Baseball is Killing Itself

The NBA’s Board of Governors voted to approve a 22-team league to pick up where the season left off when the pandemic forced a shutdown back in March. Games will start around the end of July, and will all be at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex near Orlando.

The NHL will restart right with the Stanley Cup playoffs. The details are still being worked out, but things are in motion.

The NFL will have coaching staffs return to facilities next week, and fully expects the next season to start on time.

NASCAR has already restarted. Soccer’s Premier League plans to restart on June 17. The PGA will return next week. The WNBA is looking at having their season in one place, probably Las Vegas.

Major League Baseball has rejected the Players’ Association proposal for a 114-game season and has no plans to send a counter offer.

It’s not that they are concerned about the health and safety protocols. It’s all about who gets paid how much. Which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is a REALLY BAD LOOK when we’ve got the highest unemployment numbers since the Great Depression.

If they can’t come to some agreement, the 2020 season will be a goner. Baseball has had strikes and work stoppages and shortened seasons in the past, but they’ve never lost an entire season.

This could do incalculable harm to the future of the professional sport. Baseball already has the oldest fan base of any sport, according to a survey by Sports Business Journal. And it’s not even close. The average age for baseball is 57; the next oldest is the NFL at 50. A recent Gallup Poll found that a mere nine percent of Americans call baseball their favorite pro sport – the lowest in their polling history, and less than even soccer. Major League Baseball simply cannot afford to take a serious hit to their fan base.

Another stupid move on behalf of the owners is the call to shrink the Minor Leagues as a cost-cutting measure. In large areas of the country, a minor league team is the closest a fan can come to seeing a professional game in person. Naturally, a lot of the teams on the chopping block are the ones that are in the small, rural communities. Where are those fans going to go for their live, local sports? College basketball and football, perhaps? There are plenty of colleges around that aren’t going anywhere….. and they serve as minor leagues for the NFL and NBA anyway….

A few teams get it, understanding the importance of their farm systems to baseball overall. The Kansas City Royals are one of the few teams that is continuing to pay all of its staff, even down to their minor league teams, full salaries during the shutdown. As owner Dayton Moore explained,

Understand this: The minor-league players, the player you’ll never know about, the players that never get out of rookie ball or high-A, those players have as much impact on the growth of our game as 10-year or 15-year veteran players. They have as much opportunity to influence the growth of our game as those individuals who played for a long time because those individuals go back into their communities and teach the game, work in academies, are JUCO coaches, college coaches, scouts, coaches in pro baseball. They’re growing the game constantly because they’re so passionate about it. So we felt it was really, really important not to release one minor-league player during this time, a time we needed to stand behind them.”

(source)

If only there were enough owners like Moore, and Players’ Association members who could step back and see the long term implications of the holdout……

 

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