Spare Parts: In lieu of lockout movement, digressions

A new week brought no new movement with regards to Major League Baseball’s lockout of the Players Association. Evan Drellich assessed the landscape and saw minimal nods toward middle ground.

From the players’ side, they’ve ditched the quest for an age-based free agency and a reduction in revenue-sharing for small-market teams.

On the league’s side, it’s acknowledged the sense of a bonus pool for pre-arbitration players who take the league by storm with impressive finishes on the leaderboards and awards races … except the league has only proposed a pool of $10 million for players with zero to three years of service time, as opposed to the MLBPA’s proposal of $105 million for 0-for-2 players.

In other areas, the league is willing to eliminate draft-pick compensation for free agents … but without a significant raise in the competitive-balance tax threshold, with stiffer penalties for violators. Drellich paints the picture of a status quo with some gravitational force. MLB either presents the maintaining of the current rules as a win for the players, or manages to undercut a concession in one area with a crackdown in another.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Jesse Rogers wrote about the various dates where mile-markers of the preseason would be jeopardy. He says the start of March is when one should start worrying about Opening Day holding its plans for the end of it. The interesting takeaway from his piece is that thanks to the 60-game schedule, players have a better idea of how to train on their own and manage the circumstances surrounding a report date that’s shrouded in mystery.

SPARE PARTS

Regardless of when pitchers and catchers report to spring training, I’ll still be reserving next week for Prospect Week. As my thoughts are crystallizing into a final-ish form, I won’t dig too deep into Baseball Prospectus’ assessment of the system, except to say it runs out of enthusiasm at No. 7 with Jonathan Stiever.

James Fegan’s catch-up with Dylan Cease opens with the opening to his Game 3 start in the ALDS, and the letdown of adrenaline after the layoff in the dugout before his second inning. He lumps that in with his diminished-but-still-present tendency to lose his mechanics for an inning at a time, saying that he’s richer for all experiences as he tries to close the gap between his current production and his ceiling.

The four-most controversial players are now off the ballot, and while a couple of debates remain — Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez — their post-testing suspensions at least offer concrete proof in the PED debate where it didn’t exist for, say, Sammy Sosa, so there’s a peace with their 30 percent. Next year’s ballot figures to be underwhelming, but the debates regain some of their fun when Joe Mauer and Chase Utley join the fray in 2024, with Adrian Beltré looking like the easiest selection in years.

It’s cool to see 670 The Score stay local with its overnight programming when the passing of Les Grobstein offered an easy opportunity to go the syndicated route. Mark Grote is going to do the heavy lifting, but Chris Rongey will also be in regular rotation, and he seems well-suited to handle those 2 a.m. callers.

Lance Lynn doesn’t appear in Ben Clemens’ analysis of pitchers who succeed with “rising” and sinking fastballs, but this post shows how such pitchers with multiple fastballs always have the option of the one a given hitter is likely to do less with. That doesn’t sound novel, but it goes a long way to explain why somebody like Bartolo Colón succeeded for as long as he did merely with fastball manipulation, and why Lynn has the makings to follow in his footsteps, at least through the terms of the extension he signed with the White Sox.

My biggest lockout pursuit has been learning how to raise a kid, and that’s involved minimizing outside interactions in order to dodge omicron-related complications while he starts building an immune system from the ground up. He just turned two months on Saturday. So far, so good, although I feel that people who say they miss the newborn days are liars.

Beyond all that, I’ve found fun by venturing further into hi-fi audio, and enjoying the rewards from even minor investments in better equipment. I’d dragged my feet for years because reviews paralyzed me, but I eventually homed in on a specific turntable, and a search for local dealers led me to a small one-man audiophile shop. I’d inadvertently ruled out such places because, I dunno, I assumed my budget would have me laughed out of the room. And maybe some would tell me to look elsewhere, but in this case, he connected the turntable through a few entry-level and next-level-up combinations, allowed me the time to research his recommendations, compare prices and answer further questions. After a few exchanges and two visits, I ended up getting my whole system from him, and I’m not wondering if I did it right. It helps when you’re dealing with the same person, and that person likes everything he or she has in the store.

