Could baseball finally kill the goose who laid the golden egg?

This discussion has occurred before. Baseball’s players’ unions and the MLB owners have bumped heads over the years and folks have wondered if these collisions would bring baseball to its knees.

  • In 1972 the players went on strike over pension fund issues related to inflation increases. The owners gave in when they realized that the amount they would pay was less than their potential losses in lost games. 86 total games were lost and not made up and the Tigers won the AL East because they played and won one more game than the Red Sox played.
  • In 1973 the owners locked the players out of Spring Training over the issue of arbitration, but this was resolved without the loss of any regular season games.
  • In 1976 the owners locked the players out of spring training after an arbitrator ruled in favor of players becoming free agents. In the end, no regular season games were missed.
  • In 1980 the players went out on strike late in spring training and reached agreement on most issues (see 1981 for exceptions) and no regular season games were missed.
  • In 1981 it was a mess. They could not come to an agreement on free agent compensation to the teams losing a player. The owners imposed a plan where a team had to relinquish a player and a draft pick if they signed another team’s FAs. The players went on strike on June 11 and it was not resolved until August 10. The league had pre- and post-strike champs in an uneven split schedule. Teams like the Reds and Cards had the best overall records in the NL, but won neither half and were not in the playoffs. (The Astros benefitted from the split and made the playoffs to be eliminated by the Dodgers).
  • In 1985 there was a two-day in-season strike about pension funds and arbitration caps. The games were made up and things went on – but this probably led to the evil “C” word – collusion.
  • In 1990 the owners locked the players out of spring training again over free agency and arbitration. The season started late, but all games were played.
  • The 1994/1995 strike was the one that hurt baseball the most and probably led to juicing baseballs and turning a blind eye to juicing ballplayers. The strike began on August 11, 1994 and for the first time baseball did not even have a flawed post season. The strike dragged on through most of April 1995 and when the players returned not all the fans returned.

Which leads us to now. The difference today is that there are 41 million people in the US on unemployment due to the effects of the COVID pandemic. Many folks who are employed are doing so at reduced hours or reduced wages or both.

The people just don’t care to hear whining from folks who even at minimum wage for baseball make more than 99% of people do in a year. They don’t care that billionaire owners are having a tough year. They don’t care that players want to be compensated for the “chances” they are taking if they play. They just want it figured out. They don’t want to see how the sausage is made.

If baseball does not figure this out they probably won’t kill that golden goose, but they could put it on life support as far as the folks who are struggling to live in the real world are concerned.


19 comments on “Could baseball finally kill the goose who laid the golden egg?

  1. The truth is, I really do not care about Billionaires fussing with millionaires. Even if the league does not play at all this season, I will still look forward to next season. Just entertain me.

    I do have to give Crane kudos though, for his paying the MiLB players through the summer. On the other hand, the club can write those salaries off anyways. Just the mere fact of paying the players should give future free agents, whether major or minor leaguers, incentive to sign with the Houston family of clubs.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I am hopeful the owners and players can reach some sort of agreement to play this season, but right now it looks like the goose is flying north for the summer.

    Even if the season does resume this year, fans won’t have as much disposable income to afford watching in person or to buy TV packages, but attendance had already been decreasing the past few years.

    I believe the NFL and NBA are more popular than MLB because fans like to see players in action. Slow pace of play is what has been killing baseball more than anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t know if baseball will self-destruct or not, but it might get wounded and not be as powerful as it has been in the past.
    The pandemic and the subsequent political unrest may encourage people to stay at home and that is going to hurt baseball.
    But the desire of the owners to make baseball a cash cow, combined with the rise of ticket prices to pay player’s inflated salaries is going to reach a breaking point for a lot of people.
    Baseball has gone from a game to a business and it might start to turn a lot of people off.
    As always, time will tell.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Becky – how are you after your surgery? Thinking about you. We’ve heard from Sandy recently… how are you doing Diane? We need the ladies views even when it is quiet time.


  5. There are significant negative distractions that grab my attention right now. I’m just not thinking all that much about baseball. So I can easily say that while I’d certainly enjoy watching a new season begin in 2020, it’s less and less important to me.

    MLB will survive and the owners will continue to improve the value of their teams. They can do that without growing attendance. And there will always be another rich guy waiting in the wings to buy any club that comes available. Player salaries might stagnate briefly, but they’ll then they’ll grown again too. If history has taught us one thing, MLB always recovers.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m listening to 790 KBME and they are having an ancient broadcast of the Colt 45s and the Phils -Carl Warwick, Staub, Johnny Temple,Goss, Bateman, Lillian etc – I think this might be Don Nottebart’s mono – Gene Elston sounds clear as a bell


