Boston Red Sox

Feb 17, 2019; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; MLB commissioner Rob Manfred addresses representatives from the grapefruit league during the annual spring training media day at Hilton in West Palm Beach. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub

The players could have just said yes, solely in the interest of labor peace, really without a binding commitment. They would have forfeited only the right to litigate. Instead, they chose to draw a line and brace for battle in 2021.

Here’s the good news: for now, it’s over.

For now.

After a week of seemingly earnest negotiations that began with a face-to-face meeting between commissioner Rob Manfred and union head Tony Clark, baseball players rejected the owners’ last attempt at a solution late yesterday, mostly just because they could. If a baseball season and postseason are played this year, players would have earned more money than they will now. But apparently, the power to say no to the owners means more than the sacrifice of saying yes to fans.

Before we go any further, let’s make this clear: Manfred now has the power to schedule the season, which he will do. Baseball players could have made this more amicable and a little more profitable in the process, but they opted to start a labor war a year early – amid a pandemic.

If that sounds like a total rip on the players, it isn’t – at least not solely. We now know that owners had no intention of playing more than 60 (or 65) games this season because they indisputably dragged their feet in talks up until last week, when we effectively hit the two-minute warning. Players then opted to raise their middle fingers.

“We’re more important.”

“No, we are.”

Meanwhile, here’s their message to their aging, deteriorating, agitated fan base: You, regardless, are indisputably unimportant.

Mazz: Rob Manfred and everyone else involved in the baseball dispute is giving fans the finger. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

Mazz: Rob Manfred and everyone else involved in the baseball dispute is giving fans the finger. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: what, exactly, does baseball give you anymore? An entertaining product? No. (The game is duller than ever before.) Crisp choreography? No. (The games take an eternity.) A bargain and a little respect? Hell no. (Self-explanatory.) Sadly, baseball now gives its following next to nothing, asking for more of your time and money while offering a less entertaining and more expensive “option.”

Then they prematurely engage in a labor war.

Amid a pandemic.

With 40 million Americans out of work.

You really can’t make this stuff up.

Of course, there is now the very real chance that this will all be moot. Even with a schedule and an agreement on health safety protocols, there is no guarantee that baseball – or any sport, for that matter – will play at all this year as COVID-19 continues to overtake the planet. But that’s not the point. In the last week, after all of the annoying and self-serving hot air, baseball had the chance to come to its senses at the end, to end the tantrums and just do what was right. They had the chance to give you something – however small – and, in the end, put their differences aside.

They couldn’t do it.

For themselves.

Or, more importantly, for you.

At this stage, who could blame you if you just want to give them the finger?

You can hear Tony Massarotti weekdays from 2-6 p.m. EST on the Felger & Massarotti program. Follow him on Twitter @TonyMassarotti.