Will Steinbrenner Beat Out Miller for HOF

If there’s a topic that brings up a vocal debate among those that follow baseball outside the lines, the Hall of Fame voting results each year rates right up there with the best of them. In terms of looking at the Veterans Committee vote, and specifically the absence of Marvin Miller from the Hall, the question comes down to either, “How can you not have Miller in the Hall of Fame?”, or “Miller’s impact is not as great as it’s often portrayed.”

Indeed, the man that was instrumental in pulling the players together, bringing out a cohesive unionized force to be reckoned with, has done nothing more than bring salary arbitration, free agency, and many would say, labor strife, to the history of Major League Baseball. He led the MLBPA from 1966 to 1982 and is still talked of in his relationship to those that have followed, namely Don Fehr, and now Michael Weiner.

Miller has been absent the Hall over politics. He has either been seen by the Veterans Committee – a group almost exclusively made up of those on the management side of the fence – as a man that increased player salaries, and shifted the power away from the owners.

Last year, no executives were elected to the Hall – no one garnered the requisite 75 percent of the vote for inclusion in the 2010 class by way of the Veterans Committee for Executives and Pioneers. Miller pulled in 7 of 12 votes tying him with Jacob Ruppert, the former owner of the Yankees. Miller was  2 votes shy. Lost in the news that Miller missed the cut (again) was that former Tigers owner John Fetzer pulled in 8 of 12 votes.

In the year prior, Miller pulled in just 3 of 12 votes by the Veterans Committee, and to add salt into the wound of backers of Miller, was beat out by Bowie Kuhn the former commissioner of the league and the one most closely tied with Miller as the key changes for the players (salary arbitration, free agency) occurred while Kuhn was commissioner.

This year, the Veterans Committee makeup has changed. There are now 16 members, with the key change to the voting process now focusing on three eras, as opposed to four categories, with three separate electorates to consider a single composite ballot of managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players.

The problem for Miller in this “Expansion Era Committee” vote may be who he is up against. The 12 individuals who will be considered are former players Vida Blue, Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Ron Guidry, Tommy John, Al Oliver, Ted Simmons and Rusty Staub; former manager Billy Martin; and executives Pat Gillick, Miller and the man that could thwart Miller for another year, George Steinbrenner.

Steinbrenner is a looming figure, reshaping the Yankees after leading the purchase of the club from CBS on January 3, 1973 for approx. $10 million. Over the course of over 37 seasons the Yankees won 11 World Series championships, 11 AL pennants and won the AL East sixteen times. As of last year, not including YES Network, Forbes valued the Yankees at $1.6 billion, nearly double the value of the second highest valued club, the Boston Red Sox (see historical Forbes valuations).

Miller will be 94 in April of next year. Steinbrenner died on July 13th of this year, the day of the 2010 All-Star Game. There is an old saying that you can’t compete with a ghost. With Steinbrenner’s legacy played out over and over during the recent months, his accomplishments will be much more memorable for many on the Committee’s stage

But, if there’s a glimmer of hope for Miller, it may be the makeup of the Expansion Era Committee. Unlike years past, the new committee sees more players than there has been in the recent votes.

The Expansion Era Committee is made up of Johnny Bench, Whitey Herzog, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Frank Robinson, Ryne Sandberg and Ozzie Smith; major league executives Bill Giles (Phillies), David Glass (Royals), Andy MacPhail (Orioles) and Jerry Reinsdorf (White Sox); and veteran media members Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun), Tim Kurkjian (ESPN), Ross Newhan (retired, Los Angeles Times) and Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated).

So, the debate will be, should Steinbrenner go in on the first vote, or should Miller finally get his due? The voting results will be made available Monday Dec. 6th, on the first day of the Baseball Winter Meetings. Myself, David Appelman, and Dave Cameron will all be attending the meetings this year. I will be reporting the results as soon as it is announced.

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Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for freelance and looks forward to your comments.

52 Responses to “Will Steinbrenner Beat Out Miller for HOF”

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  1. this guy says:

    who cares…

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    • Maury Brown says:

      Only people interested in the history of the game

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      • this guy says:

        Right, the history of the game can be discussed in a documentary or in a book.

