It really shouldn’t be surprising that major league baseball is on the verge of managing to finally torch a sport that has been sparking up flames for decades.
Blame Marvin Miller if you want. He was the first excecutive director of the players’ association, which is the strongest in all of professional sports. He organized the union for baseball and the owners have never been as unified.
The owners have locked out the players, who have in turn walked out and taken up picket signs.
“I’m disappointed that two parties that have been entrusted with so much can’t figure out a way to communicate clearly and honestly enough to establish a level of trust where they can get something done,” ESPN baseball analyst Chris Burke said Tuesday afternoon with Phil Elson, Matt Jenkins and Matt Travis (Halftime) on ESPN Arkansas.
A legacy of mutual distrust combined with the covid-19 mess may have created the perfect storm for baseball to have a really, really serious problem.
Coming on the heels of this the current collective bargaining agreement expires after next season and those things have historically shown a tendancy to drag on longer than peace talks between warring countries.
The scenario, simply, is baseball could lose this entire season, play a year then stop everything again trying to get a new deal between two sides who have seldom been able to negotiate anything smoothly.
“The last 24 hours shows a level of distrust that’s just hard to understand with all that’s surrounding these negotiations,” Burke said. “It is very unsettling times.”
In this case all appearances are it’s not greedy players. They agreed to pro-rated salaries. They asked commissioner Rob Manfred (who serves at the pleasure of the owners, by the way) to tell them when and where they want to play.
But the owners want more, which isn’t that surprising when you look at the history of professional baseball. Maybe even no games at all. No major league season has been completely shut down in over a century.
Multiple reports in the last 24 hours are saying several owners are perfectly fine with not playing any games the remainder of the year.
From CBSSports.com on Tuesday afternoon:
As it turns out, some owners appear perfectly content to let the clock run out on a season. According to SNY’s Andy Martino, there are at least six owners who don’t want a 2020 campaign. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich, for their part, quoted a player agent who said “there are definitely more than eight owners who don’t want to play.” Whether that’s the case or simply speculation is unclear. None of the suspected hardlining owners are named either way.
Six is one thing. Eight is another matter altogether as they could block the 75% needed for Manfred to set a schedule and send it to players.
Whether there is a major league baseball season or not is probably at the forefront of the national sports discussion these days. Nobody really has an answer for that one right now.
But the bigger question is really not for this season. This entire shutdown has likely cost baseball at least 2-3 years before it can get back to the viewer levels of last season.
For some it’s a big deal. It might be catastrophic if they don’t play this year and have the looming possibility of a shutdown of some sort for the 2021 season.
Players that were just drafted have an even bigger problem.
“You’re all excited for draft day and you sign, then what?” Burke said on Halftime. “Nobody knows.”
Which means, simply, they are in the same boat with the fans.