Alex Rodriguez has been through this before. Management tried to drive a wedge between him and the Major League Baseball Players Association prior to the 2004 season.
Back then, it was about devaluing his contract to facilitate a trade from Texas to Boston. Rodriguez may have wanted out of Texas, but he stood by the MLBPA:
“I am willing to restructure my contract,” Rodriguez said, “but only within the guidelines prescribed by union officials. I recognize the principle involved, and fully support the need to protect the interests of my fellow players.”
Now, management is trying to drive another wedge – this time between Rodriguez and the other players – by selling the union’s collusion concerns as a move to protect only him.
The MLBPA doesn’t represent Rodriguez. Scott Boras does. The MLBPA represents the collective interest of all players and Rodriguez clearly believes in that.
I’ve heard Rodriguez mention that Wall Street is his favorite movie. I always figured we liked the same things about the story: Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) as the bad guy and Carl Fox (Martin Sheen) as the good guy.
The key moment in the film comes when Gekko lays out his plan to buy the Bluestar airline with assurances that he will receive union concessions:
CARL FOX: “I came into Egypt a Pharaoh who did not know.”
GORDON GEKKO: “I beg your pardon, is that a proverb?”
CARL FOX: “No, a prophecy. The rich have been doing it to the poor since the beginning of time. The only difference between the Pyramids and the Empire State Building is that the Egyptians didn’t allow labor unions. I know what this guy is all about: greed. He don’t give a damn about Bluestar or the unions. He’s in and out for the buck and he don’t take prisoners.”
There are 30 Gordon Gekkos in baseball and Alex Rodriguez isn’t one of them. Owners will always try to distort the issues, but baseball players are just trade unionists.
Don’t be fooled by the numbers, the battle between management and labor is the same for ballplayers as it is for sheet-metal workers and stagehands and transit workers and screenwriters.
Rodriguez understands that. The rest of us should, too.