If there’s one word that professional sports fans don’t want to hear, it’s “lockout”… OK, maybe “strike” is worse, but let us not even entertainthat thought just yet.
But a lockout is just where Major League Baseball finds itself as of midnight Thursday. For those who don’t necessarily follow the game that closely, what this means is that the CBA (the Collective Bargaining Agreement) between the 30 MLB franchise owners and the MLBPA (Major League Baseball Players Association) has ended without a new one in place.
The MLBPA is the labor union that represents all 1,200 players on the 30 major league teams’ 40-man roster and negotiates with the owners for a number of issues related largely to salaries, benefits, contract rights, etc. I suppose it is a necessary part of the game in a multibillion-dollar industry, but I wish it was not.
I’m all about baseball, but I always scratch my head when it comes to the eternal struggle between players and owners, or as it was put in the wonderfull documentary by Ken Burns, simply called Baseball, “millionaires fighting with billionaires.”
It reminds me of sometime around 10 years ago when there was another potential lockout ahead of another CBA expiration deadline. One of the major sticking points at that time was the league minimum salary. It was something like $525,000 a season and the players wanted it raised to $575,000. Now, I won’t turn this into a lecture about how pro athletes are paid these ridiculous ungodly
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amounts of money to play what is essentially a kids’ game (although I could), but I do remember some folks asking “How much is too much?”
This discussion led to one of my all-time favorite quotes concerning the game of baseball. Diaz, a utility outfielder who never signed a contract for more than $2 million a season said, “A lot of people are only thinking about the money they’re not making, but we all make enough money.”
And he’s right. To the players: What can you do with $100 million that you can’t with $50 million? Or $5 million? To the owners: What’s the difference in making $20 billion a season and $25 billion? What is that extra $5 billion going to bring you?
If you’ve been a baseball fan long enough, you will no doubt remember the 1994 season. Who won the 1994 World Series? Trick question, because no one did, because there wasn’t one. The season abruptly in August that year when the players went on strike. In fact, the 1995 season was in jeopardy as well, until a deal was struck and a new CBA was signed, although the season did get off to a late start.
The Atlanta Braves won that 1995 World Series.
Incidentally, the Atlanta Braves just won the 2020 World Series. What does that mean? Nothing, I just like the Atlanta Braves, but I am superstitious enough when it comes to baseball that there might be some sort of connection.
There’s no guarantee that there will be another strike. Theres’ plenty of time for a deal to fall into place, but we can’t take another 1994.