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Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Two thoughts on Marvin MillerI wrote over at NBC this morning that I think Marvin Miller was a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame. Not everyone agrees with that. Not even some pretty damn reasonable people. Here are two perspectives. First Rob Neyer:
I mentioned this morning that I'm still an agnostic regarding Whitey Herzog's Hall of Fame candidacy. I suppose I'm also agnostic about Marvin Miller. Before you tear my head off, let me ask you one question: If you believe that Marvin Miller belongs, would you be comfortable with Scott Boras someday joining Miller? Because Boras, too, has been historically significant and reaped untold millions of dollars for the players.
Point taken, but doesn't the innovation trump mere exploitation? Isn't comparing Miller to Boras this like comparing Henry Ford and Lee Iacocca? Wait, that's not even fair. Iacocca at least developed the Mustang. Isn't that like comparing Ford and the CEO of Toyota? If there's an automobile Hall of Fame Ford's in it. The CEO of Toyota isn't.
Another perspective comes from NBC commenter Simon DelMonte (don't worry; he's one of the reasonable ones over there):
I'm as pro-union as they come in this day and age, the son of a proud member of the teachers union. And I usually agree with Marvin Miller when he gives interviews on the state of affairs in baseball. But I still feel uncomfortable about having him in the Hall. His accomplishments were off the field. Period. And just don't know if they helped the game. Helped the players, yes. The game? I don't think so.
Well, for starters there are a lot of guys in the Hall whose accomplishments were "off the field," so that's a non-starter. I understand the thinking behind the "good for the players and not the game" argument, but I don't buy it. The game is radically different now than it was before free agency, I'll grant that. But I think it's a tall order to say that the game is worse off. More people watch it now. Everyone makes more money. The quality of play remains high. There is competitive imbalance, but is it any worse than what we saw during the alleged Golden Age? Are Royals fans really worse off than St. Louis Browns fans were? Wait, we can't answer that because there are no more St. Louis Browns.
As for Flood: if you're inclined to put him in the Hall of Fame, I can't see how you can argue against Miller. Miller was behind Flood's challenge in the first place. If failed in his case. Miller persisted and ultimately won with other players what could not be won with Flood alone. Ultimately they were after the same thing, and one succeeded where the other failed. Why honor the guy who failed instead of the one who succeeded? Put less harshly, why honor the name out in front of the challenge instead of the mastermind?
Ultimately my argument for Miller comes down to this: there were three times in baseball history where everything frickin' changed: the end of the deadball era, the integration of baseball and the advent of free agency. Marvin Miller was the force behind that third one. How can you not honor that?
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 4:28pm
Tony A said...
I like Jobe, Veeck, and the guy that invented the knuckle ball for the hall, but, the last of those three is sorta persona non grata along with the rest of the Black Sox…too bad…hell of a pitcher…
Posted 11/12 at 09:22 PM
Derek Ambrosino said...
So, Miller is the blame for the (alleged lack of) professional motivation of the players?
There was a system in place. EVERY owner took advantage of it at the detriment of the players. The system was changed. SOME players placed their paycheck above their dedication to their job, you know, like what the vast, vast majority of all people in our country do. I don’t see the problem. And, I certainly don’t see how Miller is to blame, as if the players were somehow bastions of altruism all before this jerkwad helped enable capitalism to work for the workers, a little bit, as well as the owners.
And, professional athletes, by definition, have out-achieved like 99.9% percent of all those in their field. I love how freely and quickly the general public jumps to question their motivations to succeed. The false dichotomy of talent and work ethic is so ridiculously pervasive among the discourse surrounding the game and its players it really does a great job of thwarting sensible discussion of labor issues.
Posted 11/13 at 09:23 AM
Tilting. At. Windmills.
Posted 11/13 at 12:19 PM
Aaron Whitehead said...
If we put in Henry Chadwick, we can put in Marvin Miller.
Posted 11/13 at 03:12 PM
Derek Ambrosino said...
If that’s how you feel.
My comment was basically directed at Ron who was incinuating that players were basically undeserving of the freedoms to negotiate their compensation in a competitive market because… some of them were motivated chiefly by financial success?
In fact, anybody who works for a living who castigates baseball players for their salaries is, in my estimation, actually tilting at windmills.
