Ballplayers as Labor and Product

Should baseball players be making more?

According to Craig Calcaterra, it's an easy yes.

... baseball as an industry brought in a record $8 billion+ last year, meaning player salaries are around 43% of revenues. Which seems high — depending on the industry, labor usually costs anywhere between 10 and 30 percent of revenues — but shouldn’t be all that surprising considering that in baseball, labor and the product being sold is one and the same. Indeed, the ballplayers and the games they play are the only reason the owners make that $8 billion. They are not a mere input to a more valuable finished product. The owners are not fabricating sheet metal before they can sell their product and stuff.

It's hard not to see Calcaterra's logic. As both labor and product, ballplayers are, viewed through Marx's lens of Entfremdung, more and less alienated from their labor than others.

In one sense, ballplayers don't fit in nicely with Marx's postulate that "Whatever the product of his labor is, he is not," as their performance is the end product of production. In another sense, as a member of a team, their individual production is collectively bundled with other individual production as a privately held commodity by the owners.

What would Marvin Miller do at a (gilded) time like this?