After two years of home confinement, triple vaccinations, wearing a mask and a few other health necessities, we are getting close to the end of our ordeal. D
uring the dark, cold and dreary days, I was looking forward to the announcement that “baseball pitchers and catchers were on their way to sunny Florida or Arizona to prepare for the upcoming baseball season.” It is those few words that make me feel that Spring is just around the corner.
But sadly my sports hopes are about to be dashed.
From October through December we learned that player after player was signing mega contracts. The last best estimate of the cost of that 90-day bacchanal was somewhere around $2.1 billion. Player after player turned their backs on their loyal home fans and sold their talents to the highest bidders.
When the clock struck midnight on Dec. 2, the collective bargaining agreement with the players union expired and since that time, players and owners have been locked in verbal warfare that seems to be going nowhere.
Being a die-hard baseball fan, I forgot that the players belong to a union and regardless of the fact that the fans are hungry for the signs of an upcoming baseball season, the players have the right to thumb their noses at us poor suckers.
Once each year I take a few of our grandchildren to a ball game and shell out over $300 to see them smile and give me thank you hugs. Baseball means a great deal to America and is a big deal to millions of children.
Not every baseball fan lives in a major city and many devoted fans flock to some small minor league park where they can be entertained at a more modest price for a hot dog and a soda. That entertainment option is also going the way of the dinosaur.
For reasons beyond explanation, owners of the big league teams have decided to reduce the number of minor league teams, So fans in Staten Island who had a chance to see future Yankee superstars are forced to either travel to the stadium or watch their favorite sport on local television.
Before I get on to the subject of stalled labor negotiations there is another subject that needs to be discussed.
Owners of big league teams in large cities earn mega bucks from hungry fans who buy tickets, food, and all kinds of hats, jackets and jerseys.
The owners of teams located in smaller urban states in places like Colorado or Pittsburgh, get big fat checks to compensate them for the dollars that they can’t make because of smaller populations.
Many of those teams struggle for lack of up-and-coming stars, despite the fact that the owners get monster checks. Some of those dollars could be spent on building up a respectable team, but that would cut down on their family payday.
There hasn’t been a baseball strike since the 1994-95 stoppage. It took 232 days to get the players and the owners to make peace. Millions of baseball fans were denied the chance to enjoy their favorite sport.
It took a White House intervention involving President Clinton and Vice President Gore to get the warring parties to sit down and bury their differences. The fans got their revenge after that settlement by boycotting major league baseball for two years.
At this point in time, the two sides have two weeks to work out a deal and if nothing happens there will be no timely opening day ceremonies.
It is hard to tell if the owners and the players can work out their issues in time for the regular season. The owners have their needs and the players have an agenda of their own. Up to now, they have been taking a hard line and have shown no signs of wanting to get ready for 2022 baseball.
If there is a shortened season it is a sure thing that the fans will be disheartened and won’t come running back to the parks. One would hope that sanity will prevail and the fans will get some respect. But sadly when it comes to an argument over big dollars, there has to be a loser and it will not be the two combatants.