The goose’s golden baseball


By David Lindeman

Contributing columnist

It took longer than it should have, but baseball players and owners finally have come up with an agreement.

The whole thing reminded me of the story of the goose that laid the golden baseball … er, I mean the golden egg. After a while, the bird’s owners got greedy and impatient and figured if they cut the goose open they could get all those golden eggs inside at one time. So they did. End of goose. End of golden eggs. End of story.

I am not so much thinking about birds these days (although there are Orioles and Cardinals and Blue Jays involved); I am thinking more about the game previously known as America’s Pastime – baseball.

Team owners, who are all rich, and players, who are not as rich but are richer than most of the rest of us, were fighting over a new contract. It already has caused a delay in the opening of the season this year. It appears as if the knife is at the goose’s throat, and both sides have grabbed the handle.

After one particularly fruitless bargaining session, one of the players said, “They need to stop treating us like we’re idiots.” Well, if the shoe fits …

It’s not just the players. There are enough knuckleheads on both sides here. But the players don’t seem to understand that most people don’t know or even care who owns the teams. The players are the ones who are in the spotlight and by most standards they’re doing pretty well.

The lowly guy at the end of the bench who can’t hit his weight will make minimum salary of around $700,000. At the top of the pay scale is someone like Mike Trout, who was paid around $37 million by the Los Angeles Angels last year. Unfortunately, Mike got hurt in 2021 and only went to the plate 117 times with 39 hits, so he made approximately $948,717 per hit. That’s good work if you can get it. If he would have not been hurt and would have had a normal year, he probably would have weighed in with about 180 hits, a mere $205,500 per hit. A real bargain.

People who buy tickets to games and then spend a small fortune buying food and drinks for the kids see those kinds of numbers and wonder why players need more.

Meanwhile, the owners have been stuffing money in their pockets for years while claiming they really aren’t making very much. You might say they have a small credibility problem.

Baseball fans love the game. I guess players and owners do, too, but apparently not as much as they love the money.

Not that anyone making $37 million needs to listen to me, but both sides need to go into serious damage control mode here. I think owners and players ought to do some revenue sharing with fans and employees – take some of that money they were fighting over and use it to raise salaries for concession workers and ticket sellers and maybe lower some ticket prices. They need a little positive public relations. If they really care about the future of the sport, they need to start caring more about their fans – and about the game.

I don’t pretend to know all the economic details of Major League Baseball. But I do know the sport has lost a lot of followers in recent years. I also know that baseball used to be all there was in the summer, but now the NBA lasts until the middle of June and then the NFL training camps start and there are all kinds of other sports going on, so baseball is not the only game in town anymore. Someday, if owners and players keep acting like they don’t need the rest of us, they’re going to wake up to find out we really don’t need them.

End of goose.

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