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As Owners Try To Ruin Baseball, Fans Need A “Union”

Philadelphia Athletics
“You have to get a season going, because I already have this awesome scorecard ready.”
Photo by The Stanley Weston Archive/Getty Images

You can be pro-player, anti-player, or neutral to the players and agree on one thing: the group of MLB owners is an epic monstrosity of terribleness and horribilosity ruinous to the game of baseball. I would speak more frankly, but this is a public blog so I shall show restraint.

At this snapshot in time, owners are pinching their relative pennies and pushing for a paltry 50-54 game season, while many of its fans are trying to find two actual pennies to rub together. Yes, in wanting their “fair share” players want amounts of money that feel extravagant to you and me, but they are not trying to pare the season down to 1/3, they are not laying off minimum wage workers and minor league minions, they are not responding to profits in the millions each year by refusing to absorb a temporary loss during a pandemic.

The irony is that this should be biting owners in the collective posterior, because in focusing so intently on their 2020 profit/loss line they are overlooking the financial impact of alienating their fan base. What if by saving pennies now, owners are losing millions later as fans refuse to support their product?

If only. MLB’s calculation surely is that we are sheep who, as soon as baseball is put in front of them, will go “Baaaaaa!!!!!!” and eat it up. We are seen as addicts who will forgive our pimps as soon as he offers us our “hit”. We are plebeians who don’t know any better than to come right back to our “owners” as soon as they blow the whistle, dangle a piece of chicken jerky and back it with a cool commercial.

Fans really need to send owners a message right now. In significant numbers, season ticket holders of every team should be calling en masse to cancel their 2021 season tickets. (You can always purchase them again later if you are satisfied with how the owners conduct themselves going forward.)

Everyone give the same message to the sales person at the other end of the phone, and ask that the message be conveyed to ownership: “You don’t seem to care about what’s best for your fans, about what’s best for baseball, about what’s best for the country during a pandemic — so why should we support you? I am canceling my season tickets until I see a good reason to support you.” Let those words keep rolling around in owners’ minds as they are sitting down to negotiate a new CBA in late 2021.

We are facing an unthinkable double-whammy where two sides, driven by both greed and animosity, could conceivably create work stoppages two seasons out of three. The players may not be entirely pristine in these negotiations, but they made some initial concessions and they are the ones assuming all the health risks.

The owners? They’re just holding out to hose everyone else in the quest to avoid a temporary loss in a historic year. They only listen to their pocketbook and so fans should hit them in the pocketbook now to make the point. But it can’t just be A’s fans, or you hurt one team (and one that is already struggling) while making little impact on the game’s finances as a whole. No, I’m talking about Dodgers’ fans en masse, Yankees’ fans en masse, fans across every division and both leagues acting in concert.

Then the owners might wake up and realize, “Hey. It’s not just about 2020. It’s not just about this negotiation. It’s not just about us.” What a revelation that would be.