If there is a work stoppage that leads to cancelled games, it will permanently damage my baseball fandom. Period. Baseball has been a little rocky for a while.
After "surviving" the pandemic, how can these two sides squabble over money? 2021 was such a challenging year for entertainment, as lots of people realized how much money they were wasting on certain things that weren't there in 2020. I myself realized that while I love major league baseball, I don't "need" it.
When it was announced that there would be a season, I was thrilled. But then players and ownership couldn't decide on how to sort out salaries. My opinion was on board with pro-rating salaries. Teams aren't selling tickets or concessions, and shouldn't have to lose all money paying players for a partial season. Players shouldn't be expecting full paychecks in a time where a lot of people lost their jobs. The fact that both sides had to even have a public discussion on the topic was very troubling to me.
When it comes down to it, I don't take sides. Both the players and the owners should be rewarded for a profitable product. Both share responsibility for making the game of baseball an accessible one to the fans.
Should be paid. Veterans who sign big deals then get fat and lazy are a disgrace to the game. Younger players should get more guaranteed money. Minor leaguers should make more money. But players squabbling for an extra couple of million per year when they are already making $10+ is off-putting to me. It's fine if you want to get as much as you can, but there comes a point where I stop caring. Players arguing for full season salaries in 2020 was an over the top request, and helped lead the game down the path to where it is now.
They are entitled to profit off their teams. Baseball is a business, so it's perfectly allowable for owners to make some money off their teams. I have no problem with Tom Ricketts telling Jed Hoyer to cuts costs after underperforming Cubs teams the last few years. If players are underperforming, I don't feel like owners need to sit there and just accept it.
What I do have problems with are the Pirates, who rake in millions of luxury tax dollars, yet never pay out big contracts. Or how minor leaguers are forced into brutal living conditions. That's bogus. Or this stance of "We refuse to talk for 6 weeks, now make everything urgent."
I am shifting from being a Major League Baseball fan to a Minor League one. After seeing Minor Leaguers struggle while Major Leaguers squabble the past two years, my alliances are shifting. Major League Baseball has a great product, but consistently gets in its own way. After 20 years of it, I grew tired of seeing the same mistakes be made over and over.
In the event that games get cancelled in 2022, I will be rethinking my MLB fandom. I've got better things to devote my time than to watch millionaires that squabble with billionaires. If they can't fathom giving up certain things for the long term good of the game, why should I invest my time and money into something that doesn't love me back?
I get it, MLB can not continue to proceed along the same course as it has since the last CBA was signed. There needs to be change. Players should be making big bucks sooner, and teams should not be afraid of free agency draft pick compensation. There should be competitive balance, but the Yankees shouldn't be afraid of the luxury tax. Pace of play is an issue at times. Baseball needs to continue to evolve. But if both sides are incapable of negotiating a deal that is for the greater good, that's a problem. I've got no problem shifting my limited free time and money towards other hobbies that don't continuously make things more difficult for me to follow.
Besides the labor squabble, there's Rob Manfred. The guy who let the 2017 Astros off the hook. Who bumped ATL from the All Star Game. The guy who had Ken Rosenthal fired. The guy who pushed for 7 inning double headers, extra inning runners, and messed around with the balls. He called the WS trophy a piece of metal. I hate to be this way, but all of these little things really sap the fun out of the game. It's been a slow bleed, but the quality of the game keeps dropping. At what point is enough enough?
I'm not usually one for ultimatums, but a completely avoidable work stoppage is as good of a time as any. MLB decisions makers need to get it together, and fast. Stop being petty, and put forth serious offers.