Column: Why isn't Marvin Miller in Cooperstown?
As Miller himself said in April in one of his last public appearances, ‘‘I never before saw such a win-win situation in my life, where everybody involved in Major League Baseball, both sides of the equation, still continue to set records in terms of revenue and profits and salaries and benefits.’’
What about the fans? Sure, they've had to bear the brunt of increased ticket prices, and the cost of attending a game can be tough on a family of four. But baseball, with the benefit of far more games, remains a better deal than other sports. And there’s no denying that it’s far more popular than it was when Miller took over the union. Just look at attendance. The average per team in 1967 was just over 1.2 million. This season, it was nearly 2.5 million.
Finally, Miller’s most significant legacy might be an era of unparalleled competitiveness — which is the exact opposite of what everyone expected at the beginning of free agency. Supposedly, the richest teams would gobble up all the best players, leaving only a handful of franchises with a legitimate shot at the World Series title.
Not even close.
Over the last three decades, 19 teams have won World Series titles. Only four out of 30 franchises have not made at least one Series appearance during that span (and one of those is the Chicago Cubs, whose demons run far deeper than even Miller’s golden touch).
In other words, even the fans owe a debt to Miller.
‘‘We are all grateful for his contributions,’’ Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander wrote on Twitter. ‘‘His legacy will live on for generations.’’
It’s long past time for that legacy to live on at the Hall of Fame.
Only now, it’s too late for Miller himself to savor it.
This is one of those times when baseball seems so small, so petty.
Paul Newberry is a national writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.or or www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963