(The latest Progressive turning-into-your-parents ad concerning outward excitement over excellent customer service hits close to home, except I feel no shame about appreciating excellent customer service. On Monday, I bought a ladder from the local Ace Hardware because they offer free next-day delivery, and the guy was happy to drive it over immediately because I lived close enough and he could knock out a tomorrow task today. All of this is great!)

Anyway, I’d switched from Spotify to Tidal months ago primarily because of better artist compensation, but also because I’d improved my headphone situation with some entry-level open-backed Sennheisers. I’d needed new wired cans for podcasting since my previous pair started falling apart, and I figured the combination of clearance-sale headphones and a hi-fi streaming trial offer was the cheapest way to understand if my ears could hear a difference. Turns out it’s real.

All of this is to say that I’m following the Spotify controversy because I miss some of the benefits of subscribing to the market leader — mostly the easy import of playlists from music blogs — and if more of them wanted to switch to a hi-fi streaming service for any reason, I’m game. Sox Machine is also an audio blog now, at least for as long as the lockout persists.

Sox Machine also remains a curling blog. If you subscribe to ESPN+, you can watch the Scotties (Canadian women’s national championships) and Brier (men’s) this month. In between is the Olympics, and USA Curling posted a great crash-course video.

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Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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roke1960

It’s probably a good bet that the season won’t start on time. With about 4 weeks to get things solved before regular season games will start to be taken off the schedule, and both sides pretty entrenched in not making meaningful concessions, the likelihood of cancelled games is growing by the day. And frankly, I don’t really care. As much of a White Sox fan as I am, I’m just really turned off by this whole process. Since the lockout started about 2 months ago, the sides have met for about 6 hours of face-to-face negotiations. If they don’t care about getting this solved, why should I?

soxfan

Honestly, pro sports seasons (other than the NFL, maybe) are too long. The NBA and NHL should start around Christmas and it wouldn’t bother me to never have another snowy opening day in baseball.

The way rosters are built and pitchers are used these days there’s too much reliance on fringy players to get through a season. I wouldn’t mind lopping a month off the baseball season if it meant better player usage and quality of the games that actually get played.

But, tying back to the lockout, that’ll never happen because neither side wants to lose the revenue so it won’t help with the immediate dispute.

roke1960

That’s the problem. Many of the common sense solutions involve less revenue being generated. That is one thing both sides agree that they will never let happen.

joewho112

I would not mind giving teams another offday per week if it meant the end of the 5th starter (or close to it), not to mention all the other players being a bit healthier.

HallofFrank

It is a little off-putting. But these things probably shouldn’t get played out in the media as they do. Both sides absolutely care about getting it resolved, but they want to do so on favorable terms—which is something we can’t really blame them for since we’d do the same thing. I think it’d be much healthier for the game, however, if both sides said, “we’re in a lockout, we’re going to do our best to resolve it as quickly and well as possible. We’ll let you know when we have a deal” and then we got completely radio silence until a deal was struck. In this case, I’m not sure the adage “any press is good press” applies.

roke1960

You are so right about that Frank. They don’t need to air their grievances in public. But meeting for 6 hours over 2 months is certainly not the way to do it either.

mrridgman

They use the media to try to sway opinion in their direction, not so much just to air grievances. Maybe the fans’ opinion does not matter much, but MLB has many stakeholders; broadcasters, partners, sponsors – they can influence one side or the other if they are of a mind. I agree that the publication of the state of private negotiations doesn’t lead to a quicker or better solution, but both sides have done this forever.

HallofFrank

Fan opinion matters, but it doesn’t matter (in economic terms) whether fans side with owners or players because fan outcomes are the same for owners and players. The only financial muscle fans can flash is buying more or less tickets, concessions, apparel, etc. Buying more is good for both parties, buying less is bad for both parties. Getting into a finger-pointing contest in the media is just bad for everyone.

It’s basically the prisoner’s dilemma played out on a grand scale. If the other side yaps, it’s in your best interest to yap, too. But the best possible outcome would be for both sides to keep their traps shut. 

theSKOT

What would be much healthier for the game is if one side did not unilaterally lock the other out. The 2022 season could be played out under last year’s terms while the two sides negotiated a new collective bargaining agreement. There is a very legal and very normal way to both start the 2022 season as normal AND negotiate a new CBA.

theSKOT

Yes, I understand that this requires both sides to bargain in good faith when there hasn’t be a lot of that from one or both sides. But, a man can dream…

HallofFrank

It may be legal but it doesn’t sound very “normal.” If you think negotiating a new CBA is difficult when both sides stand to lose millions and millions of dollars, imagine how difficult it’ll be when there is no incentive to give anything up.

