Hey, I was nominated for a SABR Research award (and you can vote for me! If you want to.)

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There’s a large part of me that is very much, “well, we’ll see what happens” when it comes to awards voting — no inherent desire to make a lot of noise about voting for me when there is a time to do so, for instance. I’m going to make an exception on this occasion, though, at least as far as sending a single newsletter notification on the subject goes, as I was nominated for a SABR Analytics Conference Research Award, in the category of Historical Baseball Analysis/Commentary.

The reason for the exception is that there is no nomination for an award, nor is there even the article that was nominated for one, without this labor newsletter. Sure, it’s now entering its fourth year of existence and I haven’t bothered to name it yet — and I promise you I never will — but it’s vital to the work that I do. The way I write and research and react here allows me to form my thoughts, gain some coherence, connect dots, and then end up writing pieces that are longer than what I send out here a couple times per week, for outlets like Baseball Prospectus, Defector, Fair, and more. Blogging isn’t dead, even if it feels like it, and the way I operate here is very much in the blogging style, which keeps myself and the audience (hey, that’s you) up to speed on what’s happening and what it means, and lets me build towards putting all of the what’s happening and what it means together for a larger audience later down the road.

The nominated article, titled “1994 Explains What ‘Labor Peace’ Never Could,” ran at Baseball Prospectus at the end of February of last year, amid the unnecessary lockout. I knew quite a bit about how 1994 went down and what it meant then and its repercussions for the future, but the level of detail I was able to put into this piece existed because of work I had done in this space in the three years prior. I’ve joked that this newsletter and the site it’s hosted on are like a little baseball labor wiki, given how much linking to previous work and sourcing there is contained within, but the process of putting all of said sourcing and such together is what gets me to the place where I can write, ahem, an award-nominated feature (on Rob Manfred’s bullshit).

So! Thank you for reading; having an audience makes sure this is more than just a preparatory journal for the freelance work that also helps pay the bills. If you want to vote for the piece I wrote, you can do so here, at Baseball Prospectus, which is hosting the voting mechanism along with a few other SABR-approved locations.

There’s some truly excellent work that’s been nominated, and I’m not just being polite when I say it’s an honor to be in the company that I’m in this year. Thanks for reading, for sharing my work, for the mailbag questions, for your fellow distrust in what MLB’s lords are saying and doing. It helps keep all of this and the labor-related bees in my head going.

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Dick Monfort is good for a laugh, at least

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The owners of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams are quite the bunch, in the sense that the vast majority of them are capable of doing or saying something that will either raise my blood pressure or get me to start giggling at how much of a dingus they are. Rockies’ owner Dick Monfort could very well be king dingus in this group: a man who has won nothing ever, and yet is so publicly sure that the way he’s doing things is the right way. And to the point where he’s now openly criticizing the spending of fellow NL West club the Padres, as well as any of the Rockies’ fans who believe that the way San Diego is operating is the right way to go about building a successful team.

From Saturday’s Denver Post:

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John Henry lies about ticket prices, is booed

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It’s not exactly new information that there is no correlation between MLB ticket prices and player salaries. Baseball Prospectus ran an article on the subject in April of 2003, nearly 20 years ago now. Early 2003 is so long ago in analysis terms that it was two years before I made my own debut at Baseball Prospectus, and three years since I became a regular there. It’s so long ago that the author of that piece, Nate Silver, was years away from being a divisive figure. It’s been known for some time that ticket prices and salaries don’t align like that, is the point. Here’s Silver on the subject:

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MLB spending is up, and yet

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We’re one season into MLB’s most recent collective bargaining agreement, and spending seems to be up. That’s good! It’s up in a couple of ways, too: as Maury Brown pointed out (by way of the Associated Press) at Forbes, the collected spending of the luxury tax clubs exceeded $5 billion for the first time, and that’s over $600 million more than they spent in 2021. A whole lot of cash goes into those figures, though, beyond just player salaries:

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MLB sets revenue record once again, despite exec fears from 2020

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Major League Baseball is back from the pandemic, and by that I mean MLB’s revenues are once again setting records. After a brief pandemic-related break in what had been 17 consecutive seasons of record revenues — first the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign and then 2021’s lower than usual attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic still, you know, existing — the league pulled in at least $10.8 billion in 2022, according to Forbes’ Maury Brown. That’s ahead of the previous record, set in 2019, of $10.7 billion in revenue.

