It’s hard to believe, but I blogged an entry like this last year this time. My words are going to be a little bit different but still on the same track. Kind of sad but it’s the way of the world today. I think I titled my original post, take me out to the ballgame.

Pitchers and catchers are reporting to spring training in about a week or so. That’s normal. And that’s what they did last year too. I believe last season started on July 20th. Now that’s an early spring training. Of course as we all know now baseball was shut down during spring training and didn’t reopen till summertime. It proceeded to limp through a 60-game season, an expanded playoff system and a richly deserved world series win by the Dodgers. Aside from the cheating Houston Astros, the Dodgers have been the best team in baseball for The last 5 years. Most everything I wrote in that pre-season article ended up coming true. And so we come into another spring training in the middle of a pandemic with hope in sight and what does baseball do? they plan on screwing it up just like they did last year, although I blame the players this time. Yesterday, the owners proposed a 154 game season, as opposed to 162 games. Unlike last year the players receive full salaries as opposed to prorated salaries for 60 games or the 154 games they play this year. Last year cost the players a a ton of money. Hundreds of millions of dollars. The owners took that problem off the table when proposing a baseball season that starts in mid to late May. The players refuse to budge on their 162 games. I’m watching politics in Major League baseball now. Absolutely ridiculous. There’s language in the collective bargaining agreement that the players were uncomfortable with. They felt this language could negate their full salaries this year. The owners were willing to take it out. The owners were willing to give them anything they wanted. They removed any reference to the commissioner and or his power to circumvent any agreement that was made. The players said no. As most everybody who’s reading this knows the players are unionized and the MLB players association is powerful. They pretty much have the owners by the balls. Not the baseballs.

The PS to this story resides in the future. After this year’s world series the collective bargaining agreement between players and owners expires. Both sides have reason to not trust the other. I believe that the players are right and I believe that the owners under report their income so they can underpay the people who make them the money that they make. And by the way. I don’t think anybody’s worth $30 million a year. Or 20. Or 10. This is a sport. But, it’s all about supply and demand. I agree with the players. The players didn’t create the monster. I’m talking about the ridiculous salaries. The owners did by bidding against each other for the best players. There are loopholes in the free agent system that cause much distrust against ownership amongst the players. I think the two biggest ones are the owners colluding against free agents. Guys that should be getting big contracts after they’ve served their initial six years with one team. These guys have been basically ignored during the off-season when teams used to be signing players immediately and to big dollar contracts. instead now ownership only goes out and immediately signs the best of the best, the elite in the sport and spends $350 million on 10-year contracts. Yeah I know it’s crazy. In 2019, a guy like Dallas Keuchel who had won the Cy Young award back in 2015 and still was a dominating sinkerball pitcher couldn’t sell himself in the off-season at all. As a huge baseball fan and a fantasy player, I could think of 25 teams that could use him as a number three or four starter with my first thought being the Yankees. That was back in 19. He ended up signing a prorated minimum contract after the June 1st draft in 2019 which made his signing non-compensatorial. This meant the team that signed him did not have to give up a draft pick. He’s gone on to have two strong years after this signing. He was well compensated with a 4-year contract last year that could earn him 74 million dollars over this time if the White Sox opt in for the fourth year. It’s a guaranteed 55.5 million dollar contract for 3 years. Now it’s hard to feel sorry for a guy who’s guaranteed 55 million dollars but it goes back to supply and demand and my question would have to be why wasn’t he worth that in 2019 all throughout the off-season and spring training? The word collusion stands out in my head! In addition Craig Kimbrel ended up signing the same type contract with the Chicago Cubs in June of 2019 and proceeded to have the worst season of his career. The Cubs resigned him anyway and in 2020 he continued to stink up Wrigley Field. It’s a crap shoot with some of these guys in their 30s. In addition, and this part is for hardcore fans only the owners have found the way of circumventing players service time and stealing an extra year from them. in other words instead of locking them up for six years they can lock them up for a seventh by simply calling them up two weeks after spring training ends. That would be instead of having them break camp with the major league team. This infuriates The players association and rightly so. It’s against the spirit of the agreement. So, when it comes time  to opening up the baseball season this year the players don’t trust a word the owners say. The collective bargaining agreement expires after the world series this season and for the first time since 1994-95, I believe there’s going to be a work stoppage. I also believe it’s going to last a long time. 1994-95 damaged the game in a big way. It took 10 years for attendance to come back to where it was before. They canceled the 94 season halfway through and didn’t crown a world champion. The labor beef extended into the 1995 season as well. If this happens again there’s a chance it could destroy the sport.

There is rancor and anger on both sides. The owners cannot continue to say they lose money with their billion dollar TV contracts. It’s very simple. It’s very difficult to take something that back you’ve given to a union. So there’s going to be a baseball season this year. Last year they limped to the finish line and they barely made it. This season, traveling every three or four days and without a bubble looks like it could be greatly interrupted and consequently the best team won’t win. Who loses? We the fans. Last year baseball had a replacement team playing games at their training sites so when they would lose two or three players to covid they had backups. In other words they weren’t putting their best product on the field. I think it sucks. A lot of other fans will think so too.

The owners position is that come May the virus will be more under control than it will be on the 26th or 27th of March when they plan on starting the season this year. They’re right. So what we have here is the beginning of cluster f*** season number two. We shall see if my words are prophetic again.

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SMiller