The “they’re playing a game” argument is,I believe, the one that grates me most, as it is ridiculous, naive, and self-aggrandizing on virtually every level possible.
Posted 11/13 at 03:16 PM
You need to go back actually read what I wrote. Because you obviously didn’t.
And since you want to resort to name calling, what do you call someone who comments on a post/comment without actually reading it?
Did you come over from CTB?
Posted 11/13 at 04:11 PM
Derek Ambrosino said...
No. Actually, I’m a writer for a small website you may have heard of; it’s called The Hardball Times. (Fantasy section, though. I assume you don’t make your way to that side of the site, but that’s nothing I would hold against you. I just found it kinda funny you asked where I came from)
But as I said, Miller made things better for the players. Many of whom don’t care about the game or the fans (you know, the people who make it all possible). What they care about it cashing a paycheck. Some of them were more interested in what thier playoff money was than actually winning.
...someone still has to explain to me how Miller made the “GAME” better. Because in my opinion, he didn’t. And that’s what the Hall should be for.
There’s no logical reason to include anything in you first paragraph after the first sentence if that you are not implying what I noted. In fact, I’d assert my intepretation is the only reasonable interpretation of that paragraph. So, if that’s not your contention, the error lies in your communication not in my comprehension.
And, as to the second para, do you not see a connection between the players and the game?
In fact, the players ARE the game. You imply, in your first para, that the fans are the game. That’s actually 180 degrees off. The players are what make it a game; without them there is no game. The fans, on the other hand, make it a business. By the way, that’s why the players aren’t just “playing a game,” but producing what is the product on which multi-billion dollar industries are based.
It has already been pointed out that were the players to not have these freedoms, they wouldn’t be playing baseball. Hence, the game would clearly be suffering.
Posted 11/13 at 04:54 PM
As I said, reat what I wrote. Because you clearly haven’t. You’re also cherry picking certain comments and trying to tell me what I said without referencing other statements that clearly contradict your point.
But thanks for doing my thinking for me. I’m obviously not capable of it myself. Nice to know that an ‘opinion’ can be ‘wrong’. That’s a new one on me.
I’m trying to decied between Chinese and Mexican for dinner. Can you help me out?
I’m bettting the answer will be Italian.
Posted 11/13 at 05:17 PM
Derek Ambrosino said...
I’ve read all your comments, Ron. I quoted half your post. Cherrypicking? What other context was missing. Are you lamenting the I omitted your contention that sliding pads are more important to the game the repeal of the reserve clause? Because, that clearly strenghens your argument…
Opinions are not right or wrong (though some are more “valid” than others, but that’s something of a semantic debate). Marvin Miller should not be/does not desrve to be in the Hall of Fame is an opinion, and I can’t say that opinion is wrong, I guess. ...That is, of course, provided you’d stick to the same belief if I advanced the “opinion” that Willie Mays doesn’t deserve to be in the HOF.
But, what I can say, that is a little more objective is that your opinion is predicated on some profound misunderstandings between how the business aspect of the institution is related to the game and to the players, and how the changing dynamics of one impact the others. Also, you seem to be unable to disassociate Marvin Miller the salaries of today’s superstars. That’s, I dunno, like blaming Otto Hahn for Hiroshima.
But don’t take my word for you being off base, read the comments of everybody else who reacted to your statement.
The last word is yours.
Posted 11/13 at 05:40 PM
Jack Marshall said...
Craig, I wouldn’t vote for Miller. He was a lawyer; he had no interest in baseball at all, its welfare, future or long-term strength. If he could get his clients the money they wanted and destroy baseball, he would have done it. His position on steroids now is typical. He feels the players should never have agreed to testing. He’d protect their use of steroids no matter what its effect on the game,again, baseball has always been his adversary, not his client. I also believe his contribution was fungible. He had the job at the right time, but many other lawyers could and would have accomplished the same thing. I don’t think baseball is appreciably different than it would have been if Miller had never been born.
I think Boras as a comparison is fair…he’s another lawyer who had no obligation to do anything for baseball. Who was the first big baseball agent? He would be the pioneer, whoever he is…and I wouldn’t elect him, either.
Posted 11/13 at 10:53 PM