Does baseball have ghost of a chance?
You could win without a win.
Good morning, all!
Thank you for your feedback on last week’s newsletter about the war in Ukraine. The sports world goes on, but the drumbeat of war dulls the shine of the world of sports. That said, here is my take on the stalled baseball negotiations.
Ghost wins in baseball?
Major League Baseball is nowhere near a settlement, meaning that instead of talking about exhibition games, promising rookies and rosters, we are discussing a lockout.
How does it all end? No one knows. I thought we would have a deal by now, but it is apparent the acrimony between the players and owners runs deep. Both sides may also be tone deaf.
That stated, talk of “ghost” wins, if the playoffs are expanded, may be the most ludicrous idea ever advanced. What is a ghost win, you ask? A wild card team with a mediocre record would enter a post-season best-of-five or best-of-three series, trailing 1-0 to the club with the better record. The concept, being proposed by the players, is supposed to add meaning to the regular season and force clubs to spend more money on players, rather than hoping to sneak into the playoffs and then advance with a subpar record.
Imagine being rewarded with a victory without playing a game? Ridiculous. I know the concept has been used in the Korea Baseball League, but for some stupid reason I am of the opinion games should be won and lost on the field.
Beyond the competitive balance tax and other revenue discussions, the two sides are also talking about a pitch clock, larger bases, robo umpires, the aforementioned expanded playoffs and more.
I am lukewarm about the expanded post-season but understand that is the way of all sports, with nearly half the teams in a sport qualifying for the post-season. Follow the money, and more games in the post-season means more money. But I wish an expanded playoff format would lead to a reduction in regular season games, say from 162 to 154.
I also wish MLB would adopt Karl Ravech’s suggestion of seven-inning games. The voice of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball is advocating for that concept, as a way to reduce the time of games, which drag on well beyond the three-hour mark. Baseball is losing to the younger demographic in a big way. There are reasons the once National Pastime has slipped behind the NBA and is now number three among the big four sports (football, basketball, baseball, hockey), and one of them is length of game. Entering the third hour of a baseball game in the fourth inning just doesn’t cut it in the 21st Century.
I know the baseball purests scream any time these changes are proposed, but that ship sailed long ago. There have been changes in the game since it was invented. I love baseball history too, but one of the reasons I enjoyed baseball, as a kid, was the pace of play. I used to enjoy going to doubleheaders at Yankee Stadium on a Sunday afternoon. The first game would start at 1:05 p.m. and by 6:30, after the completiton of game two, we would be on the Major Deegan heading back home, having enjoyed a full and exciting day of baseball. (Except for the time my car broke down on the side of the Deegan. Don’t ask me how we got out of that mess, but I must have made it home.)
As for being tone-deaf, whether you’re talking baseball or any other sport, a COVID-riddled nation, just emerging from two years of hell, is now being faced with soon-to-be $5.00 per gallon gas (And that price will go higher). Food prices are skyrocketing. Other economic areas are being impacted. As the disposable income pool shrinks, even the most rabid sports fan will have to decide between going to a sporting event or putting food on the table. Toss in the out of sight, out of mind mentality, and it will be more than Houston that has a problem.
If, as some polls indicate, the near majority of the population is living paycheck to paycheck, it is going to be difficult for billionaires and millionaires to garner sympathy for their “plight,” no matter how legimate each side’s case.
As always, thank you for subscribing to the newsletter and pray for peace.