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Why Is the Lockout Actually Good for Baseball?

Joc Pederson of the Atlanta Braves after a groundout to the shortstop.

Joc Pederson of the Atlanta Braves after a groundout to the shortstop.

If you think about it, the last time we saw Professional Baseball being played in the United States of America it was November 2, 2021. The Winter meetings followed and the most exciting news was that Carlos Correa called Derek Jeter, “unworthy” of his golden gloves. Then Correa proceeded to let social media know that he would be seeking a new home. Since then, nothing exciting has come out of free agency, unless you consider that Max Scherzer going to the Mets is exciting.

Since then, the stalemate between the billionaires and the millionaires is taking its toll on the fanbase and especially providing the fans a platform for targeting current MLB commissioner Robert Manfred. Sadly, yesterday, February 14th was supposed to be the first day that Pitchers and Catchers were supposed to report and yet the ballfields in Arizona and Florida remain empty except with flags flying high for the teams that work there. We are here to discuss not whats wrong because the New York Times and Chicago Tribune can note what is wrong but their actually may be some

Getting Rid of Robert Manfred?

An example of Commissioner Rob Manfred being a meme.

An example of Commissioner Rob Manfred being a meme.

It's not a national secret that Major League Baseball’s Commissioner Rob Manfred is losing support. A case and example was his lack of punishment of the Houston Astros players following their being found cheating in the 2017 World Series victory over the Dodgers. Manfred did not appear to want to punish the Astros for their crime but furthermore did not act in moments of retaliation against the Astros except for the suspension of Joe Kelly for hitting a team member on a pitch.

Manfred’s time as commissioner started in 2015 as he replaced arguably one of the greatest Commissioners the game has had since its birth at the professional level in Bud Selig. Ironically, he graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Industrial and Labor Relations. He’s worked in Major League Baseball since 1987 and knows more than anyone that Labor Strikes are nothing new to the game. Although, something many may not know about Manfred is that he was integral in the first Drug Testing Agreement with the Major League Players Association (MLBPA) in the early 2000s.

Manfred has wanted the game to grow and expand into cities like Portland, Las Vegas, Charlotte and more. Not all of his time as Commissioner has been bad, just that the mistakes that have been made have been very costly in some sense and has made fans question the integrity of it. Manfred might be the figure that may need to go considering that this lockout appeared to be coming following the Spring of 2019 free agency which saw Bryce Harper go to the Phillies, Manny Machado to the Padres, and Dallas Keuchel to the White Sox. It seems that the baseball hasn’t yet recovered from that. Not to mention the 2020 season being a wash where the teams only played 60 games out of a normal 162. Manfred’s leadership took its most recent hit when longtime reporter and sportswriter Ken Rosenthal was let go. This might be Manfred’s final test as a nation that is craving sports during a world wide pandemic is in need of something to comfort them.

Birmingham Barons located in Birmingham, AL are a Double-A.

Birmingham Barons located in Birmingham, AL are a Double-A.

This offseasons something big occurred in the world of minor league baseball clubs. For the first time, Major League clubs will be fitting the bill for housing for minor league players who in some cases make between $8,000 to $14,000 in total during the season. This however is depending on location as well as some clubs have stated that this statistic is exaggerated claiming that in places like California players make in excess of $60,000+ a season. However, despite this being a problem which is not a new one since baseball started being played in the 1870s at a professional level it seems that this might be the time for the minor league teams to shine.

Minor League ball was something that was an afterthought once organized baseball became popular in cities like Chicago, New York and elsewhere. Ever since baseball took off in big cities it seems like Minor league ball has had a slight. Primarily, in places like Albequrque, Tucson, Sacramento and more baseball was the only professional sports team in those areas.

Minor League Baseball has since developed into other countries where Major League teams recruit big league talent. However, with the possibility of a delay in the baseball season, teams in Single, Double, and Triple-A may see higher attendance in the Spring and Summer due to the fact that the big names may not be playing in outfields in Philadelphia and Los Angeles anytime soon. As we pass up places like Fenway which usually this time of year are shining with glee, fans in cities like Aberdeen, Maryland, Lansing, Michigan, and Rome, Georgia will be full of excitement as the season for them begins with more attention and hype than at the level that all of its players are dreaming of being at. Minor League Baseball, which in some cases is baseball at its finest. The talented players that are underappreciated in some cases; this may be their time to shine.


Contracts

Alex Rodriguez, Signed a 10-year $252 million deal and played in Arlington until 2003 when he signed with the Yankees in 2004.

Alex Rodriguez, Signed a 10-year $252 million deal and played in Arlington until 2003 when he signed with the Yankees in 2004.

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Long term contracts in Major League Baseball are still fairly new. Obviously, prior Curt Flood’s struggle and Catfish Hunter’s success to become Major League Baseball’s first free agent. With that comes contracts that are mind-blowing to a level where it makes no sense when people state “baseball has been struggling.” Baseball players like Mike Trout who signed a 13-year, $430,000,000 deal to stay in Anaheim is absolutely ridiculous. Literally in Moneyball Peter Brand said your goal should be to buy wins. The Yankees have bought wins but not the World Series one yet. Frankly, spending more money on individuals doesn’t bode well because teams that play with money like that, according to recent history, don't win championships. The Atlanta Braves did this perfectly but are now struggling to keep their biggest star Freddie Freeman. Long-Term contracts may become a thing of the past with this upcoming ruling which also may have a universal DH for both leagues.

Baseball money is larger than most sports because of the lack of a salary cap which the Yankees and Red Sox have taken advantage of in the past. However, with that being said, the Dodgers appear to be breaking that as they won with a roster that included a $40 million pitcher, and a $350 million dollar outfielder. Although, with the lockout occurring players contracts are a big worry considering that some of the deals taking place where only 1 year deals or where deals that are several years into contracts have not really gone that well. Teams like the San Diego Padres have really gone “all-in” and recruited some of the best players that this year returned to the postseason. However, the risk is higher in some cases than the reward. The Phillies have not been to the playoffs since acquiring Bryce Harper from free agency. Granted he has some more time but Philadelphia has not presented the best during the regular season.

Conclusion

Let’s hope that the this lockout may be a lesson to both players and owners about these three items mentioned. All we want to see is the game be played and frankly at this moment we are in jeopardy of a strike that may last a bit longer than expected. I’m sure the boys will work it out in good time but unlike 1994 which took place in the middle of a season and remains the only year since Major League Baseball has formed without a World Series. It is a bit irritating to have a Spring without baseball though at the professional level as we where a week away from Spring Training starting. More to come soon…hopefully.

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