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State of the MLB Lockout
As we are a mere three weeks away from Major League Baseball pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, the MLB and the MLBPA are still locked in a labor dispute with no end in sight. Baseball fans have known this was coming for years now and yet the months long dispute has left a lot of fans exhausted and apathetic about the state of the game. The NFL playoffs are in full swing, the NBA is garnering more and more attention every year, even hockey is now on ESPN… and the home page of the MLB.com website is not allowed to even have pictures up of current players.
The current lockout is already the longest in the history of the sport and will continue to drag on likely until mid-February at least. There hasn’t been baseball news in weeks, save for the awful addition of robot umps in Triple-A and the Hall of Fame announcement on Tuesday has been dampened by the elephant in the room. This leads to a very pressing issue for die-hard fans of America’s pastime, when will it end and how bad is it for the sport?
In essence it is a bleak time to be a baseball fan. This is the second time in three years that the bureaucratic arm of baseball seemingly can’t get out of its own way. They had the potential for an extremely captive audience during the Covid-19 pandemic and instead allowed a similar labor disagreement to shorten the season to just 60 games. This offseason after one of the most exciting postseasons in recent memory there was a flurry of offseason activity with players anticipating a lockout. The game has a myriad of young stars under the age of 25 and can’t seem to figure out how to market them accurately to compete with the other major sports.
All this leads to a loss of interest in the sport year after year, although the MLB app reported an increase in viewership of games last year, baseball simply no longer sparks conversation the way the NFL or NBA does. A lot of blame certainly can go on Rob Manfred and the commissioner’s office, but this is reductionist and it is actually a much larger issue that no one myself included can seem to answer. I certainly don’t think a pitch clock or robot umps is going to solve it.
Nonetheless, as Cleveland baseball fans head towards a new era they will have to wait a bit longer for it to begin. With a record of 970-870 an even 100 games above .500 since 2010, many fans are wondering if this is a year where the team can make a deep playoff push. For reference their record is 86.5 games better than second place Detroit, so at least we have that going for us.
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