The Drive with Jody Oehler

The Drive with Jody Oehler

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The Baseball Work Stoppage Is Dumb

For the first time since 1994-95, Major League Baseball has a work stoppage. This time it was the MLB owners locking out MLB players.

Effective late December 1st, all free agent signings, trades and player contact with teams and facilities must end. even scrubbed the pictures of all players on team pages and posted a note explaining they would no longer be posting any actual baseball news.

This is all very dumb.

No sport has lost more real estate in the hearts and minds of fans in the last two decades than baseball. Once the crown jewel of the sports landscape, its now mostly a regional afterthought that occasionally compels national discussion. It’s now dwarfed by the NFL, NBA, college football and in some context even UFC.

So instead of baseball taking action to try and grab some of its real estate back it continues to act to just gobble up more of the most undesirable real estate in the sports world. With a virtual monopoly on anonymity, math and failed leadership Major League Baseball wants to be the biggest landowner in Work Stoppage Land.

Cool, good luck with that.

Make no mistake about it, this work stoppage isn’t some righteous fight for economic equality. Baseball has been awash in profit for years and just handed out over a billion dollars worth of free agent contracts before the lockout was enacted. 

This is more like a group of trust fund kids arguing with lawyers about what family member is going to get what house from a recently deceased family member.

Its gross. And it clouds baseball’s real problems. Baseball’s biggest problem isn’t their arbitration process or revenue sharing plan. Its baseball.

This is a sport that’s magic was largely derived from its consistency across all generations. For a long time, baseball was simultaneously a living, breathing artifact from the past and a perfect fit for the present and future. 

Now baseball has all but severed its connection to the past and doesn’t currently work for the present sports culture.

Instead of taking this time to constructively figure out how to repair that damage and get baseball back on track, the leaders on both sides have decided to argue about profits that will likely soon evaporate anyway.

Baseball needs to fix its sport. Shifts, platoons, analytics and launch angles have become four letter words to many baseball fans.Stolen bases, continuity, tradition and RBI’s have become antithetical to most baseball decision makers.

That disconnect is worthy of a work stoppage; not whatever is currently going on.

A famous phrase from when baseball used to matter was “Build it and they will come”.

That phrase doesn’t work anymore now that many teams have outsized modern stadiums that sit less than full most gamedays.

Here’s a better phrase to reflect MLB in 2021 and beyond:

“Fix it and they will come back.”

I know because I’m one of them.

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