What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Today’s Take: Commissioner Rob Manfred and the MLB owners are completely full of shit when it comes to starting the baseball season.
The Argument: The other day, Major League Baseball (MLB) rejected the proposal from the MLB Player’s Union (MLBPA) which centered on a 114-game regular season. Not only did they reject it, they stated they would not offer a counter-proposal. Not only is that the definition of a “take it or leave it” approach, the main reason they offered for drawing a line in the sand for a 50 or 60 game season is total bullshit.
In a nutshell, Manfred and the owners are saying they want the shortest route possible to the post-season ostensibly to avoid the risk of encountering a second wave of the COVID-19 virus in the fall.
Virus, my ass. First of all, the very same news networks that had this country cowering in fear for the last three months are themselves saying the whole virus lock-down “may not have been necessary.” Even if you don’t want to buy that, after what we just saw in the streets of this country over the last ten days, don’t you think if there’s a second wave coming, it will happen right after we saw the mass abandonment of “social distancing?”
But let’s keep this about MLB and it’s load of shit that could fertilize the Sahara. Let’s look at what MLB’s position is really about.
1) Play-off baseball in November or beyond. This one should be obvious. Baseball is impossible to play in cold and snow. Just look at how many baseball teams play in places where 40-degree temperatures and snow are realities come November.
2) Even more competition with the NFL. Even if MLB enacted a “neutral site” plan for baseball heading into the “holiday season” thus eliminating baseball in the snow, there’s still the matter of the overlap with the National Football League (NFL). You would be hard-pressed to find a bigger baseball fan than me, but even I can’t deny the NFL has passed baseball as the king of the professional sport hill in America. The co-existence between the two works as it is because more often that not, nobody really cares about baseball in September. Usually, most of the division races are settled and the only drama left is a wild-card race between two middlin’-to-shitty teams that usually don’t go far anyway.
Meanwhile, regular-season games in the NFL usually don’t mean much until November, when the vast majority divisional games are played…so we can see which 9-7 team gets hot at the right time. In either case, they both still draw viewers, but let’s be honest. The majority of what matters in baseball happens before Labor Day or in October come the play-offs. The first half of the NFL regular season is really “entertainment value only.” The catch is that MLB knows their share of sports media drops proportionally the farther they push their game into the NFL’s play-off races. We also know that sports media coverage is just free publicity, and publicity means viewers, and viewers mean revenue. That’s why baseball deep into late fall or early winter will become an exercise in the “law of diminishing returns.”
3) Shorter season = less payroll. As long as we are talking about money, let’s get right down to it. Teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and the Dodgers really don’t care about regular-season ticket sales, because they have huge regional television/cable deals to live on. But that is not true for the Kansas Citys, the Minnesotas, and the Tampas of the world; to three-quarters of MLB, they don’t have that river of cable TV money. If there’s a shortened season, those are the teams who will opt for “shorter is better” because that means less payroll.
4) This is a dress-rehearsal for the next Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Don’t forget, the current contract between MLB and the Player’s Union expires after the 2021 season. That means everybody is getting ready for what may be very contentious collective bargaining cycle. There’s been 25 years of labor peace in baseball, which means there are not many people left who remember the carnage of 1994 strike. Not to mention the rumors of baseball’s demise being monstrously premature; I wish I were dying at the rate of $10 billion per year in total revenue. That means there’s plenty to fight over.
Boil it all down, and Commissioner Manfred and the MLB owner’s position on the upcoming baseball season is 100% about money and a dick-measuring contest with the Player’s Union.
Change my mind.
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