  7. i am sad to say dan, that i dont believe there will be any meaningful baseball played this year. besides all the difficulties with salaries, locations, number of fans etc. it just makes no sense to bring people back into the same situation we had in march. there is not a vaccine. there are not real treatments as yet. how can one expect that the outcome of people mingling together will have a different outcome than before. yes, we are taking precautions we didnt know to take before IT hit. but you are still taking the chance of people infecting each other. how many players getting sick will it take to close things down? 2-3? 10-15? i think a few games may be played, but unless you are extremely lucky some will get sick and the season shut down for good. thats probably what they ought to do now, unless treatment and/or vaccinenis right around the corner.
    i want to shout out to all the brave heroic frontline folks in the clinics and hospitals, grocery stores etc. without yall’s bravery things woud be much worse, chaotic. THANK YOU!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • RJ –
      I think if we wait until we have a cure for this before we open up we might as well all get dragged outside and be shot right now. But that is just my opinion.
      I really don’t know the answer is. I hate that so many people have died. I hate even more that 400 times the number who have died are unemployed.
      And I know that baseball is just a distraction, but we sure could do with a distraction.
      I don’t have the answer. What you are thinking may well be the way this works out. I hope not but my hope is running low.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’d like to thank the protestors. Yes, the great majority doing the protesting and not rioting. I’d like to thank the many thousands of law enforcement professionals and the fire fighters thrust into an impossible no win situation created by so few.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I saw some encouraging images of officers praying with peaceful protestors in Miami. A Sheriff marching, “celebrating” in Flint, MI. Atlanta mayer and police chief among their *real* protestors, saying, “I’m with you.”

    And I saw what appears to be, with the implementation of contact tracing, a new revenue source for law enforcement, and bringing those behind crooked financiers to justice among the looters and violence. Everyone who has a cell phone is marked, and depending on “how deep” this admin wants to go into it, that will be relative to getting the country in order to play baseball.

    I don’t share rj’s thoughts, but I love his spirit generally, and like a brother. Only mentioning because I think instead, the prevailing attitude will be as Governor Abbot, who opened up Texas to outdoor sports and distancing measures, 1/4 capacity to begin with — that seems one of the boldest States. So far. We’re heading in the right direction, and “two more weeks,” and the next wave is strictly as a stats man, conjecture. Not here to quibble, just saying I won’t be going to games if there are mandates for vax’s.

    With that in mind, the game may become more pay-per-view-oriented. That seems a fair discussion without the politics. Most (I say most) would pay a little to see games. I pay to see all the minor league games, and so on..

    If we don’t resume this year, and we err on the side of; safety [read:liability], breakdown of negotiations, logistics, etc., then we’ll go forward with a 2021. It could well happen that way, and it will effect players differently.

    It will be so sad that Mookie couldn’t play for LAD; and it will be REALLY sad if Josh Reddick can’t play. He has been adamantly wanting to start the season on Twitter. This could be his last big payday, and that’s a shame. I always thought he’d end up in Atlanta, like McCann his last year, close to home. But they are loaded.

    Anyway, the draft is coming soon, and looks like my #101 pick Luke Little won’t even be available at #72 now! A lefty who threw 105 from JUCO! But I see on my feed a 100 kids a day, and many sleepers with “easy 98” too. It’s such a loaded class, and what a break the Astros caught only having 5 rounds.

    Stirring the pot a little, hope all are well. I’ve been business as usual since day 1, taking care of a Mother-in-Law who’s survived pneumonia (that wasn’t communicable apparently), and everyone in West Houston around our neighborhoods are happy go lucky. Way more walkers in the park behind our neighborhood. I had the nerve to go into the woods with a camo tent, with my books to read, and just sit out in the peace. The air is cleaner in Houston than I’ve smelled in my own small hometown. It’s quite remarkable.

    Hope Becky and Billy are ok. dave, that was a good post, my friend. Glad Op keeps churning out interesting stuff, and nice to have AstroNut posting so much. Sorry so long

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The MLBPA counter proposal includes a 114-game season, deferred salaries in the event of a canceled postseason and the option for all players to opt out of a potential 2020 season due to coronavirus concerns:

    However, the owners would reportedly reject the proposed season ending Oct. 31 as there would be higher risk of a pandemic relapse and/or bad weather cancelling the playoffs, which is where the big money is made.

    I suspect if an agreement is not worked out this week, the chances of a 2020 season will be slim to none.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. We’re all well here on our little outpost in the Atlantic. Still in lock down, although our twin island country of just 55 thousand has no reported active cases at this point in time. Our borders remain closed. So no aircraft in and only charters out. The very expensive charters are mostly booked by those winter expats who thought they’d hang into the summer months with us but miss Trader Joe’s at this point and dry cleaning delivery and are overdue (like me) for their annual check ups. I’ll hold out for a few more months. Had a hike up into the rain forest waterfalls yesterday. Came back down very muddy and immediately slipped into the ocean. I am a lucky soul. Our hurricane season starts today. Sadly you guys are already dealing with your own storm season. One thing I’m pretty sure of is that we’ll all get through this. Stay well!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hope springs eternal. It is another Monday and it is the first day anyone from my company is back at the main office – it is only 200 people today and I am still home along with hundreds of others.
    Baseball and the players need to find a middle ground and move forward. We all need to move forward as we can.

    Liked by 1 person

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