I want to start this off by saying that I am pro-player. I will always support the MLBPA’s quest for evening the playing field – for upping pay, restricting lengthy arbitration processes, and letting players enter free agency sooner. Always. There’s no moral high ground in supporting a bunch of incredibly rich owners who are only trying to ensure that they get richer with every game that is played.
However, the time for taking a moral stand is up. The clock on spring training is ticking and with zero progress on reaching a collective bargaining agreement – and I mean zero – the season is almost certain to be postponed if not abbreviated.
Pitchers and catchers are meant to report to their Spring Training facilities in a week. We all know that’s not happening.
My point is not to berate or place blame on either the owners or the player’s association for their lengthy lockout. At this point, I couldn’t care less how the Collective Bargaining Agreement shakes out, I just want to see progress made and have a full season of baseball.
Because they don’t care. They, the nation, the world at large, do not care at all about Major League Baseball or whatever is keeping it from being on. The average fan of the MLB is 57. That’s a decade older than the average fan of the NFL and nearly 15 years older than the average NBA fan. MLB, which has made its name through broadcasting its games on Regional Sports Networks, has seen drastic drop offs in both ratings and fan attendance in the last year.
No one cares about baseball. And guess what? If the season doesn’t start on time because both the owners and players were too stubborn to reach an agreement, then they’ll care even less. This lockout isn’t some national scandal that draws attention to the sport, but rather the last strangled breaths of a dying game.
This isn’t to mention all of those that would be impacted by an abbreviated or postponed season. Forget the joy that attend Spring Training games gives me and thousands of others of migratory fans, think for a minute about the local economies that benefit from the influx of tourists every March.
Sure, Sarasota, Bradenton, and Clearwater all host teams in the Gulf Coast league, but the fan base undoubtedly doesn’t bring in the business that Spring Training tourism does. Moreover, what about the stadium workers at Citizens Bank Park and across the country? What are they to do when they find themselves out of work this April? Are they supposed to care whether or not a player is arbitration eligible after his 3rd or 4th year?
I know that this isn’t a nuanced argument or even a complete one, but it’s just a statement from a tired fan. If I’m over caring about this lockout, then you can sure bet that the outside sports world never cared at all.