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Free Agents

October 06, 1987

Aside from the odd sight of conservative George Will siding with labor ("Free Agency Made Baseball a Hit," Op-Ed Page, Sept. 27), his argument that free agency has somehow brought about parity and attendance records just doesn't fit with the facts.

Consider the top teams this year: Toronto, Detroit, Minnesota, St. Louis, New York, Montreal, San Francisco. Every one of these teams built themselves up the old-fashioned way--trades and/or their own farm system.

Not one of these teams has a high-priced free agent, and you'll find no direct correlation between a team's standing and its payroll. These teams would have won had there been no free agency.

Trades have been part of the game almost from the very beginning, and Branch Rickey some 50 years ago incorporated minor league teams under the control of a major league club to properly train the players of the future.

I'm all for players to make a good salary (no more Black Sox scandals, please), but when salaries increase 700% in a decade, one has to wonder how much is enough for today's players.

There probably was collusion among the owners to restrict free agency, but was it really so horrible that Kirk Gibson had to settle for $4 million in three years with Detroit and Tim Raines $5 million in three years with Montreal?



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