Nobody wants a work stoppage in MLB, neither the Baltimore Orioles, the rest of the league, the players, or the fans. However if a deal isn’t done by next Thursday, that’s a very real possibility. Personally my recommendation to everyone involved is to get a deal done – even if it means signing a contract that extends the current deal an additional month or something along those lines. Just get it done.
Nobody wants to see what happens in a work stoppage in the modern day. As I said yesterday, I would submit that some of the issues the NFL is now having began with their lockout a few years ago. Granted no regular season games were missed, however that put them on the radar of labor unrest.
Baseball struggled to force itself back into the national spotlight following the 1994 players’ strike. That year’s fall classic was canceled, as was the beginning of the 1995 season. Finally the season started following teams missing 18 regular season games. And fans took out their frustrations at the turnstiles, with empty seats attending games en masse.
This is why many people credit the great Cal Ripken Jr. for saving baseball when he broke the consecutive games played streak that September. It gave people a reason to come back and pay attention. Obviously we don’t know how things would have unfolded if not for the streak, however whether the sport would have bounced back the way it did is unclear.
My point here is that there’s no streak or subsequent home run record chase on the horizon this time around. If anything, the contemporary version of that might have been this past world series, which was a feel-good story on both sides. So…does MLB really want to leverage that in an attempt to win at collective bargaining?
Obviously we can’t know what the short or long-term affects of a work stoppage would be. But if games are missed, you can imagine that there would be people who wouldn’t come back to the ballpark right away. And that would be a disaster for the sport. Baseball is an everyday affair; if suddenly people aren’t coming to or watching games, that will affect not only the league’s bottom line, but it’s PR as well.
One might argue that a work stoppage could in theory make MLB the most obscure of the four major leagues. In summertime, it’s the only game in town. The good news is that I don’t see it happening. Even if there is a lockout next week, there’s still a long way to go before the regular season begins.