I guess that’s not completely fair. They have one idea. It’s a Hail Mary to try to reclaim the PR battle for themselves which the players union has had in their pocket ever since Rob Manfred started throwing all of his toys out of the crib about the reduced schedule of 2020. It’s half of an idea, maybe.
For those who missed it, the MLB owners have proposed calling in government mediators to “try” to speed along negotiations with the players to end the lockout. This is of course utter horseshit, and the players seem to know it.
As Evan Dreilich points out, if you were completely dimwitted it would look like the owners are trying to get out of a deadlock and if the players don’t accept federal mediators they look like the obstructors. And if they do, the owners will get a bunch of suggestions from those mediators that are hardly enough to satisfy what the players are after, given how mutated the system has become.
But to review, the owners have locked out the players. They have met just four times in nearly 10 weeks, with the owners making it clear they won’t negotiate a host of terms that the players feel need to change, like time to free agency or the luxury tax. Even when they’ve been “open” to negotiating on certain issues, they’ve been barely budged. Your car moves more out of its parking spot in a foot and a half of snow than the owners have. They’ve even tried to lower the tax threshold. They are not being flexible in any way.
So this desperate heave to try to make it look like they’re just out of answers to an obstinate union is as empty as can be. It also doesn’t pass the smell test that this cabal of billionaires would call in the feds, as there’s absolutely no way that these asshats would have connections and favors from the government due. Partiality from anyone is a pipedream, and most baseball fans are going to see through that. At least you’d hope so.
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And fans are probably beyond choosing sides. They’re sick of it all, and are certainly tired of watching the game and system get as warped as it’s been the past few years. Fans of teams not even trying certainly are.
If the hope is to get the players to panic over possibly looking bad in a PR sense, it isn’t a huge leap to wonder if the owners aren’t the ones worrying about losing out on spring training income. The players don’t care, they don’t get paid for their time in Florida or Arizona and think it’s too long anyway.
Again, the reason this whole process has had mud in the tires is because of the owners. The players have made clear what they want and the changes that the game needs, and the owners have basically tried to keep everything as is. “As is” is currently crippling the game, and causing it to fall deeper and deeper into the black hole of the sports consciousness. To say that they can’t find a way to a path to a settlement without outside help is patently ridiculous.
At this point, no baseball fan should be blamed for getting into the “just want to watch the world burn” territory. The game is broken, and was on a path to become boxing or horse racing over time. So let’s just speed it up, lose a season and break it, which is the only way that real change can take place. It would be painful for most, but it seems the only path to actual improvement. Federal mediators aren’t going to change a damn thing.