Major League Baseball and the MLBPA have fought for weeks about how to start a season amid COVID-19, and the damage will last for years.
Rob Manfred is a clown. So are the 30 owners he represents and works for.
So are the players trying to squeeze every cent out of a dried-up negotiation.
On Monday, the MLBPA formally voted 33-5 against the last proposal of a 60-game regular season, followed by a universal DH and expanded playoffs through the 2021 season. This would have meant more jobs and, thanks to increased playoff games for TV deals, more revenue to bargain for come the CBA negotiations.
The players would have made a mint. The owners would have gotten a taste of an expanded postseason format and never looked back. Both sides would have been in much better shape going into the next round of CBA talks — aren’t you already beaming with excitement? — after the ’21 campaign.
Instead, both sides have dug in and dug themselves a hole neither will crawl out of for some time.
For players entering free agency this winter, they’re about to meet a brutal reality. Owners have spent the last few seasons turning the hot stove into Bunsen burner. Now, with COVID-19 inflicting damage on the economy, watch how this winter plays out.
If baseball hadn’t already destroyed itself over the past six months with the Houston Astros’ scandal (which has also touched the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets) and Manfred calling the World Series trophy “a hunk of metal,” it has surely created a long-resounding anger with petty arguments and constant leaks over how to split billions of dollars between two groups of extremely wealthy people in a time when more than 45 million Americans are unemployed.
And while it’s politically en vogue to crush the owners and pretend players are bastardized by them, this is a shared destruction. Both deserve their fates.
Ultimately, baseball’s biggest problem over the last 25 years isn’t greed. It’s stupidity.
In 1994, the players’ strike cancelled the World Series. In the following years, attendance was down until Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa did their best Popeye renditions. Now, 22 years after that fateful summer of Andro and long balls, we’re back to infighting and labor talk over no-hitters and double plays.
The stewards of baseball still see it as an essential element of American sport. They’re typically old white men who grew up on the national pastime, when the Fall Classic was played in the afternoon and parking didn’t cost a mortgage payment.
Guess what? Those days are long gone. Most of America hasn’t noticed the sport’s absence. Far more fans are worried about the NBA resuming play. Legions more are thinking about whether college football will be back in August. As for the NFL in September? The difference in ire and concern is comical.
Baseball will eventually return. Most people didn’t give a damn to begin with. Now, more will turn their backs, and rightfully so.