This time of year with Spring Training in full swing, it reminds us of all the exciting possibilities this upcoming year has to offer. Everyone is looking forward to all the games and highlights in the near future, but the business end of baseball is the furthest thing from most fans minds. Truth be told, somewhere, someone is attending to the business end of the game and always has. Most fans don’t think about the contract negotiations that take place, the players working conditions that the union fights for or the meal money stipend the players get. These are all the realities of the game and have been for decades. It may be hard to comprehend for the average fan why these are important and further more how they arrived at where they stand today, but today’s book takes the time to explain what has transpired throughout the history of the game in regards to working conditions.
Krister Swanson has created a really interesting book. It starts from the very early years of the game and shows what relations were like between the owners and players. It was more of a parental relationship versus a business one. It shows how the owners were able to realize what an advantages they had in the reserve clause and how to use it to their own benefit. The author shows how owners were able to maintain low salaries and reap all the rewards without having to share almost anything with their players.
Swanson also shows that the players started to realize how they were being exploited by the owners and attempted to improve conditions both on the field and monetarily. The few feeble attempts at first which finally led to the formation of the MLBPA are chronicled in these pages. I don’t think the owners or the establishment of the game itself had any idea what the possibilities were for the newly formed union. It shows the union’s rise to power, how the media helped that and the fans sympathy that would help them along their journey. The book also covers the few short strikes and lockouts along the way that occurred, just to keep things interesting.
The problem I had with the book is it seemed to stop the history lesson after the 1981 players strike. I know as a fan, there were other strikes that occurred after 1981 and they were very influential on the shape of the game we now know. Obviously there are other books out there that cover these strikes, but I think for complete coverage of the topic it should have been included in some shape or form in this book. The only other problem I had was it said that Bob Feller played his entire career for the Braves. I mean for me that is a huge error that should have been caught by someone.
Overall this is a very entertaining book. It gives a great and thorough history lesson that even the most die hard baseball fan will be able to gain some knowledge from, plus the early years of labor relations within the game are not always widely covered.
You can get this book from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press
Baseball is in the midst of a Golden Age. It is hard to deny they are raking on unprecedented money, getting tremendous amounts of exposure and attracting new fans from all around the world. Now the man at the head of this renaissance of Major League Baseball for over two decades was Bud Selig. He was heralded as breathing new life into baseball and being the innovator of many things new to the game. But what was it really like behind the scenes? The fans and the general public only get the positive spin on situations. Jon Pessah has written a new book that takes fans behind the scenes and shows us how the process was manipulated.
I have always thought there was more to the Bud Selig story than met the eye. From his ownership of the Milwaukee Brewers, to the power play that he made to become the Commissioner, Avoiding Pete Rose to the legacy he left when retiring. When he was talking, it always felt like you were not getting the whole story. His ownership of the Brewers was never something dreams were made of it. Run on a shoestring budget, they always had roster and financial issues and always were considered the bottom feeders of the league.
Jon Pessah gives the reader a very thorough look at the journey that is Bud Selig. From used car salesman to his journey to become the king of baseball, you get it all. You see all the backroom deals and double crosses that made up the reign of Bud. You see his true personality shine through in the business dealings and how no real friendship was actually safe when it involved Selig. This book puts a real face on the personality of Selig in all of his business dealings, not just the positive spin that was created for the general public.
The other aspect of this book which I find interesting is Selig’s relationship and dealings with George Steinbrenner, who was basically the only man in the game almost as powerful as Selig. The book shows a lot of business dealings that the Yankees conducted and how they both meshed and contradicted Major League Baseball’s desires. It does give a nice glimpse of he internal strife that exists within baseball even to this day. Overall it was a good example of a team that at times worked against the machine. The only down side to that approach is that it becomes too Yankees heavy instead of staying on course with the Major League Baseball story, but overall it still works within the book.
Baseball fans should check this one out because it really raises the curtain on the reign of Bud Selig. He is not the shiny penny everyone always portrayed him as, and it shows what the Commissioner truly was like to deal with. This book will not in any way tarnish Selig’s legacy but at least now we all know the truth about the man from Milwaukee.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Little, Brown & Co.
1981 was somewhat of a transition year for America. Disco was dead, the Phillies were after 97 years, reigning World Series Champions and old school baseball was changing. The recent advent of free agency in the second half of the last decade was making wholesale changes to the way the old school owners conducted business. Those same changes were leading to the selling of teams and making dollar signs bounce around like super balls. Some of it was for the betterment of the game, but it was driving the old guard nuts. After a few years of tumultuous relations between the players union and MLB, the season became fractured due to a players strike that would never leave baseball the same.
The events of 1981 have always needed some clarification for me. I have never quite understood what the basis of the strike was other than money. Now, I am totally clear as to what the issues were and why the issues at hand were worth fighting for.
Jeff Katz has created to me essentially the bible of the 1981 season. He takes an in-depth look at the labor issues leading up to the 1981 players strike and what the players felt needed to improve. He discusses the issues both on and off the field in 1981 and how the strike effected everyone and everything. He also paints an overall picture of the state of relations between players and owners after the advent of free agency.
A large portion of this book obviously centers on the strike itself. Katz takes the reader on a journey of all the events that happened in negotiations and you get to see the key players and negotiators at work. The authors account is a painstaking journey through the legal avenues traveled within Major League Baseball. It gives insight to the strike and negotiations that I have never seen before. It helps clarify to the reader that the players were not just a bunch of money hungry thieves that were looking for a big score. They had legitimate complaints that needed to be addressed by the owners in the changing ways in which MLB now needed to function. The book also shows the owners side of the table and in the end, the were fumbling bunch of idiots that harmed their own cause in the end.
Jeff Katz has created a great book that is a very enjoyable read that moves along quickly. Even though a large portion of the book is off-field events, it keeps the reader’s interest and makes you not want to put it down. All baseball fans should enjoy this book. You can see how your favorite team and a few star players fared during the strike and at the negotiation table.
You can pick up this book from the nice folks at St. Martins Press