MLBPA Using Kris Bryant as a Human Guilt Trip

It’s funny how some random memories stick with you. For instance, I recall an innocuous little incident from college in which a couple guys were pulling that sophomoric stunt in which one kneels on the ground beyond a soon-to-be victim while the other bumps or pushes said victim so that they tumble bass-ackwards over the kneeler.

I think I remember it so well because the pusher — who may or may not be an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics now — would obnoxiously invoke Silkk The Shocker with each successful attempt. Push, fall…”Uh-oh! Did I do that?” Good times.

I don’t think Master P is advising MLBPA executive director Tony Clark, but it seems there’s no limit to the lengths the union will do to shift the blame for Kris Bryant’s delayed major league debut, using the phenom to trip the league. Never mind that the rules regarding service time are part of the agreement that was collectively bargained.

No, this is about how the Cubs are doing something to sully the game. Because, you know, no one in baseball has ever toed the line of the rules to gain an advantage. I understand that the union’s responsibility is to stick up for its players, so I do see where Clark is coming from, but pardon me if it still feels a bit disingenuous.

“We have always (believed) – and will continue to believe – that it’s in everyone’s best interests to have the best players playing at any particular time,” Clark said. “Any rules that are in place that some may be using against the spirit of how they may have been designed, we don’t believe (that’s) in anyone’s best interest – the fans, or anyone that loves our games, the players, or even the clubs for that matter.

“We will continue – as we always have – to monitor those types of scenarios and situations in the hopes that everybody does what’s best for the game.”

Am I the only one who’s reminded of Phil Jackson complaining about the officiating during his time with the Bulls? The Zen Master knew damn well that the officials in those playoff games were under a microscope, so he wanted to turn the power up and focus in on everything they were doing.

And it’s not like he really needed to do it; after all, when the zebras weren’t scouring the crowd for Michael Jordan’s next paramour, they were giving him every call they could. But Jackson was a manipulator to the highest degree, and that, as it seems, it what Clark is doing here.

He knows that the Cubs are well within the rules, but he’s arguing for the spirit of the law rather than the letter. As the face of the players’ union, he reflects the collective view of a group whose goal is to make as much money as possible. In Bryant, they see their flaws manifested so they strike out to break the mirror that reminds them of their ugliness.

If they were really worried about fairness, the MLBPA would seek to outlaw Aroldis Chapman’s heater or Jake Arrieta’s slutter, but that’d be going against one of their own. But this isn’t about the month that Kris Bryant will miss this year, it’s about getting superstars crazy mad cash in years to come.

When the MLB and the PA next gather ’round the ol’ bargaining table, this will likely be a point of contention. Clark is sowing seeds now in the hopes that they’ll bear fruit down the line. And you what the best possible leverage would be for the union? The Cubs holding Bryant back for a few weeks and then missing the playoffs by a hair.

The outrage would be palpable and the league wouldn’t have much of a leg to stand on in negotiations. But if all goes to plan, the Cubs won’t care a bit. They’ll have their golden boy locked up and they’ll just continue to play the game by the rules set forth by the CBA.

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