The MLB lockout has reached its third month. With no end in sight, Commissioner Manfred has decided to call the Feds on the MLBPA.
New York Yankees fans now have to suffer through more pettiness. Like two petulant children yelling, “He did it first!”, the owners and players continue to blame each other for the protracted negotiations.
Now, in a move that resembles taking your ball and going home, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and the MLB owners have decided to ask for immediate assistance of a federal mediator. First reported by ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan, the MLB owners have:
"reached out to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, a governmental agency that attempts to help resolve labor disputes, sources said. Mediation is not mandatory, and the MLB Players Association would need to agree to the involvement of a third party."
As if this were not bad enough, it gets even more petty. The MLBPA do not have to accept the intervention of a federal mediator. In fact, one player told USA TODAY Sports, “It’s nothing more than a publicity stunt.’’
Someone asked Rob Manfred, “Who you gonna call?” The only answer is the Ghostbusters. But instead, he decided to call the feds. He is hoping the feds can bust the ghosts of negotiations past and present thereby launching the sport into the future.
After three months, the current labor negotiations have become overly toxic. It is so depressing it has become comical.
In fact, I think I have already seen this movie. Didn’t Chancellor Valorum call in two unsuspecting Jedi to put an end to a trivial trade dispute? Then the Trade Federation refused to negotiate with the Jedi and launched an attack?
Yes! It was the The Phantom Menace, and it shows us a way out of the impasse. The first thing that needs to happen is the election of a new Chancellor, “a strong Chancellor”. Let’s be real, Manfred completely botched the Houston Astros cheating scandal in which their blatant cheating cost the Yankees a potential World Series appearance in 2018.
Then Manfred gave all the players immunity, refusing to vacate their World Series win. After all, the trophy is “just a piece of metal“. Now he has touted this lockout as the best chance to save the season. It’s time MLB had some strong competent leadership out of the Commissioner’s office. I call for a vote of no confidence.
The movie also shows us that the Trade Federation needs to be put back in their place. Buster Olney in his Baseball Tonight Podcast discusses how the MLBPA lost the labor negotiations in 2020 during the COVID shutdown. Now the MLBPA are so set on winning the current round of negotiations that it seems willing to burn everything to the ground. The MLBPA needs to overcome its hubris.
Where is Queen Amidala when you need her? Where is the voice of reason in a war gone mad?
Behind it all is the Phantom Menace. Instead of an evil force user, the phantom menace is the long history of rancorous (see what I did there!) disputes that have plagued the owners and MLBPA. This history hovers over these negotiations like a dark rain cloud waiting for the perfect time to ruin your day.
In the end, there needs to be a strong leader, a President Dale-type leader who urges the parties, “We can have it all, or we can smash it all. Why can’t we work out our differences? Why can’t we work things out? Little people, can’t we all just [dramatic pause] get along?” Sadly, President Dale dies shortly thereafter. So too, it seems the 2022 Yankees season is destined to be still born.
All playfulness aside, maybe it is time for federal mediators to intervene. It’s time for mom to ground the bickering brats sending them to bed with no dinner. If that doesn’t work, make them hold hands while sitting on the couch until they make up. If that fails, there is always Yoko Ono playing on loop.
The last time labor negotiations dragged into the season, fans lost interest in this menagerie of moronic millionaires. The NFL capitalized and became America’s most popular sport. Now the NBA, with iconic figures, has become the second-most popular sport in the United States.
Major League Baseball is currently the third-most watched sport on American television and is trending downward. In fact, a 2017 study showed the median age of an MLB fan is 57 years old, which is three years older than in 2007. Baseball is becoming older and less popular.
This downward trend will only be exacerbated by a protracted lockout delaying the start of the season. Is this what MLB owners and the MLBPA really want? Yankees fans certainly don’t.
Oh, and just in case you are wondering, NFL players report to training camp at the end of July.