        The Hall of Fame should be for the players, and only for the players.

        This other stuff is simple awards given to people to other people that someday hope to get an award. Lets all get together and vote on fake awards for each other so that we feel more important than we really were.

        If you want to make an owners hall of fame fine, but the baseball hall of fame should be about, and only about, the players. Maybe the steinbrenner family can buy a wing and make a bigger monument.

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      • Maury Brown says:

        20 percent on FanGraphs is all that would know who Marvin Miller is? I guess you view FanGraphs as Deadspin. Any fan worth their weight in salt knows who he is. If you say, “I don’t care” that’s one thing. But I can’t imagine the baseball IQ is as low as you’re portraying it to be here.

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      • Telo says:

        20% sounds about right. I had heard his name in passing but didn’t really know who he was at all. If you said your FG readership over 40… you’d get a number north of 20%.

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    • Maury Brown says:

      Well that’s certainly one point of view. It’s myopic, but it is one reference point.


      No managers. No umpires. No executives. No pioneers. Just players.

      Well, it would be the HOF but not nearly as interesting as it currently is.

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      • this guy says:

        Now you are getting it.

        You could have posted a poll on this site and asked the Fangraphs community if they knew, without looking it up, who Marvin Miller was, and I’d wager my friend’s farm that less than 20% would have been able to place him. That is why this is ridiculus. No one cares. And some of the ommissions even drive that point that this HoF isn’t about the most diserving non players, but about the most popular non players. Again, if Miller doesn’t make it, will there be any mainstream coverage? Of course not. And you know why, because no one cares.

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      • B N says:

        @This guy:

        We COULD post a poll about how many people know Marvin Miller. But actually, NO ONE CARES! See? Now you see how it feels. ;)

        Plus, I’d imagine that due to this post, more than 20% of Fangraphs has just learned who Marvin Miller is! So, there’s some serious measurement error right there.

        I think that you need to understand, “this guy,” that as much as no one cares about Marvin Miller- people care way way less about your opinion. Why? Because all you do is troll. Saying “this post is stupid” adds nothing. If you actually want to read interesting things, ask about things you want to know about. That’s what I do.

        And sometimes, it actually works. I ask things in comments, and get to see a post later that is partially inspired by it. It’s a great process! So that is my suggestion to you. Rather than just troll, find things that actually interest you and ask about them. Otherwise, you’re just wasting everyone’s time and netspace.

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      • Matt says:

        “You could have posted a poll on this site and asked the Fangraphs community if they knew, without looking it up, who Marvin Miller was, and I’d wager my friend’s farm that less than 20% would have been able to place him.”

        So let me get this straight: Maury, and other Fangraph writers, should only post about things that people already know?

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      • walkoffblast says:

        Wagering your friends farm? Did you lose yours the last time you had a “bright idea” like this one here?

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      • Farmer Joe says:

        Dude, you are NOT wagering my farm.

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    • MH says:

      GO. AWAY. (Not you Maury, great work as always).

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      • Maury Brown says:


        “Maybe that precedent should be established — opening the door in future years for Donald Fehr and Scott Boras”

        Rob and another friend (who is also strangely a Rob) get together every few weeks for brunch. This will give us something else to chew on.

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  2. Elwin says:

    There is also a very good case to be made that Steinbrenner doesn’t belong anywhere near the Hall of Fame. He was suspended and then banned for very good reasons. He was a convicted felon and he conspired against his own player.

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    • Maury Brown says:

      Yeah, this is a good argument. But, I think time has a way of softening these aspects…. At least that’s what I’m betting the committee will do. They’ll think of the Championships and the financial juggernaut that the Yankees had become under King George’s watch… He’s getting in the HOF, it’s just a matter of when. For Miller, fear it will be posthumously.

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      • EdwardM says:

        The championships are impressive, however, we should be careful of giving Steinbrenner too much credit for creating “the financial juggernaut”. The proliferation of cable, satellite and the internet did more to boost the Yankees bottom line than any particular vision or strategy of Steinbrenner’s.

