Yesterday I reported that during the 2002 free agency period, collusion to suppress player salaries took place, and that payments to the players were made to offset that collusion. The Sports Business Daily reported this, as did Bill Madden of the NY Daily News. After making some calls, it appears the addressing of the grievances involving the 2002 FA period may be more of a book-clearing matter than anything.
Lots of grievances are filed by the players against the league. Someone doesn't get his airfare covered, you show up drunk to a game and got benched -- what have you -- hundreds of them are filed annually. Word is that there was a backlog of them, possibly going back years, that were still outstanding.
Many will recall that in 2002, many agents believed that salaries were being supressed through owners or the league colluding. While many agents filed information with the MLBPA, and grievances were filed, nothing could be proven.
Fast-forward to the new CBA. What appears to have been negotiated is a number of these outstanding grievances that have been sitting in limbo waiting to be addressed. In the case of the grievances regarding collusion, it appears what has happened is a case where management said, "Look, we don't want to have this issue from 2002 clouding the new agreement. Agree to settle these outstanding grievances involving claims of collusion, so that we can place wording in the new agreement that says this matter from 2002 can no longer be grieved. Let's not sour this new deal with these matters from the past."
So, apparently, the sides agreed on the matter. The paltry dollar figure associated to the settlement underscores that this was more of a book-clearing incident, than the type of colluding we saw during the '90s. My plans are to talk to the MLBPA and League headquarters on Monday to see if anyone will comment on this issue. -- Maury Brown