The first three weeks of February is salary arbitration season in Major League Baseball. A time when eligible players and their clubs try to hammer out contracts for the coming year. If those efforts fail, the matter is presented to a panel of labor arbitrators who will decide the issue after hearing arguments from the player, club, the union and the Commissioner’s Office. Clubs hold the historical edge in salary arbitration hearings. According to the MLBPA website, through 2012, arbitrators have ruled for clubs in 286 cases and for players in 214. This is generally reflective of labor arbitration, where employers win more than they lose. More than one cynic has suggested that such is way arbitrators ensure they continue to get cases. For the record, I’ll only say that I find this observation curiously fascinating. After I retire or move on from handling arbitration cases, chances are I may have other thoughts, but for now I simply remain fascinated. Another facet of baseball’s salary arbitration process that has captured my attention is the particular dilemma that agents face that affects the outcome of many negotiations. First, consider that the process is designed to foster settlements by creating risk – […]
It’s been a good minute since I’ve been in this space. From June through December, I was blessed to be actively involved with the Major League Baseball Players Association as they hammered out a new collective bargaining agreement with MLB. It was a challenging and rewarding time; the culmination of over two years of working as a consultant to the PA for what was a particularly challenging round of bargaining. By far, the best aspect of it all was agreeing to a deal that is fair and equitable for the players and the clubs. A close second was the opportunity to work closely with a terrific group of talented professionals at the MLBPA. It was truly rewarding to work alongside the Executive Director, Tony Clark, the brilliant attorneys in the legal department (many of whom are long-time colleagues and friends), and to interact with all of the great people on the PA’s staff who do so much behind the scenes to make life easier. Of course, by reaching a fair deal, we have the assurance of another five years of baseball without a work stoppage. That is certainly good news for the players and clubs, but also for fans, many […]
JAMAICA, NEW YORK – August 17th, Kap Misir, Senior Associate at Jeff Fannell & Associates, joins the adjunct faculty at St. John’s University School of Law. Kap will be teaching a first-of-its-kind course at St. John’s Law in Salary Negotiation & Arbitration in Sports. The course takes an in-depth, comparative look at the salary arbitration rules and procedures in Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. Kap, and his co-professor, Ryan Lake, of the Denver-based Lake Law Group, will guide students in developing contract negotiation skills, and in the preparation and presentation of salary arbitration cases. Kap has extensive experience in MLB salary arbitration and contract negotiation, while Ryan has similar expertise in professional hockey. Kap received his undergraduate degree in Legal Studies from St. John’s University, his J.D. from Western Michigan University, Cooley Law School and his LL.M in U.S. and International Sports Law from St. John’s University School of Law. He returns to St. John’s to teach the one-credit intensive course, which will run from August 17 through August 27.
April 15 is officially Jackie Robinson Day in Major League Baseball. A day in which the game honors the man who broke baseball’s color line in 1947. A day in which every player, manager, coach and umpire wearing a uniform, dons Jackie’s number 42 in celebration and remembrance of the tremendous contributions Jackie made to the game of baseball and to American society. It is also a time when many will reflect on the lack of African-Americans playing the game at various levels. You have probably read the statistics: roughly 20 percent of Major Leaguers in 1981 were African-American; as of last year, there were fewer than 8 percent. The reasons for the decline have been discussed and analyzed from various angles. Whether it’s the lack of full scholarships to play at the college level, the relatively high financial cost it takes to play the game, or the fact that many minority youngsters view the game as boring (especially compared to basketball and football), we’ve been there, done that. Now what? Well, the good news is there are fresh faces in baseball’s leadership ranks – MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, and MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark both recently ascended to their […]
PHOENIX, AZ- Tuesday March 8th, Jeff Fannell, President of Jeff Fannell & Associates, will be speaking at the MLB Diversity Business Summit, featuring some of the best talent the business has to offer. Jeff will speak on panel “The Laws of Baseball: The Complexity of the Legal Issues of the Game” in two separate sessions. The complexity of the game of baseball on the field of play is matched only by the complex legal issues surrounding the business of the game. Panelists will speak about a broad spectrum of topics ranging from labor issues (including collective bargaining and player arbitrations) to intellectual property issues (including the licensing and protection of trademarks and copyrights) to a whole host of topics that teams are faced with on a day-to-day basis (including complex contract negotiations and issues relating to facility management, marketing, security and customer satisfaction). The MLB Diversity Business Summit is the premier sports employment conference and supplier diversity trade fair. This two-day event allows job seekers and entrepreneurs the unique opportunity of meeting with MLB’s Clubs at both the Major League and Minor League levels as well as sponsorship partners. For more info on attendance and speakers visit: http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/official_info/mlb_official_info_diverse.jsp?content=summit […]
Tom O’Connell is Founder and President of O’Connell Sports Management, located in Tampa, FL. Tom has represented professional baseball players since 1997. Recently, we caught up with Tom to get his insights on his career in the agent business. Q. Tom, you’ve been a certified baseball agent for over 15 years, what have been the biggest changes you’ve seen in the agent business over the last decade? A. I would say the two biggest changes in the industry are the increased role sabermetrics play in assisting agents in negotiating and valuing players, and the evolution of social media, which has dramatically changed the interaction with reporters. Agents now tend to be more guarded with reporters, especially in regards to ongoing and future negotiations. Q. Over the course of your career you have operated primarily as a solo agent. Given how the player representation business has become increasingly dominated by larger agencies like CAA, Relativity, Octagon and others, how have you been able to compete in the player market? A. I learned early on that honesty and integrity go a long way into building a solid brand. I have always prided myself on being direct and frank in dealing with […]
It’s February, so for me and scores of others in the baseball industry, it’s time for the annual ritual known as salary arbitration. A time when players and clubs make their case before a panel of arbitrators to determine the player’s salary for the coming season. I’ve been at this for over 15 years and it still remains among the most difficult and challenging things I take on in my practice. As I sit here now in Tampa between cases, my thoughts turned to the number of people I have met over the years who possessed a deep-seated curiosity about the salary arbitration process and what is it, exactly, what goes on inside the hearing room. While the hearings holds the fascination of many, there are many steps along the way that are important to understanding this unique process. First, only certain players are eligible for salary arbitration. Generally, players with three or more years of service, but less than six, are eligible for arbitration. There is a subset of players between two and three years of service who are also eligible. A player will fall into this second group if he has between two and three years of service, […]