Bates: C. Arnholt Smith, Mr. San Diego

From SABR member Mike Bates at The Hardball Times on February 18, 2019:

’ve had a lot of time to think this offseason, a byproduct of major league baseball’s owners and GMs refusal to sign many of the best players on the free agent market this winter. Unburdened by the distraction of talking about where and how these players fit into their new homes, my hours of quiet contemplation have led me to a careful consideration of baseball’s owners.

Much has been made this offseason of the decoupling of on-field performance and profit, and the lack of urgency such a development has lent to the need to win. This has been positioned as a new development, a new condition the game finds itself in, a change in the way owners view themselves in relation to the game.

But there always has been a cynical edge to ownership’s view of the sport, one that extends back to the invention of the reserve clause, which necessarily turned owners into the antagonists of players. Indeed, it extends back much further than that. The game’s history is littered with unscrupulous characters who seemingly prioritized many other things over the possibility of a World Series ring; some have even turned to criminality.

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Originally published: February 22, 2019. Last Updated: February 22, 2019.