Gabe Peraino’22: Just recently, when the MLB and MLBPA agreed on a new contract, the baseball world faced deep trouble when it was announced that the league would once again go into a lockout. As much of a baseball fanatic as I am, finally being able to get to an agreement is just one of the many steps that this game needs to take in order to save its popularity and legacy.
First off, the new contract will allow the 162-game season to be played in its entirety, with Opening Day slated to start on April 7th. Here are the provisions and takeaways that fans and I should be aware of:
1. Younger Players Will Receive More Money
This is one of the biggest goals that has been accomplished by the Players Association. The former rule stated that players that played three or fewer seasons in their career were guaranteed money up to the league minimum. They receive the same amount of money even if they played well. Now, players have the ability to play for additional money with a raised league minimum of more than $100,000 and a bonus pool. Talented players have a chance to make more instead of being underpaid for how well they perform.
2. Possible International Draft?
This agreement also mentioned the possibility of negotiating an international draft. When looking at all the factors of how the system would change and look, it’s easily one of the most heated topics to talk about in baseball. Summer would be the next negotiation period for this issue.
3. Expanded Postseason
In the last decade, there have only been ten teams to make the playoffs with the addition of the wild card game. Despite the MLB owners’ pushing for 14 teams, the postseason will grow to 12 teams. Details are still not exact.
The issues of tanking, pitching clocks, uniform patches, and larger bases for health purposes will be possible changes for the 2023 season as well. All these aspects are really important when considering the popularity of the sport in general because things are not looking good regardless.
Obviously, there are those who see this ultimatum as a positive. Baseball is back. Why should we not be happy or worried that the season will kick off? Everything is fine, right? However, I beg to differ because there are too many situations and occasions that put this game in jeopardy.
I think this short-term lockout once again proves the fact that this sport is leaning towards irrelevance. Whether you agree with me or not, this sport is starting to become more boring for fans. Look at it this way: revenue is down, viewership is down, and games take forever to be done with.
Starting with the lockout itself, in my opinion, this is just another embarrassment to the league, as well as a scary feeling that they were barely able to get an agreement. If this were to drag on another week or two, baseball fans would be lucky to have a full season.
As a fan, looking back at events like the 1994 lockout specifically shows signs of where the direction of the game went. If you think about it, it took four years for baseball to rise again with the home run chase of 1998. I shouldn’t have to talk about this point, but it’s taking that long to grow again.
Baseball fans need to be reminded that the younger audience isn’t even drawn to this sport as much as basketball or football. Opening Day is a very sacred event for the MLB. It represents the beginning of a lifetime of baseball games, it represents the sense of spring, and it reiterates the meaning of America’s Pastime. It’s tradition. When the media is covering the beginning of the NBA Playoffs and previewing the NFL Preseason, that’s a bad sign.
Former players have tried to push the game, but it hasn’t worked. Maybe it’s not all to blame on the league itself, maybe times are just changing to more interactive sports instead of watching hitters not be able to swing at over 100 mile-per-hour pitches. This lockout should serve as an alarm that this sport needs to do more.
To make a final statement, that won’t happen. For both the owners and the players, it’s about money. It always was, it always is, and it always will be. I don’t think any of these current players will go out of their way to market and promote the sport to its necessity as a young athlete attraction. This league is one of the prime examples of owners thinking they can grab as much money as they can for themselves while holding down everything else. That will be one of, if not, the biggest reason for this sport’s decline.
Baseball is in deep trouble, and getting out of this lockout is only the beginning of its last chance.