It would be insensitive to put a picture of the Doomsday Clock here, but were there a baseball version, believe me, it’s what would lead off this piece. As you all likely know by now, MLB rejected yet another proposal by the MLBPA last night and the players are, predictably, heated. I’ll get to that in a a little bit, as I do want to have a little bit of fun first, though the exercise hardly seems relevant or realistic now. But, alas, let’s at least have some sliver of optimism, right?
Saturday morning, I put out a thought exercise on the Views twitter account–as I often do. It was as follows:
Most respondents picked the third trio as the one they’d take the elite/peak performance from, trusting in the other two to be able to perform well in the randomness of baseball. Let’s take a look at what the peak of each trio would be.
Trio 1 is MVP level performance from Judge; probably 80 walks and 25 HR from Hicks; and something similar to Hicks–maybe more power–for Voit.
Trio 2 is MVP level performance for both Stanton and LeMahieu and 20 homers + superb defense for Gio.
Trio 3 is 30 homers from Sanchez; a balanced contact and power from Torres; and 40 homers from Gallo.
Obviously, any and all of those would be desirable. However, I think I’ll have to go with the crowd and say I’d take the elite performance from Trio 3. I know Gleyber doesn’t quite have a spot right now, but let’s just pretend. He and Sanchez and Gallo are some of the biggest question marks the Yankees have going forward after their performances last year. Getting the top of their games and the normal games of everyone else would probably lead to a mashing offense worthy once again of the name Bronx Bombers.
Of course, for anything like this to be more than academic, we need an actual baseball season and despite the start date–whenever it is–being closer on the calendar than ever, we’ve seldom felt farther away from baseball actually starting.
Before I get into this next part, I suppose I should do the integrity thing and say that I do speak from a position of bias. As many of you know, I’m a New York City teacher; what many of you may not know is that I am the union chapter leader for my school. Additionally, both my father and grandfather–a delegate–were big parts of the local carpenters’ union where I grew up. With that out of the way…
It is clear that one side wants baseball to be played as soon as possible and one side doesn’t.
It is clear that one side is negotiating in good faith and one side isn’t.
It is clear that one side wants to make the game better for its own sake and for fans and one side cares only about extracting as much profit from the game as possible.
The owners imposed a lockout they didn’t need to impose.
The owners dragged their feet in negotiations.
The owners have made almost no significant movement towards the middle– let alone the MLBPA’s side–in offers and counteroffers.
The players have been willing to negotiate from day one.
The players have sent in honest, genuine propsals.
The players have shown a willingness to concede on issues.
There is no ‘both sides’ to this.
I want baseball in the worst way. It’s a big part of my life, silly and frivolous as it may be, but it is a great source of fun and joy and something my family share together, bond over. But that doesn’t mean I want the players to sacrifice so much, to give the owners what they want, just to get games played.
Earlier this week, in now deleted tweets, Dodger pitcher Walker Buehler framed the issue as ‘the numbers don’t line up’ when it comes to owners vs. players. And he’s absolutely right; this is a vitally important point. We see what the players make, in a very public way. And that amount of money can make it hard to relate to them. But remember, the owners make WAY MORE…and now they’re seeking to take even more AND water down the game through wildly expanded playoffs (that will make the regular season less competitive). “The numbers don’t line up.”
I’d bet that almost everyone reading this has had a similar thought regarding their own jobs or careers. The players are fighting to make the numbers “line up” a little better than they have in the past, just like any of us would. The players have an amazing job and earn a lot of money for it–more money than most of us can imagine, let alone earn. But that doesn’t mean they forfeit the right to fight for more, to make things a little more fair.
The publicity and visibility of players, especially relative to owners, makes them easy targets for public scorn. This is augmented by a lamentable and significant decline in labor union participation in America, along with some (sometimes intentional, sometimes not) owners’ water carrying by media. However, I think this time around–at least I hope–it will be better and people will side with the players.
I morbidly joked in the past that winning the 2021 World Series was crucial for the Yankees since there wasn’t going to be a season in 2022. I didn’t think I’d be this close to being right.
There is no doubt that when baseball is back, I will be watching. But that doesn’t mean I need it to be tomorrow, or even March 31. The players winning this fight is better for the game of baseball.
I hope the MLBPA continues to stand strong and does not give in to a set of greedy, entitled, spoiled billionaires who care for nothing more than the next buck and not the long term health, stability, or competitiveness of baseball.