How did baseball get here?
Who’s to blame?
Major League Baseball owners and the Players Association were unable to sign a new collective bargaining agreement on Tuesday. In the aftermath, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred officially canceled the first two series of the season, which was supposed to begin March 31.
The last 10 days have produced a whirlwind of meetings, proposals, rumors, Tweets, and finally a 16-hour marathon session on Monday. Those talks on the last day of February left many fans with some hope that the two sides would reach an agreement and baseball would be back on schedule for the March 31st Opening Day.
All of that hope and excitement evaporated in about five hours Tuesday afternoon.
I’m sure if you break everything down, blame can fall all around in situations like these. But before you place blame on either side, I’d like you to consider a few points.
The owners can always outlast the players. That’s why it always appears that they end up with the better end of these negotiations. Their wealth is in the team and the organization as a whole. Even though money may not be flowing in like a rapid river at the moment, they are confident that in time games will be played again, fans will be in the stands buying $12 beers, and their investment will continue to grow.
The players’ wealth, however, is in their own bodies. It’s in their physical abilities that only deteriorate and depreciate as time passes. It may be incremental, but think of it like a dollar bill in your pocket. That dollar bill is worth less today than it was yesterday. It may only be fractions of pennies a day, but over time, that depreciation becomes more visible.
Each day that passes for a player, is a day gone that they can’t prove their value. Each day that passes without an injury is a day they can’t get back. For minor league players, each day without Spring Training is another day of lost opportunity as well. The window for the players to cash on their investment is brief and unpredictable. Their value only rises for a few years, if they’re lucky, and the depreciation can be almost immediate and final, like in the case of injuries. Lost years, months, weeks, and even days are far more detrimental to the value of a player than the value of an entire organization.
It’s like the old Aesop Fable, “The Tortoise and The Hare.” The Hare (the players) has no other choice but to act quickly in order for it to have a chance to win, while the Tortoise (the owners) slowly and steadily always move ahead.
So, before you decide who’s at fault for all of this, I hope you consider what you’ve just read. Think carefully and consider all sides and as many informed opinions as you can consume.
It looks like you’re going to have plenty of time to think it over.
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