Joliet Orange Sox

I think negotiating in public is madness.

I’m not an expert but I have been the lead negotiator for 5 collective bargaining agreements at my workplace over the last 20 years. I work in a field that is very different from MLB but my 220 members and management both care deeply about the outcome of these negotiations and the contract is complex in its own ways and each negotiation has involved hundreds of hours of meetings. There’s not a national media spotlight on us but the local media have run stories when we’ve had a strike authorization vote (after which we were able to avoid a strike) or when a new contract agreement has been reached.

In each of those negotiations, the facilitator or mediator (depends on how things are going) from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service has urged both sides to agree to ground rules at the start and one of the ground rules they really push is that neither side will share any details of what happens in the room outside of the room without having the sharing explicitly approved by everyone in the room.

The road to an agreement is always circuitous and contentious to some extent and sharing all that happens outside the room can’t make things go smoother. I think both sides overestimate the leverage they might gain from a small shift in public sentiment.

HallofFrank

Good insights. Yes, it seems utterly basic and obvious to me. It’s like a campaign for public office. The two sides are treating each other in the media like the other is the opponent. But they don’t realize they’re on the same ticket.

soxfan

Buy physical media.

GrinnellSteve

When my son the rock star sells vinyl or a CD, he makes so much more money than from streams of that same album. I buy CD’s whenever possible. Musical artists immeasurably enrich my life. I should try to enrich theirs.

And Asinwreck is right: Bandcamp is better than the other services for how they treat musicians.

asinwreck

It won’t have everything, but I like how Bandcamp treats musicians.

BenwithVen

A lot of smaller labels and artists will also have physical copies on their bandcamp page.

Discogs is an excellent resource as well.

GrinnellSteve

My one bit of wisdom (for today) regarding parenthood is that in those early years every phase feels like your life didn’t exist before the phase began and there will never be an “after” because this phase will last forever. Then magically you wake up one morning, and that phase is over and you can’t remember it happening because now you’re on to the next interminable phase.

I don’t mean for that to sound as bleak as it does. It’s not. It’s just that when you’re in the middle of it, it’s your whole existence. Then in the blink of an eye, it’s over and forgotten and replaced by the next thing.

Parenthood is the best decision I ever made, though I don’t miss changing diapers or being drooled on or bottle feeding at all hours.

joewho112

I can remember people with kids just a few months younger than mine asking for advice and having none because you’re constantly adjusting to deal with this rapidly developing animal. Any advice I had for my 9 month old would make no sense for someone with a 5 month old because they are basically a different species. Trying to remember what tricks I was using 4 months ago is like asking what you had for lunch 4 months ago.

ForsterFTOG

Enjoy it while it lasts. I woke up today and wished my daughter a happy 25th birthday and told my son to have a great day in his home office in our basement. I can’t imagine where all that time went.

As Cirensica

I have never used Spotify, and I don’t intend to. The way they treat artists is just not OK. Also, I think Spotify evolved sort of like the legalization of Napster. Artists are still screwed, but since they get “paid”, you cannot longer call it piracy, but in the end, Spotify is the next generation of Napster.

Blaming Spotify’s management, stakeholders, etc is the easies way to find and allocate blame, but it can be deceiving. Things like Napster, Limewire, and Spotify exist only because there is a market for it, and the music industry hasn’t figured out how to get on board after so many years.

Spotify shines for the same reason Napster shone. People don’t want to pay or pay as little as possible even when they know it is wrong. And that is the hardest part to resolve here. If Spotify raises subscription so they can pay artists more, people will switch to another one that offers the same for less. It’s a catch 22.

Jim Margalus stated: I just don’t get a lot of joy out of buying audio files, partially because I’ve never put time into organizing it,whereas my CD collection is just about entirely intact, outside of some broken jewel cases.

