Here we are. Entering June and still no agreement to get back to the business of baseball. The two sides have effectively injured themselves, primarily with self-inflicted wounds as we’ve watched them step in it time and again.
Sure, we aren’t playing baseball, but both sides are absolutely playing games. My personal favorite is Chicken. The players offered up a 114-game schedule with no further pay cuts and the owners said essentially, nope. More than just nope, they further said they didn’t plan to offer a counter. This is Chicken on a massive scale, and it won’t be as cute as it was watching Marty McFly get his Irish up when he was called one. No this will be more like Fonzie in his car against the rougher version of bikers that appeared on Happy Days and much like that it will eventually lead to jumping the shark.
The league is running out of time to avoid the head on collision coming at them and its fair to ask how this many smart people could possibly be this stupid. And let’s be clear about something else, it is no longer about health and safety, that ship sailed at this point, now the primary issue is money.
When the owners pushed the prospect that they couldn’t pay the straight pro-rated salaries of the players they were rightly met with “show us the books”. One of two things is true, the owners and MLB itself has been lying for YEARS about the financial health of the clubs or they are lying now that they can’t afford to play ball. Either way, yup you guessed it, liars. Hey, all’s fair in negotiation, I get that, but you know what makes that sentiment go away for me, telling the players you won’t even counter.
It creates statements like this:
With the draft coming up quickly, they are actually threatening to kill the potential buzz a sports starved nation would eat up.
At some point, chicken becomes suicide. Both sides believe the other will blink, but what if neither does?
Another question I have is, do either of these sides really want to play? The owners could probably make a case for skipping it easiest as many of them will experience nothing in and nothing out if they don’t play. The top end players can probably be fine sitting for a season too, but the lower tier guys are probably not comfortable to say the least.
Maybe that’s the real issue in MLB when it comes to negotiations. The negotiations are never us vs them, they are instead constructed from four distinct sides. The High Revenue teams, the Low Revenue teams, the High paid players, and finally the lower paid players. For most small issues, the teams join forces and so too do the players. For anything transformative or far reaching, the factions at play tend to have their own agendas to serve. Should MiLB players ever get a seat at the table there could easily be a fifth.
The NFL has the same issue with players, they too have high, and low end pay scales and the owners remain a tight unit. Why? The cap. They fight together because the win together, equally. This just played out this past off-season as the NFL pushed through a new CBA. It had poison pills planted all through it but because the owners are united, and dare I say smart, none of them affected the majority of players, aka the lower paid individuals. The disparity is so great that they were able to force a vote and boom, done.
If there were say 5 NFL teams who weren’t prospering at the same level as the rest, it would introduce another faction and fracture the tenuous power the unity brings. If the players were on closer to equal footing, sure they have power too, they could take their talent off the table and remind everyone how sloppy start up leagues like the XFL looked on TV.
The posturing for the 2021 CBA in MLB is hanging over the head of this entire situation like a medieval axe man. Changes to the game right now could very well stick moving forward, and that fact is lost on no one. Accepting blindly any form of revenue sharing is an admission of willingness to play under a cap the players are nowhere near ready to take. If the owners were indeed united, there is no doubt they could implement a cap. It wouldn’t come without pain to be sure but if the product they return with is more balanced it may very well be worth it. Right NHL?
That’s right, NHL, and boy did they pay the price. Lost a cup. Here is why it was needed though, the Penguins of the early 90s spent well beyond their means to win those cups. As a fan, I’m eternally grateful, but I wonder if I’d feel that way had bankruptcy ultimately led to the club being the Kansas City Penguins. That’s what it took to get past the teams with money like the Rangers or Blackhawks. The cap made building a team fairer and it also made it possible to keep players like Sidney Crosby in black and gold for life. A luxury we haven’t experienced on the North Shore for decades.
For me, I’d like to see these sides all come together and get on the field this season, it would be good for the game, the country and the alternative could very well be devastating. If they fail to get the job done now, I say don’t come back until you fix the economics. If we’re going to lose a season and money is the only reasonable excuse, common sense dictates you fix the money issues. Maybe the possibility of competitiveness will bring back some of the fans alienated further by this overt display of stupidity.