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Donald Fehr Stepping Down


Maverick2143

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ESPN

Don Fehr is stepping down as executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, a position he's held since the mid-1980s, a source tells ESPN.

Fehr will be replaced by general counsel Michael Weiner, pending board approval, the source said.

The announcement is expected to be made later on Monday afternoon.

There ya go. Don't know what this means for MLB, if anything.

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Hopefully the union replaces him with somebody who's better at the PR side of things. While he was pretty solid at looking after the interests of union members, I think he let the owners win the propaganda war among much of baseball fandom. Marvin Miller was much better about that part than Fehr was.

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Hopefully the union replaces him with somebody who's better at the PR side of things. While he was pretty solid at looking after the interests of union members, I think he let the owners win the propaganda war among much of baseball fandom. Marvin Miller was much better about that part than Fehr was.

Much better said than what I was going to write.

From the players' standpoint, Fehr should be a god. He increased average income for players more than anyone else.

...however, as for the game of baseball itself.... I just hope his successor is an improvement.

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Much better said than what I was going to write.

From the players' standpoint, Fehr should be a god. He increased average income for players more than anyone else.

...however, as for the game of baseball itself.... I just hope his successor is an improvement.

Nobody has the job of looking out for the game of baseball. Bud Selig looks out for the owners. The head of the MLBPA looks out for the current players. The International Baseball Federation tries vainly and desperately to organize the sport outside of MLB, trying occasionally to get MLB to cooperate. The NCAA and Cal Ripken and some other organizations do their little pieces. But there is no FIFA of baseball. At least not one with teeth and a hammer. so you can't really blame any of the interested parties in not putting their interests aside and doing things for the good of the game as a whole.

Fehr did a fine job advocating for his clients, and not letting the owners run roughshod over the players. That was his job, after all.

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... Fehr did a fine job advocating for his clients, and not letting the owners run roughshod over the players. That was his job, after all.

In the long run, "doing a fine job" ended up damaging not only the game, but the interests of the players who employed him.

That's one of the problems with unions; they have too narrow and short term of a view as to what's best for their members. When I graduated from high school in 1964, there was no better place for a high school graduate to work than in an automobile assembly plant, where relatively unskilled workers received higher pay and superior benefits to most skilled tradesmen. That was fine for the autoworkers who retired in the sixties and seventies and are mostly dead now, but those working for the Big Three now are wondering if they'll have a job next month, much less a pension when they're old enough to retire.

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In the long run, "doing a fine job" ended up damaging not only the game, but the interests of the players who employed him.

That's one of the problems with unions; they have too narrow and short term of a view as to what's best for their members. When I graduated from high school in 1964, there was no better place for a high school graduate to work than in an automobile assembly plant, where relatively unskilled workers received higher pay and superior benefits to most skilled tradesmen. That was fine for the autoworkers who retired in the sixties and seventies and are mostly dead now, but those working for the Big Three now are wondering if they'll have a job next month, much less a pension when they're old enough to retire.

It is certainly true that many unions have narrow views of the world, treat "management" as the enemy, don't care about the long-term viability of the companies they work for, and force wages that are probably unsupportable by the market in many industries.

But it is also true that in industries with really out-of-whack employer/employee relationships a union is one of the few ways to keep really stupid, ugly things from happening to employees. For most industries that phase was prior to WWII. For baseball that phase was prior to 1988, when the last major case of collusion happened. Fehr was mainly dealing with owners who thought they were just a few good smacks with a 2x4 from going back to the reserve clause and paying players whatever the hell they wanted.

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I listened to Fay Vincent on the radio this morning, and he basically said Fehr did a great job. Among other things, he kept the union together through the owners' lockout of '94-95 (and don't ever forget that was a lockout, not a strike), and he proved beyond doubt that the owners had colluded to hold down free agent salaries in '85-'87. And in more recent years, he reached compromises with the owners that avoided any interruptions in play and contributed to the financial success of the sport and the players.

You could argue that the union overreached at times, but look who they were dealing with. The owners had the players under their thumbs for nearly 100 years, and treated them like crap as long as they could. If the union took a combative stance, it's because for a very long time the owners made it clear that's the only stance they'd respond to.

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Hopefully the union replaces him with somebody who's better at the PR side of things. While he was pretty solid at looking after the interests of union members, I think he let the owners win the propaganda war among much of baseball fandom. Marvin Miller was much better about that part than Fehr was.

I hope they replace him with someone better at representing the full universe of MLB players. IMO the MLBPA has done a superb job representing the top tier of its membership and a lot less successful at representing the interests of the mid/bottom tiers of the membership.

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I hope they replace him with someone better at representing the full universe of MLB players. IMO the MLBPA has done a superb job representing the top tier of its membership and a lot less successful at representing the interests of the mid/bottom tiers of the membership.

Really? In 1986 the MLB minimum salary, I think, was $60k. That's what Jim Traber made according to baseball-reference. Adjusted for inflation that's about $120k today.

