Baseball is near the very bottom on my list of sports I take pleasure in watching, but I definitely would have given it a chance during a nationwide quarantine. Unfortunately, Major League Baseball didn’t seem to understand – or care – about the opportunity it missed out when they initially lowballed players with steep salary cuts.
From what I understand, the MLB has refused to give the players what they want, which is a full, prorated salary. Even in the most recent offer that was reported on Friday, the league office maxed out the offer at 80 percent of the prorated salaries. The players rightfully want their money paid-in-full.
I won’t pretend to sit here and know anything about baseball, because I really don’t. I played a few years of T-ball growing up, but I was relegated to the outfield (which I eventually learned was reserved for players who the coach didn’t want near the ball). I quickly shifted sports to basketball and soccer and never got back into baseball as a result. Maybe the poor the taste left in my mouth is due to my own contempt for a game that I was terrible at, but it’s also one that simply doesn’t bring me much entertainment when I’m sitting on my couch. Sure, I’ll turn on Game 7 of the World Series, but that’s still asking a lot for someone who has his living room setup to broadcast three live NBA games at the same damn time. I have no issues with people that watch or enjoy baseball, it’s just simply not for me.
Over the last decade or so, the thought of turning on an MLB game has never really crossed my mind. But if it was on my TV right now, or even in the prior months of April or May when very few sporting events were going on, I would turn it on. And I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that. The Last Dance is all anyone talked about for five consecutive Sundays. Nearly 6 million people tuned in to watch Tiger Woods and Tom Brady play a round of golf. Baseball could have easily filled the sports void and non-traditional fans would have been much more likely to tune in – including myself. I’m not saying I’d become a die-hard fan and root for the Cincinnati Reds (I at least know better than that) but during a time when nothing else was happening, I would have tried to pay attention.
The MLB could have been the first major sports league to return amidst the coronavirus pandemic and they’d have a content-starved audience waiting for them. The season typically begins in late March; now a July start feels like the earliest possibility. By then, soccer could be back in full swing with basketball and hockey not far behind. At that point, baseball will completely lose my interest.
The point of this post isn’t to show how I’m not a fan of baseball, but how I – and many others – was more than willing to give the MLB a chance and they couldn’t take advantage of it. It’s not just people like myself, either. What about all of the fans that baseball might have lost over the decades because of constant strikes and steroid use?
The MLB had an opportunity to haul in a new generation of fans and they blew it.