Brown mentions that, “the business of baseball rebounded out of the pandemic faster than a ball off the Green Monster at Fenway Park,” and I want to focus on that for a moment. The reason being that MLB executives anonymously whined about how long it was going to take them to be able to recover from having to pay players what they eventually ended up paying them during the shortened 2020 campaign. Let’s rewind for a moment, to May of 2020:

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Steve Cohen probably doesn’t care about a possible grievance

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Don’t confuse the headline for the idea that Carlos Correa, his agent Scott Boras, and the MLB Players Association shouldn’t bother filing a grievance against Mets’ owner Steve Cohen for publicly commenting on an unfinished free agent contract that ended up never being consummated. If they feel that the public, on-the-record comments — which are not supposed to exist until a deal is done, which is why you see general managers and owners playing coy all the time while we wait for press conference time to roll around — harmed Correa’s market in any way, they not only have a right to file a grievance, but a case they could win.

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The Red Sox learned their lesson too late with Rafael Devers’ extension

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My dad has worked in the trades since he was in high school, so he knows quite a bit about not just the day-to-day of such operations but also the bigger picture, zoomed out standards and trends, as well. When we needed to side our house a couple of years ago — the siding was basically unpainted at this point, it had been so long since it got a fresh coat, it had dried and weakened, and also a combination of woodpeckers and squirrels were making holes in it with the latter trying to make residence in my attic — I kind of balked at the price we got, which had been inflated by the worldwide pandemic, supply chain issues, etc. Until a conversation with my dad who knows things taught me this important fact about the resources needed for completing construction projects: today is the cheapest they’ll ever be, because tomorrow, the price is going to go up.

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Round-up: Carlos Correa, bargaining, stadiums

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Happy New Year, it’s time for some scattered thoughts I had while I was trying to relax in between holidays.

Carlos Correa’s whole deal

Carlos Correa nearly signed a 13-year, $350 million deal with the Giants, until it was scuttled when they didn’t like what they saw in his physical. The Mets went out and snatched him to play third base for 12 years and $315 million, but that deal also hasn’t become official yet thanks to the physical he took with them. All indications are that a deal will be completed and Correa will play third base for the Mets rather than shortstop since Francisco Lindor is already around, but it just hasn’t happened yet.

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Trevor Bauer is back in the spotlight, and isn’t going anywhere

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It takes a lot for me to compliment MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, mostly because there’s very little he does in his day-to-day as the owners’ representative that merits a compliment from me. However, the handling of Trevor Bauer and his suspension has been a rare bright spot, with Manfred and the league effectively telling him he was unwanted when they suspended him 324 games following their own investigation during a lengthy stay on the restricted list in the back half of the 2021 season, for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy.

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No one is ‘circumventing’ the luxury tax threshold

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Thanks to a rumor about the Padres considering a 14-year, $400 million contract to then-free agent Aaron Judge, there have been some rumblings about how Major League Baseball would have reacted to such a deal. Jon Heyman reported at the New York Post that, “sources say they would not have been allowed, as MLB would have seen the additional years as only an attempt to lower their official payroll to lessen the tax.” That’s just one side of any conversation on this, though: MLB might have tried to get rid of it, and are within their rights to given that circumventing the threshold goes against the collective bargaining agreement, but what are the chances that the Players Association would have allowed them to do so, and what are the chances MLB would have successfully erased the deal when challenged on it?

My guess is “not good,” and Ken Rosenthal’s own reporting echoes that:

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