(Posted: 2/25; update 2/26)
Snap Quiz: What do Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and Wisconsin Skipper Scott Walker have in common? Answer: Unhappiness with labor unions. La Russa complains publicly that the players union is pushing Albert Pujols to maximize his new-contract demands to “raise the bar” of salaries generally. Walker thinks his state’s public employee unions have priced themselves out of business. In effect, usa healing he wants to drive Team Labor out of the game in Wisconsin.
It is hard to blame those who agree with Walker that public employees get too much more in pay and benefits than non-union working people with similar jobs. When your state-worker neighbor, discount pharm with a similar background and tax bracket, clinic is living better than you – more paid days off, superior health care plan, pension and job security – it can’t help but make you resentful. The resenters should recognize, however, that their real gripe is with the inadequacy of their own situation – two weeks vacation a year, no paid overtime, etc. When, awhile ago, roughly a third of American jobs were unionized and jobs in general were plentiful, the disparity was not an issue. Now in a bad economy, non-union workers are playing under minor-league conditions. And, good as they are, Team Labor’s contract provisions are no match for those covering union workers in Europe, on teams the corporate media pitch as “sotic.”
Back to La Russa, and his resentment of the union doing its job, using superstars like Pujols to spur upward mobility in the pay scale of all players. That was the way the non-baseball-playing public scored in the quality-of-life league on the heels of newly gained union benefits. The Wash Post’s Ezra Klein kept a detailed scorecard: “The weekend is one of those benefits, and so too are the pensions and health-care packages that many employers offer. A lot of the safety rules that many workers take for granted were the product of union agitation and pressure. Plenty of industries have had to increase their wages because unions took root in certain companies and the threat of their spread forced the non-unionized companies to give their employees gains similar to those made by the unionized workers. Unions are also the most powerful lobby fighting against things like tax cuts for the rich and for things like universal health care.”
Adds NY Times lefty slugger Paul Krugman: “You don’t have to love unions…to recognize that they’re among the few influential players in our political system representing the interests of middle- and working-class Americans, as opposed to the wealthy. Indeed, if America has become more oligarchic and less democratic over the last 30 years — which it has — that’s…due… to the decline of …unions.”
The oft-noted irony in the latest push toward rule by the deep-pockets clubs: Conservative skippers are using the Wall Street-created budget crisis as an excuse to crush their overmatched by still-formidable union adversaries.
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Royal Flush: One team placed five of the top 19 prospects on the list compiled Baseball America: the Kansas City Royals. Only two teams – the Braves and the Rays – have more than one player among the top 19, each placing two. The Yanks’ catching hopeful Jesus Montero earned third place on the list, behind the Nats’ Bryce Harper and the Angels’ Mike Trout, both outfielders. First baseman Eric Hosner, third baseman Mike Moustakas and outfielder/catcher Wil Myers – all Royals prospects – were eight, nine and 10 on the list.
The Loner: In his first group interview as a Milwaukee Brewer, Zack Greinke acknowledged to experiencing social anxiety and occasional depression. He told media people, including Journal-Sentinel columnist Tom Hunt he’d rather that people left him alone: “I don’t like talking bad about fans, but they annoy me a lot of times, like the autograph guys out here. The ones who annoy me the most is when we get to the hotels. Sometimes I feel like I can’t go outside because there are fans downstairs.”
Dynamic Duos: After MLB-TV teammate John Smoltz interviewed Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youklis, described as two Red Sox indispensables, Billy Ripken, Mitch Williams and Dan Plesac picked whom they considered key duos in the NL: Ripken chose Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun of the Brewers; Williams selected the Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzales, Plesac picked Ryan Howard and Chase Utley of the Phils. “What about Albert Pujols and Matt Holiday?” said someone. “Yes,” came the reply: “We could go on all night.”
Those 89ers: Larry Bowa, on why managers give first-string catchers minimal playing time during spring training: “You never know when number 89, trying to make a name for himself on the other team, is going to come barreling into home and send your key defensive player to the DL.”
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