Do Baseball Owners Realize When They Blast Players They Belittle their Product?

Tracy Ringolsby

Here's the puzzle about Major League Baseball.

The game is on hold while the players and owners argue over who gets what in negotiations to create a format for an abbreviated season that would pave the way for a post-season that is lucrative for ownership.

And like has happened throughout MLB history when it comes down to money and negotiations, the owners work hard to paint the players as the bad guys. 

On one hand, it's understandable. Both the owners and players are looking for ways to gain public support in the ongoing battle.

On the other hand, it's just plain dumb. The finger-pointing merely serves to turn-off a fan base, filled with working people who turn to sports as an escape from real life, and don't have a feel-good moment listening to owners public degrade their product.

Far as the fan base is concerned, both sides are greedy and neither side really cares about the working man.

Check out today's edition of Sports Illustrated Hot Clicks: Money Rules MLB negotiations:

The fan base sees the owners as billionaires, constantly jacking up prices, making it more difficult for the middle-class, working man to be able to afford buying a ticket for the game.

And the fan base sees the players as greedy millionaires, who are making so much money that the owners have to keep raising ticket prices.

Here's the bottom line:

The owners have obviously been successful in the business ventures they have entertained.

Pro sports, however, is a different animal than other businesses.

Think about it.

The autoworkers at General Motors go on strike. Management makes a public issue about the workers "unrealistic desires," trying to create public sympathy for their side in the war of worlds that come with negotiations.

Eventually the strike is over. The public may hate the corporate folks. They may feel the autoworkers are greedy. But the product -- the automobile -- is absolved of any blame. And if anything, that family that has driven a GM product is excited that things are settled.

Now, in baseball, there is a work stoppage. The players complain about the "rich" owners. The owners complain about the "greedy" players. And the problem is?

When the two sides reach an agreement and go back to work, those players the owners have been trashing for their greed suddenly become the focal point of the marketing to try and get fans back in the ballpark. 

After all the years, you would think the owners would wake up and realize their public attacks on the greed of the players is really an attack on the foundation of their business. 

These are the same players that teams market, and want to make fan favorites in hopes of selling seats.

That's not saying the players demands are correct.

All it is saying is the owners need to have thick skin. They need to ignore the temptation to blast the greed of the players. 

When your employees are your product you are trying to sell to the consumer, the focus needs to be on what's good, not ridicule over greed and selfishness.

It seemed that the owners had figured that out. It's been 25 years since baseball had a labor issue. 

But then, only nine of the current 30 MLB owners were in the game 25 years ago. Only nine of the current 30 MLB owners realize what the strike that cut short the 2004 season and delayed the start of the 2005 season did to damage the product.

And it is interesting that none of those nine owners have been involved in the public name-calling or under-the-table of leaking negative information about the product that lures the customers to shell out the money that has made owning a ballclub financially lucrative.


MLB At Large