        I’d be interested to see a comparison of the marginal growth rates of the Yankees, Rangers, Knicks and Giants since Steinbrenner took over. Or for that matter, a comparison with the Pirates.

        Oh, and Miller should most definitely be in the BBHOF.

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  3. Ian says:

    You’d have to think the three owners and MacPhail will vote against Miller, right? So is he going to sweep the other twelve votes? Seems unlikely.

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  4. Mike says:

    T’would be funny if Steinbrenner gets in but Miller doesn’t given that it was Miller’s actions that directly allowed a guy like Steinbrenner to flourish as an owner.

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  5. bowie says:

    Miller should be in the Hall of Fame precisely because not enough people know who he is. He SHOULD be more famous. Voters should recognize his significance not just to baseball but to professional sports in general and acknowledge it formally through his election to the HoF. This would be a good step toward making both players and fans more understanding of the history of the game and why it is the way it is today.

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    • Maury Brown says:

      Righteous comment

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      • Oakland Dan says:

        100 agree, bowie. Probably far less than 20% of fans know anything about Martin Dihigo or Oscar Charleston, but more know now that they’re in the Hall, and that’s a good thing.

        I know these sorts of statements have been made countless times, and to very little effect, but geez, I really mean it: A Hall featuring Steinbrenner and not Miller is an absolute joke.

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  6. Shawn says:

    Who’s Will Steinbrenner?

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  7. Maury Brown says:

    On the age comment and not knowing Miller… This is like saying, “Yeah, I’ve heard of Sandy Kofaux and Ty Cobb, but only in passing.” Age has nothing to do with being well rounded on the history of the game.

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  8. Maury Brown says:

    @Oakland Dan… I said that when Kuhn got in. Steinbrenner… He belongs. Maybe not ahead of Miller, but he should be there. Kuhn got in before Miller, and if anyone can make a good case why he should be there at all, I’m ears.

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    • Oakland Dan says:

      Sure, but I’m saying that a Hall with Steinbrenner and without Miller is a joke. It inadvertantly (at least) makes a statement, and that statement is a deplorable one.

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  9. Jon S. says:

    Unfortunately, Steinbrenner is the household name, not Miller. Knowledgable fans know who Miller is, and his legacy is important to the history of the game, but unfortunately Miller isn’t nearly as famous as Steinbrenner. Fame is in the name of that place in Cooperstown, and though I feel Miller deserves a place there, his relative lack of fame will probably be a hang-up for a few too many voters.

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    • Maury Brown says:

      I would completely buy this, if the voters were the fans. But everyone of the players on the committee played when Marvin represented them. The owners went up against him, and all the writers surely know well of him,either directly or from understanding Miller’s historical significance.

      I see Miller in the Hall but it’s likely that he gets in posthumously either by vote or some special exception like was done for Buck O’Neil. You just can’t have the HOF without Miller at some stage.

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  10. Mike says:

    Did you change the game forever (And not in a blatantly negative way – like you’re the guy who invented steroids or something)? If yes you should probably go in.

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  11. Jon S. says:

    @ Mike: I agree. The Hall of Fame should have a place for everyone who influenced the game in a major way. As for those who could be considered villains, I personally believe they should have a place there, and the whole truth of their stories/influence should be there for future generations of fans to see. But that’s a conversation for a different post.

    @Maury: The committee’s makeup definitely gives me more hope for Miller’s chances than I normally would have. Unfortunately, I also think you’re right about how Miller is most likely to get in the HOF. It may take his death for even the people he worked with and against to reflect and realize just how important he was to the game as we know it.

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  12. Jay Y. says:

    Very minor point. For Big Stein’s credentials, in part, you list ” Over the course of over 37 seasons the Yankees won 11 World Series championships, 11 AL pennants and won the AL East sixteen times.”

    I think it can’t be both 11 WS winners and 11 pennants they lost to AZ and FL in the World Series.

