holdover Isiah Kiner-Falefa competing for the everyday shortstop job. Kiner-Falefa was shifted into a utility role midway through camp, and Peraza was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday evening.

“While certainly the performance was there, he killed it between the lines,” Boone said of Volpe. “All the other things that we’ve been hearing about showed up. There’s an energy he plays the game with, and an instinct that he has that is evident. He really checked every box that we could have had for him. Absolutely kicked the door in and earned his opportunity.”

Volpe arrived in Florida in December to work out at the Yankees’ minor league complex.

“He’s earned the right to take that spot, and we’re excited for him and excited for us,” Cashman said. “He just dominated all sides of the ball during February and March, and that bodes well obviously for him as we move forward.”

Volpe was selected out of high school with the 30th overall pick in the 2019 draft from Delbarton School in New Jersey. He passed up a college commitment to Vanderbilt to sign with the Yankees.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get into the organization,” Volpe said. “This day, this feeling, this moment was kind of what I’ve worked my whole life for when I made that big decision.”

“Right now it’s crazy,” he added. “I don’t even know what lies ahead but Thursday I just want to go out and play, and have fun.”