Labor negotiations between the players and owners have become a time-consuming, ridiculous exhibition of peaks and valleys, manipulated deadlines, and ever-moving goalposts. It’s enough to make one want to hate the game of baseball, and a large portion of social media who see this battle as socialists (yay, unions!) vs. capitalists (boo, profit mongers!) is pushing many away from the sport we love.
My distaste for it all now stems from those who actually believe the owners are trying to win a PR war. Let’s recap their battlefield strategy, shall we?
- The owners initiated the lockout;
- The owners waited a month and a half to schedule a face-to-face meeting with the union;
- The league keeps adding to its revenues chest while players are wondering when they’ll get their next paycheck (not just once, but twice);
- The players have yet to cancel a spring practice, exhibition, or regular-season game, but I bet you can guess who has; and
- The players have moved the furthest toward the middle ground with regard to their initial demands.
Nothing in that synopsis shows an inclination by the league to win the PR war. In fact, and based on everything I’ve read, it looks to me like the owners would die for a single dollar before they’d care about the support of a single fan.
I feel bad for singling out the above individual, but if he’s Twitter-certified with a social media circle of fewer than 3,000 followers, I figure he must have that blue checkmark because he knows a thing or two about, well, things. His bio says he’s a contributor to Da Windy City (a Fansided blog site).
I’m learning a lot about blogging these days because of my increased workload over at Bears Insider. Believe it or not, a lot of our competitors attract incredible followings by inciting the masses with charged-up tweets and phrases designed to garner attention. One such meme — and I won’t post a link because it’s not fair to single out one individual — goes like this:
“About 4% of all professional baseball players are millionaires. All MLB owners are billionaires. A million seconds ago was late February. A billion seconds ago was 1990. If you side with those who say it’s millionaires vs. billionaires you’re wrong on so many levels about who is to blame and what [the lockout] is all about.”
I’m not going to account for the spending or saving habits of 750+ major league players, but based on annual salaries alone, any player who has completed just under two years of service time has earned at least one million dollars. That accounts for about 60% of all rostered MLB players, and there is no disputing that based on the league’s minimum salary. Second, not all owners are billionaires. Robert H. Castellini, who owns the Reds, is only worth $400 million, not that that’s anything to sneeze at.
Because I won’t try to dissect savings vs. earnings, I also won’t include perks, endorsement deals, taxes, union dues, agency fees, per diems, reimbursed expenses, personal investments, equity, property, or pension eligibility. Further, I won’t get into the argument that baseball players are forced into paying their dues for less than minimum wage in the minor leagues. There are a lot of players who know they will never make it to the show, so that’s a choice. The majority of those that do make it to the big leagues were handsomely bonused when they were drafted.
I know this sounds very pro-owner but facts being facts, I am fully on the players’ side except when it comes to the 14-team playoffs (I’m all in!). What pushes me away, and what will eventually cause a loss in the PR war for both sides, is clickbait, misinformation, and social media fire-fuelers.
If you feel the need to publicly fight for the players, fight with facts and realize both sides are pretty much tone-deaf to your efforts. Fans have rarely been a consideration of either side in this 18-week battle. I’m so tired of the entire thing, I cannot remember anything about the World Series except that Joc Pederson played for the winning team, his second championship in a row, and right now he is without an MLB contract.
I was baseball’s biggest fan and have been since about 1975. I no longer care who wins or loses this battle, and if the season is delayed any further, I’ll stop caring about the game altogether. When all is said and done, it will be the owners who have driven fans away. That’s hardly winning the PR war and is what’s hurting baseball more than anything. We now see MLB only for the business that it is instead of the game we love(d).
Cubs News & Notes
- Reliever Codi Heuer had Tommy John surgery and will miss the 2022 season.
- On a more positive note, Brad Wieck will be full-go once baseball resumes. He had a heart procedure six months ago.
- Patrick Wisdom and Nico Hoerner have been getting in some work at the MLBPA training facility in Arizona.
- Team executives Jared Banner and Matt Dorey are hoping to stay ahead of soft-tissue injuries this season, many of which were caused by the cancellation of the 2020 season due to COVID-19.
- Because of an oblique injury last year that followed the cancellation of the 2020 season. Kohl Franklin recently took the mound for the first time since 2019.
- The Ricketts family is among several groups interested in purchasing the Chelsea Football Club. The price tag is right around $4 billion US, but don’t worry, it won’t affect the Cubs’ payroll. Pinky swear.
- There are about 20 groups interested in the storied football club, which is being sold as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war. Current owner Roman Abramovich bought the club for about $197 million in 2003.
Odds & Sods
If you haven’t seen “The Battered Bastards of Baseball” on Netflix, I highly recommend it.
"I wasn't really serious about acting – I was serious about baseball." ~ actor Kurt Russell (Portland Mavericks) pic.twitter.com/cbReBHOhzF
— OldTimeHardball (@OleTimeHardball) March 10, 2022
MLB News & Notes
Kyle Schwarber is among one of seven free agents expected to sign relatively quickly once the lockout has ended, per Jim Bowden of The Athletic ($). Kris Bryant and Carlos Correa are expected to sift through numerous offers before making their decisions.
What makes the Correa information slightly eyebrow-raising is that the free-agent shortstop was reportedly not sharing medicals with potential suitors.
A pitch clock might be a tough adjustment for a lot of veteran hurlers.
Negotiations & Love Songs
The league has officially postponed the second week of the regular season, affecting 93 total games.
The implementation of an international draft is the new sticking point in negotiations.
If you’re looking for a silver lining, the doomed (so far) MLB talks are creating further distrust between Rob Manfred and league owners.
The owners are using the baseball calendar as leverage, but that tactic could benefit the players’ side soon.
The lockout, plus the lost games to the 2020 pandemic, is going to cost players a lot of statistical production.
Apropos of Nothing
I despise writing this column just once or twice a week, so I really wish baseball would get its crap together.
Today’s Baseball Jones
How about that time Schwarber hit one of the most memorable home runs in club history?
Bob Uecker for grits and shins…
— Bob Uecker (@BobUeckerSays) March 10, 2022
They Said It
- “So No. 1, our goal is to keep guys healthy and on the field and allow them to develop without trying to battle through nagging injuries or even injuries that sideline them for four to six weeks. And I think we’ve put in a plan that should help that and get guys prepared earlier. Having [a weeks-long, pre-spring] mini camp hopefully takes care of a lot of the soft-tissue injuries that we had last year.” – Dorey
- “Doing stuff on the field, full BP as well as just being around other big-league players, you work out all offseason by yourself, so you want to play catch and get on the field and be around other guys. It’s obviously not the same, but the PA has done absolutely everything they can for us.” – Hoerner
Thursday Walk-Up Song
Throwing It All Away by Genesis – If I have to explain it, it’s far too late into the game for you.