    OK, going to check Baseball-Reference:
    Counting the 1973 season, NYY have won 11 AL pennants and are 7-4 in World Series, so 7 World Series Championships, 16 AL East titles (11-3 in ALCS) and 4 wild cards. See: http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/NYY/

    Regarding Marvin Miller and the ignorant commentor: Read his autobiography “A Whole Different Ballgame” before dismissing him and revealing your lack of knowledge about baseball’s off-field history. His impact was profound.

    It seems obvious the Hall of Fame voting structure is tilted toward management and therefore the upset would be his election. Also seems Steinbrenner is a shoo-in.

    Would hope far more than 20% of FanGraphs readers know this already

    Good post Maury. Thank you.

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  13. Evan3457 says:

    I’ve never really understood why Marvin Miller should be in the baseball Hall of Fame. A major impact on the history of the game? Sure. For the better? An argument could be made that players are better because of all the money they now chase. I’m not convinced the game is better for that.

    I do know it’s the reason why prices in baseball have increased far beyond the inflation rate in my lifetime. Is that a positive development? I don’t think it is.

    The strikes and lockouts; a positive development? I don’t think so.

    The wipeout of the 1994 World Series, for the 1st time in 90 years? I don’t think so. The loss of 1/3 of the 1981 season? I don’t think so.

    You could make the same argument for Steinbrenner, I suppose. But if Charlie Comiskey’s in the Hall, and he is, and it wasn’t for his playing or managing, at least Steinbrenner’s team never laid down in a World Series (well, at least, not because they were bribed because the owner was such a tightwad), then I think there’s room for George. If you disagree, that’s OK, too. I can see the case against George, as well (competitive balance, two suspensions, and all that).

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    • Orlando Cabrera says:

      If you “know” that, then you’ve never taken an economics class. Prices are driven by a revenue-maximizing supply-demand equilibrium, and in baseball, that’s independent of labor costs. If the reserve clause was still in place, you’d be paying the exact same price for tickets, concessions and merchandise you do right now, because owners aren’t going to let that money get away out of goodwill.

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      • Maury Brown says:

        Truth. If players were paid a sawbuck a game, and played as they do now, owners would still push the pricing envelope.

        Also, when the advent of free agency arrived, many in the game said it would be the death of it, and lo and behold, attendance grew.

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      • Patrick says:


        I’d guess it might be a bit less, but that’s because I believe free agency has made the game itself stronger and more popular.

        Hardly a bad thing!

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      • Evan3457 says:

        The owners wouldn’t “know” they could price tickets that high without the massive outlays they pay. The idea that this is independent of costs makes for nice theory, but it’s absurd. It’s like saying the price of a car is independent of the costs of the labor and materials used to make it.. If the price of materials or labor goes up, so does the price.

        To a certain extent, there’s an inelastic demand caused by fan loyalty, but now that fan loyalty is being breached at the high end. The point being, average player’s salaries have gone up, what, 100 fold in 40 years, and tickets prices have followed at that rate, for the most part, whereas most prices have not gone up more than 10 fold in that time.

        The teams certainly have to charge enough to cover their biggest expense, which is the team’s payroll (major league, minor league, and front office). If that goes up far beyond the inflation rate, then so will prices.

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      • Russ says:

        The theory that costs determine pricing was debunked in the 19th century. Pricing is ultimately determined by what the market will bear, not by costs. If product is priced above what the market will bear, goods and services don’t sell as well. See General Motors’ bankruptcy for details.

        Demand does have some elasticity. Teams sell more tickets when they win than when they lose, although certain events, like a new ballpark, can distort this. The Mets just announced a drop in ticket prices even though their payroll is going up.

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  14. Bill Wallberg says:

    Miller belongs in the Hall of Fame — even more so than Steinbrenner at this time. Let’s face it: the Yankees were a winning franchise years before Steinbrenner bought them (even with an extended dry spell through the ’60’s and early ’70’s), but Miller oversaw an absolute revolution in player/owner relations and contributed to the largest change in the way that the game is structured today. Without Miller, Steinbrenner would not have had an impact because there would have been no free agency. Miller shifted the dominance away from the cabal of owners and more toward the players.

