New York Mets fans are thrilled that Major League Baseball has set a return date for the sport to resume. The events that led to this return may take a heavy toll on the game.
It’s good news. In about a month, Major League Baseball will play games that count. Yea. The New York Mets will run out of the dugout at CitiField to the cheers of dozens. A two month, 60 game sprint to one of five National League playoff spots will begin in earnest somewhere around July 24.
What it took to get to this point might be the undoing of America’s pastime. A restart should have happened by now (health concerns permitting). Constant bickering and accusations of bad faith bargaining forced the commissioner’s office to implement a schedule of its choosing.
Although New York Mets fans may not immediately get to see “Polar Bear” Pete Alonso, “The Flying Squirrel” Jeff McNeill, or NL back-to-back Cy Young Award winner “The deGrominator” Jacob deGrom in person, they will be on television. TV is the device that seems to have both broken and fixed how the game will restart.
The level of animosity between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association has settled in somewhere around DEFCON 3, after looking like nuclear war was inevitable a week earlier. No conflict of action or even words ends without hard feelings between the combatants. Judging by reports, there are plenty of them to go around.
When the Collective Bargaining Agreement comes up for review after the 2021 season, both sides already have their weapons locked and loaded for war. They will use the events which led to this late restart as both justification and ammunition.
The real power brokers
Well, they are not the only interested parties with ill will. Both sides may find that their bargaining leverage could be taken away with a simple finger by a group they each take for granted. As the rhetoric once again ramps up, there are those fans who are sick and tired of millionaires and billionaires arguing about a percent here or a percent there. They are ready to shut up the owners and players.
There was a time when fans could vote with their wallets and decide to stay home if they didn’t like what was happening. With so much corporate money now in the sport, exercising their power has become much more difficult. As technology has changed, so has the power of the fan. All it takes now to cast a vote on the sport is a simple press of a button on a television remote.
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Fans will watch at first. It is baseball, and they love their respective teams. But if/when MLB and the MLBPA start sniping at each other through this year or the next, they had better expect fans to change the channel. No viewers mean no advertisers. No advertisers mean lowered broadcast revenues. Lower broadcast revenue means less money available for owners and players to share.
Before the two sides decide to continue their war, both have to take into account that it very quickly could be ended for them. All it requires is a click of a button. Rob Manfred and Tony Clark should come to that conclusion independently yet quickly. Alienating the dwindling fan base is the cost of their fight.
New York Mets fans, what do you think of the state of relations between MLB and its Players Association? Let us know in the comments section below or on social media.