This is another big hurdle the non-streaming music industry can’t figure out. I have thousands of albums, both physical and digital. mostly physical, and organize them has been an arduous and time consuming work. Granted, I enjoyed it, but most people don’t enjoy it or don’t have the time. Current technologies favors tremendously music streaming. Cars no longer come with CD players. Kids/teens only listen to their music by streaming on their phone, and the phone’s limited memory does not allow you using other means. Spotify organizes their music so they don’t have to.

On this date, I have two iPods with a curated (by me) list of music (thousand of songs). I take good care of these iPods because I know they are obsolete, bu it is the only mean I have to carry the music I like. I shudder to think what would I do without them.

Last edited 6 months ago by As Cirensica
awkwardsilence

The Scotties and Brier are on ESPN 3, so you don’t need the plus. Fewer excuses for everyone to not watch; especially with the lockout.

jorgefabregas

I wonder how Stiever’s minor league xStats compare to his small major league sample, where he has an astounding .609 xwOBA, .666 xwOBA on contact, a 25.27 xERA in 2020, and a 55.62 xERA in 2021. All 4 of his 2021 batted balls were hit on the sweet spot https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/savant-player/jonathan-stiever-680692?stats=statcast-r-pitching-mlb

ParisSox

So details on what you got for your hi-fi equipment?

ParisSox

Thanks. I’m going to check out the specs just out of curiosity.

I was never this geeky about it but since I bought a refurbished turntable at the beginning of Covid, I’m on a quest for bear perfect sound, one component at a time.

As Cirensica

A site suggestion for Jim: If possible of course and you want to, could you make clicking on links to open in another tab while the source (Sox Machine) remains open in its own tab?

As Cirensica

That’s fair. Thanks for looking into it.

roke1960

The union drops its bonus pool demand from $110M to $105M, while MLB keeps their number at $10M. What progress!!! At this rate we’ll definitely have spring training in February…of 2026. And this isn’t even the major issue.

knoxfire30

2 months ago I put it at 50/50 the season wouldn’t start on time and people laughed it off thinking it would still get done…. I now put it at about 75/25 that the season won’t start on time.

The players can win some level of public support and opinion but the owners still maintain all the leverage. Its a job that a billion people would do at a rate far less then what currently has been offered. If it ever came too it the owners always win this type of standoff. This is hard for most fans to admit since they typically side with the players but its absolutely true.

HallofFrank

I think you’re right that the owners have the leverage, but not for the reason you state. They have leverage because their livelihoods don’t depend on it. If the MLB collapsed tomorrow, they would stand to lose millions, but most of them are still billionaires. I don’t think fans would watch if this turned into a more or less permanent stand-off between owners and players. The MLB would effectively die. It needs the best players, not just players.

knoxfire30

I think the overturn of talent wouldnt take that long to replenish the league with the best players. If every current mlb player walked for good I think it would only take 5 years before you slowly went from a AAAA product back to a similar amount of talent as to what you have right now.

Of course after a year or two the current best players would come back as well. They don’t have any other viable options… the NPO or Korean leagues pay like 10 cents on the dollar what the mlb pays.

This isnt a normal union vs ownership type dispute that you would see in say an automaker type situation.

HallofFrank

If MLB locked out the players indefinitely, the game would be permanently harmed. MLB would not recover—at least in the lifetimes of these owners. Fans wouldn’t be around in 5 years. The interest in pro Baseball would almost certainly shift to another professional league entirely or dissolve.

knoxfire30

We simply disagree. I think the game would be temporarily harmed (badly), but the players would almost all come back by year 2 or 3 of said lockout and within the decade it would be as if nothing happened.

The mlb players really dont have much recourse. Their is no other pro league that can pay them anything close to what they can make under the current mlb labor structure. Any real player strike would fail miserably as soon as a bunch of 4A types who have been making peanuts get offered mlb minimum wages, health benefits, and their shot to play. Soon high school and college players being drafted into the new mlb would be churning out talent and the beat goes on.

HallofFrank

You’re operating under the assumption that there would continue to be no other league, but somebody would absolutely try to capitalize on it by forming another league. It may not be successful. But I’d imagine, in the wake of what the mess this would be with MLB, a new league that branded itself as player-friendly would attract top talent, even if those top players don’t immediately make the same amount in the new league. Especially if the new league promised the players a cut of future ticket sales, TV revenue, etc. It may seem farfetched, but I don’t think it’s much more farfetched than the entire league essentially walking away for 2 years then coming back like everything is cool.

