Chat with Michael Weiner
Michael Weiner took over the MLBPA in December.
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, Major League Baseball Players' Association Executive Director Michael Weiner drops by SportsNation to chat some baseball.
Weiner took over as the head of the players' union when former director Donald Fehr retired in December. He first joined the MLBPA in September 1988 and most recently served as general counsel, a position he occupied since 2004.
Weiner graduated from Williams College in 1983, majoring in political economy, before graduating from Harvard Law School in 1986. In the past, he has also served as counsel to the National Hockey League Players Association in salary arbitrations.
Send your questions now and join Weiner Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (2:18 PM)
MLB Players Association Executive Director Michael Weiner will be here at 2:30 p.m. ET to take your questions!
Buzzmaster (2:31 PM)
Michael should be here in minutes!
Buzzmaster (2:37 PM)
Michael's just wrapping up his last meeting. He's got a busy schedule while here at ESPN today.
Buzzmaster (2:42 PM)
What was the most surprising part of your job that you didn't know about when you first took over last winter?
Michael Weiner (2:43 PM)
I guess I didn't view it as big a change as some others did. Having worked for the union for 20 some years, I kind of viewed it as a progression. I came to view it from coverage as a pretty big deal.
I'm sure you're tired of talking about steroids, but the subject seems to stay in the news. What does the MLBPA do to educate the players about PEDs?
Michael Weiner (2:45 PM)
We start with a joint program for rookies that we administer with MLB. Each year we, in spring training, discuss the latest developments in terms of testing and in terms of dangers. We regularly update players directly on dangerous supplements and that sort. And most recently, we hired Tim Maxey as a joint strength and conditioning coordinator so that teams and players have information about the safe ways to train and condition and how to avoid products that can get you in trouble.
Michael, I'm sure you've heard about what Hanley Ramirez said about his manager's playing experience. What do you think? How much does having big league playing experience help further a post-playing career, whether it be as a coach, manager, GM, front office person?
Michael Weiner (2:46 PM)
First, there are plenty of very successful Major League managers who didn't play in the major leagues or played little. Having said that, I think having been a major league player is an experience that helps a lot of people in post playing opportunities, whether it's staying in the game or other post playing ventures.
Word within the industry is that the union is likely to give the owners some form of hard slotting in the Rule 4 draft. While amateur players aren't union members at the time that they're drafted, why would the union want to grant the owners any kind of rule that limits player compensation and transfers wealth from players to owners?
Michael Weiner (2:47 PM)
Historically, the union has been against any kind of hard cap for drafted players. That was our position in the last two rounds of bargaining. We're in the process of preparing for bargaining now and talking to the players aobut issues, but I would anticipate that the current union members would stick to the previous view.
Any cool perks to your job? Free tickets to games? Limo rides? Anything fun?
Michael Weiner (2:48 PM)
There's a lot that's fun. There are no free tickets or anything like that, because there are very strict laws, as there should be, to regulate labor unions. But the best perk is to get to know the people involved in the game of baseball, players, coaches, managers, GMs. To get to work in baseball every day is a good perk.
What do you tell fans that have to watch as the owners and players try to haggle over the split of billions of dollars, when 99 percent of the working people out there will never know that kind of money?
Michael Weiner (2:49 PM)
I say to them that they should try to be patient. I understand the fans frustration with anything that might prevent games from being played. There is a lot of money involved here and sometimes it takes a while to work through those issues. I understand the fans frustration that threatens the play of games. I'm certain the bargaining parties take that into account.
In the last couple of days, reports have said that the Canadian doctor Galea worked with some professional athletes, including A-Rod. How closely will the MLB and MLBPA be following this case?
Michael Weiner (2:50 PM)
I think everyone connected to baseball follows any case like this closely.
Mike (Chippewa Lake, OH)
What's your take on the fact that there are several teams that pretend revenue sharing doesn't exist already in MLB? Isn't if fair that teams should afford a $70-80M payroll in the current format?
Michael Weiner (2:51 PM)
The union pays a lot of attention to that subject. Both when we bargain and every year as we enforce our agreements. For the most part, we think clubs have put revenue sharing dollars to good use, but there have been some instances when that hasn't happened. We're going to continue to focus on this issue as best we can.
Michael Weiner (2:51 PM)
Thanks for your interest. We appreciate how closely you follow the game and your support for the players.