Boston Red Sox

Jul 28, 2020; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Empty seats at Fenway Park before the start of the game against the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Just to be clear, you don’t have to pick a side. You don’t have to be with the owners. You don’t have to be with the players. In the fact, the only side you should really pick is yours.

Somewhat incredibly – but not really – baseball owners and players failed to come up with a new bargaining agreement yesterday, reaching a self-imposed deadline (by owners) that resulted in the cancellation of the first week of the 2022 Major League Baseball season. Before, during and after, baseball owners and players reacted with fingers, tweets and comments – all pointed – to control the damage from a game that can never seem to get out of its own way.

Here’s what they’re missing: their real battle isn’t with each other. It’s with you. The game has neglected you for a long, long time now, and not a single person could blame you if you’re now numb beyond repair.

I’ve asked this repeatedly over recent years and I’ll ask it again: when is the last time baseball really gave you something? Shorter, crisper games? More action? Good entertainment value? Nope. None of the above. Baseball has gotten harder to watch, even harder to listen to, harder to tolerate. Over the last several years, baseball has all but demanded more of a commitment and more of your time in an age when everyone has less of both, which is a nice way of saying the sport has been oblivious to the wants and needs of the people who really pay them all.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred,center, walks after negotiations with the players association in an attempt to reach an agreement to salvage March 31 openers and a 162-game season, Monday, Feb. 28, 2022, at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla.
Mlb Lockout 07

The luxury tax threshold? The player arbitration pool? The minimum salary? Please. You don’t care and you shouldn’t. It doesn’t really affect you. What you care about is the product, which has been deteriorating. And when the sides can’t reach an agreement to give you a product that is now significantly inferior to others, well, it’s not just infuriating. It’s insulting.

Will I be back? Of course. In fact, I’ve never really left and I won’t – can’t – now. When you are a real fan of a sport, you don’t pick it as much as it picks you. That’s just the way we’re wired. But every relationship inevitably reaches a breaking point if and when one side does all of the taking and none of the giving, and that’s the way it feels now between baseball and anybody who might even remotely be a casual fan.

The games asks and asks … takes and takes.

So I’ll ask it again:

When is the last time the game truly, really gave you something?