2011 World Series Game 7 - Texas Rangers v St Louis Cardinals

There is a difference between evil and Evil. Evil with a capital E is reserved for despots and dictators or political manoeuvrers who march men into certain death by the thousands for their own personal gain. Evil in the baseball world is not really evil. Operating within the sphere of baseball generally gets one off the “evil” hook.

Which doesn’t exclude people within baseball from operating like total scumbags, however.

Where to start? So many sensational headlines, so little time!

Earlier this morning, details began trickling out about the league and the union working hard towards a worldwide draft. The owners seem determined to prevent Venezuelan teenagers from being overpaid by a matter of a hundred thousand dollars, all so they might give C.J. Wilson $50 million.

The union, in all their foresight, will gladly accept a short path to arbitration for their dues-paying members over faceless kids in a Latin baseball academy. It isn’t difficult to see how, with a nice enough carrot, the union will enrich their members ahead of the cheap labor pouring into the baseball trough from foreign shores.

Next came the revelation that the Miami Marlins were suing their own season ticket holders. Seriously. The Marlins, they of one PR debacle after another, suing a pair of well-heeling season ticket owners. The Marlins pretty much cornered the market on contemptible behaviour but this is a whole ‘nother level.

Season ticket holders with front row seats along the third baseline did not appreciate new signage obstructing their view and repeatedly reached out to the team in search of a remedy. When their calls went unheeded, the Leons alerted the Marlins they were cancelling their seats for 2013 and withheld payment.

The fans, Jan and Bill Leon, signed a two-year agreement for their season seats. When the team learned they intended to cancel (after trading much of roster, mind you), the Fish Braintrust did what the Marlins and only the Marlins would be expected to do: they sued.

From the Miami New Times, via Big League Stew.

Leon Letter by Tim Elfrink

While piling on the Marlins is easy (and fun!) they claim they made multiple offers to move the seats but the Leons refused to meet the Marlins half way.

No matter what the Marlins offered the Leons, suing their season ticket holders is a PR disaster. The optics are terrible, much worse than the extra few inches of green padding that kicked off this entire ugly situation in the first place.

Finally, the most despicable act of all. The league is sick and tired off handing out free money in Obama’s America so they will stop the gravy train in its tracks. Are you a non-uniformed team employee? Sorry, your pension plan is on the chopping block.

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York has the full story on the owners “secret vote” to remove the pension plans for front office executives, scouts, team employees and the like. 26 of the 30 MLB teams participate in the Non-Uniformed Personnel Pension Plan though they are required to offer a similar plan.

Rubin’s sources indicate the plans won’t disappear entirely, the clubs just want the ability to provide their own plan to their direct employees. The last 30 years of labor history demonstrate a growing trend to eliminate company pensions, though more often than the companies which do so struggle financially.

Baseball owners are not struggling financially. They are flush with cash from any number of new revenue streams. They have one hand in the pockets of young players on the international level and now want to extract more from their own employees. Again, it is more about optics and sensationalism than reality. If they chop the pensions completely: bad. If they re-define the pensions into a more modern “defined contribution plans” that is not nearly as ugly as it looks. Still bad, still very very bad for the plan holders, but not as bad. Wee, tiny victories for the little guy!

But it looks ugly. Hideous. The inner workings of business are rarely anything but. Corporations with gaudy bottom-lines make choices that appear repugnant to you and I but, sadly, that’s how they built those gaudy bottom-lines in the first place.

So we can all look before we leap and express outrage over the big baddies pushing around the little guys but, in the end, what are we going to do? When you get into bed with folks like this, don’t be surprised when they act so…business guyish. As a bonus, this walk of shame lasts your entire life!

Comments (13)

  1. Too be fair to the team owners, it’s not like baseball teams make much of a profit.

    Wait a second…

  2. what a bunch of fucking dicks

  3. Marlins are dumb to sue, but the Leons are kind of being tools.

    America…what a country!

  4. “Gentlemen,” [raises glass], “To Evil!”

    No mention of the crime against fashion or good taste?

  5. The Marlins one is surprisingly the least evil of the three (and the other two are very evil, and classic exampls of how our generation is being expected to constantly give back the liberties and advantages our parents won for us).

    A season ticket valued at around $25,000 a year. for a total amount of $50,000 over two years, is a bit more than just a ticketing dispute. It’s a significant business transaction by almost any standards, with detailed contracts that the Leons signed onto. The Leons are breaking a contract for a large amount of money … and the Marlins have to think about precedent. Allow one $25,000 ticket holder walk away, every other season ticket holder on the hook for paying $25,000 for tickets to a triple-A baseball team would also be able to walk away. In other words – it could cost the Marlins millions. Which would serve them right for being douchebags, but I don’t necessarily blame them for trying to make people stick to contracts.

    Now, if the Leons can prove that their $25,000 purchase was devalued by the new sign – in other words, the Marlins broke the contract first – they might have a case, but I suspect both they and the Marlins are wealthy enough to sort it out in the courts.

    • I agree with your point, but i feel like the Leons should include the fact that they and all the other season ticket holders are now paying $25K to watch a “triple-A baseball team”. It would be interesting to see when they bought those tickets in relation to the Marlins’ wild offseason spending spree last winter. If I had dropped that much coin on the promise of a big-time team only to see the whole thing blown up, i’d want to sue too.

      • It’s almost assuredly what they did, considering they are cancelling the two-year contract after year one.

        It would be like subscribing to a year’s worth of Baseball Prospectus, only to have the crew from Bleacher Report take over in June.

        I’d want to cancel too, but would I be right to? Maybe.

  6. This was an amazing piece.

  7. Both sides are dopes… Don’t sign a 2 year deal and decide later you don’t want to hold up your end of year two.
    But the Marlins are also stupid – move the friggin sign or just let the Leons cancel the contract.

  8. Wish I could afford a year’s salary to watch a Triple-A franchise

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *