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Baseball at a crossroads?
Or is it posturing for negotiations?
Good morning, all! It’s Friiiiidddaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!
In less than a week the World Series will conclude and major league baseball will have accomplished what many sceptics claimed could not be done: play a COVID-shortened season. The sport will have joined the NBA and NHL in achieving this feat. However, in many ways baseball’s challenges may be just beginning.
Cryptic comments and definitive actions are presaging choppy seas ahead. As I mentioned in my Wednesday newsletter, Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly does not foresee the sport returning to near normalcy, until 2022.
In his interview with the AP, before the Series’ start, Commissioner Rob Manfred offered this sobering remark:
“The liquidity is sufficient to get us through 2020. I think if we’re faced with limited activity next year and the kind of losses that we faced this year, again, it (baseball’s finances) will become more of a problem.”
The commissioner says baseball lost billions this season, mostly because of a shortened schedule and no spectators permitted at games. He says 40% of baseball’s revenue derives from fan attendance.
So is the commissioner posturing with negotiations on the horizon with the Players Association? The contract between the owners and players expires after the 2021 campaign and relations between the sides are icy, despite a mild thaw at both ends, allowing for play in 2020. Is the commissioner projecting a gloom-and-doom scenario so the owners can get the best deal possible with the association?
These are questions, deserving to be asked, but they could be answered even before talks begin in earnest. The fact is, if there is no COVID-19 vaccine by next season, attendance at games will be limited or not at all. Certainly the clubs are envisioning such a scenario.
The Athletic has a story how the Chicago Cubs are “a decimated organization.” Claiming $140 million in losses this season and another $120 million in 2021, the Cubs have given the pink slip to more than 100 employees. Other clubs have done the same. And consider this comment from the club’s head of baseball operations, Theo Epstein, about the layoffs:
“Every organization has changed because of it (COVID). The very nature of working in baseball has changed because of it. There have been a lot of painful consequences of what the industry has gone through this year.”
Rumor has it that Epstein, who is entering the final year of a 10-year deal, will not return after his contract expires. Throw in the fact that the TV ratings for Game One of the World Series were the lowest ever, at less than 10 million viewers, and there is major cause for concern.
Over the next few days, debating launch angles, spin rates and exit velocity, could be the least of baseball’s worries.
Which team is the country rooting for?
Well, it would appear “America’s Team” happens to be the Tampa Bay Rays, according to a story on The Score:
Gehrig book a winner
I just finished reading the book: “The Last Ride of the Iron Horse,” by Dan Joseph. The book is about Lou Gehrig’s last full season, 1938. ALS was beginning to erode Gehrig’s skills, yet he managed to play in all 154 games, plus the All-Star game and World Series. With his motor skills diminishing, Gehrig still hit 29 home runs and had 114 RBI.
Joseph’s book, published last year by Sunberry Press, is filled with tidbits, including how Gehrig and his wife Eleanor survived a motor vehicle accident in rural Tennessee in December 1937, as the couple was traveling to Hollywood so Gehrig could film a movie.
Joseph has authored a terrific book, that gets a recommendation from this corner.
Podcast hits it out of the park
If you are into podcasts, like I am - heck, I host or co-host three of them - I recommend the latest episode of Focused, co-hosted by David Sparks and Mike Schmitz. Their guest is life coach Michael Hyatt. Although it is not a sports podcast, the topic is relevant to sports and life itself, including how one should limit access to social media and how to look at the opportunity side of this pandemic. You can listen to the episode by clicking on the show art below or in your favorite podcast app.
That’s it for this week. As always, thank you for your support and have a great weekend!