From Buzz Carrick, a brief explanation of why the owners are so nuts about free agency:
I think Carrick and Chelney are paraphrasing what management is saying, not that they genuinely believes "any" form of free agency would kill the single entity concept like antimatter.
The owners are overreacting. Sadly, that's their privilege. But if the owners seriously believe single entity is at stake, they should cut down on the sugar.
Somewhere out there - I forgot to write it down - either a blogger or a forum post made the amazing point that while the league office owns the player contracts, they don't own the contracts for coaches, general managers, and such. Alexi Lalas used to remind angry Quakes and Red Bulls fans that he worked for AEG, not that he worked for MLS. If players compete against each other, then coaches and general managers do as well. Anyone who's seen how Chivas USA and the Galaxy treat each other would have a lot of trouble believing that they were part of one big happy company.
There are also plenty of examples in American corporate life where a single company owns entities which compete against each other in some form. And of course, by "plenty," I can only think of a few. Record companies and General Motors are dead; and MLS probably would rather not publicly compare themselves to McDonald's or tobacco companies.
(I wonder how many people out there so offended by Toyota's actions on the Prius malfunctions will go out and buy a Lexus instead. But that's a different topic.)
There's also a common sense test that the owners' position doesn't pass. The biggest is, the league is going to fold if Kansas City doesn't get a second round pick from Dallas for Kevin Hartman's rights? That's insulting people who know better.
Unfortunately, again, if that's what the league actually believes - free agency being uncontrollable when let in, like vampires or Communism - then, well, they're the ones who have bet hundreds of millions of dollars on it.
Is there a solution? They might ask for something like Carrick suggests, like an internal auction. Or a post-waiver waiver draft. It literally doesn't matter what it's called or how it works, because the number of players involved and the amount of money at stake is so piddly that it's incomprehensible that either side would risk a labor stoppage over it...absent the greater issues that the league seems to be obsessed with.
If the players union would say that they're not trying to overthrow single entity...and there's nothing that says that the rights the players are fighting for are incompatible with the single entity concept...then that would seemingly remove the biggest stumbling block to labor peace.
But if the owners really think that as soon as the new CBA is signed, the players are going to turn around and revisit the Fraser case...then the players are going to have to wait until they have more leverage, simple as that.
There's been a lot of reaction to Grahame Jones' article on Tim Leiweke's stance on the strike - mostly, it should disabuse the notion that there are any significant "blocs" of disagreement among the owners - but to me, it just showed why neither side can be helped by public relations.
You quit the Sol after 10 months, Tim. For another thing, MLS might be nothing but a loss-leader for SUM - but it's one that's paying off. The increased interest in the World Cup in this country coincides almost perfectly with the growth of the US national team, and the US national team's strength has grown alongside MLS.
For yet another, the Galaxy as a loss-leader got AEG, among other things, the Home Depot Center, a boatload of big-money friendlies, and the Beckham Experiment (which, while a disaster for the Galaxy, was a blessing for AEG). Same with Red Bull. No one makes multi-million dollar real estate deals out of "passion." Carson is not East Jerusalem, and the HDC is not the Temple Mount.
I think Leiweke has a great point when he says the owners resent the Mutually Assured Destruction talk from the players, but pretending it's not a business is as unrealistic as
anything the players have said.
Maybe both sides really are crazy.