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  15. Orlando Cabrera says:

    I’d have to think that more than 20% of FG’s readership knows who Marvin Miller is, if only because I’d wager more than 20% of FG’s readership also reads Rob Neyer, and, well, it’s impossible to read Rob Neyer for very long without coming across Marvin Miller.

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  16. pft says:

    After the Seitz decision Miller had a chance to end the reserve clause for all players, and chose to keep young players as slaves for 6 years so a select few veterans who happen to make 6 years can receive bigger pay days subsidized by young players, some of whom never make it past 6 years due to injury or lack of talent. This of course led to a boom in the player agent industry.

    I guess he was like Abraham Lincoln, except he was Lincoln who would keep AA’s slaves for 6 years before being free.

    What would MLB look like with FA for all? Hard to say, market forces would have worked something out. Most likely what would have happened is top prospects would be offered multi year contracts that would carry over to their MLB years, and guys like A-Rod make only 15 million instead of 30 million.
    The average salary would still be 2.7 million per WAR, but there would be income equality, where those who deserve to paid well because of their performance are paid well, and without the discrimination of service time.

    Right now you have a system where the income distribution gives us absurdities where a 37 yo SS can ask for 20 million a year without laughing, and young stars make 450K.

    Miller for HOF, no thanks, and that goes for Steinbrenner. The latter was a owner of a ball club in the largest market in the country, in an industry free of competition due to a defacto legal monopoly that ignores anti-trust regulations.
    Why does he deserve to be in the HOF, because he could spend more money than any team?

    It would be a travesty if either guy made the HOF.

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    • Maury Brown says:

      Well, except Miller and the players understood that by releasing all the players at once, they would flood the free agent market and garner less salary — demand would be lowered. By making eligibility rules, it increased demand. Miller understood this, and there was only one owner that believed as you do, pft… it was Charlie Finley. The other owners were aghast that Finley would say, “Make them all free agents” but he understood the supply and demand model and how having all players FA would actually lower salaries.

      Miller was brilliant in seeing this.

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      • pft says:

        Obviously, it would have been a shock to the system and the fans to have every player made a FA at one time, so the owners reluctance to follow Finley was justified, as it would have caused a severe disruption to the game if implemented immediately.

        Players were already grossly underpaid at the time and many players needed to work in the offseason. How much lower could they go?. The salaries had been set by monopoly fiat, they had no place to go but up

        The majority of the owners probably realized in that pre-steroid era that most players were washed up by 30-32, and losing them to FA was not as damaging as losing a 25 year old entering the prime performance years. Keeping the most valuable of the talent pool under cost control for 6 years was brilliant.

        An agreement could have been reached where in 3 years time all players would be a FA unless already under contract, and anyone who had reached 6 years service would be a FA now and not have to wait. This would have given owners a chance to lock up those players who were most important to them (current and future) with long term deals.

        As for the logic that having every player be a FA after their contract expired (1 year or multi-year) would depress salaries, such that MLB would today be paying players less than the 2.7 WAR (average of all players) that they are, I don’t get it. Why would that be?. The only thing that would change is the distribution of dollars spent would shift to younger players.

        From your own book, even replacement players are in short supply. That means despite their being a labor shortage, they can fix salaries for more than 1/2 of the ballplayers at below market rates. How does that benefit the majority of players?

        From your own book, reserve players earn 80-89% less than MRP, arbitration eligible earn 74-78% less, while FA earn -13 to +18% of MRP.

        I am not a big fan of the Finley being genius myth, I think he was a crackpot who enjoyed chaos and shock, and he went out a loser. If Miller wants to hang his theories hat on Finley agreeing with him, well…..

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  17. Maury Brown says:


    “The idea that this is independent of costs makes for nice theory, but it’s absurd.”

    Apparently, you’ve never purchased childrens toys. Or, collectable cards, or…

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    • Evan3457 says:

      Yes, yes, I understand the supply demand curve.

      What I’m saying is that increases in costs does affect the price of things. It is a commonplace that businesses pass along increases in costs to the consumer, especially in markets that are inelastic, such as gasoline.

