For the Hate of the Game
Baseball on Pitchers Mound

It’s Owners vs. Players, but the fans are being “Robbed”

As the highly educated Commissioner of Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred likes to say, “look” …you can find information about what the issues are and the differences in the Players vs. Owners battle in any space.

“Look,” nobody should have their head in the sand about what is happening in the world around them. It is important to stay apprised of what is happening in the Ukraine as with the local, national, and other global issues as well. But let’s face it; news is not meant to be uplifting or positive, it is like the old Don Henley song, “Dirty Laundry,” the more salacious, the better. And with what is going on in the world around us, it is very frightening, frustrating, emotionally draining, and sad.

However, sports—at least in my lifetime, has been a release. When I was growing up, the Vietnam war was on the news every night. I used to go to bed thinking I was going to die in a war (not every night, I was not a masochist).

Sports was a release, even as a child.

I would watch (almost) every inning of every game the New York Mets played and got to as many games as I could. My friends and I rejoiced when they won the Series in 1969 and cried when they (really Yogi and Willie) blew it in ‘73.

On summer days we were watching baseball, we were playing baseball or wiffle ball and we were always replicating the MLB lineups–the players, their stances, windups etc. My friend Peter Triola was older, so he got dibs on the Mets. I tried to hit like Richie Allen and Pete Rose, but unfortunately did not come close, even in a fantasy game.

Baseball was a joy.

It was a way of life.

It was a fabric of who we were.

I would venture to say that kids today do not view the game the same way. Take a drive around your town and your neighboring areas from April through September. Look at the empty baseball fields, there is a reason for that!

What sports do you see today’s youth playing? Soccer? Lacrosse? Not that those are not also great sports. But the sport of baseball is dying. “America’s Pastime” has become “America’s Afterthought” and Rob Manfred, and the union came to the bargaining table with a terminally ill patient and proceeded to address it with a shovel and tombstone.

“Look,” baseball, football, basketball, and hockey (at all levels) take your mind off what is going on in the world around us. It does not mean you ignore the realities of life, but it gives you a release, a chance to sit back and say at least this is enjoyable for a couple of hours a day (unless its Yankees vs. Red Sox then it is more like five hours).

Well, that formula is now dead.

President Franklin Roosevelt, in a letter dated Jan. 15, 1942, called on MLB commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis to keep baseball going during World War II. The letter is now a part of the collection at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Of all the moments that cemented baseball as America’s National Pastime, this may have been the most compelling.

It came, however, during one of the darkest hours of the country’s history.

But for many Americans, President Franklin Roosevelt’s “Green Light Letter” to Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis signaled that the country would continue to thrive despite the challenges and horrors of World War II.

Just weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor galvanized the country and brought the United States into the war, Landis wrote to Roosevelt asking for his advice.

“If you believe we ought to close down for the duration of the war, we are ready to do so immediately,” Landis wrote. “If you feel we ought to continue, we would be delighted to do so. We await your order.”

Flash forward—2022

Russia has invaded Ukraine. Russia has clearly indicated that this could lead to World War III and a nuclear holocaust in the West as well as reciprocal obliteration of their countrymen.

I am not bright enough to explain man’s inhumanity to man (and all genders—no letters, please!)

Inflation is at an all-time high. You need a second mortgage to get a tank of gas or to fill your oil tank to heat your home. Cereal for breakfast? A recent trip to the grocery store saw a gallon of milk at over $6!

Amidst all this craziness America’s pastime, the game born in America, is holding its fans hostage and what was a release for many is now PURE BUSINESS. Many will choose to move on, and who could blame them.

So, what do Manfred and the MLB owners he reports to have in mind to ease the American consumer/citizen of their daily regimen that might cause angst or concern? When the sport, ideally, could provide a release from every day drain of the nightly news?

Essentially what we got is the middle finger.

From Rob Manfred.

From MLB ownership.

And even from the players who are also culpable here. I know people who blame the players and side with the owners as well! And I am not pointing fingers at either side.

I am pointing at both.

Here is the biggest kick in the…butt, though ….to hear the players talk about “cost-of-living increases!”

WHAT THE…. with all the aforementioned economical strains on our paychecks and accounts, do you really need to hear that? Guys! Come on! You are arriving to the meetings in cars that cost more than a lot of people make in a lifetime!

And I am not begrudging that or saying it is wrong, but just do not use that as the term for what you are looking to accomplish in this faux negotiation. But at the same time, the players look better than the aforementioned Manfred and ownership.

“Look,” here is the deal: the MLBPA has gotten absolutely scorched in the last couple of collective-bargaining agreements. The players know that. The owners know that. So, the players came into this thinking they must make up for the last two sessions and even the score, kind of like being down 10 runs in the last few innings of a game and thinking you have a big rally comeback in you. The owners know this, and they want to avoid the big comeback by closing the game out. Unfortunately, closing the game out is what they have done—literally.

It is not only upsetting, but also disgusting and they will lose fans. No doubt people will put their focus on other sports, or getting outdoors, but they have killed the game of baseball and it seems like they have been trying to kill it for years. (OK, I admit it, I am a traditionalist).

Here is the truth according to Dave? (Disclaimer, disclaimer)

The owners planned this.

They planned on missing games in April maybe even into May, (longer?). They do not sell out ballparks other than opening day in these months. Kids are still in school. The weather is cold in most parts of the country. The owners might be thinking, “who cares about 162 games? We will save a few bucks on this end and then these suckers (the fans) will come back when we do have an opening day.”

And if you do, you are a sucker.

You, the fan, do have a voice, you can pay with your feet and not be an enabler.

If you go in the minute this ends you are a sucker. I am sorry, I love the game too, but at the end of the day I have had enough. I mean, at least in March of 2022 I have!

But of course, once the smoke clears and the games start and the weather is nice and I yearn for the Jim Beam bar at Citi Field, and my son (whom I begged not to root for my teams) is excited about Scherzer and deGrom pitching…then, I too may be a fraud and a sucker.

“Look!” I think I just held an MLB/MLBPA type negotiation with myself. That can’t be a good thing. We’ll see.

Related content:

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NY Met Ron Swoboda on Inside Baseball and Sportscasting [Video]

Spanish Beisbol Network, the Sports Industry and Broadcaster Bill Kulik [Video]

What Is Happening to Youth Sports? Part 2- “Let Kids Be Kids” [Video]


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