Baseball is back, but at what cost?

Fowl Play

 

 

On Monday, June 22, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal broke the story that the MLB was returning.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, after reaching an impasse in labor talks amid the coronavirus pandemic, is enacting a 60-game season. That shortened season is set to begin around July 24 and teams will report for a second “spring” training on July 1, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

As a fan and avid lover of baseball, I’m excited to see the game return. It will be a welcomed distraction from the stress that is this pandemic.

I will be able to enjoy watching games at 6 p.m. instead of 4 a.m. for the Korean Baseball Organization. There will be more highlights littering the sports talk shows on the radio and TV. Though there may not be fans at the games, it will at least feel somewhat normal.

But the question is, at what cost are we getting it back?

As far as actual monetary value, players and teams are set to take a hit. No fans obviously means no attendance revenue such as beverage sales for inherently thirsty fans like myself. For the players, they are set to lose nearly twothirds of their annual salary at the pro-rata set by the MLB according to ESPN.

But then there’s the three months of petty labor talks. The MLB proposed multiple frameworks for 60-game seasons that would’ve included some more money, expanded playoffs, etc. So far it hasn’t led to a strike and there are no indications from insiders that there would be a massive labor strike in MLB.

The players didn’t want to agree to MLB’s terms because they felt they were getting the short end of the stick despite the agreement they reached in March when the season was put on hold. The owners have said they can’t afford to lose any more money after all they’ve lost so far this year.

First off, I’m not with the owners on this. I think they, as business owners, should understand the risks of operating a business — strange things like a pandemic can happen. All business owners are losing in some way shape or form, it’s time for the owners to just bite the bullet.

That bullet might be coming next year when the MLB and the MLB Players Association begin talks for their Collective Bargaining Agreement.

A friend of mine who solely covers baseball told me that’s where he believes the other shoe will fall. It’s basically like a poker game.

Sure, the players are upset now, but they want to play, they want to work like so many Americans facing this pandemic. They’ll concede this hand, knowing they’re likely to get a favorable hand in 2021.

That’s when the players will rake the owners over the coals and that’s when things will likely get heated.

In the middle of a global public health crisis, MLB has put a sour taste in the mouth of its constituents. While people still love the game of baseball, the view of MLB’s product is starting to change.

Another bitter back-andforth for the 2021 CBA will likely diminish the league even more in the public eye.

For now though, I’ll be grateful for what I have.

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