On Wednesday, the NBA announced they would be returning to in-game action at the end of July. The day before, Major League Soccer avoided a labor stoppage by signing a new collective bargaining agreement, paving the way to return in the fall. The NHL already revealed they would be having a 24 team tournament to determine a league champion. NASCAR has been rolling along as the only professional sport of any interest going right now. Six weeks from training camp, and the NFL has a scandal over kneeling for the flag, so they are right on schedule to start their season. All over the country, sports leagues are finding ways to get going and started again. Be it with empty stadiums, central locations, or any other manner to make sure they have seasons.
Then there is Major League Baseball. During a regular year, they would be cruising into the summer, ready to be the only sport active most days. Instead, owners and players are in a dick waving contest, with the players trying to shove their dicks into a mouse trap, and the owners flat out trying to shoot their dicks off.
You could be forgiven for not being aware of the ins and outs of what is happening in the MLB right now, so i’ll give you a quick refresher:
When the baseball season was paused, the players association and the owners came to an agreement on pay for the Major League Players. The idea was that when baseball came back after COVID-19, the various groups would negotiate in good faith in the best interest of getting the sport going. That did not happen.
Firstly, the owners are to blame. The players have their issues, mainly trusting the owners in the first place, but they are trying to get back on the field. The owners, at some point, realized that they would make more money by not paying the players and cancelling the season, rather than play in empty stadiums. They also realized that they were paying minor league players 400 dollars per week not to play. So they started addressing that, and by addressing it, I of course mean that every team cut at least 30 minor league players to avoid paying them the rest of the season. To their credit, two teams, the Royals and Twins, have committed to not getting rid of any of their players. For those keeping track at home, 30 players making 1600 dollars per month for the rest of the year would have cost each team 156k plus their insurance. That is absolutely nothing. To put that into perspective, the owners of the Cubs spent millions just to get noted skin flint Scott Walker re-elected in Wisconsin, and he lost.
In fact, some teams went above and beyond in their cheapness. The Mariners have cut 50 players, and the Arizona Diamondbacks have cut 64.
The Oakland Athletics, though, take the cake. And by cake, I mean cake made of expired dog food and mustard. They decided they were not going to pay ANY of their minor league players after May, a move that saved them less than a million dollars. To us, that might be a lot of money, until you realize their owner spent nine million trying to keep Barack Obama from being re-elected in 2012.
John Fisher owns the Athletics, and if I told you to describe a modern billionaire, and your response was “born into money and failed upward” you would be VERY VERY CORRECT. Fisher is worth 2.1 Billion dollars. How did he acquire his wealth? Did he use his parents money to get in early in a tech company and reap the profits when they homogenized that tech and bastardized it to maximize profit? That is incorrect, sir. Did he make his money with a leveraged takeover of a pharmaceutical company and jack up the prices on the product because it doesn’t matter if a child gets their insulin shot, as long as profits!? Nope, nothing that classy. Nah, John Fisher’s dad was a co founder of The Gap. That’s it. After college, Fisher started a business where he bought real estate which his parents would then use to put a Gap store, and pay him the rent money for the land. And he failed at that! So then his parents made him the president of a random investment company his parents owned and he bought some hotels.
Needless to say, this spoiled asshole has decided that his minor leaguers aren’t worth being paid.
During all of this, the Major League players were dumb enough to believe this cabal of billionaire snake oil salesmen would negotiate in good faith to move towards a common cause of having a baseball season.
That brings us to the past couple weeks. As other leagues quickly came together to get their seasons going, the owners of Major League Baseball were coming to the realization that it would just be cheaper not to play baseball, rather than to pay the players to play in an empty stadium. They then decided it would be much easier to just try to screw the players over. The players didn’t see this coming because….I have no idea why. The owners had spent the previous few seasons intentionally trying to suppress player salaries so they could keep from having to pay players what they are actually worth.
Owners then played a very ballsy card for billionaires, and that is, of course, to cry poor. They claimed that they weren’t making any money and that most of their revenue came from selling tickets to the games. This isn’t true, because the year isn’t 1935. Revenues have risen across baseball for 17 consecutive seasons. Tom Ricketts, the increasingly vile owner of the Chicago Cubs, had the audacity to claim that 70% of the team’s revenues come from ticket sales. That could be true, if it wasn’t for the fact that they have their own television network they aren’t putting into their numbers. They are only claiming profit from the national television contract, which isn’t as large as, you know, collecting 100 percent of the service fees from their own network. Yes, there are startup costs, and the Cubs are currently having a second dick waving contest, this time with Comcast, who provide cable to 47 percent of all cable subscribers in the Cubs viewing area. If/when they come to terms on a deal with Comcast, they will make around 70 million dollars per year just in carriage fees for the network. This does not count advertising, which will pay a large portion of operating costs for the network. That 70 million is, of course, missing from the Cubs numbers. The Cubs are not alone in this practice, of course. Every owner in baseball is playing a financial shell game with their finances to make themselves look like they are broke and it’s the fault of the greedy baseball players.
