By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Am I supposed to feel better now? Are you? Are we supposed to throw a socially-distanced party, with confetti, streamers and bunting to celebrate the return of baseball?
Baseball owners and players are talking again, it seems, and all reports yesterday suggested a deal for the 2020 could (finally) be imminent. In a private one-on-meeting in the desert – as if burying a body after a mob hit – commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA director Tony Clark allegedly constructed the framework of a COVID-19 labor deal. Even so, Manfred and Clark might as well have been disposing of their game in a shallow grave after all but killing it.
Hyperbole? Probably. But that’s how it felt. Baseball had a window to win some good favor this spring. Instead, owners and players joined hands around their sport and started choking the life out of it.
So what if the game actually lived? A part of us all died in the process, a few more breaths taken from an increasingly disinterested fan base.
If and when baseball does return this summer, it will be interesting to see just how damage this has all wrought. In the midst of a pandemic, in a medical and financial crisis, baseball somehow managed to tick us off even more. Basketball and hockey will be in the postseason this late summer and fall, Football will return, too. Meanwhile, baseball will have a short season that even its loyal fans – the purists – are scoffing at, as if, for the first time in seemingly forever, baseball actually isn’t giving us enough product.
Let’s be honest: relative to the other sports, baseball gives us too many games and not enough action. It’s a bad combination. Owners and players seem unwilling to acknowledge or address that glaring reality, so maybe it’s a good thing that they’ve now been forced into a short season. They’ll never go for it in the long run, of course, because there is simply too much money at stake. And as we all know, money is all either side cares about.
How you feel about it all is entirely up to you, but let me tell you this: I’m glad baseball is coming back. I also hope the game’s ratings this fall take an absolutely massive hit. Fans needed baseball back weeks ago, now more than ever, because America needed something to look forward to. The game struck out looking. Now they expect you to come back and swing at their first pitch, asking you to give more to a sport – or, more specifically, league – that continues to give you nothing.
Me? I have to watch. It’s my job. It has been for a long time. But if I were you, I’d stop watching the game for at least a while now, especially this year, because baseball needs to show you some respect.
But to do that, of the course, everyone from the owners to the players would have to actually demonstrate some humility first.