The MLB minimum today is about $400k. In Fehr's tenure the salaries of the very bottom of MLB players have increased by about 300%.

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That's one of the problems with unions; they have too narrow and short term of a view as to what's best for their members. When I graduated from high school in 1964, there was no better place for a high school graduate to work than in an automobile assembly plant, where relatively unskilled workers received higher pay and superior benefits to most skilled tradesmen. That was fine for the autoworkers who retired in the sixties and seventies and are mostly dead now, but those working for the Big Three now are wondering if they'll have a job next month, much less a pension when they're old enough to retire.

While there are problems that are typical of both labor and management, any analysis that implies that Detroit's troubles, and those of its labor force, are due primarily to union policy shows a misunderstanding of the last 40 years of the US car industry. As with many things, it's easy to pick out a scapegoat, but the facts just don't fit the claim. I've followed that industry closely since the late 60's. Multiple factors combined to harm Detroit. In order of negative impact, I think a complete analysis would rank them as:

  • 1. Decades of bad management (not the recent guys, but the generations prior to them).
  • 2. National policy on various matters (including the U.S. industrial base, reciprocal trade, energy, healthcare, and others).
  • 3. The way Wall Street shifted priorities to short term profit rather than long term health.
  • 4. Labor/management issues.

So, yes, relations between the union and management is definitely on the list, but it's at the bottom. It is also a 2-way street that involves both labor and management. Had the first three items been handled in a reasonable way, we wouldn't be looking at the situation we now have. Implying that union issues are at the top is simply not accurate. The UAW did a far better job than many unions at protecting it's members, both better and longer, during an era when unions in general were greatly weakened.

Back to baseball... there are indeed issues of labor/management conflict, and we can certainly question the wisdom of both sides in various ways. However, it's not at all clear that the union has harmed the long term interests of it's members. IMO, the main thing the union has done poorly is (a) PR and (b) expand its scope to include its incoming members (the MiL guys). I guess you could say its debatable whether they should do the 2nd one, but I don't think the first one (about PR) is debatable.

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Really? In 1986 the MLB minimum salary, I think, was $60k. That's what Jim Traber made according to baseball-reference. Adjusted for inflation that's about $120k today.

The MLB minimum today is about $400k. In Fehr's tenure the salaries of the very bottom of MLB players have increased by about 300%.

If his success was to be judged soley on salary he's been great for everyone. But alas his role is not isolated to salary. A lot of what they advocate for are things that are great for the superstars at the expense of the average player.

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If his success was to be judged soley on salary he's been great for everyone. But alas his role is not isolated to salary. A lot of what they advocate for are things that are great for the superstars at the expense of the average player.

Barring career-ending injury, I'd bet that "superstar" players stick around longer--often significantly longer--than "average" players. Thus they have both longevity and fame working for them. Is it any wonder the union pays them more attention than the "average" guy?

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... But it is also true that in industries with really out-of-whack employer/employee relationships a union is one of the few ways to keep really stupid, ugly things from happening to employees. For most industries that phase was prior to WWII.

Don't want to argue too much with that.

... For baseball that phase was prior to 1988, when the last major case of collusion happened.

Oh please! Even during the reserve clause era, baseball players were hardly comparable to the poor stiffs dealing with mine owners in the late 19th and early 20th century. The average working Joe would have given his right arm if he could have swapped places with a major league ballplayer.

If you regard MLB as a single employer, which it is in effect, then players were -- and still are -- more or less fairly restricted in the terms under which they can be employed. Players didn't get to pick their teams for the most part -- and still can't for up to 12 years -- but they have been compensated very well for playing a game that most of us would play for free or even pay if we were allowed to play.

... Fehr was mainly dealing with owners who thought they were just a few good smacks with a 2x4 from going back to the reserve clause and paying players whatever the hell they wanted.

Yeah, yeah, those evil owners!

I suppose there have been a few owners over the past 150 years or so who were getting rich by "exploiting" their players, but I suspect that most owners lost money overall unless they were able to recoup their losses by selling an appreciated asset.

I'll concede there have been many abuses over the years, but I don't think that players were ever a particularly down trodden, exploited class. The Players Association has done some good things for baseball, but I think it has also exploited its own membership for the benefit of its senior members and I think it seriously missed the boat on how to handle drugs.

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Really? In 1986 the MLB minimum salary, I think, was $60k. That's what Jim Traber made according to baseball-reference. Adjusted for inflation that's about $120k today.

The MLB minimum today is about $400k. In Fehr's tenure the salaries of the very bottom of MLB players have increased by about 300%.

Players are pretty well compensated by the time they spend their first full season in the majors, but those who are in the minors most or all of the season don't get paid nearly as well. As Geshinger points out, RHIP and veterans have a lot of advantages at the expense of the junior members. When one considers the extent to which the least experienced players share in the risks of injuries, I think the PA should do a better job of representing their interests.

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