New Year, Same Ol’ Baseball

So…it’s been a few minutes since I last posted on this blog. Five and a half months – give or take a few days – to be exact. But here we are in 2022, a new year that feels eerily like 2021. And 2020. Don’t get me wrong, a lot has changed for the better. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the dysfunctional state of baseball.

As Summer 2021 wound it’s way down through the dog days and into Fall, I realized what a grind doing daily posts on a baseball blog could be. So I went to weekly posts. That was still tough. And then I went to photos only. And then…nothing. There was just zero satisfaction discussing Baseball. The sport we all love just didn’t warrant the daily attention at that point. Baseball was on autopilot, headed for an inevitable labor dispute, with both the owners and players playing a game of chicken to see who might break first and steer the sport away from disaster. As we all know, neither party did, and the MLB owners promptly locked the players out at the expiration of the CBA on December 1, 2021.

So here we are on January 24, 2022 and not one thing has changed to bring the lockout to an end. Sure, there have been some proposals sent back and forth, but nothing serious. How do we know? Because MLB’s favorite stenographers (read as: journalists who are in the tank for the league) have yet to write endless fluff pieces about the glory of a new league proposal, or trash a serious players proposal citing anonymous “league sources.” The league and the players are simply at a standstill.

In the middle of writing this piece, an alert popped up on my phone which said that yes, SOME progress had been made, albeit small. Good? Yes. Great? Not at all. But it looks like the prospect of losing part of Spring Training must be in the back of everyone’s mind. (Can’t lose revenue!) In any event, here’s the scoop from ESPN’s Jeff Passan:

I’m hopeful that the owners put aside their greed and realize that they make money only when the players play in actual games. (Well, unless they have invested in taxpayer-funded side hustles like apartments, hotels, or entertainment districts to make money they don’t have to share with players, but I digress.) A prolonged work-stoppage would be the worst thing to happen to Baseball in almost 30 years. The league already committed a series of unforced errors over the holiday period by eliminating the players from any and all league social media, meaning that the Hot Stove that keeps people interested in the sport over the winter was non-existent. That leads to less interest in the sport, which is the exact opposite of what MLB has been trying to do for the past decade. (Guess who will be crying over reduced attendance this spring and summer? Yep, the league and owners)

I’m not optimistic. At all. I saw this work stoppage coming a couple of years ago, and it was all but confirmed to happen after the failed negotiations over the duration of the 2020 season. The league feels it can just steamroll its way to billions while ignoring other parties. (The MiLB reorganization of 2021 is an excellent example.) The players realize their worth, and deserve a greater share of revenue, even if they fail at times to push for anything other than continued salary growth in the sport. So where to compromise? I don’t know.

So, for now, I’m going to return to my steady diet of soccer, rugby, and ice hockey – ESPN+, Paramount, and Peacock have become must have streaming channels (hint, hint MLB…) – relentlessly doom scroll on Twitter, and enjoy time with the family. And work, of course. Ordinarily I’d be doing what Rogers Hornsby did during the winter, which is stare out the window and wait for spring. But man, it’s really tough to love something that just doesn’t love you back. That’s pretty much how I feel with baseball right now. Unloved and taken for granted. I know I’m not the only one that might feel this way, but boy, do I hate it.

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