Baseball today isn't the game I used to know. In the first place, there are the players. They're a different breed. Everything has to be done their way. Who are we kidding? It isn't a sport anymore—if it ever was. It's an industry. They've got a union, headed by Marvin Miller, and they're carting their money away in bushel baskets. You can't tell them what to do. They have to be consulted; they want to know why. Not how, but why. The battle cry of today's player is I don't have to.
And do you know something, he doesn't. What are you going to do with a guy making $60,000, fine him? He'll laugh at you. I look at some of these guys and I think, "If he's a $60,000 player, what's a $50,000 player?"
He's thinking, "I'm making $60,000, I've got to be good." Or he's looking at some other player who's getting $75,000, and thinking, "If he's a $75,000 player, I'm worth $90,000 easy."
Expansion and the rise of other professional sports have put him in the driver's seat. You can't fine him because it's a waste of time, and you can't bench him because you've got nobody to put in his place.
On top of that, you have the rebellion against authority that pervades the whole society. Every time you want to send a player down you've got a fight on your hands. They're all perfectly willing to tell you right out that they're better than anybody you've got on the club. I had a guy at Houston named Skip Jutze who thinks he's the best catcher in the league. He's a mediocre catcher, a Triple A catcher in my book. He comes to me and says he ought to be the No. 1 catcher. "When do I get a chance to catch?" he says.
I reminded him that the St. Louis organization hadn't thought he was that good or they wouldn't have let him go. "All of a sudden you come over here," I said, "and now you're going to run this club."
"If you don't let me catch, I'm going to go home," he shot back.
In the old days, you'd have said to a player with twice the talent, "Goodby. Thanks for dropping by. See you later." But all I could do was tell Jutze that if he wanted to catch regularly, I'd give him his chance by sending him down. So I sent him down and he went home. The club brought him back. Triple A catchers aren't so easy to come by these days. He says, "I'm a star." You say, "O.K., you're a star. Anything else you want to be? Do you want to be a lamp? A bread-box? A pen-and-pencil set?"
The other slogan of the day is I'll do it my way. The prevailing attitude is that they've got everything coming to them. Not by accomplishment but because they're alive. No concern at all for the owner of the club. We had a pitcher at Houston who had a bad arm all year. Before I left, the club was trying to get him to go to the winter league for a month to find out if it could count on him for next year. If he could pitch like he can, Houston was going to have a good shot at the division title. If he couldn't, the club was in trouble. He wouldn't go. Why? Well, he had just got a divorce and he was going with another woman. The club was perfectly willing to have him bring her along at its expense. Naw, he didn't want to. It would interfere, apparently, with the development of his new relationship. The club had given him a fortune when they signed him. Now he was going to do everything his way.
The manager's authority has been whittled away from above and below. The front office runs everything. If the manager is going to be respected, the players have to know that they cannot go to the front office without his permission. At Houston, General Manager Spec Richardson was always around and the players could gripe to him at will. When I told Spec I was leaving, he asked me what was wrong with the club. As much as I like Spec, and as good as he had been to me, I had to tell him, "If you really want to know, Spec, it's you."