Although I am highly opinionated when it comes to politics and social issues, I do my best to express my thoughts and opinions in the proper forum. Typically, blogs about baseball cards are not the place for them. However, as much as we all like to conveniently ignore the fact, baseball is first and foremost an entertainment industry, and it is not immune to many of the forces and trends facing other American industries. With that in mind, I have to applaud Randy Wolf’s refusal to sign an amended contract just to make the Mariners roster.
While the Mariners were technically in their right to ask for such a modification (the collective bargaining agreement allows them), it really did reek of negotiating in bad faith. Wolf signed his contract in February with the understanding that if he made the team then the contract became guaranteed. At a minimum, the Mariners could have informed Wolf when he signed the contract that they might ask him for one should he make the team — apparently the team cannot request the 45-day advance-consent clause unless the player actually makes the team. Their attempt to change the terms of the agreement now is another example of how companies in this country are using the fear of losing one’s job to their advantage. They want us cowered and scared, and they want to simultaneously nickel-and-dime us while doing so. Admittedly, we’re talking about professional athlete salaries here and not middle class incomes, but the parallelism is clear and obvious.
Good for Wolf for not playing along with the Mariners financial game. He’s made a lot of money during the course of his career, so he had more bargaining power than the rest of us typically carry. By current baseball standards, Wolf’s contract really was low-risk for the Mariners — they were only responsible for $1 million in salary for his making the team — and if they really wanted Wolf on the opening day roster then they should have honored the contract that he signed in good faith. If the baseball gods are just, the Mariners will be punished for their attempt to save what amounts to a rounding error for most team’s player salary budgets.
The Wolf jersey I purchased back in 2003 still hangs in my closet. I hope he finds employment with another team. Whether he does or not, I plan to wear it again with pride after his retirement or upon his return to the Phillies, should such an event occur. We can’t rule that out — after all Marlon Byrd and Bobby Abreu are already back.
Edit to add: I really loved this quote from Wolf in a different news story about his release: “The day should have started with a handshake and congratulations instead of a 24-hour feeling of licking a D cell battery.”
Featured Cards: 2006 Fleer #267; 2002 MLB Showdown #261