Shooting Yourself In the Foot

Shooting Yourself In the Foot
My baseball from Billy.

I wanted to talk about the fact that Rob Manfred and MLB made a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad proposal that they brought to the MLBPA just before the Super Bowl, but since everyone else has already talked about it, I think I’ll focus on what I think the long term effects would be instead.

I suppose I should also once again emphasize that (at least in my opinion, but an opinion that has been supported by a lot of smart baseball people I follow) this is mostly MLB’s fault. But perhaps we should start with some perspective again:

Based on various easily-Google-able facts, such as the fact that minor leaguers are treated like crap in terms of financial and housing support (slowly changing) until they make it to the bigs, then paid a much lower minimum salary than in the other professional leagues with the carrot of “you might make tons in arbitration and free agency” (never mind that MLB front offices have been stingy about paying free agents lately), what the players are asking for is fair given how MLB franchise value has far outpaced the stock market. I’ll let you guys read better analysis elsewhere, but what I am concerned with now is the future of the sport.

I have mentioned numerous times that Star Trek has predicted the downfall of baseball by 2042. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal as this prediction was made in the 1990s when Deep Space Nine was aired, but the franchise did predict a lot of things such as genetic engineering in humans, personal data devices and Alexa, the conditions that may lead to the Bell Riots in about two years, and friggin’ World War III. So this death of baseball prediction is always sticking in the back of my mind, and it’s even more of a possibility with MLB continuing to lock out the players and, again in my opinion, not negotiating a fair contract in good faith.

https://twitter.com/timmarchman/status/1492906757013786627

The self-imposed financial disadvantages inherent in North American professional baseball makes me wonder whether there is any incentive for young athletes to choose baseball over another sport. It’s expensive to fund participation in Little League, travel teams, and training programs to get better and get exposure. There are far fewer scholarship opportunities available to college baseball athletes than their peers in other sports, and again, when they are drafted and assigned to a minor league affiliate, they’re going to literally be fighting for survival as the seasonal pay scale isn’t enough to pay rent or buy good food. Why would any kid, especially those without a good support network to make up the difference, choose that? And then they are probably seeing how, even when they make it into the big leagues, the pay isn’t nearly as lucrative as in the other sports even if those sports are governed by salary cap rules.

The impasse between MLB and MLBPA (mostly the fault of MLB, you see) also means they can’t negotiate on rules changes that could make the game more dynamic and less boring for casual and even long-term, passionate fans such as myself. So in addition to not being able to attract the best athletes, MLB is going to suffer the double whammy of hemorrhaging fans, too.

It will be interesting to see how both sides proceed after the Super Bowl concludes and we focus more on baseball, but the Olympics are still going on, as are NBA and NHL games, so this is not the best situation for MLB to drag this out. One hopes that MLB sees MLBPA’s counterproposal and meets them on a more reasonable level.

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Filed under: Chicago Cubs

Tags: CBA, MLB, MLBPA, Negotiations, Sigh

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