More on arbitration

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"When You Reach For Your Food, It's Nice to Have Money."

Inspired by Neil's:

Since it's been seventeen years, since the graceful Grace actually walked this court for our starring milk money, the last arbitration-case for the club of Chicago Cubs, I'll like to quote here and highlight some important FYI from Bill James's classic, "This Time Let's Not Eat the Bones," published 1989. As also part of the group that represent players in arbitration, James wrote in this book a long essay that explains what arbitration is, why baseball needs it, and what exactly does the arb. influences (I'm using the acronym if the voice is me).

We start with the character that is true about arbs.

"Real arbitration cases are polite, reserved, extraordinarily orderly, and involve as a rule almost no bitterness or anger. Of course, underneath the veneer of good manners, egos are straining at the least and hearts are swinging in the wind, for a great deal is truly at stake--reputations, clients, futures, and usually a couple hundred thousand dollars."

May I skip to the conclusion that supports this above statement?

"... Arbitration cases make a tremendous, tremendous contribution toward avoiding bitterness and preventinghard feelings between the team and the player, as well as among players on a team. You have to understand that bitter contract negotiations have been a part of baseball for more than a century... Although the numbers are bigger now, that has always been true; a player's salary doesn't mature until he has been around for five to eight years, after which the raises tend to be token or merely riding along with inflation... The club expects the young player to climb the ladder, and the player expects to jump to the top of the scale, and the result often is--or was, before arbitration--an explosion...

"With arbitration, that doesn't happen anymore... Arbitration is a method of resolving the dispute; the player goes into the arbitration and says his piece, and he gets an answer... The fact that the player does get the opportunity to plead his case gives him the feeling that he has had recourse to justice, even if he has not been pleased with the result."

In between these lines, James explains through arb. cases either he was involved or he made tremendous study into what really went on; the Vida Blue case, for example. Or the case for Tony Pena, wherein he compares to Leon Durham. Why compare?

"... Cases do not revolve primarily around how good the player is... Salaries in baseball are determined the same way that the value of your house is determined: by comparisons... The player argues that he should get [60,000, and]... the team argues that the player should receive only [40,000] for the same reason: because that is what the other players who have comparable skills and accomplishments are getting paid."

And who are thou, the light who channels vents through the ocean of arbs.?

"... Arbitrators are professional skeptics;... with a grain or two of salt[;] members of the American Arbitration Association, men who make a profession out of getting in the middle of disputes, normally disputes between individuals and corporations.

"... The arbitrators are lawyers, often college law professors, sometimes retired judges... Second, these arbitrators are baseball fans...

"Sometimes you suspect that arbitrators have made their decision based not on what is said during the hearing, but on their own knowledge of the player and of the salary structure...

"It is a bad situation if the arbitrator makes a leap of faith based on his failure to understand the material he's been given, but what happens more often is that the arbitrator adds to the material he is given some of his own knowledge, knowledge he has gathered perhaps as a baseball fan, perhaps from studying basic research materials on his own. The knowledge the arbitrator has gathered from other cases he has heard is often tremendously important..."

... And I hope James' knowledge helps all Cubs fans to see better pictures of arbs. and baseball. Let's get out of the Dark Age, with Ryan Theriot.