Major League Baseball has no interest in what's best for fans
In case you are wondering, there are no 2020 photos of Ozuna I can use here and he's a player hurt by the stupidity of the never ending battle between Major League Baseball and its players.
I do NOT understand why in the year 2021, or 160 something of professional baseball, we can't have a decision making process that includes what's best for fans.
Case in point: The Designated Hitter in the National League. I'm pretty sure outside a subset of "purists" who have a romanticized view of baseball based on its ancient history, everyone else loved seeing the Universal DH in baseball during the 2020 season.
There is no real downside to it. We finally got to see how much more fun it makes the game when there's no crappy hitting pitcher forced to come to the plate. And no, "purist" don't give me the strategy excuse. Strategy does not gather eyeballs in the 21st century, exciting, fun moments do.
No, Major League Baseball will not fall into obscurity and disappear any time in the next 10-years, but the games decline in popularity will continue until it acknowledges its time to move forward.
That decline is going to get worse while every single issue that comes up between MLB and the MLBPA becomes a labor issue or tradeoff.
The DH argument is now part of that issue. Both side already admit they're for the National League Designated Hitter role to stay in the game. But for MLB, they want something in return from the players. Expanded playoffs. The playoffs would be more money in the owners pockets, the NL DH, a small cost for the teams and the extra TV money--that goes to the teams.
It's at this point I should mention the contract/labor agreement between the two sides ends at the end of the 2021 calendar year. Which means every negotiation impacts said agreement and every negotiation becomes a pissing match.
The loser in ALL of this: the fans.
At the time I write this, it isn't a guarantee fans will be in the MLB stands in 2021, but at some point they'll come back. The problem is more that neither MLB nor the MLBPA cares what's best for them.
On the surface, to most fans, it's a battle of greed. The owners appear to want any and everything to help them recoup lost revenue from 2020. The players--they want a bigger cut of revenues. Something has to give.
Fans don't nor shouldn't care about either issue, at the end of the day there's more than enough money for everyone out there. But only if someone is willing to admit it.
Baseball owners for years have cooked their books and don't reveal revenue, profit or alleged losses. Ok, the Braves do, because they're owned by a publicly traded corporation but they're about it.
The owners always claim they're losing money but are never willing to prove it. Yes, they pay a shit-ton of money for salaries. Really, they do. But between sales, marketing and media revenues and rights, I'm pretty sure they cover that cost.
Here's a hypothetical (in a normal season): Say "team X" draws 20,000 fans a game on tickets averaging $40 (median cost). That's $800,000 a game for 82 games. That's north of $65 million a season in ticket sales.
Now, add in concessions: Say those 20,000 fans drop roughly $20 each on concessions. It's roughly $40,000 a night in concessions or $3.2 million for a season. Add in another couple million of merchandise per season and for the sake of argument $30 million in local media revenue and suddenly we're at $100 million.
Add in another $50 million of national tv revenue and we're talking at minimum $150 million of revenue per season. 19 teams have player payrolls less than that number. The teams above it--it's safe to assume they have a lot more marketing and ticket revenue due to success.
Is it making owners rich, maybe not, but they already are rich and they aren't LOSING money either. Even if they did, it's a write off for them.
Players---don't exactly feel sorry for them either. The average player in MLB makes anywhere from $1.9 million to $7 million depending on the team. That's not horrible.
The problem here, like I said is greed. It's not can we make money, it comes across as can we make more money while keeping the other side from doing it. It's completely disingenuous and at the end of the day hurts the game.
Baseball is a game already with built in disadvantages compared to other sports. It's slower. It's a long time investment. There are not nearly the amount of exciting plays and action the other sports have.
It's also sometimes stuck in a time warp--adhering to the old and ancient ways of doing things. So many writers and a generation of fans see the game the way they did back in the 1950's or 70's which was a very, very long time ago. The world of sports has changed, monumentally so. The idea of doing things the way they've always been done because that's just the way it is doesn't cut it any more.
Until MLB and the MLBPA realize they need to do what's in the fans best interest, the excitement about their game and their plight to the casual fan will ring incredibly hollow. It will continue to come across as a greedy move done by greedy people.
That has to change. And change now because on its current trajectory--we're on the precipice of a labor shutdown. And that would be the worst possible outcome for everyone involved.