Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association are in the midst of negotiating the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. It will, in all likelihood, be in place by early December with little public acrimony between now and the completion of a deal. That has been the pattern for the past decade or so.
The last real showdown came in 2002, when the union and league just barely avoided a work stoppage. Before then, however, there was always high drama. Multiple work stoppages, including a season-ending one in 1994 and a season-altering one in 1981. Others were shorter, but the blood between the players and the owners had long been bad. Before that there was always peace, but it was a forced peace, imposed unilaterally by the owners who were all-powerful and accepted by the players who were virtually unorganized.
In the past three days, Mark Armour and Dan Levitt have been chronicling the history of the CBA over at The Hardball Times. It’s a three part series:
Part 2; and
It’s must-read stuff which explains the relationship between the players and owners both yesterday and today. It begins with utter domination of the players by owners and progresses through the famous and epic battles between The Lords of The Realm and MLBPA chief Marvin Miller and his successor, Don Fehr, which resulted in free agency. It ends with where we are now: an odd place, really, where the union and the league act more like friendly business partners than adversaries. Which, to many, seems like a nice place. While, to others, it seems like the union has acted less like an advocate and more like an agent.
It seems like a good time to be reading history as it is. Why not start with some baseball history?