Players are greedy.
This is the call of every commissioner and owner each time there's a work stoppage.
It's a convenient and effective technique used to put the blame on the players when fans are less interested in the facts than they are in seeing their favorite teams in action again.
The reality is every work stoppage is a fight between owners, usually small markets trying to force big markets to give them a chance to win because they can't figure out how to do it on their own.
It's how salary caps and luxury taxes were born.
There are owners like Jeff Loria, who ran two franchises into the ground and held a city hostage for a new stadium before making a billion dollars on the sale of the Marlins.
Giancarlo Stanton experienced his share of salary dumps while playing in Miami and was nevertheless convinced to sign a contract extension two years before free agency because he wanted to stay and win in Miami.
Loria promised him the team would do just that.
"Our goal was to start fresh," Loria said the day Stanton signed a 13-year contract worth $325 million. "It wasn't popular, but we had to do it. We wanted to create a long-term system around young players who would build their entire career with us."
Of course, that didn't happen -- again -- and Loria bailed.
Enter new CEO Derek Jeter, who almost immediately announced they would have to dump Stanton's salary. Negotiating from a corner is an interesting way to go about it.
Of greater interest, however, is the way Jeter threatened Stanton and tried to force him to accept a trade to a city he didn't want.
While Jeter claims Stanton asked out, Jeter didn't even bother to show up for the winter meetings in Orlando to defend his position. He went to the Dolphins' Monday Night Football game instead.
During his news conference at Disney World and wearing the Yankees' pinstripes, Stanton says he offered to stay, telling Jeter that if the Marlins could add pitching they might be able to contend right away.
Jeter said that would not happen and that the team would be gutted yet again.
"I reiterated I wanted to give at least a half-season chance to see if we could put something together with some arms," Stanton said. "But that wasn't the direction."
After working out deals with San Francisco and St. Louis, the Marlins threatened Stanton, saying that if he didn't move to one of those towns they would bury him in Miami on 100-loss teams.
Said agent Joel Wolfe, "They were pretty clear if he did not accept a trade to these two teams that he would be in Miami for the rest of his career."
Stanton wisely called their bluff, offering up only the Cubs, Dodgers, Astros and Yankees as possibilities.
Greedy, selfish player, right?
In good faith, he accepted an owner's promise that the team would be competitive. In good faith, he negotiated a contract the team felt was market value. In good faith, he took the no-trade protection the team offered.
And now he's disloyal.
All he did was use his collectively bargained rights to control his own destiny, something every athlete hopes to have at some point during a professional career.
The Marlins then told him that not one of those four teams would have him.
More deception from the new Miami owners. He now resides in New York.
"This is what I've always dreamed of," Stanton said. "You always want to be in competitive games that mean something, and your performance means something to the team and the city.
"It's a new dynamic, but at the same time, it's baseball. So I understand there will be some ups and downs. I'll have to deal with that on a bigger scale, but it's the same game I played down in Miami. Just a bigger scale, brighter lights."
With the Yanks on the hook for $295 million and the team expected to win the World Series in 2018 with a rookie manager, the pressure will be extraordinary and there will be tough sledding at times.
But Stanton doesn't have to do it all by himself anymore, and he's playing for a franchise that actually wants to win every year.
Good for him.
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