Sport

If they refuse to accept COVID-19 reality, Major League Baseball should shut the game down: Terry Pluto

If they refuse to accept COVID-19 reality, Major League Baseball should shut the game down: Terry Pluto

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Major League Baseball owners and players continue to act as if their biggest problem is money.

How many games should we play? How much should the players receive for each game? How about the post-season revenue, how should we split it up?

Of course, it’s all about money. Pro sports, it’s always about money to a major degree. But this is a summer like no other for baseball and the world.

COVID-19 has changed everything.

While most baseball players are in one of the safest demographics in terms not having serious consequences from the virus, the players and coaches are going to get sick. How will that spread? Who else will be infected?

The major challenge for baseball isn’t coming to an agreement on how many games to play. at their Florida training facilities.

The major challenge for baseball isn’t coming an agreement on how many games to play. Rather, it’s this: Will they actually be able to play the games and finish the season?

At this point, it should not be about 60 vs. 70 games for a regular season. It’s about what to do once the season starts and the virus hits.

Until a few days ago, the players’ stance was “tell us when and where to play” if they received 100 percent of their prorated salaries. The owners challenged them to follow through with their 60-game proposal. That led to more haggling over money, games, details and the usual boorish behavior on both sides.

HOW DUMB CAN THEY BE?

The two sides despise each other. They demonize each other. They act as if they don’t really need each other. They don’t want a deal. They want victory. They want the other side to suffer. Both sides have so much money, they think they can outlast the other. They are like petulant children hugging their favorite toys and sticking their tongues out.

They seem to be warming up for an even more outrageous labor battle after the 2021 season when the current labor agreement expires.

This is disgusting, especially in light of all the other pro sports leagues working hard and together to find a way to play some sort of season. Baseball doesn’t care that it can fill a civic void in a time of need. It has no real desire to make a temporary deal in a time of trying circumstances.

As my father would tell me, “How dumb can you be?”

DO THEY HAVE THE WILL?

At this point, I wonder if they really do want a season.

There are rumors some owners would prefer just to shut it down. They correctly believe it’s unlikely fans will attend the games. They say “We’re going to lose more money if we play than if we don’t. Just forget it, let’s try it again next year.”

Or maybe in the year 2259…

No rush.

The players seem to think if they make “too many compromises” it will impact their labor deal after 2021. So hold the line right now, even if that means sitting out and not being paid.

Both sides are ignoring the facts of real life. Namely, getting on the field is one thing. Remaining healthy enough to play all the games looms as a major obstacle.

I keep receiving emails from baseball-loving fans who have been hit by pay cuts, furloughs and layoffs. Or they are elderly and have been staying at home a lot because they’re of an age that is the virus danger zone.

Baseball acts like they don’t care about these people: That they will always return. I wonder if that’s true.

In normal economic times with no virus, most fans would probably return at least to some degree. But now? In a setting where no one knows exactly what is coming next?

Baseball deserves to be punished by its fans. Given the selfish actions of both sides, maybe they should skip the 2020 season – especially if they plan to go through all this again (and worse) after 2021. Wait until you can show some good will and make a meaningful deal.

I write as someone who grew up going to Tribe games with his father and loving baseball. But right now, both sides are making me hate the game.

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