Anyone with any interest in baseball is well aware that owners locked out players on December 1, 2021, after spending $2.1 billion in new contracts and contract extensions.
The irony behind that was the owners then turned around and said it was the players who were being greedy, and this was only done to help speed up the negotiation process.
Fast forward to today, February 10, 2022, and we are no closer to labor peace than we were in December when this whole process began.
The “humbled” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred will have you believe everything is fine, and there will be no delay to spring training or missed games this season.
He will gloat that the owners gave into the universal DH, dropped draft pick compensation and both sides wanting expanded playoffs. But a closer look, and what do you see? It’s all about dollar signs.
A universal DH means bigger contracts for a pitcher who doesn’t have to bat, thus taking the old guard National League and putting them on the same ground as the American. For the likes of the Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox and Giants, it means the ability to pay top pitchers and hitters while small-market clubs languish in falling behind.
Big markets get to keep the glory, and small markets like Tampa Bay, Arizona and our Baltimore Orioles are left trying to hold onto their big-name players by securing maybe one or two. This will enable the big markets to secure more lucrative TV deals, lining the pockets of the owners and Major League Baseball as a whole, while not wanting revenue sharing to exceed 46% for the players.
Let’s look at draft pick compensation next. Before you could make an offer to select players at a higher salary to convince them to stay for a year, knowing that if they left you would receive draft picks for losing top-flight talent, so you could at least work on replacing them.
Once again, teams with no regard to the luxury tax, the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and such, now have free reign to buy a championship, get rewarded while not doing much to help smaller teams build and stay competitive or keep that Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. The big money markets win all the way around; more delays, sold-out stadiums and consistent playoffs for the spenders with a team like Tampa Bay, Oakland or Milwaukee sneaking in here or there.
Expanded playoffs turn in the same reward that cable networks and regular television networks will fight over and offer lucrative deals for more games, bigger markets and lining the pockets of owners and Major League Baseball.
All in all, most baseball fans see it as a win for us, when in reality, the loss is a competitive balance that was slowly starting to come.
On the front, a universal DH means more David Ortiz and Edgar Martinez’s in both leagues, while the dominant pitching no longer has to worry about how to properly lay down a bunt when it matters.
Big market teams now have free reign to chase every big-name player without the worry of losing anything in the process, meaning super teams and the possibility of small-market teams being sold and/or moved because they can’t continue to lose money at the rates such as Tampa Bay, which has appeared in the postseason three years straight yet can’t sell half the tickets for their stadium.
Rob Manfred will have you believe that everything is OK, and the owners are just looking out for the best interests of baseball and its integrity. Sadly, this weasel is the same guy who shafted the players union before and that has brought us to this point.
If you think he’s out front and being honest today, welcome to the “Fraud” side of baseball: lie to the fans, screw the players and laugh all the way to the bank.
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