Baseball is in a weird place. It has been one of the strangest offseasons I can ever remember as a fan. While big money was spent on free agents (finally), we saw almost a third of franchises change managers, a cheating scandal grab the attention of the sporting world, and a commissioner fail to truly punish the team involved. That list doesn’t include yet another round of rule changes proposed by Rob Manfred, a leaked document stating that MLB wanted to eliminate nearly 40 minor league franchises, and the looming CBA negotiations in just a few short years with players and the league each taking shots at each other.
With all of these factors, it makes me wonder what is the state of baseball from the fan perspective. Is the game going on a gradual decline, or is this a strange bump in the road?
I can tell you that this fan is concerned. Commissioner Rob Manfred seems completely out of touch with the concerns of fans. In his press conference yesterday, he remarked that stripping the Astros of their World Series wouldn’t mean anything since “it’s just a piece of metal.” Yeah, you know, the one trophy that every team plays for? That’s just a piece of metal to the man running baseball.
Then, let’s add on dismantling the minor leagues. MLB wants to eliminate 40 minor league franchises because they claim that is the only way to increase minor league pay. Really? A multi billion dollar company is claiming that it can’t afford pay raises? The same group of people that take in tens of thousands of dollars every home game with rising ticket prices and $10 beers can’t afford paying minor league players a living wage? Some of the teams that would be eliminated in that proposal are places Scott and I have been on our ballpark tours. The whole point of this blog and for many fans is to go to the ballpark. Taking that away from communities that don’t have access to major league teams hurts the game.
Baseball is in a weird place right now. It feels like a disaster waiting to happen. From players expressing their disgust with the Astros to Manfred’s unwillingness to actually punish people for the scandal to downsizing the minors to new rules, this doesn’t feel like the same game I remember. I’ve never seen people call for the resignation of a commissioner like this. Now, maybe this storm shall pass. Maybe I’m concerned over nothing. Maybe once March rolls around things will be better and it will go back to the same game I remember. I sure hope so, because my wallet can’t take much more of $10 beers and my appetite doesn’t include 3 batter minimums or no pitch intentional walks.