CLEVELAND – Where does the revenue-sharing money go?
That’s the questions Pirates’ fans constantly ask. The questions become louder when the Pirates cut their payroll as they did prior to this season.
Commissioner Rob Manfred nearly gave an answer when I asked him Tuesday when he met with the Baseball Writers Association of America as part of the All-Star Game festivities.
However, he made it clear that he has no desire to make any major changes to how teams must use their revenue-sharing money, which is part of the negotiated collective bargaining agreement between the owners and players.
“I really try to pay attention to sort of the aggregate instead of focusing on one individual team in one year,’ Manfred said. “I think the revenue-sharing system, on the whole, has eased the disparity in payrolls. At one time, the gap was 2 1/2 times from top to bottom. Now, it’ s 1 1/2. There are a few factors involved but the large part of the reason is because of the revenue-sharing system that we’ve been able to ensure competitive balance throughout the game.”
The Major League Baseball Players Association filed a grievance against the Pirates, Marlins, Athletics and Rays prior to last season accusing them of misappropriating their revenue-sharing funds. The case has yet to be heard by an independent arbitrator and there is no hearing scheduled.
Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark said he would not comment on pending litigation when he met with BBWAA members.
In other matters:
• Manfred shot down the idea that the baseballs are juiced this season in an effort to increase home runs, and scoring in general. A number of pitchers have complained about the ball, saying it is harder and slicker than in the past.
"Baseball has done nothing, given no direction for an alteration in the baseball," Manfred said. "The biggest flaw in that logic is that baseball somehow wants more home runs. If you sat in an owner's meeting and listened to people talk about the way our game is being played, that is not the sentiment among the owners for whom I work."
Major League Baseball now owns a minority ownership stake in Rawlings, the company that produces the balls. That has led players, primarily pitchers, to wonder if MLB is directly manipulating the manufacturing process.
"That dynamic changes the perception and it changes the direct input that can be offered with respect to that piece of equipment, and it just happens to be one of the most important," Clark said.
• MLB and the MLBPA have reopened talks about the CBA, though it does not expire until following the 2021 season. Clark said the players' two primary objectives in the talks are restoring a "competitive environment" and "meaningful" free agency.
I didn't expect Manfred to say anything remotely critical of the Pirates and Bob Nutting. All you can do in this job is ask the question. There is no control over how it is answered.
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