• phil cantor/@osgphil

Will Major League Baseball and it's Players Ever See the Forest for the Trees?



Can someone, anyone please explain to me why Major League Baseball owners and players can't agree on, well, just about anything?


I know the question has a rhetorical twinge to it, but on the heels of a month-plus full of bickering and fighting over social media...and conventional media, the two sides STILL can't seem to agree on terms to at least try starting a baseball season.


I've already gone on record saying the dispute is largely the fault of the owners and I'll stick to that statement, but the players are not without some fault here too.


At the time I write this column, the two sides are separated primarily over a 10-game difference on how long the abridged 2020 season would be. It might as well be two groups yelling at each other from opposite sides of a canyon.


MLB Owners, possibly the oddest collection of billionaires in Sports are steadfast in their claim they cannot afford to play the 70 games or so the MLBPA wants. To their credit, the owners have backed off their demand the players give up even more salary than they already have and the two sides are largely in agreement on most of the details to restart the game.


League owners continue however their push that they are in debt and can't afford to keep financing the game at the current cost structure. It's an argument most reasonable people should be skeptical at minimum about and realistically---shouldn't believe for a second.


No, I can't sit here and tell you the ledger sheet of any individual team, but I can say, "Don't buy the bullshit". Every single franchise has a $Billion+ valuation on it. Outside the Braves, owned by a publicly traded company....the other 29 teams are owned by individuals with an obscene amount of wealth by ANY standard.


Which is my problem.


Yes, I am aware, a business person should not be asked to deliberately throw away money. I understand that concept. But in this case--I totally believe a loss this season is not going to bankrupt any team.


We live in a world where it is not enough to make a profit on business, it's a world where you are considered a failure if you don't make MORE profit each year. Which is obscenely ridiculous. Any time you make more money than you spend, even if it is a net positive of $100, should be considered a success in my opinion.


Just once, I'd like to see a billionaire, who pays less taxes than I do, despite complaining a lot more about it, write off a loss for the "Good of the Game". 2020 is at this point a write off. Any revenue that comes in should be considered gravy.


Don't get me wrong, the players are not totally without blame here either. Sure, I get the lifespan of a professional athlete is limited, but it isn't like they don't make a solid living at the job of choice. Maybe some good investment advice and solid financial decision making would go a long way if you are a baseball player making even 6-figures a year.


My issue with the MLBPA is the continued moving of the bar. Making your proposal is great, sticking to your principals is to be respected. But don't say you largely have an agreement with Commissioner/Puppet Rob Manfred and then change the terms. That's not fair.


I do give the players credit for trying their best to force the owners hand. The "Just Tell Us Where and When" statement was the perfect call to the owners bluff. And at this point--it's true, just say when and where we're getting baseball and play. Shut up about everything else, nobody cares or wants to hear it.


For all the talk about this ending baseball and the argument being a dagger in the games heart, it's largely hyperbole. Does baseball need to adapt to a modern world? You betcha it does. It's a game largely based on tradition and nostalgia, which is great to a point.

Yes, I agree, player salaries are outrageous and obscene on multiple levels. But really, think about it for a minute. Who's really to blame for that? If you're a star athlete and a team says we'll pay you $300 million for 10-seasons....What would you say? No?


I suspect once we play and get through 2021, landing on another labor dispute--you are going to see Free Agents getting much less money. I suspect we won't see any "Mega-Contracts" or "Blockbuster Trades" either. The game of baseball has gotten much, much younger over the past decade and the bizarre restrictions on "Time" played and salaries for rookies and beginning contracts has made things a mess.


Until all sides can agree on a structure that works for everyone involved, nothing significant is going to change in baseball. And that's honestly---"A Crying-Ass Shame".


Maybe it's because I'm in the older demographic who loves the game, warts and all, but I also see easy fixes that could make all parties happy. It just makes me crazy to think that both sides are so entrenched in their thinking, they aren't capable of seeing it.

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