Dan's Dugout: Say It Ain't So, Rob • Latino Sports

Baseball

Dan’s Dugout: Say It Ain’t So, Rob

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With the possible exception of Donald Trump, Major League Baseball has money to burn, with a surplus in the billions.

That’s more than the gross national product of many Latin American countries and certainly more than enough for everyone in the game.

So why in the world can’t the owners and players split their differences and come up with a new Basic Agreement before the old one expires?

Iván Rodríguez (Puerto Rico) during a World Baseball Classic game in Puerto Rico. (Photo Latino Sports)

Iván Rodríguez (Puerto Rico) during a World Baseball Classic game in Puerto Rico. (Photo by Latino Sports)

Already, there’s word of a possible lockout that would shutter spring training camps and crimp the World Baseball Classic – which shouldn’t be played in the spring anyhow.

Have the two sides forgotten the 232-day strike that cancelled parts of the 1994 and 1995 seasons and wiped out the postseason in between?

It took a long time for baseball to win back its fans, with some still refusing to buy tickets or products.

The antagonists then were Bud Selig and Donald Fehr, intransigent types who would rather burn down the village than build on its firm foundation.

Both are gone – though Selig could soon resurface as a newly-minted Hall of Famer – but their replacements haven’t danced this dance before.

Rob Manfred, the second-year commissioner, did serve as the successful negotiator of

Rob Manfred hopes to avoid a 2017 lockout.

Rob Manfred hopes to avoid a 2017 lockout.

past labor agremeents but Tony Clark, the first former player to represent the union, is new to the labor game.

Both men are digging in, seeking to cement their legacies at the expense of the game.

It’s not enough that the Los Angeles Dodgers pay their players a record $310 million or that former Dodger Zack Greinke earns $1 million a start, thanks to the free agent contract he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks last winter.

The average salary is now more than $3 million, while the minimum salary is above $500,000 – more than twice the peak paycheck of long-time home run king Hank Aaron.

This is the ghost of Marvin Miller at work. The late labor leader, rightfully denied a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame, is more responsible than anyone else for the pendulum of power swinging from the owners to the players.

Major League Baseball, for the good of its fans and its future, needs to find a happy medium.

Sure, there are issues between the parties.

Will World Baseball Classic be a casualty of labor talks? Image Credit: Bill Menzel

Will World Baseball Classic be a casualty of labor talks?
Credit: Bill Menzel

The season and the postseason are both too long. Both leagues, or neither, should have the designated hitter. Interleague play, a novelty that has run its course, should be eliminated. So should Sunday night games, the World Baseball Classic, and the ill-conceived concept that the winning league in the All-Star Game should get home-field advantage in the World Series.

No matter what the differences, threatening a lockout even before the Dec. 1 expiration date of the old Basic Agreement is nothing short ludicrous. It’s just bad form that poisons the atmosphere at the bargaining table.

After a highly-successful 2016 campaign climaxed by the first Cubs world title in 108 years, MLB can ill afford another shutdown. There’s more than enough money to make everyone rich – if only both sides would listen to reason.

The Chicago Cubs ended their 108-year world title drought. Credit: Bill Menzel

The Chicago Cubs ended their 108-year world title drought.
Credit: Bill Menzel

Hearing the bickering in baseball brings back bad memories of the just-concluded presidential campaign, probably the dirtiest and most defamatory in American history.

Baseball should be better than that.

For the sake of its future, it better be.

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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