Of course, this is all very unlikely and conjecture. Frankly, I’d still be surprised if the season started even a week or two late. But I don’t think the owners could permanently lock out players only to fully recover in a decade.

GrinnellSteve

One thing you’re not taking in to account: Billionaires aren’t like you or me. Every penny matters to them. Case in point: Jerry. He could spend millions more and still be hugely profitable. But he doesn’t. The prospect of losing millions infuriates these people.

Their livelihoods don’t depend on income from baseball; their entire reason for living is tied up in the money they can extract from this investment.

roke1960

Steve, that is the best summary of the owners position that I have seen. They don’t care about the fans or the players. They just want to make as much money from this as they can. And they know the players will eventually give in when the prospect of losing their livelihoods becomes real.

GrinnellSteve

I’m contending that the existential threat to the Scrooge McDucks – lost profits – is as meaningful to them as the prospect of lost livelihood is to the players. Both sides feel pressure. Or they will.

Joliet Orange Sox

I think we also have to remember there is a lot of ego involved in a billionaire choosing to own an MLB team. I think it is complicated how that factors in but I’m pretty sure it does factor in. Jerry doesn’t care what you or I think but there are people who he does care what they think.

HallofFrank

Well, you’re probably being purposively hyperbolic at points here, but I just don’t think this is right. They are, to be sure, businessmen, who likely see their decisions almost exclusively through a financial lens. But if the MLB collapsed tomorrow, the owners would surely be impacted, but they’d quickly shake off their losses and be invested elsewhere.

The players, on the other hand, would have to seek employment in positions that wouldn’t pay them millions. That’s the real difference here, in terms of leverage.

roke1960

The owners will not give into the players- that shows a sign of weakness. They’d rather lose money by losing revenue from games than giving it to the players. They will not change the economic structure of the game. That’s just not in their DNA.

HallofFrank

I guess it depends on what you mean by “change the economic structure of the game,” but the owners will absolutely make concessions to the players because it’s in their financial interest to do so.

This is part of my problem: Steve branded owners as penny-pinchers who only care about the bottom line, but you say they’re all about power, money be damned. I’m not for the owners in this dispute at all. But the owners aren’t blood-sucking demons looking to drain baseball of all fun: they’re just businessmen. As much as I wish they’d all go all Steve Cohen and just have fun with it, most of them are just going to make decisions based on finances. That’s what got them there in the first place. And I guess if you don’t like it, the best I can tell you is: make a few billion dollars then buy a baseball team.

HallofFrank

And now I’m wondering what would happen if Sox Machine collectively took my advice, pulled our money, and bought the White Sox. Now that would be fun. But Josh & Jim might need to add a $1,000,000 level for Patreon, first.

Joliet Orange Sox

Only $910,000 if you pay annually!

Joliet Orange Sox

On a more serious note, can someone (Jim?) comment on paying monthly vs. annually? I’ve stayed monthly because I figure that if I were to pay less then Sox Machine would get less and the entire point of my Patreon support is to give Sox Machine money to keep doing the great work they do. Am I missing something? Would Sox Machine somehow benefit if I went to paying annually? I’m asking because Josh seems to plug the annual membership with enthusiasm at the end of every podcast.

Trooper Galactus

Not everybody has altruistic membership (I, for one, pay a monthly amount beyond the top tier to further show my support for the work done here), but to attract new people, if something like that can entice more people to join then the discount is worthwhile.

roke1960

Right, but when the players are proposing changes, they are changes that help them, not the owners. So the owners are not going to give in on the core economic issues, and that is why we are at an impasse.

I don’t like it, but I’m at the point that I don’t care if they solve this or not. And that is what I said at the very top of this thread. As much as I like the White Sox, having a summer off would probably be in my best interests!!

ParisSox

I’d put it at 90/10

asinwreck

Old Friend Alert (that is also a New Coach Alert).

Last edited 6 months ago by asinwreck
Right Size Wrong Shape

Good for him! Has coaching in his blood, and overcame a lot after being a high pick to make it to the bigs. I know a lot of people were disappointed after his fast start, but he is a real success story.