“Baseball–On A Path to Destruction”
They all have it, a form of partnership in sports, all except Baseball.
The NFL fought thru years of labor dispute and a couple of work stoppages, but has labor peace brought on by the shared mega profits, called the ‘Salary Cap’. Everyone is making money and the pie grows.
The NBA created their unique partnership by shared revenue formulas and the creation of a Soft Salary Cap, that allows freedom of movement, max contracts, super max contracts, and huge contracts for everyone. It has worked, it saved the league after the NBA-ABA merger…and their players make the most money of anyone in sports
The NHL cancelled an entire season and the Stanley Cup playoffs but in the end, came up with its own form of Salary Cap and Escrow accounts that has taken the league from small time to big time, including making it a global sport with US and Canadian TV contracts.
Not baseball though, where the Union has decided to have a turf war over every little thing in baseball. They want to be compensated for this-that and the other. The mistrust, that used to be part of the NFL-NBA-NHL, is gone as they have become partners. Not so in baseball, it still exists today, maybe more so than ever . The collateral damage could wind up being everywhere, like toxic fallout.
Sadly this war coincides with the Covid War and the Civil unrest and the destruction on Wall Street. The average citizen may wake up and say my problems are worse than yours, and I no longer care about baseball and its 4M a year players and filthy rich owners.
The Union has rejected all four offers from the owners to get back on the field, arguing over pennies, when in reality the longterm almighty dollar of the sport is being threatened by the shutdown. Talks have been replaced by nasty letters headed by the words bad-faith bargaining.
Tiough to say who violated the initial agreemet in early March. The Unon says Manfred didn’t make the ‘best effort’ to play as many games as possible. The owners lawyer responded it wasn’t fair to owners and the employees of teams to lose even greater amounts of money by playing more games. Then the union responded by saying the owners were using the ‘pandemic to limit the amount of play’. Ugly-ugly.
The tweets and responses are everywhere. Players say ‘full work-full pay’. Baseball sources use words like ‘ablaze with ill-will’.
Manfred proposed 72-76-82 games and now is looking at maybe a 50-game package. Clark wanted 89-games and then 114. And his last response, ‘tell us when we play-where we play’.
The proposals at times have been bizarre too. Dissolving the American and National League; playing just at spring trainiing sights in the Catcus League and Grapefruit Circuit; playing in 3-divisions and 3-cities. For everyday there is a new idea. But for each new idea, it’s as if there are then 3-questions.
Distrust has been part of the baseball lexicon like balls-strikes-home runs. Stretching as far back as Jim Crow Laws, to the court led imposition of free agency, the game has dissolved into an ugly Civil War.
The owners wanted it done one way, the union wanted everything to be bargaining chips, whether it was steroid testing to today’s ridiculous raging argument over pro-rated pay.
The season is teetering on collapse. Of bigger concern should be what happens in the bigger picture. A compressed free agent market a year from now because of the economic pandemic we have and crushed revenues.. The renewed outbreak of the virus further if we don’t get to a vaccine. and the intangible damage done to the game, the fans psyche and the credibility of both sides.
It’s like Tony Clark and the Union want to ‘win the moment’, this scrap over the number of games played and what we get paid. They risk losing the big game, the longterm health of the sport.
Rob Manfred will invoke his power and put in play a 50 or 60- game season so they can get to postseason. Players will have to decide if they are going to forfeit the rest of their pay this year and just not play, and give up a year service time to free agency.
Where is baseball today. The rich teams get richer. The rich players get richer. More than two thirds of the players make 1-M less, and they get hurt worse by this war than the Bryce Harper-Manny Machado-Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout’s of the world. And baseball’s recognition factor gets further damaged.
I grew up in the Yankees-Dodgers-Giants era, Jackie Robinson, Boys of Summer etc. I followed thru decades of greatness. McGwire-Sosa-Bonds home run derby. Great teams, personalities, stadiums. Great profits and paydays.
But the work stoppages have soured people. The fight between millionaires and billionaires has become numbing. No one wants to hear about your wants and needs during this time of 120,000 deaths, 43M unemployment and the worst divisiveness seen in our society’s modern times.
Where do we go from here?
The scariest part, and they better both pay attention to this. because I don’t think the MLB owners nor the Union are viewing it thru the proper lens any longer.
Baseball’s falls in relevance on the American sporting landscape.
We know how the NFL and College Football are now the marquee sporting events, in terms of crowd draw, TV ratings, and revenue streams.
We know the enormous gains made by the NBA coming back from the dead.
Hockey survived, saved itself, and made itself an important global game.
MLB and the Union better be aware of what might happen.
If they don’t forge a true partnership, develop some real form of revenue sharing on all baseball fronts, in essence a true formula for Growth Plans, they might not survive. The arrow might be pointed down.
America’s past-time, as we called it during the Yankees dynasty, might become America’s passed-time, because of the greed that exists at this hour on both sides in this trench war-fare.
Baseball’s on a path to destruction. People better see the big picture going forward. It should not be about today’s dollar grab but about tomorrow’s growth potential.