And somehow, this works for a certain percentage of fans, who think that baseball players are lucky to be paid at all. “They are playing a kids game!” will be screamed by the clench fisted idiot on Twitter, who couldn’t even see a 99 MPH fastball go by, let alone hit it. This line of argument is patently stupid, and is the same as you turning down all of your pay raises at work and being happy to work for less because “you should be lucky you have a job while others are unemployed.” Again, the people on unemployment generally can’t track a ball 120 feet into the gap, catch it, then in a single continuous motion pivot and throw the ball 200 feet directly to the cut off man. The asshole on Twitter complaining about player salaries can’t field a ball at third base that is coming off the bat at 115 MPH. The people who think like this are all generally the same: They played some little league, maybe they made it as far as JV, and they still think they could go out there and play if they were given the chance. They of course cannot. Even Mark Teixeira, a former player who opened his mouth and said the players should play for less isn’t in baseball anymore because he can’t do those things and people wouldn’t pay to see him do that. Also, Teixeira made 217 million dollars over his career. He did fine for himself, and probably should take this situation off.
Sorry, getting off on tangents here, back to what has happened. The owners claimed poverty while ALSO trying to turn the players against each other with their first offer they sent to the players association. Instead of playing on a prorated scale (if the team plays 81 games, the player gets half of their season salary) the owners decided to use a sliding scale to pay people. This wasn’t done as a series of random numbers to suppress pay. It was done to turn players against each other. the players making less money didn’t have as much of their salary go away. On the other hand, the best players in baseball had nearly everything taken away from them. For example, Mike Trout is the best player of his generation and if he continues his current trajectory, will go down as one of the ten best players in the history of baseball. For his greatness. he would have made 36 million dollars this season. Under the sliding scale, he would have made six million.
The reason behind this was very clear: there are way more people making three million dollars per year than 36 million. If you get the three million per year players to turn on the 36 million per year players, it would force the players association’s hand and they would have to play for compromised contracts for the season. It didn’t work.
instead, the players association came back and made a counter offer. They get their full prorated salaries, and play a 110 game season that ends on October 31st, and they play into November and (god help us) December to complete the playoffs. This isn’t ideal for a couple reasons, namely health. There is not going to be a minor league season this year, meaning that teams aren’t going to have a deep reservoir of players that are playing everyday in the minors to bring up to help the team. Having 110 games after a brief spring training could lead to a lot of health related problems throughout. An 81 game season makes all the sense in the world, because that means they can give the teams days off during the season, instead of making teams play 26 games in 27 days all year.
The owners are so hellbent on not paying the players that they will not counter offer the players association’s latest offer. They are content not playing this season. They do not care about the game. They do not care about the fans. They do not care about the players. They care about how much money they will make. Of course, there isn’t going to be a lot of money to make if there is no season, which is the full “MLB shooting it’s dick off” situation, because there is no guarantee that the fans will come back next season. There is no guarantee that television networks are going to be nearly as willing to shell out billions of dollars for baseball programming when the next television deals come up. If they have a choice to keep spending on baseball at that price, or get NASCAR and the NHL for less money, then that becomes an option now.
The other reason television networks might be reluctant to invest heavily in baseball is the same thing that casts a massive shadow over this entire situation.
The collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners ends on December 1st, 2021. The owners are already trying to break down the players union so that they can continue to suppress salaries. Players are dug in, trying to protect themselves and continue to see salaries rise. There is almost undoubtedly going to be a strike that could affect the 2022 season. Owners could push for a salary cap like other leagues. Players have shown a willingness to protect their own. This season for example, David Price and others have stepped up and offered to pay minor league salaries, which is turn has acted as a good way to shame owners into paying the minor leaguers of those teams.
in one way, the owners have all of the power. They pay the salaries. They dictate everything. In another way, the players are in control because, as i’ve noted earlier, there are a select few people who can hit a 99 mph fastball, and those players are the ones fans pay to see. The owners are very obviously the bad guys in this. Nobody has John Fisher posters on their walls. Nobody collects Ken Kendrick baseball cards. There aren’t people lining up outside the stadium to watch Bob Castellini play center field. If ownership drives away fans, then they really will see it hit them in the pocket books. After the players strike in 1994, it took four seasons for people to come back to baseball, and even then it took Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa rewriting the record books for people to notice.
With more options than ever in terms of sports watching, and with more and more people cutting cable and eschewing the very thing that makes these teams so much money, it is crucial for the teams to get back on the field this season. If they don’t, then everyone, from players to management, will have shot their dicks off, and they will have nobody to blame but themselves.