Major League Baseball, the sport that is tone deaf to its fan base.
For decades, MLB has let the Players Union have complete control over the sport. For years, MLB has refused to market its stars. Now, MLB is trying to change the game of baseball, a game designed to be America’s Pastime, and their only reason in doing so is to try and cater to a younger audience that already doesn’t care about what once was a sport everybody could follow.
Baseball isn’t as hard-hitting as football. Baseball isn’t as fast-paced as basketball. Why? Because it’s its own sport, and that is perfectly ok. Every sport should have a distinct feel to it.
Baseball is the summer sport. It’s the type of sport you love to go to with your family. There’s nothing like sitting outside on a summer afternoon or night and watching a Good Old Ball Game as the seventh inning stretch tells us.
But as the MLB and MLBPA continue to publicly battle over labor disputes, the excitement for the sport I once adored is dwindling away by the second. Since Dec. 2nd, baseball has been locked out. While there’s still actions taking place at the minor league level, the big league level has had no activity for the last two and a half months.
This was supposed to be an offseason filled with excitement for the Cleveland Guardians. With a young starting pitching staff consisting of phenom Shane Beiber, Aaron Civale, Triston McKenzie, Cal Quantrill and Zac Plesac, and a dominating bullpen led by flame-throwing right handers Emmanuel Clase and James Karinchak, President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti and General Manager Mike Chernoff were supposed to use a mixture of assets in their back pocket to improve the outfield and the lineup. They had a month to do so, and it was unrealistic to expect anything. Now, here we are, coming up on the middle of February, and there’s still no action on the front of the Guardians or any other team. Spring Training is not going to start on time, and it’s likely the regular season will suffer the same fate.
Baseball fans knew this was coming. The impending battle between the MLB and the MLBPA was on a collision course ever since the two sides spent the majority of the summer of 2020 battling over a plan to resume baseball during the pandemic. The two sides spent more time negotiating what turned out to be a 60-game plan instead of an 80 or 100-game plan that would have given MLB the stage all to themselves in May and June when the world was clamoring for some sort of live sports. Baseball had an opportunity to gain the trust of fans back, and it fell right on its face.
With a little less than two months to go until the 2022 campaign is supposed to kick off, players and owners are still at the negotiating table, mainly fighting over the amount of teams that would qualify in an expanded postseason and revenue sharing. On Feb. 3rd. the owners called for a federal mediator to help smooth the negotiations, and the players association declined.
Instead of a mediator to help smooth the negotiations, both sides need a mediator for themselves. Everybody needs to take blame on why baseball has such a bad outlook on its sport right now.
Commissioner Rob Manfred is trying to “make the game better” even though his “pace of play” changes have actually increased the amount of time it takes to play a typical ballgame. His plan to institute robot umpires and moving back the pitcher’s mound is only going to hurt its hardcore fanbase even more. Instead of worrying about natural human error and the amount of offense in a game that’s meant to be low scoring, Manfred should spend his energy on marketing his stars. If Mike Trout, arguably the best player in baseball right now, walked down the street of Carnegie and Ontario, I don’t know how many people would recognize him. That’s a problem.
Players and owners need to meet in the middle on revenue sharing. The players originally proposed a $100 million dollar cut in revenue sharing They have since cut that number down to $30 million. The owners are set on keeping the number at $10 million. They both need to meet in the middle at $20 million and move on to more important matters.
Baseball desperately needs a salary cap, but it’s never going to happen because the players and the “big market” owners would lose money. The Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers of the world have the ability to spend as much money as they want to lure free agents away while teams like the Guardians and Pirates have to scrape together money just to ensure their second best pitcher or their best hitter doesn’t walk for a big pay day from a big city when the player hits free agency. The economic structure of baseball is unfair and a complete failure. The Rays, and the Guardians to an extent, are the exceptions to the rule, not the rule to follow.
Both sides have their priorities set on the wrong foot, and the negotiations are not going well, as expected. Within the next 21 days, if the MLB and MLBPA do not come to an agreement, the regular season will not start on time. That was a realistic scenario when the lockout first occurred, and it’s becoming more and more realistic every day. As time ticks on, baseball seems no closer to resolving their labor disputes, and as the talks continue, more fans continue to leave the game.
The 1994 strike caused severe damage to the sport of baseball that still exists today. If the two sides don’t reach an agreement by the time March rolls around, the 2021 lockout may finally be the straw that breaks baseball’s back.
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