As the sun continues to descend day in and day out, so do the chances of having a 162-game Major League Baseball (MLB) season.
The MLB has given the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) a deadline of Monday, Feb. 28, to accept a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) if they want the regular season to start on time. If not, a night out to the ballpark with your friends and family, enjoying dollar dogs and ice cream out of a helmet, are all in jeopardy.
Regardless of the outcome of the CBA negotiations, whether there is a season or not, one truth remains; The MLB is killing itself, and in more ways than one.
Big League Ego
One of the biggest issues that the MLB faces today lies within its owners.
It has been over 75 days since the MLB owners officially locked out their players with virtually no end in sight. The owners claimed the lockout was put into place to jumpstart new negotiations but, instead, the MLB and Players Association waited over 40 days before they held their first meeting.
The owners have the power to end the lockout and have the players report to spring training by allowing them to play under the previous CBA. But why don’t they?
I believe the owners’ main focus is on the revenue instead of the game itself. I believe their main goal throughout this whole mess is to preserve their money and make sure they look like the good guys in the process.
We saw this situation occur back in 2020, when the players wanted their salary prorated, allowing them to be paid based on their play time, but the owners kept vocalizing their economic loss due to the pandemic and painted the image that the players were being greedy ones. In a time where sports fans are starving for any live game, the MLB and MLBPA can’t agree on salaries, potentially costing the MLB millions of new viewers and recognition.
No matter who you think is in the right and wrong, one thing remains clear: the MLB cannot afford to have another season shortened. The two sides need to put their differences aside and come to an agreement before the Feb. 28 deadline for the sake of their owners, players and fans.
The biggest issue that Major League Baseball faces today is their lack of marketing.
The reason the NFL and NBA are so popular in America is because everyone knows the superstars in their respective leagues. You might not know what their game is, but you’ve at least heard of Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Antonio Brown, LeBron James, Steph Curry and Joel Embiid. But have you seen the same amount of hype around Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Mookie Betts or Trea Turner?
For comparison’s sake, let’s view the amount of followers from Twitter and Instagram that two of the best players in the MLB have compared to a top player from the NFL and NBA.
- Mike Trout of MLB’s Los Angeles Angeles – 4.4 million
- Fernando Tatis Jr. of MLB’s San Diego Padres – 1.46 million
- Patrick Mahomes of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs – 6.9 million
- LeBron James of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers – 162.8 million
Even Johnny Manziel, who hasn’t been in the NFL since 2016, has more of a social media following than Tatis Jr, who is arguably one of the most entertaining players to watch in the MLB.
The MLB also needs to improve how they market the games on social media. Which one looks and sounds more appealing?
“The Pittsburgh Pirates (19-47) are playing the Baltimore Orioles (23-43) tonight, with first pitch scheduled for 7:08 p.m. ET.”.
Or “Ke’Bryan Hayes and the Pittsburgh Pirates are heading down to Baltimore for a matchup against the former number one overall pick, Adley Rutschman, and the Baltimore Orioles, with first pitch scheduled for 7:08 p.m. ET.”
At the very worst, better marketing would lead to more fan interest in individual players and an increase in player brand recognition, leading to an eventual increase in MLB merchandise and ratings. All it takes is one fan’s attachment to a certain player to get that fan buying a jersey, turning on games and buying tickets to see their favorite player live.
Recently Sloppy Press
Think about the NFL for a second. The AFC Divisional game between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs was plastered all over the media from start to finish. It had everything you could possibly want as an NFL fan, young quarterbacks throwing dimes, must-see plays and late-game drama.
However, the main focus after the game was on how flawed the NFL overtime rules are, not how awesome that game was.
Similarly, the MLB seems to be stuck in a pool of quicksand with how many off-the-field issues they have had as of late.
Since 2019, the MLB has had the 2017 Astros cheating investigation, negotiation disagreements between players and owners that lead to a 60-game season in 2020, pitchers using spider tack, reports of the MLB using two different baseballs in 2021 and now the lockout to navigate.
From the outside looking in, the league looks as dysfunctional as it can be right now, and for a league that struggles to draw in new viewers, all of this negative publicity surely isn’t helping the cause.
The MLB can make a revival and we’ve seen it once already thanks to Barry Bonds and the Steroid Era, but the league needs to accept 21st century concepts.
End the lockout, tell me about the players involved in the game but not how far below 500 the two teams are and if Bryce Harper hits a 490 foot home run, he should be able to flip his bat however far he wants. If a pitcher strikes out the side after getting himself in a jam, you better believe I want to see that pure raw emotion when walking off the mound.
These are just a few of the reasons, but it is very clear to see at the moment that the MLB is their own worst enemy.
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