      Is the price of gasoline going up recently because of an increase in demand? No. Because of a decrease in supply? No.

      It’s going up because the value of the dollar is decreasing relative to other currencies thereby making the effective cost higher. Now, you can label this an effective increase in demand (more $ chasing the same goods), but it’s not really so.

      The price of wheat and corn goes up because of weakening in the dollar, so the price of bread goes up with it. And cereals.

      If businesses taxes go up, if utilities costs go up, then, at some point, prices MUST follow (or a less valuable product must be sold for the same price) or the company goes bankrupt. If you have an elastic market with a sufficient number of producers, not all of whom have to raise prices, then you get bankruptcy.

      To a certain extent, baseball is an inelastic market because of irrational decision making, i.e., the fan (short for fanatic) values the ticket much higher than its “true” free market value. In no market is their more than two sellers, and for most fans, only one seller; the team they’re a fan of.

      To a certain extent, demand remains constant in the face of price increases. However, it would appear the upper limit is being reached (look at the expensive sections in the new Yankee Stadium, and the PSL’s for the Giants and Jets in their new stadium). Other fans in other markets make that decision at other price levels, some, quite a few years ago.

      This mirrors the use of gasoline; people who drive to work, drive to work, and will continue to do so for some time to come in the face of higher gas prices. But eventually, if they continue to rise, then, starting at the margins, people will find cheaper ways to get to work, or find jobs closer to home. Will gas prices fall? Maybe, if the reduction in demand is sharp enough.

      I am not saying that costs constitute the majority of prices or even of price increases, but to say they have no impact on prices is…well, not real.

      Cablevision charges more every time the cost of their providers goes up. Yes, ‘the market will bear it’, but if the market would bear it in any case, why didn’t they charge the higher rate earlier? Wouldn’t the revenue be higher?

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  18. maqman says:

    I’m one of the old farts who was into baseball before The Boss was in college. I’ve lived all through the Miller and Steinbrenner sagas and Miller is much more deserving of the HOF than the man who milked New York City dry. The only man more deserving than Miller was Curt Flood. If you don’t know why then you don’t know the game. Steinbrenner is more deserving of being in the Circus Hall of Fame.

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  19. Richard Hershberger says:

    The category is Pioneers and Executives, but the pioneers part seems to have been forgotten. (The Hall’s website lists, for example Alexander Cartwright as an “executive”, which is patently absurd.) This is unfortunate, as there are gaps that should be filled. I am constantly surprised every time I remember that James Creighton is not in the Hall. And he isn’t even particularly obscure, as these things go. Diving a bit deeper, both Daniel “Doc” Adams (my favored choice) or William Wheaton have a better claim on the “rules pioneer” slot than does Cartwright. He was a reasonable choice in 1939, but we know a lot more about early baseball now than we did then.

    But so far as I can tell, this sort of thing is completely off the radar. There doesn’t seem to be any consciousness of anything before the professional era.

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  20. David Z says:

    One thing that I haven’t seen addressed: if all the World Series victories and pennants are such a strong argument for Steinbrenner, then why haven’t any previous Yankees’ owners been enshrined in the HOF? Jacob Ruppert owned the Yankees during the Ruth Gehrig era and had 8 WS and 10 pennants; Dan Topping and Del Webb co-owned the team from 47-64 and had 10 WS and 15 pennants – none of them are in the Hall. Winning lots of championships clearly hasn’t been the sole criteria for enshrining owners so what has Steinbrenner done – besides sign big checks – that was so innovative and game-changing that he deserves to be in the HOF?

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    • Maury Brown says:

      I mention Ruppert just missing the cut last year in the article. He and Miller were close, but Fetzer received one more. Hope the “era” categories fixes some of this.

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  21. tomwolf2008 says:

    All people think Miller doesn’t belong to the HOF should just watch a baseball doucumentary or something, Miller has a major impact on baseball. All the others that changed baseball drastically (e.g. Harry Wright, AG Spalding, Ban Johnson, Branch Rickey) were voted into the HOF, I don’t see why Miller shouldn’t.

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