GOING OUT OF BUSINESS?

Here's why there's so much at stake for MLB, Astros with lockout in full swing

Get ready to wait. Composite image by Jack Brame.

By locking out their players, Major League Baseball owners may not just kill their golden goose, they risk wiping out the whole gaggle. And, yes, I had to ask Siri, “What do you call a group of geese?”

Baseball’s lockout started precisely at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. Until team owners and the players’ union knock out a new collective bargaining agreement, there will be no free agent signings, no trades, no workouts or medical treatment at team facilities …

Essentially, America’s national pastime shut down tight. And like so often when multimillionaires get into a spat, it’s the little guy, the poor shnook who buys tickets and T-shirts, who roots roots roots for the home team, who gets screwed.

This is a tough one – whose side are we on? The players who make oil baron money for playing a kids’ game, who stay in 5-star hotels on the road, who get $100-a-day meal money even though stadium clubhouses put out a spread worthy of a Beverly Hills bat mitzvah, (the visitors clubhouse at Yankee Stadium serves steak and lobster), make a fortune scribbling their name at autograph shows and still leave 10-percent tips at Hooters?

If the visitors clubhouse at Yankee Stadium serves steak and lobster, what’s going on in the home clubhouse – wenches in togas feeding grapes by hand? Tough life these players lead.

Or the owners, even the skinflints who field last-place teams, who make millions by selling beer and hot dogs at six times what they pay at wholesale even on Dollar Dog Night. Jim Crane and his buddies bought the Houston Astros for $680 million in 2011. The team is valued at $1.8 billion today.

As usual, it’s all about money. Money can’t buy you love, but it can keep a Cy Young winner in Houston. Major League Baseball is a $10 billion-a-year industry. Players want to make more. Owners want to keep more. There you have it. Meanwhile Francisco Lindor, making $341 million, makes “thumbs down” gestures at his hometown Mets fans?

Poor Carlos Correa now has to wait for the players and owners to reach a new agreement before he can sign with another team … or the Astros. In the meantime, perhaps he should wear a Hazmat suit everywhere he goes and boil himself at night to keep from incurring an injury. And stay off the massage table, we know how dangerous a rubdown can be.

Analysts are saying it could be a long lockout, like the last baseball stoppage in 1994-95, when they canceled the 1994 World Series. Which brings up the question, how stupid is baseball? The game’s popularity is waning, young people don’t seem to care anymore, attendance is dwindling … and the owners and players, the two sides that benefit the most from baseball slap a “Closed for Business” on the locked front door. Keep it up and that sign may read “Going Out of Business.”

It took several years and a home run battle between two steroid freaks to revive baseball after the ’94-’95 players strike. That’s not going to happen next year. They hand out Dixie Cups now.

The hope is a settlement in by Feb. 1 so spring training can start on time, or at least by March 1 so teams can play their completely unnecessary 30-game spring schedule. Funny how NBA teams need only four preseason games, the NFL only three games and college football zero games. And those teams actually require players to be in shape from the get-go.

Baseball players are among the most pampered humans short of Halle Berry getting ready for the Academy Awards. Team owners make millions, in some cases billions, for sitting behind home plate and watching their team flop come crunch time. The New York Yankees haven’t won a World Series since 2009. The Yanks are worth $5.25 billion. The Chicago Cubs have won one World Series in Betty White’s lifetime …$3.36 billion.

It’s time for the players and owners to get this lockout over real fast. At some point fans won’t care when and if it’s time to “Play Ball.”

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1. Davis Mills had an up-and-down day under center Friday. One play saw Mills drop back and try to get rid of the ball as Jonathan Greenard was rushing him only to have Greenard leap up and intercept Mills for what would have been an interception returned for a score.

2. A few plays later Davis Mills showcased his short memory. Mills surveyed the field, looked off the safety, and pitched a strike to Brevin Jordan over the middle, wide open, for a touchdown.

3. Davis Mills doesn’t stack bad plays. It is rare to see multiple bad plays happen in a row and Mills be the cause, or a cause, of the play not working. When he misses something, he usually makes up for it the next play.

4. It was a makeshift offensive line on Friday. Max Scharping played a lot at left guard. Charlie Heck saw some snaps at left tackle while Laremy Tunsil took a breather. Veteran lineman Cedric Ogbuehi played some at right tackle. There was plenty of work emphasized on the rushing attack Friday. The offensive line was fine, nothing special. I would say slight edge to the defense overall.

5. Rookie Kenyon Green didn’t practice. Right tackle Tytus Howard didn’t practice either. Pro Football Network is reporting Tytus Howard is out with a positive Covid test. Kenyon Green was banged up last practice, but Lovie Smith expects both back in the coming days.

6.The offensive line had its hands full with the defensive line today. Jonathan Greenard made the above-mentioned play of the practice with an interception. It felt constantly like there was some level of success from the defensive line. Not to say they dominated, but I would think the defense is happy with their day.

7. Maliek Collins has been a nice player in camp. He looks a bit quicker than last year. Collins downplayed how many “close” plays he had last year citing that everyone knows the saying “close but no cigar.” I asked him if he expected a lot of cigars this year. He chuckled and said yes. Teammate Roy Lopez gushed about what he believes Collins can be for this team and called his teammate one of the best defensive tackles in the league.

8. I almost wonder if quiet Derek Stingley days are good days. Stingley wasn’t involved in a lot of plays, but I know Davis Mills saw him on Friday. Mills dropped back on one play and made a read to his left seeing Chris Moore. Stingley darted from coverage towards Moore causing Mills to move off Moore and head to Nico Collins for a score. Yes, the defense allowed a touchdown, but Stingley did his job.

9. Rookie safety Jalen Pitre is a “starting” safety for the team according to Lovie Smith. Pitre had an interception, depending on who you ask, in practice. It is clear the Texans trust him and have put a lot on his plate. I would expect to see a lot of the rookie safety, good or bad, this season.



10. Lovie Smith praised the team’s depth at linebacker earlier in camp. I scoffed a little at the notion, but there seems to be a new linebacker making a play each day. Christian Kirksey had a nice stop in the run game today. Kevin Pierre-Louis, who played very little last year, has flashed. There’s some depth here, despite my skepticism.

11. Ka'imi Fairbairn doesn’t have a challenger in camp this year. I believed this offseason should have seen at the very least someone to challenge the kicker heading into his seventh year in the league. He’s been solid in camp so far, but there have been some misses. It is tough to judge distance, but the team clearly has faith in him with no challenger in sight.

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