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Koppett on Baseball
By Alex Sachare '71

Acclaimed sports writer and author Leonard Koppett ’44 addressed the fourth annual meeting of the International Association of Sports Economists, which was held at SIPA on July 11–12. Koppett, who has been honored by both the baseball and basketball Halls of Fame, spoke about how Major League Baseball could solve its ongoing labor dispute “if both sides wanted to.”

Leonard Koppett '44

Koppett’s proposal centers around team owners and players reaching an agreement on how to split baseball’s gross revenues — what percent would go toward player salaries and what percent would remain with the owners. “Basketball and football already have done it, so it’s not impossible,” Koppett says of the two sides agreeing on such a division. “At some point, they will be desperate enough to do it. Then each side can decide on its own how to split up its share of the gross, and they’ll be out of the box of having to approve each other’s actions.”

Once this is achieved, Koppett suggested additional steps that he feels should be taken to restore baseball as the “national pastime.” He would make every player a free agent every year, perhaps setting a limit on each team’s signing of designated “premium players.” He advocates reorganizing the minor leagues into a large feeder system for all of baseball with each team drafting from this central pool, thus reducing the cost of player development for each team and, at least ideally, improving competitive balance among teams. He opposes inter-league play, wants every postseason series to be best-of-7 games and would restore the independence of the two leagues as far as umpiring is concerned. “Finally, I would tell television to just cover the games and not try to dominate them. Weekend postseason games would be played in the daytime. In-season games would be televised regionally. Baseball would set the starting times that are best for all, not just television. And if TV wants to give less money to baseball, so be it. Baseball would be better off in the long run.”

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