Tim Benz: MLB is preparing to cancel games soon – is that a threat or a promise?
According to ESPN.com, Major League Baseball will begin canceling regular season games if the league and its players’ association fail to reach a new collective bargaining agreement by Monday. Matches would not be rescheduled.
Well, don’t threaten me with having a good time.
My first thought when I read this was, “Good. Now we are getting somewhere.
Obviously, the best course of action for the health of the game would be for MLB and its players’ union to come to an agreement with a manageable salary cap and a flexible salary floor representing a representative percentage of each team’s revenue.
Obviously the best course of action for my personal health would be to exercise more, stop drinking alcohol, cut down to no more than six cups of coffee a day, and get at least six hours at least once a week.
Yeah. None of this is happening either.
Substantial change in baseball won’t happen without MLB shutting down and a real crisis in the face like the NHL did in 2004-05.
It stunk to have a year without hockey. However, the sport left and came back in a much better position.
Perfect? Completely repaired? No. But when I read about NHL issues, pay inequality between teams, competitive balance, revenue-sharing philosophy, and asset distribution within the league seem to be low on the list.
• Suggestions for an all-pirate set slate when Metallica play at PNC Park in August
• First call: Art Rooney II on Stephon Tuitt, name of Heinz Field; ex-teammate names Carson Wentz for Steelers QB job
The same must happen with Major League Baseball. Leave until you come back as close as possible to the fixed. At least from the point of view of the payroll system.
Oh, and free will, salary arbitration, and service time manipulation. All. Get everything hammered.
Forget arguing over a universal designated hitter, starting runners on base in extra innings and banning the shift. These debates seem silly to have in the vacuum that exists right now. I’ll care about that kind of baseball minutia when I have a reason to care about my hometown team again.
Because right now whoever is playing in my backyard has no chance of long-term success. The Pittsburgh Pirates have an owner in Bob Nutting who can’t spend enough to keep pace with the current uncapped baseball system and seems content to spend as little as possible at the expense of rarely putting a winning product on the field anyway. .
Nutting isn’t alone among his MLB proprietary peers. He’s just a prime example.
Then there’s the players’ union who seem to think that if they don’t walk away from the negotiating table winning on all fronts, it’s not worth playing at all. It’s also a group of gamers who think their popularity with young fans is what it was back in the pre-steroid testing days of the late 1990s.
The truth is, an average 12-year-old would much rather be Mike Trout in a video game than watch him on TV or ask his dad to buy him a ticket to see him play.
We have already had many work stoppages. Fans got tired of watching them play. We lost the World Series in 1994. There were plenty of saber rattling as the labor contracts expired in 1997, 2003, 2006, 2011 and 2016, not to mention those sticky coronavirus negotiations.
Yet every time baseball emerges with some sort of in-between, half-measured, band-aid adjustments and adjustments.
And every year teams like the Pirates seem to find themselves in a position where they can’t spend competitively with big market clubs and have minimal incentive to do so even if they wanted to.
For fans of the Pirates and other medium to small sized teams, these frequent labor “fixes” are actually the “worst case scenario”. The issues are not meaningfully resolved, and the detachment from the sport to get us through the emotional ring of flirting with more work discord is all the greater.
Personally, I am for the lockout. Even if it lasts all year. What is the difference? What am I going to miss? Another season of 95 to 105 defeats on the North Shore? All the Pirates fans can’t stop hearing about the team – and keep coming back to Twitter – it’s “wait for the next drafts
OK. Then I guess it’s the Greensboro, Bradenton and Altoona fans who get robbed. If so, who in Pittsburgh cares about missing out on 2022?
There was a time when I would have been less jaded and said, “Well, even if the Pirates stink, at least the rest of the league will play. I will look at it.
Not so much anymore. The erosion of confidence in the home team can only be compensated by the enthusiasm for the league for so long. Now I’m at the point where I can’t separate my anger for the way the league has handled its affairs from my inherent love for the game itself.
So stay away from MLB. Come back when you’ve made real changes for the better. Then I’ll get back on board like I did for hockey in 2005-06.
Until then, I noticed that PNC Park will host Billy Joel, Metallica and the Mötley Crüe/Def Leppard/Poison Joan Jett stadium tour, all in the space of four days between August 11-14.
This will be the biggest interest I’ve had in a weekend series at PNC Park since 2015.