In a time when people are getting laid off, furloughed or taking pay cuts, major-league baseball players are on the verge of making a mistake that would surely push their sport further toward irrelevance.
Baseball owners have a plan for starting a season in July, with regional locations for games, universal designated hitter, an expanded playoff system, an 82-game schedule and plenty of safety measures for participants.
Owners, though, want to go back on a deal with the players signed in March that includes $170 million in advance payments and prorated pay for however many games are played.
The owners, now facing games without fans in the stadiums, are asking for the players to instead accept a one-time 50-50 split of revenue, which the players say they won’t accept, because it’s a form of salary cap.
Which they’ve never accepted.
And if they can't reach some sort of compromise, a much-needed season will be lost.
While I would always side with the players under normal circumstances, I can’t do it this time. It’s just not the time for the players to be fussing and fuming over millions of dollars during not only a global pandemic but an economic depression.
And it’s the perfect time for baseball to resume -- when it could take center stage, at least for a while, in the sports landscape.
This is an opportunity to breath new life into the game. Put microphones on players and let them talk to the TV and radio announcers during the games. Let them show some personality. It was a smash hit in spring training this year.
Show the nation, and the world, that the sport can adapt and evolve. I think it’s a rare chance to capture new fans and re-energize the old ones.
Fans want bat flips? Give ‘em bat flips. Give them what they want -- if you can find out what they want.
If baseball is going to continue with an idea that I think is a bad one -- to play in existing regional ballparks, rather than one or two hubs, with no fans in the seats -- let one fan from each team into the stadium and give that fan a spot up in the cheap sets.
And put a mic on them, too. Obviously, you need to pick the right fan, but teams know who they are.
All I’m saying is, let it all hang out. Have some fun at the ballpark. Give viewers a reason to watch.
And players, you’re building a future for your sport and investing in yourselves. Show people how much fun you have playing! You’re only going to play 82 games so have some fun with it and don’t be afraid to show it!
I know players and I know that most of them love their game. They have to stop hiding that love. They need to share that joy, put it out where we can see it.
People need to view that happiness, now more than ever. They need reasons to smile. And they need your game.
This is not the time for you to let a pile of money keep it from happening. And it's not about you this time. It's about the fans.