God willing, we will be starting the 2020 baseball season in less than 2 weeks. This will go down in all of our views, I think, as the most unusual baseball season ever, and this includes the cancelled World Series due to the labor dispute in 1994. During a world catastrophe which is far from over, the world of sports is attempting to return to a semblance of normalcy, each sport doing it very differently than other sports.
Leaving the Europeans out of this conversation for the moment, we see that both Hockey and Basketball will use a bubble system for their restart, in both cases there was little financial acrimony between the owners and the players (mostly because their regular seasons were nearly over and players were paid the lion’s share of their salaries already).
Hockey managed to accomplish a 4-year CBA extension in the restart negotiations. Football, IMO is heading for some contention. Many of the owners have not yet internalized that playing games with fans in the stands is a long shot. I think the players will fight them on this tooth and nail. No need to rehash what happened with the baseball restart negotiations; schools will study it in future years under the heading of ‘how not to do things. It was ugly and embarrassing, and heads should roll.
Now that we are about to restart the question one might pose is this: ‘ What is the value of winning this year?’
From a baseball fan’s perspective there is no objective answer. You decide for yourself how much this means to you (to me it’s not close to a normal championship season value wise, and I say this whether or not the Nats win or lose). In addition to a reduced game count (60 games is equivalent to 30 hockey games and 6 football games) there are several opt-outs (not really a large enough number to devalue the year), there are positive COVID19 tests including a star (Freddie Freeman) who is symptomatic and the initial testing exercise did not go well begging the question : What happens when there are games that count? Remembering that positive results can force potentially healthy players into isolation. As I said, you decide how much value remains in your mind.
Here is what is not subjective, baseball executives and owners must decide what value they place on this season. Is going for a title in 2020 worth investing future talent in? Is it worth financial investment? How much? Are teams in position to take on expensive contracts? We will see on Aug 31st if the trade deadline is business as usual or if everyone keeps their prospects and cash to fight another day. Another big question is how much service time are the owners willing to cede this year? Will the Nats allow Carter Kieboom to collect a full year of service time playing just 60 games?
In the end we are all anxious to see competitive baseball once again and cheer our teams on, there’s little disagreement about that. But do we have the same normal butterflies we do at the start of a season? (I get we are the defending champs and that makes things somewhat easier). Anyway, whichever side of the argument you are on, let’s get the show on the road and play ball.