Baseball is back.
By now, you know. Well, I suppose a percentage of baseball fans grew so disgusted with the negotiation process they tuned out completely. So, for the 15% of the 100 or so of you clicking and reading, you’re welcome. Baseball is back.
For many of you, I’m probably the biggest baseball fan you know. That’s not a brag. It’s the truth. As the media began to report MLB’s official return and agreement, I was extremely excited. Thank God there will be a baseball season (pending COVID-19 tests). However, I wasn’t over the moon, insanely excited!!!!! This wasn’t scoring a home plate ticket to the 1999 All-Star Game; this was winning $50 on a scratch off.
At one point, Rob Manfred couldn't last a week without totally contradicting himself
In the past, I would have been Billy Bob at the strip club, but this entire clown show to bring back the sport has sucked some excitement from my soul. In the end, even the players themselves began playing their part in the constant bullshit. But make no mistake, the billionaire owners tried convincing the public owning a baseball franchise actually isn’t that great of a cash-earning venture, current losses experienced are “biblical” and insulted the intelligence of players by routinely making the same financial offer while changing the number of games played.
So, I guess we should be on the lookout for a bunch of cash-starved billionaires putting their franchises for sale any day now. Can you tell I’m extremely annoyed by the richest of the rich crying poor while gripping their financial books as tightly as they do Rob Manfred’s tie? Breaking: there is risk associated with owning a professional sports team, although enjoying record-setting revenues every year might convince some owners otherwise.
Sure, I’ll probably forget this feeling in a month. However, I won’t forget what’s ahead for baseball: another round of longer negotiations, which will probably turn uglier after players and MLBPA refused to break despite owners’ numerous selfish and sad attempts.
What did all of this accomplish? I suppose both sides thinking they have a firm grip on their respective power in future negotiations. Because it seems there was plenty left on the table, including better free agency opportunities for players and this:
Yes, baseball is back. That’s awesome. How baseball arrived at a return is disheartening for even the biggest baseball fans and suggests the last time the sport lacked this much integrity from the owner side, and leadership in general, a strike occurred.
Here’s the real bad-hop liner to the cup: Major League Baseball wasted the best opportunity it had in at least a decade to gain positive exposure, and I’m not sure anyone calling the shots actually cares. Because if there is one thing baseball is worse at than labor negotiations during a pandemic, it’s marketing itself.
While America, and even the world, yearned for sports, no sport was better positioned to capitalize than baseball. And no major American sport needed the opportunity more. Sure, America writing its own chapter to the Idiocracy sequel with its handling of COVID-19 would have probably thrown an earlier return into a brief tailspin. But fans, including new ones, would have understood that.
Billionaires leaking sad attempts for leverage to the press and seeking financial sympathy to pay minor leaguers $400 a week while the world’s economy crashed? Players making millions playing a game many romanticize, and lending a listening ear to the sport’s biggest agent? Yeah, fans won’t go for that, especially any new, younger eyeballs mildly interested. Oh, and how about another cheating scandal Manfred swept under the rug for a side dish? Tasty.
Again, baseball is back. The product on the field is great. MLB just landed another record-setting lucrative postseason television deal. Off the field, revenues for owners have never been better. However, the sport’s image, its leadership and direction, and its standing among the American professional sport pecking order have probably never been worse. Turning a blind eye to steroids and a home run chase won’t arrive to save it either.
Photos courtesy AP Images