We’ve been without regular season baseball for the longest stoppage in history, and it’s not even a labor driven problem.
Tomorrow night at 7PM, we’ll get our first look at the Miami Marlins in live-game action since March. They’ll be playing the first of two “tune-up” games versus the Atlanta Braves in preparation for “Opening Day,” which follows for the Marlins on Friday.
What that amounts to is a 299 day stoppage in regular season play. In other words, baseball that counts on the final line. Will it really be baseball as we know it with the stadiums devoid of customers? The popular punch line is that in the case of the Miami Marlins (and to a lesser extent, their northern in-state rival Tampa Bay Rays) it won’t really be that different since they’re used to playing to empty houses.
That’s a reductive viewpoint to put it simply. Even on their worst-drawing date, the Miami Marlins still had 5,297 in the stands on August 26 against the Cincinnati Reds. The Marlins lost that one, 6-3 despite Jorge Alfaro (13) and Neil Walker (6) going deep off Reds pitching. Over 5,000 in the stands is a far cry from zero.
Maybe the players and owners have finally had enough of stoppages, and will double down on their attempts to put a new labor agreement in place.
"Make no mistake: The current collective bargaining agreement doesn’t expire until 2021. The conditions players feel are suppressing their earning power – a luxury tax that serves as a de facto salary cap, a heavy reliance on analytics that leads to wage suppression, a segment of ownership disincentivized and perhaps ambivalent about winning – aren’t going away until then, if at all. – Gabe Lacques, USA Today"
It’d be reasonable to expect the rank-and-file MLB Player’s Association and their less-in-touch with the average-American team owners to understand what another stoppage could mean. Do you remember the last labor-induced stoppage in play? It cut the 1994 season short in mid-August, eliminated that season’s playoffs, and kept the players from taking the field until late April, 1995. A repeat seems to be a likely outcome if the owners and players can’t come to a reasonable mid-point between their demands.
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What that means to the average baseball fan is that after the truncated 2020 and a full (hopefully) 2021, the players are likely to strike if they don’t receive concessions from the owners. Do you remember how long it took us to “forgive” baseball after last time? So soon on the heels of the pandemic induced stoppage, this time could easily become a death-knell for Major League Baseball as we know it. Thanks for reading.