If there’s one thing that’s true for all MLB team owners, it’s this — it seems they never learn from the past and their own foolishness. And now, everyone involved in the lockout, including fans, is suffering.
MLB and the Canceled Opening Day
At the end of last year, on December 2, MLB owners ended more than 27 years of labor peace by doing something outrageous — they locked out the players. Three months later, the league canceled Opening Day. While commissioner Rob Manfred said that concern for the fans was a top priority, it would seem that the team owners don’t share the same sentiment.
During the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, MLB players pushed for as many as 114 games, and the owners offered to pay them for 50% of those. But instead of coming to an agreement that’s fair both to the players and team owners, the latter stuck out their tongues. Remember when they also refused to pay the minor leaguers?
Owners Are Not Having It
All 30 team owners declined the opportunity to give an interview and share their points of view. What’s more shocking is that players are demanding so little. They want a raise of the minimum salary from $575,000 last year to $725,000 in 2022 and up to $765,000 in 2025. If you calculate the inflation rates, you’d realize it’s not much of a raise anyway. What’s more, players are asking to create a bonus pool of $85 million (up to $105 million) that would be used to pay young players. If you draw the line, it’s no more than $11 million more per every team’s budget.
Instead, now no one makes money from baseball, and no one gets to watch it. So, why is this madness still going on? Stanford economist Roger Noll has the answer — every cohort of owners has historically had to learn the simple lesson that the MLB Players Association is a strong and unified union that will eventually always prevail because at the heart of the sport isn’t money, but its players and fans.
The Fenway Sports Group is owned by billionaire John Henry, and the company is now set on purchasing the Pittsburgh Penguins. While Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux have been the team’s majority owners since 1999, it now seems that a potential sale is about to turn real, especially after the Red Sox president Sam Kennedy confirmed that a deal is actually in the works.
The Acquisition of the Pittsburgh Penguins Has to Be Approved by the NHL and the Fenway Sports Group Board
After the Fenway Sports Group board approves the buying of the Pittsburgh Penguins, it would become subject to the approval of the NHL’s Board of Governors, who must approve every potential sale. John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group currently owns teams like the Boston Red Sox of MLB, Roush Fenway Racing of NASCAR, and Liverpool of England’s Premier League. The company also owns real estate like Fenway Park, and even LeBron James has a stake in the company.
Crosby and Malkin Led the Pittsburgh Penguins to Three Stanley Cups In 2009, 2016 and 2017
After winning two Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992, the Pittsburgh Penguins started losing track, and by 1999 were on the verge of bankruptcy. Back then, Mario Lemieux and Ronald Burkle led a group that purchased the team and secured a new arena in Pittsburgh. After that, the Penguins bounced back to success, especially after the arrival of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. The duo led the Penguins to three more Stanley Cups in 2009, 2016, and 2017.
According to sources, if a sale goes through, Lemieux will retain a minority stake in the team. Currently, the Penguins are the NHL’s 15th most valuable team, having a value of $845 million. While Lemieux and Burkle have explored the option of selling the Penguins in the past, it now seems much more likely that a deal will happen.
The last NHL team sale happened when Alex Meruelo took over as majority owner of the Arizona Coyotes in 2019. To prevent new owners from relocating a team immediately after acquiring it, the NHL has a standard agreement preventing such action for seven years from taking over.