- Baseball collusion
Baseball collusion refers to baseball owners working together to avoid competitive bidding for player services or player jointly negotiating with team owners.
Collusionin baseball is formally defined in the Major League Baseball Collective Bargaining Agreement, which states "Players shall not act in concert with other Players and Clubs shall not act in concert with other Clubs." [ [http://mlbplayers.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/pa/info/cba.jsp 2003-2006 Basic Agreement] ] Major League Baseball went through a period of owner collusion during the off-seasons of 1985, 1986, and 1987.
Historically, owner collusion was often referred to as a "gentleman’s agreement". [ [http://www.baseball-fever.com/archive/index.php/t-40016.html Baseball Fever] ] After the 1918 season, owners released all their players - terminating the non-guaranteed contracts, with a "gentleman’s agreement" not to sign each other's players, as a means of forcing down player salaries. [ [http://bioproj.sabr.org/bioproj.cfm?a=v&v=l&bid=966&pid=3274 Jake Daubert] by Jim Sandoval]
Before the 1966 season,
Sandy Koufaxand Don Drysdaledecided to hold joint negotiations with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Koufax and Drysdale were the team's star pitchers who had helped the Dodgers win the 1965 World Series. The Dodgers needed them if they were to have any chance of returning to the World Series in 1966. After negotiation for the first 32 days of spring training, they agreed on one year contracts, Koufax for $125,000 and Drysdale for $110,000, the two largest contracts in baseball history. The owners were fearful that other star players would follow their example. [ [http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/marchman200312110800.asp Meep! Meep! Baseball owners’ game of collusion] ]
Collective Bargaining Agreement
In 1968, new union leader
Marvin Millernegotiated baseball's first Collective Bargaining Agreement(CBA) with team owners. The owners wanted to prohibit players from holding joint negotiations. Miller was willing to agree if it also applied to the owners. The CBA states "Players shall not act in concert with other Players and Clubs shall not act in concert with other Clubs." [ [http://mlbplayers.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/pa/info/cba.jsp 2003-2006 Basic Agreement] ]
The free agent market following the 1985 season was different than any since the
Seitz decisiona decade earlier. Only four of the 35 free agents changed teams and those four were not wanted by their old team. Star players, such as Kirk Gibson, Tommy Johnand Phil Niekro, did not receive offers from other teams. The cover of the December 9, 1985edition of " Sporting News" asked, "Why Won't Anyone Sign Kirk Gibson?" [ Doug Pappas, "Marginal Payroll/Marginal Wins 1985-1989," Baseball Prospectus, April 6, 2004] .] George Steinbrenneroffered Carlton Fiska contract, then withdrew the offer after getting a call from Chicago White Soxchairman Jerry Reinsdorf. [ [http://www.bizofbaseball.com/docs/Brown_Collusion_Neyer_Blunders.pdf Collusions I, II . . . and III (A Hard Lesson Learned)] By Maury Brown.] Teams also reduced team rosters from 25 to 24 players.
The free agent market following the 1986 season was not much better for the players. Only four free agents switched teams.
Andre Dawsontook a pay cut and a one year contract to sign with the Chicago Cubs. For the first time since the start of free agency, the average major league salary declined. Free agent salaries went down 16% even though baseball revenues went up 15%. Three fourths of the free agents signed one year contracts. Star players that ended up back with their old team included Jack Morris, Tim Raines, Ron Guidry, Rich Gedman, Bob Boone, and Doyle Alexander. On February 18, 1987, the MLBPA filed their second grievance (Collusion II).
In the Collusion I case, arbitrator Thomas Roberts ruled that the owners had violated the basic agreement (September 1987).
After the ruling, the owners changed their tactic, but not their intent. They created an "information bank" to share information about what offers were being made to players. Players affected included
Paul Molitor, Jack Clark, and Dennis Martinez. In January 1988 the MLBPA filed their third grievance (Collusion III).
January 18, 1988, damages were announced in the Collusion I case. Roberts determined damages of $10.5 million should be paid by the owners to the players. Seven of the fourteen 1985 free agents were awarded a second chance as "new look" free agents. They could offer their services to any team without losing their existing contracts. On January 29, 1988, Kirk Gibson signed a $4.5 million, three year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In October 1989, arbitrator
George Nicolauruled that the owners had violated the basic agreement in Collusion II. Nicolau determined damages of $38 million. "New look" free agents included Ron Guidry, Bob Boone, Doyle Alexander, Willie Randolph, Brian Downingand Rich Gedman.
Collusion III damages were $64.5 million. Owners would also have to compensate for losses related to multi-year contracts and lost bonuses.
A final settlement of the three collusion cases was reached in November 1990. The owners agreed to pay the players $280 million, with the MLBPA deciding how to distribute the money to the damaged players.
Fay Vincentto the owners: [ [http://www.bizofbaseball.com/docs/Brown_Collusion_Neyer_Blunders.pdf Collusions I, II . . . and III (A Hard Lesson Learned)] by Maury Brown.] quote|The single biggest reality you guys have to face up to is collusion. You stole $280 million from the players, and the players are unified to a man around that issue, because you got caught and many of you are still involved.The MLBPA filed collusioncharges, arguing that Commissioner Peter Ueberroth[ [http://www.bizofbaseball.com/docs/Brown_Collusion_Neyer_Blunders.pdf Peter Ueberroth and Collusion] ] and team owners had violated the collective bargaining agreement in the 1985-1987 seasons. The MLBPA won each case, resulting in "second look" free agents, and over $280 million in owner fines. [ [http://eh.net/encyclopedia/article/haupert.mlb The Economic History of Major League Baseball] Michael J. Haupert, University of Wisconsin -- La Crosse]
Collusion and expansion
According to former
baseball commissioner Fay Vincentbaseball expansion in the early 1990s was used to raise money for the owners to pay off their collusion debt. [ [http://www.businessofbaseball.com/vincent_interview.htm Fay Vincent interview] ] In actuality, the owners still saved money from their collusion. The money was simply money that would have been paid in salary during the three seasons, but was not, due to collusion.fact|date=November 2007 Even more, this number was arrived at in a settlement, meaning that it was likely a judicial or arbitrator's decision would have placed the damages above $280 million dollars. Essentially, despite the fine the owners still saved money and were never penalized for their collusion.
Players alleged that owners engaged in collusion in the 2002 and 2003 seasons. As part of the 2006 CBA, owners agreed to pay the players $12 million from "luxury tax" revenue sharing funds. The agreement was made with no admission of guilt. [ [http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=ap-collusionsettlement&prov=ap&type=lgns Baseball and union settle potential collusion claims] By RONALD BLUM, AP Baseball Writer]
* [http://www.mlbplayers.com www.mlbplayers.com]
* [http://mlbplayers.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/pa/info/history.jsp History of the Major League Baseball Players Association]
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