Monday, May 18, 2015

Assessing a Barry Bonds grievance

Barry Bonds haters have unloaded on him for having the temerity to consider filing a collusion grievance.

I am constantly amazed -- though I should not be -- about how eager many people are to defend the rights of billionaires to trample over everyone else.


Fangraphs Nathaniel Grow has an unemotional assessment of how a Barry Bonds collusion grievance would play out. It sounds as if a lot of this will depend on what kind of evidence the MLBPA has come across in the last 7 years...


So if Bonds does choose to file a grievance, he will have to prove that two or more MLB teams reached an agreement not to sign him for the 2008 season. In contrast, MLB will argue that there was no agreement among its teams to drive Bonds out of baseball, but instead that each of its 30 teams individually decided not to offer him a contract, with each club acting independently of one another.
Notably, the MLBPA has never publicly revealed what sort of evidence it uncovered back in 2008 relating to MLB’s alleged collusion. It is possible, for instance, that the union found some sort of memorandum circulated among MLB teams explicitly stating – or, at least, implicitly suggesting – that teams should not sign Bonds to a new contract. Alternatively, the union may instead be planning to rely on more circumstantial evidence of collusion, emphasizing the mysterious circumstances surrounding Bonds’ inability to procure an offer for 2008. Indeed, one would usually expect that the reigning National League on-base percentage leader would receive at least one contract offer for the following season, especially after he publicly stated that he was willing to sign a contract for the league minimum salary.
This is the sort of evidence that helped the MLBPA win its initial collusion grievance case against MLB back in the 1980s, for example. The MLBPA alleged that MLB teams had agreed not to compete for the services of each others’ free agents following the 1985 season. The union’s allegations were not only based on the fact that only a single free agent – Carlton Fisk – had received an offer from a new team that off-season, but also on a memorandum circulated among MLB teams urging clubs to “exercise more self-discipline in making their operating decisions and to resist the temptation to give in to the unreasonable demands of experienced marginal players.” This evidence ultimately convinced an arbitrator to rule that the MLB franchises had improperly colluded in violation of the CBA. (The MLBPA would subsequently win two more grievances for similar collusion by MLB teams following the 1986 and 1987 seasons as well.)

Here's one response to someone who argued that teams didn't want to sign Barry because he was a "clubhouse cancer" --


What does that even mean? “Clubhouse cancer” seems to be something sportswriters say about players they don’t like. He didn’t get along with Jeff Kent, apparently. Who did?
The only things I know about Barry Bonds are what I’ve read by sportswriters. Filtering for that, I really don’t know much about him at all.

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