Says Jayson Stark of The Athletic:
They can’t be about to drive off this cliff, can they?
They can’t be about to call off this baseball season over money, can they?
That wouldn’t just be short-sighted. That wouldn’t just be selfish. It might be fatal.
Since I’ve done this for a while now, I’m allowed to mention that I watched this happen once before. That was in 1994, when Bud Selig and Don Fehr drove this very same bus over this very same cliff. They took a World Series right down to the bottom of that canyon with them back then. And you know what? Their sport has never been the same.
Oh, baseball has made many billions of dollars since then. It has found a way to make the cash registers ring. But if you think $$$$$ = Everything’s Cool Now, you could not be more wrong about that.
Baseball may have regained its ability to generate revenue over this last quarter-century. But you know what it has never regained? Its place in American culture. Its place in the American heart. Its place in the American soul.
For 100 years, baseball was America. Baseball was summer. Baseball was ingrained in the fabric of American life in a way no other sport was. But killing that World Series cut that cord. Yes, baseball still matters. But not like that.
So now imagine what happens in a couple of weeks, if this round of labor talks winds up in the same dysfunctional place. Imagine those dueling Zoom press conferences, as Rob Manfred and Tony Clark try to explain why there won’t be an MLB season in 2020, at a time when America has never needed one more.
I’ve asked lots of people in baseball lately to compare that outcome to canceling the World Series in 1994. Every one of them has had the same response:
“Oh, this would be worse. Much worse.”