Lot to cover here.
Right off the bat... I'm a fan and I represent myself. I don't have representation at the CBA negotiation table. I'm the one drifting in the wind here. My happiness is in the hands of other people, I don't get a vote or representation at that table.
I'm not going to lose sleep over a year of service time and I'm especially not going to lose sleep when I know that the agreement was negotiated by two power brokers, skilled at such things, while looking across the table at each other and not at gun point. Especially, Especially when I know that both sides are looking out for their interests... and not mine. Neither the owners or the players care if the price of a ticket goes up. They are negotiating to get the most money in their pockets, why am I taking sides? I'm not because NEITHER resemble Mother Theresa. The player can hit .189 and still collect the 30 million. The Owners can keep players under control until they are past their prime. These things were negotiated. I didn't get a vote.
Both sides understand it is strictly business by now... the innocence is gone. If the business side of things hasn't hit them in the eyes in year one... it will certainly cold cock them once they sit down with the Arbitrator as the team tears them apart to save a couple of million bucks.
So what's my interest? I want the players who suck... gone and I want the players with skill playing for my team as long as possible. According to the CBA, to which I have no representation, I have to tolerate all bad contracts, but my good contracts have a shelf life. I have to put up with players getting paid and throwing 85MPH and I have to put up with players struggling for 3 years of precious service time so he can get good right before he says goodbye.
My interest is very uncomplicated. I want the players I want, playing for my team as long as possible. That is what is best for me.I am simply not concerned if Acuna makes 600K or 27 Million or if he reaches free agency at 26 or 27 or 32. I will trade 17 days of rookie ball in April for a full season in a players prime every single time. You can't compare 17 days in April to a full year in a players prime without recognizing how lopsided of a no-brainer decision it is. I am not bound by slight of hand or public relations. I don't have to say that the reason is defensive work, the player isn't ready or he needs rest for better health with a straight face. I can scream from the mountain tops without reservation or apology. "I WANT THE EXTRA YEAR" for my benefit and I deserve it.
And the negotiated CBA states that I can have it.
Did the players union negotiate a bad deal? Yes... they failed to see the future but at the time, they got what they wanted. They didn't see the Ivy league front offices doing cost per analysis down the road. It changed everything and the next CBA is going to be a nightmare when the players union tries to get things back in their favor. And once again... I won't have representation at the next CBA negotiation table either. Meaning... when they go into a lock out or strike... I'll have to sit there and take it.
I believe I understand your position. However, I think it has little to do with the merits of either Bryant's or Buxton's case.
Basically, you're taking the position that you'd want good players playing for your team as long as possible, regardless of how much money they make. Whether it's a whole lot of money, a whole ton of money, they make enough that you don't feel bad for them not making a whole ton more money, right? And you believe that their representatives did a bad job negotiating a deal for them with the owners, and we should not have any sympathy for them because they are sophisticated wealthy adults who can fend for themselves. I believe I understand that opinion.
But I disagree with that opinion. The people we pay to watch are the players. I think they earn the money they make because they are the product on the field that we pay to watch. There's an agreement between ownership and the players. If both sides perform the agreement in good faith, taking a year of free agency away from a player by a technicality, backed up with false pretenses would not happen. Players would earn their position on teams, and teams would happily trot out their best players as often as possible. But the owners have sought to manipulate this situation by taking money away from players who otherwise earned that money. That's because taking that year of free agency away from a player takes money out of his pocket each and every year after his service time is manipulated.
Even if you are of the opinion that these rich guys don't need more money, there is a moral or maybe ethical problem with condoning and even celebrating one rich guy taking money from another rich (but usually much less rich) guy wrongfully. Believe it or not, in the real world, a lot of these types of disputes end up in court. And the rich guy who gets caught taking money from the other rich guy wrongfully ends up losing, and ends up paying a lot more than he would have done if he had just performed the contract in good faith.
Additionally, I just have always tended to side with the players over the management. That's where my opinion is coming from. In the specific cases of Buxton and Bryant, it is my opinion that if management had wanted to pay them fairly, rather than take money out of their pockets in bad faith, they could have paid the players enough that they'd be playing for their teams for all of their prime years and possibly more. And considering the revenues and the increasing value of the teams, it wouldn't even make much of a financial difference for them to do the right thing. But, just as there are clever tax accountants out there who help wealthy people avoid paying taxes, there are clever GMs who help wealthy owners avoid paying players. Penny wise and pound foolish, in my opinion. But here we are.
And I strongly disagree with the position (maybe not yours) that under the CBA the GMs and owners could simply say, "I want another year, so I'm keeping you in the minors." If that were true, they'd just do that without fear of repercussions. But they have come up with all sorts of pretenses for bad faith behavior, knowing that what they are doing is not consistent with the intent and meaning of the contract they have with the players. So I hope the Bryant case is a huge blow to this practice by the owners. And I believe Buxton's case is as good or better than Bryant's since he was an established elite player (MVP votes, platinum glove) when the Twins manipulated his time to take a year of free agency away from him so that we could get a good look at Johnny Field.
I'm curious, at the end of the day, do you believe service time manipulation is a good thing or a bad thing? Should we hope to abolish it, or encourage it?