Carig: Baseball is big business, but the sport shouldn’t feel like the sole domain of businessmen

From Marc Carig at The Athletic on February 6, 2020:

Connie Mack, the Hall of Fame manager of the Philadelphia Athletics, was also the club’s proprietor. It helps to explain his legendary job security— he managed the A’s for 50 years. It was his only business. This also meant that he lived a boom-and-bust existence. In the good times, he was assembling some of the best teams in baseball history. In the bad times, he was selling off those pieces just to stay afloat, in hopes of rebuilding a dynasty. Mack had little choice.

John Henry is not Connie Mack.

This comes to mind now that Mookie Betts is in the process of being wrapped up and shipped to the Dodgers in the kind of trade that should never, ever happen. The financial reasons for it are clear. The Red Sox want to escape the punishment of the luxury tax, Betts is a year from free agency and attempts at an extension have proven fruitless. In the plainest language possible, the Red Sox simply didn’t anticipate meeting Betts’ price. This is a choice. It is a choice because whether or not Betts gets paid, there are two indisputable truths moving forward. Henry will still be the very rich owner of the Boston Red Sox and he will still be raking in plenty of money. Any suggestion to the contrary is a farce.

To be clear, baseball is big business. It has been for a long time. It will be moving forward. There’s nothing wrong with making a buck. Players are performers, and the owners are producers. Performers are compensated for their talents with money. This isn’t a charitable endeavor on either side. Nor is it a public trust, despite the mass mythologizing to the contrary. But the sport shouldn’t feel like it is the sole domain of businessmen. There should be room for what used to be called sportsmen.

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Originally published: February 7, 2020. Last Updated: February 7, 2020.