, 15 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
I've been hard on Tony Clark over the past few years. And, yes, there has been reason to be tough on him. But it's probably worth talking about what is a fair criticism and what is not.
What is NOT a fair criticism is that he's a bad negotiator. Maybe he is? I don't know. I've never negotiated with him. But the thing is, he is not the guy doing the heavy lifting. The MLBPA is well staffed with sharp labor lawyers. They're ok as far as that goes.
With respect to these negotiations: you don't win it because you have some killer argument or some great rhetorical skill. It's not like a TV show. You are as effective as the power you have and your power is as strong as the support you have to drop the hammer.
For baseball, the players' hammer is a strike. That's really it. That's where their strength comes from. It's a LOT of strength in practice, but the threat of a strike is only a good as the ability to actually make one happen if necessary. That requires help.
The help comes from the players' and their willingness to strike. Their willingness to strike comes from their sense of righteous reason to strike and that's all a function of their agreement and solidarity on the issues big enough to strike over.
That willingness has been totally absent since, probably 2002. Lotta reasons for that (we'll get to that in a second), but if it's not there, God Almighty cannot walk into a bargaining session with Dan Halem and MLB and make shit happen. There aren't a lot of bullets in the gun.
A valid criticism of Clark: it's the union's job to educate players and get them on the same page. That the players have not been on the same page with this stuff and have not seen these issues as important enough can be due to a lot, but at the end of the day, that's Clark's job
And, indeed, part of hiring Clark, a former player, was no doubt inspired by his presumed ability to talk to players more easily than someone who does not know their lives and concerns as well. It's not essential to have played, but it probably helps in theory.
Has Clark done poorly at that? We can't know for sure. There are a lot of moving parts. Maybe player reps dropped the ball. Maybe players won't listen to what Clark has told them. Maybe Clark and his team of assistants didn't anticipate certain things. Could be anything.
Whatever the case, the urgency on the part of the players and their anticipation of the kind of hardball clubs would come to adopt has been lacking. That's why we are where we are.

But, as the Longoria thing suggests, that's not where we're necessarily gonna be in 2021.
Anyway: stuff like we're hearing from Longoria and Keuchel may be dismissed as a "frustrated tweet" or a random player "lashing out on Instagram," but I'd advise you to look a bit beyond that and think about what it means that players are showing public frustration.
Players don't say ANYTHING controversial if they can help it. They are trained very well not to do that now and, for the most part, are very savvy about not doing it. It's big news when someone DOES do it. Thoughts that could rock the boat are generally kept quiet.
That a few are saying things in public now means, I am certain of it, that they are saying 10x this kind of thing amongst themselves. Indeed, that it's public probably means that they KNOW it won't upset teammates and other players. They feel safe to say it.
They're getting pissed. They're talking. Being pissed and talking is the first step to labor solidarity which, in turn, gives Clark a better chance to bring them all together. That, in turn, gives those sharp lawyers at the MLBPA a stronger hand at the bargaining table.
Which is to say: Fasten your seat belts. 2021 is gonna be a bumpy ride.

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