What is the baseball endgame?

What is the baseball endgame? Does commissioner Rob Manfred have a plan? The tide has turned in public opinion weighing heavily in favor of the players since Manfred publicly announced that the first two series of the regular season would be cancelled. A sport that some say is watched by a demographics with an average age of 57, you have to wonder if the baseball will lose more fans.

In a college class yesterday, a professor asked his students if any of them were baseball fans. A few hands went up among the nearly 300 students in attendance. He asked how many followed the NBA and a few more hands went up. He asked how many followed the NFL and more than half of his students raised their hands.

Certainly many of those students will become parents one day, and their child will play t-ball, and that family could grow to love baseball. The love of baseball is like a fine wine, but lately it is more like an annoying whine. We have been geared up for this moment since baseball locked-out in early December. Any optimism has turned to pessimism that this lock-out will be resolved any time soon.

The problem starts with the message and the guy at the top: Manfred. He said at the start of the lock-out that it would be a “disastrous outcome” if any regular season games were canceled in the 2022 Major League Baseball season. And here we are.

While the owners try to remain unified, our sources have told us there are factions divided among the owners. With players’ demands targeting entry level salaries, pre-arbitration bonus pools, and anti-tanking, you have to think this will disproportionately affect the lower-end teams the most. While the MLBPA is not asking for a minimum spending cap, these new measures would cost the teams that carry more minimum salary players a lot more than the teams that have a roster more heavily weighted with veteran players.

Average ages have dropped as many teams seem to prefer younger and cheaper players as opposed to the costlier veterans. In August, the Baltimore Orioles had 20 of their 26 players on their roster making near the league minimum in salaries. This is a team that receives revenue sharing and has one of the best team-owned TV deals in baseball. You have to think that they don’t need fans in the stands to turn a profit. But there is factual data supporting the bulk of the production is coming from players aged at 26. Not too good for those players in their mid-30’s.

The Orioles are not the only team tanking and going with more minimum paid players, and before the 2021 season, they non-tendered some arbitration-eligible players for league minimum players. The Pirates, Marlins and Cleveland Guardians were close to the Orioles in least money spent in payrolls in 2021. All were under $60 million according to Spotrac. But the Orioles also lost an average of 111 games in the last four full seasons. They have a catcher, Adley Rutschman, who is now 24 years old and the top prospect in baseball with no MLB games to his resumé.

This is what Max Scherzer speaks to on the stain that these tanking teams leave on baseball while alienating their fanbases because who wants to watch a team that is set up to lose by design year after year?

Raising the bottom of the league’s income seems to be a good idea, but each owner has a vote in this and as a group, Manfred announced the decision to cancel games. For what it’s worth, lead MLB baseball negotiators Dan Halem, and MLBPA’s Bruce Meyer are to meet today for an informal one-on-one according to multiple reports.

Also keep in mind, 75% of owners must agree to ratify a new CBA meaning 23 of the 30 owners must vote together. If eight teams oppose the ratification, there is no deal.

Where this goes from here is the unknown. How long this lasts is unknown. The ultimate damage to the game could be disastrous.

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