The Blame Game
Fans, players, writers, coaches, and everybody else with a vested interest in the game of baseball are breathless and angry that baseball is careening down the path of not playing in 2020. For me personally, I never thought they would play to begin with, so I've been ok staying on the sidelines watching what is going on.
Almost everyone believes that the owners, and the Commissioner Rob Manfred, are the bad guys in all this. They don't understand why a group of billionaires are trying to cheat the players out of their money. The owners keep saying that they are losing money hand over fist, and they are offering what they can afford, and the players are greedy SOB's for not taking a 66% pay cut.
The rank and file have so little faith in their union leader, Tony Clark, that they have become the public voice in all this by rolling out players opinions on Facebook, twitter, radio, and TV. They have been the ones doing the explaining to fans what is really being offered, and letting them know what they will, and won't, accept from the owners. I have often wondered why Clark is still employed, but that is the players problem.
For those who are unaware, the current CBA between MLB and the MLBPA expires in December of 2021. Posturing, from both sides, is pretty clear with all this, and a lot of what we are seeing is both sides setting up negotiating parameters for that event. I would warn Manfred that if he and the owners think they will break the union they are going down the wrong track. There is not a stronger union in sports than MLBPA.
Naturally the PR of all this fighting is not good for the sport, the players, or the owners. Everyone is looking like petulant little children and the fans are getting frustrated. Public negotiating is never a good thing and neither side ever wins when this tact is taken.
When the season was first put on hold, in mid March, I wrote back then that I did not believe the season would resume and that it should just be cancelled. My reasoning then was that there is a lack of testing equipment, and lab space, to be able to test around 2000 people every day for months. It was just not going to happen. Nothing has changed my mind over these past two and a half months.
Half of the baseball markets still won't allow the gathering of people to allow a ballpark to even open. With no revenue coming in, how can salaries be paid? The Chicago Cubs, for one, have been very vocal about the fact that 70% of their revenue comes from game day earnings. Many writers, and the union, have called bullshit on them, but what if it is 40% even?
Now imagine that they do open the ballparks to a social distancing crowd of 4000 people per game. Teams will then need to staff the park with security, ticket takers, concession staff, and other people to insure safety and entertainment for those fans in attendance. This will add to the game day expenses, and revenue will not cover the costs, I assure you.
In my opinion, which is a great name for a column, what MLB should have done was cancelled the season immediately. Then they, and the players union, should have quietly gotten together and started the process of hammering out a new collective bargaining agreement. No leaking updates, no negotiating in the press, just sitting in a room and working things out so that when they did come back in the Spring of 2021, this would be done, announced, and players would know what the hell was going on with their lives.
Because we live in America, and we always need someone to blame, we now need to figure out who the bad guy is with all of this. Is it the players? The owners? The commissioner? The Union? The fans? The press?
I'm going to blame anyone who thought this season would actually be played.
And if by some miracle we do have a season, then I'm going to blame me for not believing.