OPPORTUNITY LOST

Here's why MLB may have already blown it

Composite photo by Jack Brame

If the goal for Major League Baseball was to try to destroy its sport - they are knocking this one out of the park.

Remember when baseball was going to usher in the return of team sports? When the game was going to help "heal the country?" The 4th of July was going to have MLB back and demanding the spotlight for the first time in years. Instead, we have billionaire owners and millionaire players arguing how to split billions of dollars in the middle of a global pandemic that has left one in five Americans out of work and over 100,000 Americans dead. What's the saddest part about these "negotiations?" The two sides can't even agree on what they agreed on in March.

I'm not naive enough to think that just because baseball came back on the 4th of July that the sport would be saved and regained the popularity it once had but wouldn't it have been nice to have a positive news story involving the sport for once? Baseball used to be the national pastime - it hasn't been in decades. The average age of an MLB fan is 57. That's up from 52 in 2000. A great way to destroy your sport is to make sure that people either don't care or can't even find it in the first place. The national ratings for baseball continue to go down and do you think that the owners or players even care?

You have plenty of billionaire owners crying poor despite baseball bringing in over 10 billion dollars in revenue. I guess I forgot that apparently if you own an MLB team you are legally required to make money every year. It's fair to even wonder just how many owners even want to play at this point. The players deserve their blame in this too. The MLBPA continues to insist they have already taken pay cuts by agreeing to pro-rated salaries. However, that is simply not true. You aren't going to get paid for games that haven't been played. Why should your employer have to pay you for 162 games of work when we aren't going to have anywhere near that amount of games. Agreeing to a pro-rated salary is not a pay cut. Stop pretending it is one.

Both sides continue to air out their dirty laundry publicly. Why? This isn't an election. The court of public opinion means nothing if we end up with only a gimmicky 50 game season instead of playing at least 82 games. Or even worse - no season at all. How is there no common ground here? How can't both sides realize that playing only a 50 game season when the opportunity was there to play way more games diminishes a true world champion? Do we really need another offseason of asterisk talk?

Regardless of how this story ends, MLB has already blown their golden window of opportunity to grow the sport. Any chance of building up good-will with the fans has evaporated before our eyes. If you thought the damage of the World Series being canceled in 1994 was bad for the popularity of baseball, just wait and see how destructive it will be if there is no season at all. Only this time you won't have a performance-enhanced drug era of the game to save the sport.

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