New York: last night and early into the morning there was optimism about an agreement coming forward between the owners and players and a new collective bargaining agreement. But I was skeptical. The reports were conflicting about the disparity in numbers on key issues.
Issues, I have to say are not a concern of fans such as luxury tax, competitive balance, minimum salaries, and draft lottery positions. Fans want baseball and that’s not happening after talks collapsed Tuesday, and the inevitable occurred as the first two series of the 2022 baseball season went out the window for 30 teams.
Players won’t get paid for games missed. Games will not be rescheduled, so much different than the pandemic and abbreviated 60-game compromised season of 2020. This is much different. It’s about economics of the game and fans don’t care about the numbers.
Compromise here was meeting halfway and going the other way.That’s not how collective bargaining should work.
The league and MLBPA (Major League Baseball Players Association) are both in the wrong because we have no baseball. And until cooler heads prevail, obvious players are listening to the agents about salaries, the numbers will never be enough for both.
It’s no longer a lockout with the players and owners. Call this gridlock. It does not have to be this way. And now the days pass with a waiting game as to who is going to make the next move and return to the bargaining table?
But the longer they wait, go back and forth with nothing to speak of, and regardless your opinion, Tuesday was the latest and perhaps biggest black eye incurred on the game that we looked forward to seeing again in four weeks.
And this is sizing to be worse than the 1994 stoppage of the game that caused a World Series cancellation and a travesty overall that cost the owners and players. If I was a betting man, and I am not, the 2022 season will be significantly delayed more and damage control will be difficult to overcome.
“The concerns of our fans are at the very top of our consideration list,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said late Tuesday when the two sides went their separate ways for the moment.
So if the fans are a priority, and they should be because they account for ticket sales, concessions, and watch the game from enormous regional television revenue the owners cash in, then why this? Why can’t one side budge from numbers that are not far off with the major issues of revenue sharing, competitive balance, minimum salaries, and the bonus pools?
Manfred said a priority fo the clubs was to get the game back on the field for fans as soon as possible. Well, wait more and make other plans with options.
See, this is different from 1994 when MLB and the players last had a nasty work stoppage. This is not a strike by the players, instead, a lockout imposed by the owners and a commissioner who has to answer to his hierarchy of billionaires.
Regardless, again, millionaires versus billionaires will not get sympathy from the average baseball fan, many I know who cant afford to take a family of four to the ballpark with out of hand price for tickets, parking, purchases at the concession and souvenir stands.
So Opening Day is cancelled. We did not want to hear that but it was inevitable the way these latest rounds of bargaining sessions were going.
I said last week comprehending the numbers that are proposed during these negotiations are not a concern of the fans and those who are employed at the ballparks. Fans want baseball to start on time. The ticket sellers, concession workers, security personnel, and others want a resolution because baseball for many of them is their livelihood.
Luxury taxes, salary thresholds, competitive balance? Do you care when millionaires and billionaires are battling over dollars and cents, though from the outside looking in the players have a point because 74 percent of their union members are not classified as millionaires.
Very few are earning Max Scherzer, Gerrit Cole, Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, and Francisco Lindor contracts. Players are supposedly fighting for that 74 percent if you are on their side of the bargaining table.
So there’s definitely that imbalance of a contract earned because of service time and free agency, though, again I am as confused as you are about the numbers and specifics that are detailed with reports from intense bargaining sessions this week with players and owners in Jupiter, Florida.
Instead, you the fan is locked out. Will there be baseball in April? Owners have said no makeups or pay for the players and their union which will probably lead to another dispute or prolong this lockout.
More of this continues and we lose interest. At this point, I am not making plans to be in the press boxes at Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, or any of the other ballparks with the smell of hotdogs, scenes of green grass, crack of the bat, and sound of a ball hitting a glove. Four weeks from Thursday, was supposed to be Opening Day with the Mets and Nationals in New York.
Realize, of course there are more significant issues than baseball but it always was an anticipated day on the calendar for many.
I hear from the fans on social media. Fans are also venting on sports talk radio. Few take the owner’s point of view. A good many are disgusted and turning their attention to other sports that I call the world of fun and games.
Baseball and their game of economics is confusing while the NBA, NHL, “March Madness” of college basketball, Major League Soccer, and boxing are ongoing. The NFL draft is next month.
And in the end a bitter labor dispute with owners and players is leading to other interests. To those at the bargaining table, fans losing interest has to be a major concern, even though when this is resolved they have short memories and could slowly return to the ballparks.
Call it a sad day or bad and historic one for the game of baseball. Either way it stinks. The aroma is not good and our national pastime is in trouble.
Rich Mancuso is a senior writer for Latinosports.com Comment: Twitter @Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
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