Fans of MLB have been retaken to the woodpile. We have no recourse except to revel that there will be baseball. But we know…
Major League Baseball (MLB) is back, and for fans like myself – who really gives a damn about the inner-workings of the pseudo negotiations that took place over the past three months?
But rest assured, there is a bitter taste in the mouths of these same fans who see through the facade of the talks that produced a sudden magical cure for MLB.
MLB: Splitting The Differences
Nevertheless, make no mistake because all is not well in MLB Land.
The Players’ executive committee saw the vote from the team reps overwhelmingly in favor. The executive council, however, voted 8-0 against the new CBA. But the players overwhelmingly negated that vote.
Plus, four teams (Yankees, Mets, Cardinals, and Astros) voted against the agreement, highlighted by Steve Cohen.
It was he who was pinned in part of the new CBA with an additional fourth tier in the penalties for exceeding the luxury tax — which has been lovingly referred to as the Steve Cohen Tax.
Let MLB owners and players continue their quest to downgrade and threaten the sport. Let them engage in splitting the spoils of what is expected to be another $11 billion revenue year for the league.
Let MLB continue to shoot itself in the foot despite itself.
Conspiracy and collusion between MLB and the players? No, that’s too difficult to prove, but we can wonder how 99 days of “no progress” suddenly wharf into magic when serious money is about to be lost on both sides.
MLB: Wait, They’re Just Getting Started…
All that worry about players not having enough time to prepare for live competition in Spring Training is now watered down to a three-week sprint to Opening Day on April 7; whether ready or not, the bell will ring.
We can expect a diluted product on the field to evolve as the season moves forward, especially when the rash of injuries succumbs pitchers and teams as they try to “make up for” time lost – just as we witnessed in 2020.
They’ll tell us that players have been diligent in their training, working out on high school and college fields during the lockout.
But in all of that, was there a time when Max Scherzer (Mets) had to spin a 98 mph fastball on the inside corner to strike out Freddie Freeman in the throes of major league competition with the game on the line?
Remember too that in July 2021, MLB Commissioner stated that the 7-inning doubleheader rule was likely to be set aside for this season. To date, the rule is still in effect.
Why is that significant? – it’s because it plays directly into MLB’s plan to play a full 162-game season in 2022.
The need to tack on six MLB games (per team) at the end of the regular season, when MLB previously canceled the March 31 Opening Day, was put into effect.
This does not even account for the number of postponed games that need to be made up due to inclement weather.
Asses in the seats for MLB owners and a full 162-game salary are all that matters. It’s a win-win – but it isn’t, and as the season grinds on and the injuries mount, it’ll all be washed away under the guise of “major league product” on the field, even if it means GM’s digging into their stock of Double-A ballplayers.
MLB And The Young Player’s Hoax
To Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole, both of whom were prolific reps at the negotiations table, they can hang their hat on their proclaimed siding with “young players,” who were duly rewarded with an MLB minimum salary of $700,000.
But rest assured, each will receive the full complement of their $30+ million this year and more beyond.
As evidenced by owners’ and players’ votes on the new CBA, there is still acrimony between the two sects and within them.
This can only be expected when a sizeable amount of $$ is at stake. But let’s excuse that for a moment, concentrating instead on what we are left with – a CBA that allows for MLB games to begin.
MLB: The Teacher Gets An Apple
A separately agreed-upon deal between MLB and Apple TV is not going unnoticed. Per the deal, every Friday night, it will stream two games starting on April 8.
This is a nice perk for Apple TV+ subscribers, but it will make the overall experience for baseball fans worse.
It means more games out of reach for non-subscribers and fewer fans watching MLB games – not more.
What is the sense of this, except to blackmail fans into adding yet another avenue to watch MLB games – at an additional cost?
MLB is off on a tangent that is guaranteed to (eventually) price fans out of the TV market.
Both the NFL and the NBA have dabbled in the marketplace of fan subscribers, but they have drawn the line and not gone too far.
TNT and ESPN (both free) continue to offer NBA games, and the four major networks (also free) are the primary source for NFL games.
This, while televised games on local channels SNY (Mets) and YES (Yankees) are blacked out, even within MLB owned and operated “MLB Extra Innings” package.
But this latest gouging MLB fans is a matter for another time – because upon us is the crack of the bat and sound of a ball hitting the catcher’s mitt.
MLB: Kidnapped And Blackmailed
The purity of the game still exists among most of us. We will grit our teeth and pay homage to the game we have grown to love.
We will marvel at the athleticism of a double play and the ingeniousness of a well-timed hit-and-run.
We will welcome the addition of two more teams bringing the total to twelve playoff teams and all of the probable intra-division competition leading up to the fallout in September.
But we will not be misled, and we will not forget.
The emperors have shed their clothes. Not for the first time and probably not for the last.
It is the way of MLB in the 21st Century, and much to our chagrin, there is no one individual or sector to blame MLB players and owners.
There is no forgiving for what has transpired in the last 99 days – there is only the cry of the umpire that says, “Play Ball.”
Aside from the rest of it, (damn me) I can’t wait.