GAME ON – MAY 27
By Rob Kriete

PLAY BALL

First of all, and I will start EVERY article with this paragraph, sports pales in comparison with what is occurring with the Coronavirus. Hopefully, the columns that I, and the rest of our correspondents, provide you is a momentary escape from the trials and tribulations that Americans, and the rest of the world’s population, are experiencing. The COVID-19 is not a video game that you can press reset and get a new life. This is real and dangerous so, above all, be prudent and stay safe.

“Play ball!” is the one exclamation I am missing the most as our unofficial opening of summer, Memorial Day, has passed. It is the “Game on!” for baseball games that I love. As Americans seem restless in their now quasi-quarantine, Major League Baseball is negotiating a truncated season with the Major League Baseball Players Association. I will take any baseball I can get this summer, and even as a self-proclaimed baseball purist and traditionalist, I can hope for an unconventional season of summer baseball.

The MLB players and owners must first overcome their financial obstacles. It seems clear that the players will not accept a 50/50 revenue split for the 2020 season. This type of revenue sharing is understandably an introduction of a salary cap, according to the MLBPA, and is a dead-end for negotiations. An agreeable plan will probably include scaling current salaries into some pro-rated program or even deferrals into subsequent seasons to make a 2020 season possible. The union makes sure that all players, from Diego Castillo to Mike Trout, are represented to improve and protect their working (playing) conditions. The current reality is that the players inherit the risk of playing during Covid-19. When national sports pundits decry the solidarity of the players and their union, it seems short-short sighted. Unions and their collective bargaining rights protect those that do the actual work, or in this case, hit, pitch, and field. The unity of the players, their “we are in it together,” should be celebrated as a bastion of American democracy.

Once the negotiations of playing conditions wrap, MLB fans can get back to wrangling over the universal designated hitter, or the possible unbalanced schedule, or even realigned divisions. As a fan who misses baseball and the many nuanced games-within-the-games, I can accept almost any iteration of professional ball. So, in 2020, pitchers, leave your bats at home. Bring on the Rays-Marlins division games and whatever else this unique MLB 2020 “tournament” has in store for fans. It most certainly will be like nothing we have seen in the history of our American Pastime. So, until the next “Game On,” I will patiently wait to hear, “Play Ball!”