Marvin Miller Dead – Your Thoughts?

In case you missed it, former MLBPA leader Marvin Miller passed away at the age of 95 after a long bout with cancer. He accomplished amazing things for the Players Union, but, to be honest, and meaning no disrespect, I could do without all the attention paid to his passing from the baseball media.

Growing up and discovering baseball in the 1970s, I saw much of Miller’s contributions to the game. Most of my memories of him, however, are attached to negative events — specifically, strikes. No doubt that Miller’s work had an effect on baseball becoming a multi-billion-dollar enterprise, and his efforts were vital toward getting some of the dollars out of the greedy owners’ pockets and into the players’. But in the grand scheme of things, did he affect the game for me as a fan in a positive way? Or a negative way, for that matter?

Marvin Miller’s contributions to baseball are a business story, a story of workers’ rights, a story of finances. Personally, I’m more focused on the baseball aspect, and when his story spilled onto the field, it was rarely positive. That’s not to say I didn’t approve of his tactics — it’s just that what he did, didn’t make the game any more or less enjoyable. So while various sports media is honoring his passing and celebrating his life and achievements, I’m apathetic. I hope that doesn’t sound callous, but as a baseball fan that’s just the way it is for me.

(As an aside, the one thing that always stunned me was that the NFLPA didn’t hire Miller as at least a consultant. To me, pro football players need and deserve the power of the MLBPA more than anyone, considering what they put their bodies and brains through, and how much revenue is generated by their efforts.)

That’s all I have. What about you? Is Miller’s passing affecting you in any way? Do you care one way or the other? Do you think his contributions made “the product on the field” better, worse, or neither?

Answer in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Paul Festa November 28, 2012 at 1:20 pm
    I’ve always been divided on Miller. He gave the players more control over their own future, which is a good thing. But like too many unions, they went from protecting employees to flat-out greed. Between the players union and the owners (I’m not excluding them), the game (and sports in general) has become too expensive for an average fan or family to attend on a regular basis, AND we have to spend all offseason wringing our hands about contracts and budgets.

    However, when you think about it, Miller just brought baseball, and professional sports, into the modern business world of the 20th century.

    Anyway, I just contributed nothing. 😉 Like I said, I’ve always been divided.

  2. Joe November 28, 2012 at 2:13 pm
    Players having more equitable rights allows me to enjoy the game more. It’s like going to a store with a bad reputation. Sort of leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The rights here involve strikes and player salaries etc., but such is the nature of things. Who’s to know if a more equitable situation would also attract talent?
  3. Dan B November 28, 2012 at 3:29 pm
    Overall, I think the game is better with free agency on a lot of levels. Basically, it put pressure on both owners and the players to improve their product. The fans benefited from that. As far as pricing out the “real” fan, I always find it funny that people define “real” fans as someone who has as much money as them to spend on baseball. As soon as the first team charged $1 for a ticket to see a game,someone was priced out. Just because a fan is willing to spend more money, he is no longer considered a “real” fan?
  4. NormE November 28, 2012 at 6:37 pm
    I’m a union person, so anything I say about Marvin Miller carries my own personal biases.
    Miller forced owners to give up their slave-master ways. If any owner felt unable to cope with the costs of dealing with employees who now had rights he would not have had any problem selling his team for a profit.
    I like a system where both sides have to negotiate in good faith and that was not the case pre-Marvin Miller.
    Gaining the ability to become a free agent has not only benefitted players, but it has created greater fan interest.
    Yes, it’s hard to feel sympathy for workers making millions, but their big-earning years are short. Anyway, as Joe Janish can attest, those who possess the skills to earn that money are few and far between. A market place has been created and that is capitalism—ironic that a labor union is
    a responsible party to such an outcome.
  5. Dan B November 28, 2012 at 7:44 pm
    I guess I should of admitted to being an union worker, too. But I have also run businesses so I understand both sides. Free agency gave players freedom and increased income but it also forced owners to increase revenue because of the increased salaries. In the end, players are in better shape and owners provide a better product (does anyone remember how awful stadiums were in the pre-free agency era?). Both players AND owners ended up making more money because fans were willing to spend more money on a more entertaining product. Marvin Miller might of took his role to the extreme, but that one aspect of his legacy was very positive.
  6. argonbunnies November 28, 2012 at 11:36 pm
    No personal feelings about Miller, but from a fairness standpoint, it’s ludicrous that any owners and executives are in the Hall of Fame but he isn’t. Extreme and transparent bias always bugs me.

    Now that he’s dead and won’t be able to enjoy the induction, they’ll probably let him in (which I think is an excellent solution for Pete Rose, by the way).

    Not that it bugs me as much as failing to induct Buck O’Neil before he died. Buck was every bit the historic treasure that everyone treats Bob Feller as, except with a lot more hurdles overcome.

    And now we’re probably going to have an average pitcher in Jack Morris inducted because of his tough-guy body language on the mound that had people peg him as an Ace and a Winner! Gah. The Hall of Fame drive me nuts sometimes.