When it comes to this ongoing battle between Major League Baseball's greedy owners and greedy players, three words are beginning to come to mind more and more: Enough. Of. This.
Enough of billionaire owners cooking their books to show negative earnings when there's no way these business-savvy guys would ever own these teams if they were really losing all the money they say they are.
Enough of millionaire players — whose average salary in 2019 was $4.36 million — saying they won't play for far less than that for one season when the average American worker makes a little more than one one-hundredth of that ($49,000) each year.
This country's hurting. A lot. Financially. Emotionally. Mentally. Physically.
And baseball could help. Maybe not in person, at least not in front of a lot of people. But just having it on the television each night would bring some sense of normalcy back to the most abnormal year of our lives.
But Nooooooooooooo! Instead, we have owners supposedly — at least if you believe the players — scheming to find a way to break the players union in a way that wouldn't just save money through the end of the coronavirus pandemic (which seems fairly reasonable) but well into the future, when their money machine should return to running on all cylinders.
As for the players, this also seems to be all about the money at a time when fewer and fewer of their fans have any money. Believe the rumors and Monday's offer by the owners to pay 75% of the players' prorated salaries in exchange for a 76-game schedule and playoffs ending by Halloween is already dead on arrival, even with an extra $200 million thrown in for playoff shares.
Yes, we're all naive when it comes to these negotiations, but what if the players called a news conference and told the fans the following:
"We're going to play for you this season and this season only at whatever the owners are willing to pay us because all of you have suffered enough. We can't and won't do it past this season because our careers are short and our family obligations are long and the owners have a whole lot more money than we ever will. But for this year only, at least what's left of it, we're putting you before us because you almost always put us before you when we ask you to spend $300 to take your middle-class family of four to a single game. So this one's for you, fans."
How cool would that be?
That has a 0.001% of happening. The players have dug in regarding their salaries. The owners seem equally inflexible. If something doesn't give this week, it's highly possible that baseball is done until 2021.
But baseball should also consider this: America is already adjusting to life without almost all organized sports. Does it currently miss them? Sure. And for a time, absence may indeed make the heart grow fonder. But let enough time pass and that absence will encourage the heart to move on to other things.
There's also this from former Atlanta Braves pitcher Tom Glavine regarding whom the fans will blame if baseball's canceled over the perceived greed of the players.
"If it were to come down to an economic issue and that's the reason baseball didn't come back, you're looking at a situation similar to the strike of '94 and '95 as far as fans are concerned," Glavine, the Braves' union rep during that strike, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last month. "Even if players were 100% justified in what they were complaining about, they're still going to look bad."
Instead, Glavine seemed to hint the players would be better served by taking a public stance that their concerns for returning this season weren't money driven but health driven.
"I understand that a big part for all of us in getting back to our normal is to have sports back," he said. "But you can't dismiss a player's concern for his health or his family's health any more than you would dismiss your own concerns."
Even if only a public relations ploy, such a strategy would surely shift the fans' sympathy toward the players, who would be seen as caring more about the health of their families than the money while the owners might be viewed as placing the almighty dollar above all else.
Of course, all of this shows just how little either side cares for not only the fans, but all those folks who work the parking lots, usher patrons and sell concessions at MLB parks to help make ends meet the rest of the year. They're the ones really suffering without baseball.
For most of the rest of us, the NBA, the NHL and all matter of football will apparently return soon enough to make us forget we ever missed this baseball season to begin with, and that alone should be more than enough to bring baseball immediately.
Then again, only in baseball is no money apparently better than some money.