Dan's Dugout: Player Strike Could Be Coming • Latino Sports

Baseball

Dan’s Dugout: Player Strike Could Be Coming

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CHARLOTTE, NC – What if they threw a party and nobody came?

As this columnist noted more than a month ago, that’s exactly what’s happening in major-league baseball.

Finally wising up after all these years, teams are tightening their purse-strings and refusing to dole out contracts with too many years and too many zeroes.

But it may be too little, too late, as players and agents spoiled by past largesse by the leagues are holding out for ever-more-ridiculous sums of money.

Pitcher-turned-broadcaster Al Leiter says players are in panic mode

With just over two weeks left before pitchers and catchers report, many free agents are in full panic mode – as former pitcher and player rep Al Leiter said on MLB Network weeks ago.

None of the top five free agents have signed and more than three-quarters of the entire group remain without contracts. Gee, that percentage would actually be enough to get into Cooperstown!

The standoff is so sickening that there’s a real danger now of a strike or lockout.

Consider what Kenley Jansen said over the weekend:

“Maybe we have to go on strike, to be honest with you,” Jansen told reporters at the Dodgers Fan Fest. “…That is something we might have to address, so you don’t have a lot of Miami Marlins doing this. Maybe it’s an adjustment for us, as the players’ union.”

The star closer says he’ll share his thoughts with the Players Association, which has never hesitated to launch previous work stoppages that strangled the game.

Kenley Jansen is so mad he thinks players should strike.

The current collective bargaining agreement runs through 2021 but this off-season has been drier than summer in the Sahara.

Some insiders suggest teams don’t want to lavish long-term contracts on the current crop of free agents because of a much better one will surface after the 2018 season. Why sign Mike Moustakas now, for example, if Manny Machado might be available then?

While the owners and players are locked in a Mexican standoff, teams aren’t selling tickets or publishing media guides. And the once-preseason publications will be outdated before they hit the newsstand.

Both owners and players should realize that those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.

When teams ganged up and refused to sign free agents 20 winters ago, they were forced to pay millions in restitution after they were found guilty of collusion.

When players staged a 232-day strike that erased the 1994 postseason, fans were so unforgiving that they stayed away from stadiums in large numbers and, when they returned, showered outfielders with pennies.

Collusion and conspiracy theories are all the rage in Washington, where the major parties also won’t play ball with each other.

But baseball is supposed to be an escape, a place to go when all hell is breaking loose elsewhere.

Rob Manfred may need to intervene

So far, greed and collusion are proving to be such a lethal combination that the season and the game are actually in jeopardy. The only strikes the game should tolerate are the ones pitchers throw.

Rob Manfred, the negotiator who prevented a myriad of work stoppages, needs to step in immediately if not sooner. Where is the commissioner now that we really need him?

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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