Celebrity deaths, a Presidential impeachment, a virus killing almost 120,000 while concurrently destroying the economy, and racial tensions sparked by a murderous cop – 2020 has already become one of the worst years in recent memory for the United States of America.
Worryingly, it’s only the second week of June.
No doubt, the USA is hurting. It’s hurting badly. And while its citizens look for signs of hope, the rest of the world continues to watch on with concern. There’s a sense, more than ever before, that Americans need their favorite pastimes back. Something to bring joy and distraction from the political, social, and economical upheaval tearing the country apart.
One such pastime, baseball, could certainly bring such joy, however this still appears to be quite some time off.
Since ceasing abruptly midway through Spring Training, not a single pitch has been thrown in the 84 days since. While a completely understandable decision amidst rapidly rising infection rates, you would think that the number one reason preventing a re-start, and the season proper thereafter, would be health concerns. Of course though, this is baseball, and as it has done for many years prior, the almighty dollar is once again the major reason for concern.
It’s been 33 days since I put forward the idea of baseball celebrating MLB Opening Day on Independence Day, and the thought had baseball fans nationwide salivating. They were unanimous in their support.
A July 4th #OpeningDay would be symbolic, epic, and just flat out incredible…
— Dan (@DanClarkSports) May 7, 2020
The positive impact this would have had on the community is so significant it’s impossible to quantify. Symbolic of hope, resilience, unification, and the ability to overcome, it was an opportunity not to be missed. Further, from a scheduling perspective, it would have also ensured a 89-day window existed whereby an 81-game regular season could have occurred. While only 50% of the typical regular season, it was still a significant enough amount of games whereby the best teams in baseball would be challenged and only the very best could rise to the top of the standings.
Sadly, and not all that surprising given the current administration, MLB blew this opportunity through a lack of foresight and leadership, an inability to compromise, and above all greed. Suddenly mid-June is on our doorstep and we appear to be no closer to a season-opener than we were a month ago. Meanwhile, the other major sporting leagues in America are forging ahead with plans to either resume their paused 2019-20 seasons, or commence those set to begin later in 2020. Once again, it’s MLB which is the laughing stock of pro sports.
Don’t get me wrong, all parties are to blame to some degree, however my venom is targeted at MLB and the 30 owners. They are the ones who are mostly at fault throughout this debacle. The players are ready, willing, and becoming more vocal in their frustrations every day. What they’re asking for in return is no more than the pro rata payments you or I would seek through our own employers given the current economic environment. The cities, stadiums, journalists, and broadcasting networks are ready to go too.
This is so frustrating
— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) June 8, 2020
To Rob Manfred, it’s time to stand up and be a fucking leader. Justify your eight-figure salary and find a way to bring all parties together for the greater good of the sport. Find some common ground (which should be the game itself), and foster relationships and negotiations which enable compromise.
To MLB’s 30 owners, it’s time to give back to the fans who have given you so much over the years. The continued focus on minimizing losses in 2020 will undoubtedly hurt you even more in 2021 and beyond. Fans are passionate and they do not forget acts of greed.
Americans and fans from all over the globe need something to smile about. The last thing they need is more frustration. Baseball returning can help create those smiles, however time is quickly running out. It’s time to act…