When You’re Starving, You’ll Eat Anything

2-9-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

It slips out your mouth without even thinking.

The system sucks, but I just want baseball.

I’ve said it, Craig has said it, as recently as his last podcast in fact. But it’s really sad that the sport we love has created an environment where fans often are forced to believe eating a steaming pile is preferable to nothing at all.

There are variations here. For instance, most of you would happily have Bob Nutting sell the team, even while acknowledging a new owner would only really do a little better because of the system. In other words, the owner can suck and the system at the same time can ensure the next one does too.

We’ve accepted it as fate at this point, and at some juncture we really must take a step back and ask ourselves, why am I ok with this? Why am I making excuses for this game I love being run so poorly? Why am I ok knowing my team has to play a perfect game for half a decade to get a shot that five or six teams can buy in an off season?

I mean think about it. Long before Nutting’s name darkened the doorstep of 115 Federal Street, we openly talked about how no big name free agents would want to play here. We state it as fact, almost emotionless fact at that. We say it like this is completely normal for any team in any competitive league to just not be able to participate in one of the biggest forms of player acquisition, at least the top end, and we just move on like it’s ok.

Well, it’s not ok.

It’s not fine that half the league can’t with a straight face believe they could sign Freddy Freeman. How many teams could afford Max Scherzer, a guy who’s arm nearly fell off at the end of 2021 for over 40 million? And I mean afford in the sense that if it’s a huge mistake they’ll be ok. Yeah, that’s not ok either.

I understand just wanting the game back, I really do, but I can’t understand wanting it back so badly that you just don’t care if anything changes or worse, believing somehow the owners could end the lockout and whammy! suddenly everyone comes together and gets a good deal done. It sucks, for sure, but if this league loses games and comes out of it at least somewhat more fair for every franchise at least you have to say that’s worth it right?

I mean you have to understand, I don’t begrudge any owner making money hand over fist, any more than I begrudge Max from his millions, I simply want every team to have to spend in a reasonable range, and if that means I don’t get to watch MLB for a season, hey, so be it.

As early as this Thursday, MLB is going to announce they’re pushing back the start of Spring Training. It’ll be met with cries of outrage from people who haven’t paid one lick of attention to this entire process. And more of the Millionaires and Billionaires BS that isn’t even a good characterization for what’s really happening. Officially saying we’re losing something will put some into overdrive crying for these two sides to sit down and figure it out but in reality, what’s best for this game, this league is for these two sides to for once look at the overall scene and realize they aren’t even discussing the right mix of topics for the most part.

Let’s talk about how silly it is that we put up with a league run this poorly.

Follow me on this, you know how I love my stories. When I watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation for the first time way back when, it was also the first time I had ever seen a Wal-Mart. Within 10 years Wal-Mart’s were everywhere, and everyone shopped at them. Somewhere along the line people realized, hey, that bakery I really like is closing. Say, what happened to that little shoe store on the corner? Oh my, did anyone know that Harry’s Hardware was closing?

The big box almost rendered the little guys obsolete entirely. I mean sure you lost the personal touch that Harry gave you down at the hardware store, but he also charged 25% more for everything you bought. Heck some of you asked Harry for advice then turned around and used his knowledge to get it cheaper at Wally World.

Well, baseball has created a system that’s rigged too, and no matter how many campaigns you start to get people to shop small, no matter how many times you protested, no matter what you do, those smaller market businesses can’t hope to hang with the big boys. Oh sure sometimes they’re willing to get you a custom part that nobody in the big store was willing to even discuss, but let’s face it, that’s a short lived win and chances are they lost money selling it to you.

None of this is to say Wal-Mart is the great Satan, but it is to show you that when you allow disproportionate business, eventually you’ll lose Americana. Small market clubs might not have as many fans as the big market clubs do, but if baseball doesn’t wake up and realize what they’re saying every time they ignore the issue and pretend it’ll go away, the same fate awaits.

So, pardon me if I’m not dismayed these two sides aren’t coming together. Excuse me if I don’t get all worked up over who is making too much money. None of that interests me, I simply want a fair system that makes baseball the focus, not money. If anything what really puts me in a foul mood is the simple fact that neither of these entities is willing to just open their eyes and realize what they’re actively destroying by perpetuating a failed system.

I want to be able to say, man the Pirates really screwed the pooch by not getting a better first baseman this season, and know they really could have gotten a better first baseman this season.

I want tanking to be a thing of the past because it’s no longer the only hope in a full third of the markets.

I want young players paid well, and veterans retained for what they can provide to the fabric of the club instead of who they might be able to flip them for. I want to complain about my owner’s hiring practices instead of what he spends his money on.

I want to call my GM stupid for poorly evaluating their roster instead of assuming his or her hands were tied.

MLB doesn’t have to do exactly what the other leagues have done, but it’s my belief they do have to do something that moves them into the conversation, because while I won’t predict any of these teams are on the brink, I will say the only reason they aren’t is because MLB has propped them up just enough to keep the Generals around so the Globetrotters have someone to play.

Don’t see too many people rocking Generals jerseys do ya?

We have an entire media apparatus that writes with no hint of sarcasm that great players like Bryan Reynolds belong in big markets. Like it’s a crying shame these bastards aren’t willing to trade him because he really belongs somewhere that could win. Oh and then when they do trade him, oh how they’ll laugh at the stupidity they not two weeks earlier had advised as “smart”. The cheap owner that wasn’t willing to spend finally did what he was supposed to do, and get the talent where it belongs.

No wonder we’re so blind. No wonder we sit here acting like everything is ok as is or this is as simple as shuffling a few more million from this pile to that.

Thing is, we should demand that our owner spends more money, but when I know the capability of this franchise even if every red cent possible was put into payroll could easily be doubled if not tripled by several markets, it’s hard for me to act like the fix is that simple. Add in the fact that even if one of those markets finds a way to win, well then that’s an unpalatable way to win.

What this league routinely says to half the league is, shut up, know your place, be happy we keep you around.

The longer that goes on the more the league has to pump into the effort to keep them around because more and more fans either die off or just get sick of pretending the 2015 Kansas City Royals are enough to hang their hopes on.

Enough is enough. I’m tired of worrying about being fair to owners or players, how about being fair to us for once?

There are 30 teams in MLB, and the league would love to expand. Let’s be real honest here though, if this league continues on the path they’re on, do you think expansion is more likely than contraction? I sure don’t. And even if I’m being dramatic, I certainly don’t see a thriving game.

America’s pastime is about to find itself long past time when they were a relevant organization if they aren’t careful. Boxing was once too big to fail too, and they let money and greed destroy it. Allowing promoters to pull the same kind of tricks MLB agents are pulling today. They forgot that the fans mattered. Don King, meet Scott Boras, same as it ever was, and just as destructive.

Maybe visually it’ll really sink in how little a team’s lot in life changes over a couple decades of this system. Go ahead, play it, and really watch. Let it sink in how the bottom and top just kinda stay put.

You may think the owners and players need to grow up, but really, the league itself is what needs to mature.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

3 thoughts on “When You’re Starving, You’ll Eat Anything

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