- Hardcover: 236 pages
- Publisher: Trident Press (1971)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0671270761
- ISBN-13: 978-0671270766
- Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #546,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The way it is, Hardcover – 1971
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Top Customer Reviews
Flood argues powerfully against baseball's reserve clause, which bound players to their team until the team sold, traded or released them - unfairly limiting each player's bargaining power. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually ruled 5-3 against Flood in 1972, but his challenge helped bring future players free agency, salary arbitration, and large pay checks. Sadly, only a tiny number of future millionaire ballplayers ever thanked Flood before he passed away in 1997.
This is not your typical athletic biography. This is an intelligent book by an intelligent (if slightly flawed) man, its pages aimed at urbane and thinking readers.
"The Way It Is" is a declaration by Flood, now deceased, that baseball IS FOR SURE engaged in interstate commerce. Granted, it is also an attack on racism in baseball. Blacks suffered from segregation in spring training camps, mistreatment by managers and other people, and discrimination in pay, and they were often shut off from lucrative endorsements. Blacks may have been on the bottom more than whites, but Flood wrote: "I told the [MLB Players' Association] meeting that organized baseball's policies and practices affected all players equally." From the labor relations perspective, he embraced all.
Flood wrote in this book that the owners' concern is not the "Good of the Game," but to make a profit. He pointed out that in 1969, the players, pension plan included, got only 20 percent of the industry's total income. This was much lower than in other industries, and in 1929 players got 35%. Flood weaved the long season, new stadiums, synthetic fields, TV and radio, and much else into his profit motive theme. He disputed the contention that major league clubs at that time were in financial straits. For me, the most interesting part is Chapter 10: Flood's history of baseball labor relations starting in 1946. He presented compelling arguments in his narrative about how things were stacked in the owners' favor. Regarding one occasion in which Commissioner Happy Chandler supported the players in a pension fund dispute, Flood wrote, "As far as I know, this was the only occasion on which any Commissioner of Baseball has ever permitted facts to undermine his relationship with owners." He forgot Chandler backed Branch Rickey when all other owners voted against integrating the sport.
This book received a lot of criticism for its cynicism. I once read a baseball piece acknowledging it as being "bitter and uncompromising." Flood made no bones about not having a "golly gee" attitude just because a certain mindset suggested a person like him should. From Justice Blackmun on down, these were the people who were preventing necessary progress in the battle of the players against the owners. Flood looks pretty good in hindsight, for some of the occurrences he recounts ring of silliness 40 years later. Jim Bouton, author of the revealing book "Ball Four," was called into Commissioner Bowie Kuhn's office, Flood wrote, and "[i]t was made clear to Bouton that when truth challenged mythology a wise ballplayer keeps his mouth shut."
Certainly Flood said many good as well as bad things about people, white and black, in this book, and he backed his labor points with reasoned arguments. It matters little that many bad things can be said about baseball players of the 21st century and that an argument can be made that free agency hurts team identity. It was still wrong for baseball teams to have exclusive contractual rights to players. Three years after Flood v. Kuhn, the reserve clause began to be shredded outside the court system (but baseball's antitrust exemption exists to this day). I would only say to Flood that he should remember the positives too. The profit motive existed with many abuses and still does, but it has not been the ONLY thing that made baseball, including owners, tick. Baseball's positive contribution to American society is not a myth, but a reality. Competition, drama, role models, charity, and actions on behalf of fans and, yes, players, have marked the game too. Perhaps Flood would respond that he loved baseball too, and that is why he wanted to see wrongs righted.
Penned in the early 1970s when Flood was perceived by baseball management, many fans, too many players and most media members as a hideous trouble maker due to his challenging the reserve clause that bound players for life with one team.
Critics savaged the book when it was published, stating Flood could not get over his anger concerning how the game is (should) be played. But I contend much of the criticism circled around the black consciousness of Flood's; simply, he should know his place as a star athlete and be grateful for the doors that have been opened to him due to his celebrity.
The Way It Is contains a message that strongly states why change was necessary, on the field & off. It is unfortunate that nearly 40 years later many of the issues that Flood brought up still needs to be addressed by society as a whole.