3 reasons to support the Milwaukee Brewers players in the lockout

Oct 26, 2021; Houston, TX, USA; MLB commissioner Rob Manfred before game one of the 2021 World Series between the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 26, 2021; Houston, TX, USA; MLB commissioner Rob Manfred before game one of the 2021 World Series between the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Brewers
Milwaukee Brewers /

There are three simple reasons to support the Milwaukee Brewers players in their fight for their slice of the pie.

Reason One: The owners started this mess.

Local sports talk radio calls and Twitter responses have been filled with the viewpoint that the players should just get back to work and enjoy the pay they are getting.

Here is the thing that is being missed with that chatter. The owners locked out the players. The players cannot go back to work. The players did not walk off the job like in 1994.

The owners forced the lockout as a “defensive” measure to force the players to negotiate. The problem is the owners did not start seriously negotiating until last week. Then the owners tried to make it sound like at the last minute, the players changed their mind when an agreement seemed imminent.

The owners keep refusing to lift the competitive balance tax (CBT) limit. They refuse to even tie raising it to the rate of inflation.

The players have successfully fought off a hard salary cap, but clearly, the owners not raising the CBT shows they view it as a salary cap.

That changes the spirit of CBT. It was first meant to be a monetary punishment if the New York Yankees decided to triple the size of their payroll over say the Milwaukee Brewers. Instead, the owners are using it as a soft cap.

The owners are just expecting the players to accept that in return for minimal raises. Even the NBA makes a soft cap worth it to the players by treating them as business partners. The owners are treating the players right now as a large expense taking away from their bottom line.

Reason two: The owners want to shrink the game.

The owners do not want more baseball. They want less. They do not want to grow the game because that means more costs without being able to maximize revenue.

For example, when teams lose (or do not make) the most money, is during the April and early-May games. Kids are still in school. The weather is usually not good for the teams playing in open-air stadiums in the Midwest and the Northern cities.

That means low attendance and less money into the coffers.

The owners would rather just not have those games and instead have expanded playoffs. Expanded playoffs will mean more money for the owners and not the players.

Baseball is a long season. It would probably be better if it played a 154 game season. It is still a big ask to tell the players to play fewer games and take a pay cut.

Plus, the owners have Manfred running the game, who appears to not like the game he runs. He has about as much a vision of making the game better and growing the game as the villainous owner in the movie the Natural.

Trying to market new stars is unheard of because if Major League Baseball tried to create new superstars, it means having to pay them even more money.

The owners would rather hoard that money and buy things like real estate around their ballparks to make even more money. Some owners are not even interested in winning. They would rather have minimal payrolls to keep costs low and take whatever revenue comes in.

At least the Milwaukee Brewers have an owner willing to spend some money to be competitive.

If there is one critique you can give Mark Attanasio is he still has not spent enough to put the Brewers over the top to win the World Series.

Reason three: The players are making reasonable demands

It is not like the players are demanding radical changes. In 2019, MLBPA head Tony Clark did want to get rid of the baseball draft. That was not brought up ever in this round of negotiations.

Instead, the players are just asking for a raise for the rookies, the arbitration-eligible players, and the non-superstar veterans. The players are not even demanding a salary floor. It is not like they are asking for the minimum salary to be five million dollars.

They are just asking as performers that generate a good amount of the revenue to get the fair share of the income.

Also, they are asking if one of the pre-arbitration players win say a Rookie of the Year or a Cy Young, that the player gets a little something extra for the effort.

The problem is the owners are divided. You have the large market teams who want to spend with no limits. You also have the small market teams who want to keep players’ costs affordable to them so they can compete.

Therefore, getting any consensus from the owners to pay up is difficult.