A Duck Sabbatical

You probably know that ducks migrate but did you know that they also take sabbaticals? So, after visiting with you for over 500 consecutive weeks, this old duck is going to take a break.

If you’ve read even a few of my commentaries, it should be obvious that baseball is my passion. I find, however, that my enthusiasm is waning thanks to what is happening off the field. The millionaires & billionaires who play and administer the game are creating an atmosphere that sours even a die-hard fan. Here we are in the middle of what should be the “hot stove” season and there are no trades or free agent deals or rumors or notes of any consequence. Opening some of the better baseball sites to find out who just signed a deal to play in Korea or who the new assistant hitting coach of a team might be just doesn’t cut it for me. MLB has even taken down the pictures of players from their website! Are these a bunch of 12 year-olds?

In all the reports of the lockout and the negotiations there hasn’t been even the slightest mention of the fans. While I was paying for my Spring Training tickets last week, the two sides pissed away December with no meetings to address core issues. Now, if they don’t reach an agreement in January, Spring Training may be impacted. As if the last two years haven’t been bad enough for fans, there seems to be no urgency on the part of the two sides.

Think about this…

  • One member of the union’s 8-player executive sub-committee is Max Scherzer, who signed a contract (under the old guidelines) to become the highest paid player in history at $43M per season. He’s been quoted as saying that a new agreement must include substantial raises for players in the first three years of their career. Where exactly does he propose that money come from? Certainly not any donation from his contract.
  • In addition to Scherzer, the Mets have an obligation to pay Robinson Cano $24M each of the next two seasons even though he was suspended last year for PED’s. How about the union agreeing that a PED suspension should automatically void a contract?  
  • The arbitration system (for players in years 4-6) is a joke. It puts teams and players in an adversarial position and rewards players for seniority instead of performance.
  • The owners are also to blame for the chasm between the two sides, as they’ve manipulated the system to gain an additional year of contract control and consequently not put their best product on the field. 
  • Fixing the June Draft to discourage “tanking” is easy. In my 12-team Fantasy Baseball league, six teams receive a monetary payout. So, the 1st Draft pick for the following year goes to the 7th place team. In the real world, the non-playoff team with the best record should get the 1st pick. To the non-educated, this is known as incentivizing.
  • Free agency eligibility needs to be a compromise of years and age…maybe 5-6 years or 30 years old (whichever comes first).
  • Some people criticize the “millionaire-billionaire” cliché, but consider the fact that in addition to Scherzer, the committee includes Gerrit Cole ($36M), Francisco Lindor ($34M) & Marcus Semien ($25M). As for the teams, Forbes estimated that even the least valuable team (the Marlins) has a valuation of $990M, while the Yankees are worth over $5B. Are you feeling any sympathy yet?

If you feel fed up, join the club. Neither side deserves our support. They just can’t seem to decide how to split up the money that comes from our pocket. Maybe they should have at least one baseball fan at the table? What do the fans really think? A well-respected baseball site has been running a survey and there have already been over 16,000 responses. Here a few takeaways…

  • If any regular season games get cancelled, 70% indicated that their in interest in baseball will be reduced
  • 54% believe that players are fairly compensated and another 16% feel they’re paid too much
  • Only 26% are against the NL DH
  • 75% think that the playoff field should be 10-12 teams
  • 57% are in favor of a minimum salary of $600K or less
  • 87% believe changes are needed to incentivize winning / reduce tanking

If the CBA farce cancels Spring Training games, this old-school fan will not spend one penny on major league baseball in 2022. No game tickets, no official merchandise, no satellite fees for additional games, no purchases of products advertised on mlb.com and no blogs extolling the virtues of the game. While this mini-boycott won’t impress the millionaires & billionaires, it will make me feel better.

On a positive note, thanks so much for all the kind words over the years…they are most appreciated.

4 thoughts on “A Duck Sabbatical”

  1. Don, I agree with your assessment. Both the players and owners have become too powerful and the only one suffering are the fans. Maybe the fans need to boycott everything baseball and see what happens. Hope you have a great New Year.

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  2. Don, you have nailed it! It’s sad — no, it’s beyond belief — that both factions are so out of touch. We are near the two year anniversary of the start of this Twilight Zone pandemic; we really did not have a proper 2020 season. And this how these millionaire’s choose to act. My enthusiasm is already diminished.

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