I can’t actually prove that former MLB commissioner Fay Vincent was actually abducted by aliens, but that’s the only explanation I have for his Wall Street Journal op-ed piece. If you haven’t read it, I’ll save you the 2 minutes by giving you a watered-down version in which I make fun of Fay’s idea. Somewhere in the middle of the piece Fay invokes the name Samuel Gompers, screams “fiddlesticks”, and references the movie “The Bridge on the River Kwai”. (He actually only does 2 of the 3, but unfortunately for you the 2 don’t include the “fiddlesticks” part.)
Fay believes that star athletes like Albert Pujols should take advantage of their star status by negotiating compensation in the form of partial team ownership as part of their contracts. After all, that works for business executives and Lord Garthon of the Planet FayVincentHead, so it should work for Albert. Also, Fay is under the impression that Albert’s agent will probably negotiate a contract extension for Albert that will pay AP something like $35M annually for 4-5 years. (Maybe Dan Lozano will be so kind as to dial his rotary phone and inform Mr. Vincent that AP’s contract will likely be for considerably longer. Maybe not.)
Thank goodness for Peter Gammons who already took 30 seconds to author/dictate a response to Fay. Of course, Peter’s response left a little bit to be desired as he only discussed things like union membership and conflict of interest stuff. (NOTE: I can’t find the response anywhere on the interwebs, so I’d appreciate someone sending me a link. Thanks.) It lacked a certain bit of biting sarcasm and disrespect that I thought Mr. Vincent needed. That’s why I felt obligated to step in and publish something just snarky enough to fill the void.
The notion that “stars” should own part of the teams they play for is absolutely one of the worst ideas since microwaveable pizzas. Careful there. I’m not saying it’s bad to put pizza in a microwave. Differentiation is key here. It’s okay to reheat pizza in a microwave, although I favor cold pizza. I’m getting sidetracked. Focus. If a “star” is also an owner, then I can envision a whole host of ways that can go wrong. Examples:
- The manager/coach loses clout, because the player/owner gains power. Sure, the player/owner would likely own a very small minority share, but that’s still enough to get an invitation to all the great lunch meetings at the private country club. They would be privy to all the good inside information, and Saturday morning cartoons taught us all that “knowledge is power”.
- There is no set criteria for determining who is a “star” and who is not. It’s like determining who in the NBA deserves a “max” contract. All it takes is a really outstanding All-Star year or two at the right time, and a player could demand a 1% ownership stake. That player could be named…..Zarlos Cambrano or something like that. Then that completely fictitious player could completely fall apart for a while and be just slightly better than a bum off a street named Waveland Ave. What would you do then?
- If you follow this to a logical conclusion, a team that happens to accrue enough “star” players over the course of time will eventually have to dole out a substantial portion of its team shares. Do you really want 20% of your favorite team to be controlled by 70 guys who habitually grab themselves and spit on things?
- Players get traded. How would you trade a player/owner? Could a player/owner be traded to another team yet still own a share of his previous team? Would he be both a silent and clueless partner who would have no idea what is actually going on?
- Not all teams are created equal. How could MLB handle special situations? After all, I can’t imagine a real “star” would really want a share of the Pirates. He’d probably be better off getting paid in lottery tickets or prepaid calling cards. Maybe we can get Cam Newton’s dad to weigh in on this one. He seems to know a bit about compensatory agreements.
Now, I’m not saying that Fay’s idea doesn’t have merit. I’m saying that it has even less than zero merit. Unless Fay has audibly asked someone to strike him with a hammer in the head, I can’t imagine that Fay’s had a worse idea than this. As a former MLB commissioner, Fay can’t be a complete dolt, although Bud Selig really is a complete one, so it isn’t out of the question. However, I’m still sticking with my alien abduction theory. If Fay starts speaking in some weird language, and his face suddenly appears in the sky above some major city, we can all ignore the op-ed piece with a knowing smile. Hope he enjoyed the trip to Planet FayVincentHead……and got to meet Elvis.