Now that arbitration figures have been exchanged, it is time for one of the most irritating, and laziest, genre of stories to start coming out.
The populist, "look at how Player X is going to quintuple his salary this year through arbitration after a mediocre season, while Joe Sixpack will be lucky if he gets a 2% raise."
Jim Caple leads it off this year, with a stupid story about Tim Lincecum:
Salary arbitration is a wonderful thing. A player submits a figure that represents about 10 times his previous salary (or in Lincecum's case, 20 times). His team submits a figure that represents about five times his usual salary. The two sides argue their respective cases in front of an independent arbiter, who can choose only one figure or the other. So the player wins the lotto no matter what.
Yep...Lincecum one of the best in the world at what he does, in a high profile, high dollar sport, "wins the lotto" because he will still get paid a fraction of what he could get on the open market.
I don't know that salary arbitration is a "wonderful thing" for the players, since it still includes artificial restrictions that prevent most players who file for arbitration from getting what they could receive if they could market their services to any team.
But I'm sure the owners liked it a lot better in the good ol' days that Caple seems to be nostalgic for, when a team could tell a player that he could either sign for what the team was willing to pay him, or he could sit at home and not get paid.
What is so infuriating to me is the intellectual dishonesty that is involved in writing a story where a writer talks about a player making "10 times his previous salary" or "five times his usual salary," without acknowledging that the owners have rigged the game so that the player's "previous salary" or "usual salary" is 5 or 10 times (or many, many more times) less than what the player is really worth.
When a case inevitably goes to arbitration and the team prevails, you'll see some hack talk about how the player "lost" in arbitration (the "lost" and "lose" are always in quotation marks in these sorts of stories), and this will "only" make $3 million, or will "only" get a 600% raise over what he made the year before.
In case you miss Caple's point, he veers off into faux populism later in his piece:
We can all identify with this in the real world, where employees have their own version of salary arbitration. It's called an annual performance review, but it works out just a little bit differently.
Like at an arbitration hearing, you meet with your boss and outline all your achievements. You talk about how you met all your goals from the previous year's review, how you capably filled in for the boss during his/her vacation, and that department productivity is up 22 percent. And then you politely ask for a 10 percent raise, hoping to get 5 percent. The boss nods sympathetically and congratulates you on your fine work, but then points out that you spent an awful lot of company time running the office NCAA bracket pool and talking about your fantasy football team, your TPS reports were always late, you left early too many times to coach your kid's soccer team, and there have been sexual harassment complaints regarding your screen savers.
Just like a player at arbitration, you walk away hurt and upset. Unlike a player, you don't walk away with a raise worth 10 times your previous salary. That's because the boss is also the arbiter. He/she lectures you on how profits are down, how the budget forecast is gloomy, how layoffs are possible, and finally, how you should feel lucky to get a 1.2 percent raise -- and oh, by the way, you'll need to work a couple weekends to earn it.
This is so stupid it makes my head hurt. And why writers seem so eager to pander to ownership's point of view and offer these asinine pieces painting the players as the bad guys in baffling to me.
This happens every year, and every year we get the same sorts of stories. And it infuriates me every time.