Monday, December 3, 2007

Marvin Miller: Boned Again

An ownership/management-heavy Veteran's Committee has voted former Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley, Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss and managers Dick Williams and Billy Southworth into the Hall of Fame. Marvin Miller was, once again, left out in the cold.

I understand that Miller was a polarizing figure and one who, in the view of even some ShysterBall readers, "ruined the game," but his exclusion is a travesty. The Hall of Fame is not a gold watch to be given someone for loyalty, good service and a pleasant demeanor. The place is a museum and a museum's mission is to document and preserve history. Marvin Miller's achievements changed the game in a way rivaled only by the advent of professionalism and integration. Leaving him out is indefensible.

Even worse is leaving him out while enshrining his rival, Bowie Kuhn. Each is responsible for the legacy of the other. To honor Kuhn while neglecting Miller is like having a Civil War museum featuring a Ulysses S. Grant exhibit that fails to mention Robert E. Lee.


Anonymous said...

The more accurate analogy might be to enshrining Robert E. Lee and leaving out Grant, if only because of the respective outcomes.

Anonymous said...

If Miller gets in, then so should Chick Gandil. After all, he is even more responsible for ruining (oops, changing) the game than Miller ever was.

Shyster said...

Didn't you ever read that story by Gandil in SI from the 1950s? He claimed the Black Sox were trying to win the 1919 series because they thought everyone knew about the fix and they were trying to throw off suspicion. The bad plays, he claimed, were as the result of the pressure of trying to do win so badly.

Hey, whatever he says.

Baseball made $6B this year. I'm guessing that, even adjusted for inflation, that's better than it ever did during the bad old days before free agency. Whether you can credit Miller for that is questionable, but you certainly can't blame him for doing harm to the game.

64cardinals said...

I agree that baseball isn't hurting for money. And the owners should share the wealth. Throughtout my adult life, I wish I could have sold my services to the highes bidder. I guess I could have in a way, but treason is frowned upon.

But the players are downright greedy. Anyone making $15 mil a year and talking about not getting enough respect is a complete jackass.

And to be fair, that goes for the entertainment industry and politicians. Lawyers are my friend.

But look at the old articles and books. Someone did a great analysis on this. I just can't find it. But ballplayers (for all of thier self-induced poverty) have always made well above the average salary for Americans, dating back to 1869. They have been the have's, and not the have nots. The Black Socks players all made more than 99% of the population of Chicago, with the exception being City Hall.

The result of most of this is higher ticket prices, inflated prices on merchandise, unreasonable parking rates, and public funding for stadiums to support it all.

Miller did some good, but it was all one-sided. The players gained everything and to this day still refuse to concede anything to the owners.

I never read the Gandil article, but wouldn't that be like Pontius Pilot claiming the 30 pieces of silver were a personal loan?

Pete Toms said...

C. I think it's beyond question that baseball revenues wouldn't be what they are if not for Miller & Fehr. MLB is the only "ball & stick" league without a cap. ( Yes, MLB punishes big spending with luxury taxes and discourages spending with revenue sharing, but not a cap. ) Cap league's lack the incentive to grow revenues this "aggressively".

I love that an old school - United Steelworkers of America - trade unionist like Miller and his like minded successor Fehr would be so admantly free market. This all for the better of the industry and the game. MLB, with their partner MLBPA are the only "ball & stick" league to get it right.

O'Malley is portrayed in Lords of the Realm as a complete a hole. I've been thumbing through it tonite, this is a good quote. "Tell that Jewish boy, to go on back to Brooklyn." According to John Helyar those are words spoken to then MLB labor negotiator John Gaherin by O'Malley in the still early days of the PA.

I'm trying to find Miller's famous qoute about Kuhn, something like " if god hadn't invented Kuhn..." Anybody know what I'm referring to?

Dick Williams. On this a great day for him is it tasteless to mention the "Fantasy Camp" story of 2000? It's one of my favorite baseball stories, it put a wholen new spin on "Fantasy & baseball"

Pete Toms said...

64 Cards, I hadn't seen your comments when I posted mine.

Yes, I'm of the same opinion and like you can't remember where I've read it, that pro ball players always made relatively good $$. John Helyar discusses this in Lords of the Realm, that a lot of old school baseball people, players, coaches, scouts, GM's, owners etc. didn't "get" what the PA wanted. They felt fortunate to play pro ball ( it beat working ), decent money, fun lifestlye, fame.

I don't think that's the point though. I think the labor should get their fair share. I'm not gonna look for it but the most recent figure I saw for the players percentage of industry revenue was in the low 50's. ( I think ) I'm more certain that I read recently that the players percentage has diminshed recently - revenues are outgrowing salaries.

You're right, we pay top dollar for MLB - the $6 billion / yr comes from somewhere - but we do because we greatly enjoy it.

I don't know if Miller should be in the HOF - it's one baseball debate that doesn't appeal to me - but I do think he made MLB better, for players, fans & owners.

My wife just yelled at me a 2nd time to get to the dinner table...

Pete Toms said...

64Cards, coincidence, I surfed on to a Jeff Passan piece tonite and according to him the players "only" got 41% of the gross revenues in 07. Down from 56% in 01. Same point - even though my numbers were wrong - revenue outpacing labor costs.