Pitchers and catchers typically file into spring training clubhouses the first Monday right around Valentine’s Day. Although there really isn’t much physical action over the first day or so, it’s a welcoming sign to fans that baseball isn’t far away.
Obviously, that’s not the case this year. Some fans fear another shortened season similar to the 2020 campaign, although it will be for completely different reasons. The players union and owners have had a few chances to discuss matters surrounding a new collective bargaining agreement, but things still seem to be as far apart as they have been since the beginning.
It’s funny, because a lot of us had an idea this sort of impasse would be coming. When the 2021 World Series ended, the general feeling was there was plenty of time to get an agreement hammered out. For no apparent reason, both sides took their respective time with setting meeting dates, and once they did, the frequency of readjourning was extremely far apart.
Believe it or not, we’re already two months into this thing, and there’s still no progress.
In the latest news, the owners proposed that some sort of national mediator be brought in to help resolve the differences. The union declined the request but pointed out that the players stand ready to negotiate and are eager to get back to the table.
Things are so bad that the two sides can’t even agree on the approach they want to use for the negotiations.
I remember some rumblings at the end of 2020 that MLB owners lost somewhere around $3-4 billion when all the smoke cleared from the pandemic-ridden 2020 season. At the time, there were reports circulating that the Cubs, who were probably in a far more precarious situation than most teams, lost somewhere in the vicinity of $150 million.
Chances are at this point that the 2022 season may need to be played with a good chunk of games cancelled. It’s funny that the owners are willing to take a huge risk based on the way things turned out for most franchises in 2020. However, there’s no doubt they are looking at it over the long haul and the principles they’re standing behind.
While the fans are certainly the driving force of all the league’s revenue, there’s no sense for them to feel they deserve special consideration, because they keep coming back year after year regardless of the cost of a game ticket, a beverage or a t-shirt. They even pay increased prices for online viewing plans and special cable television packages to watch their favorite team compete every night.
Chris Cwik at Yahoo Sports put together a story last fall stating the average cost for a family of four to attend an MLB game in 2021 was $253.00, which was a 4.5% increase over the same costs for the previous season. The amount covered tickets, parking for one car, two beers, four sodas, four hot dogs, and two caps.
Many families can’t even think about spending that type of money on recreational activities, conceivably putting an MLB game out of their vacation plans. Should these costs continue to rise, more fans might be in the same predicament.
In the meantime, pitchers like Max Scherzer are signing deals that pay $130 million over three years. Owners may soon find themselves resorting to pay-per-view tactics, driving the costs of watching a game from the comfort of your home even higher.
You’d think that fans would put their feet down sooner or later and unattach themselves from a game that continues to become commercialized, at least to a far lesser degree than the way some are devoted to the game.
I’m not saying that either the players or owners are correct in their stance. But what I am saying is that they probably don’t truly value and appreciate the fan loyalty as much as they claim.