A Bitter Cup of Coffee: Postscript

Special Guest Post by Doug Gladstone, author: A Bitter Cup of Coffee: How MLB & The Players Association Threw 874 Retirees A Curve, and panelist for The Albany Government Law Review Spring Symposium: Baseball & the Law: America’s National Pastime.

On Thursday, April 21, Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) announced, with much fanfare, that they would be giving all those men who played in “The Show” from 1947-1979, who had more than one day of service credit but less than four years, and who were therefore unable to qualify for MLB pensions, payments of up to $10,000 each for the next two years, depending on their respective lengths of service. The issue of these inactive, non-vested retirees was why I was on the “Legal State of Our National Pastime” panel at  Baseball & The Law: America’s National Pastime symposium held on Monday, April 11 in the Dean Alexander Moot Courtroom at Albany Law School.

As the author of the book widely credited with helping spur MLB to pay these men the monies they’re about to receive, I’ve naturally been asked what I thought about the announcement quite a bit over the last week or so. Admittedly, I have mixed emotions about it. Obviously, given the continuing national recession in this country, there are very few people nowadays who would turn up their noses at an extra $10,000 per year. But that pales in comparison to what some of these men could have received if they were just restored back into pension coverage.

Take Tom Bruno, for instance. A native of Chicago who pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays, Bruno finished his career having accrued three years and 161 days of service. He fell one game short of meeting the vesting requirement. One game. Based on a report which indicated that the average baseball retiree was making $30,000 in 2006, you know what a onetime retroactive check would be worth to a guy like Bruno?  If you answered, “$900,000,” you’ll realize why I’m not so impressed that he’s getting $10,000.

For the record, Major League Baseball is a $7 billion industry. Today’s player makes, on average, $3.3 million. You know what the most Tom Bruno ever made was? Only $65,000. These days, men like Ryan Howard ($125 million over five years), Matt Holiday ($120 million over seven years) and A-Rod ($27.5 million per year) are commanding what some would perceive are ridiculously obscene salaries. And part of the reason they’re able to earn that kind of money is due to men like Bruno, who frequently went without checks during work stoppages because he realized that a union is supposed to go to bat, not only for future players, but for past players as well.

Continue reading “A Bitter Cup of Coffee: Postscript”

A Moot Point: Final Thoughts on the 2008 Election Symposium

Robert Magee, Staff Writer, RMagee@albanylaw.edu

     Today, Albany Law School was host to the Election 2008 Symposium. It was the product of collaboration between no fewer than 11 of Albany Law School’s politically oriented student groups, from the OUTLaws to the ALS Republicans, brought together by the Albany Government Law Review’s own Ali Chaudry.  The symposium’s presence, ensconced in the third floor of a law school situated in the capital of state in which participation in presidential politics has been a futile act for as long as most of us can remember was a poetic exercise in democratic innovation.

     The premise of the symposium was that local politicos would stand in for the McCain and Obama campaigns to talk with the local polity about The Issues as a means of facilitating a discussion about who to vote for next Tuesday or (more likely) the fleshing out of our existing decision. 

     The opportunity to do so is a rare one in a state like New York which has been spared (or denied) down and dirty presidential politicking.  Those few occasions in which the national campaigns appear in the state occur in sterile and predictable settings.1  Even this most momentous, long, tumultuous presidential election has pitched and heaved just beyond New York’s boarders in Pennsylvania2 or, during the primaries, New Hampshire.3

      New York’s persona non grata status is conferred upon it by the Electoral College.  The college itself is the product of compromise.  As a political invention, it is the product of the Constitutional Convention’s foundational controversy over whether population or mere statehood should determine representative power in the national government.4  As a compromise to reality it was an alternative to the “extreme inconveniency [and] the considerable expense, of drawing together men from all the States for the single purpose of electing the Chief Magistrate.”5  To further confuse its purpose, the Electoral College was originally proposed on June 1, 1787 by James Wilson of Pennsylvania as a plan to divide states into districts which would appoint an elector to vote for the President as a means of cutting out state participation in presidential elections altogether.6 Continue reading “A Moot Point: Final Thoughts on the 2008 Election Symposium”

Faso and Brooks Stand in for McCain and Obama

  Robert Magee, Staff Writer, RMagee@albanylaw.edu

     The Election 2008 Symposium was rounded off by a panel consisting Tracey Brooks, representing the Obama Campaign, and John Faso, representing the McCain Campaign.  They weighed in on energy and economic issues on a panel hosted by Alan Chartock

     Both Brooks and Faso bear impressive resumes in New York politics within their respective parties.  Ms. Brooks surrogacy for Barack Obama was illustrative of election issues passed as she was once the regional director for Senator Clinton and worked heavily for Clinton during Clinton’s campaign. Faso was the Republican challenger to the ill-fated Eliot Spitzer.  Chartock himself is something of a giant in New York politics as president and CEO of WAMC/Northeast Public Radio. 

     As a nation The Issues for this election have been presented, debated, vetted, presented again, killed and then resurrected over and over.  With any idea, there is always the possibility that something new will be said, but the length of the 2008 Presidential Election and the desperate pitch it has meticulously cultivated since last winter faced Faso and Brooks with an uphill battle if they were planning on doing so tonight. Continue reading “Faso and Brooks Stand in for McCain and Obama”

Election 2008 Symposium Commences at Albany Law School

Robert Magee, Staff Writer, RMagee@albanylaw.edu

     The Election 2008 Symposium, an event hosted by 11 Albany Law School student groups and the school itself, brought together by the Albany Government Law Review’s own Ali Chaudhry, began with a discussion on voting rights and the suppression thereof, delivered by the Honorable Corey Ellis, representative of Albany’s Third Ward            

     The Election 2008 Symposium is an attempt to bring together Albany politicos, professors, activists, activists, officials and all-around personalities to discuss the presidential election as surrogates for national presidential campaigns that have either banked on or abandoned New York State in any event largely ignored it.  

     The crowd this morning at 9:30 a.m. was disappointing. There were about 25 people in attendance, including organizers, attendees and speakers. This might have had to do with conflicting class schedules or the relatively early hour, but it was hard to escape wondering whether it was a lack of interest not just in the election put in politics generally when compared to the daily toil of career-making which is the penultimate task of the average law student. Whatever its cause, their absence caused the organizers to mill about nervously at the head of the Dean Alexander Moot Courtroom, brief looks of relief flashing across their faces as people tickled in, and delaying the start for as long as possible in the hopes that the late rush would arrive. Continue reading “Election 2008 Symposium Commences at Albany Law School”