MLB labor disputes historically alienate Red Sox fans
The Boston Red Sox ownership has joined their corporate brethren in a labor dispute that has shut down Major League Baseball. The animosity between labor and management is not a new revelation to the sport if you examine baseball history. The players once ventured into forming their own league in 1890 – the Players’ League. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
As a former union member, I understand the necessity of organizing to address compensation and benefits. That is what unions do, and management maximizes their bottom line. My sympathy has waned as millionaires confront billionaires over a piece of a pie that the fans have baked.
I have been involved in a 70-year love affair. My wife is well aware of it and is indifferent simply because the affections are directed at baseball. Domestic tolerance as I relive my youthful fantasies vicariously through attending baseball games. Is the affair finally over? Have I reached a point where it is far more productive to channel my emotional needs elsewhere?
I have a small circle of acquaintances representing confirmed isolationists regarding sports and MLB. I find their lives far poorer for such a reaction, but it is now necessary to revisit their approach. Eventually, the magnates of baseball and the players will drive away from the cash cow.
I have been down the ranting road before in 1972, 1981, 1994, and probably a few years I have omitted. With each incursion into my fantasy, I have less and less support for the accomplices and their ability to self-destruct.
Baseball is not a stagnate sport as we have witnessed fundamental changes to the game over the years. The introduction of the designated hitter, the physics of altering a baseball, the raising and lowering of the mound, the evolution of advanced metrics, and the scandals centering on the use of performance-enhancing substances. Fans have debated the structure of the game but have remained loyal. I now question that loyalty is based on baseball’s innate ability to alienate the very source of generational wealth for players and endless riches for franchise owners.
The strike in 1994 was close to creating a death knell for MLB. Attendance took almost a decade to stabilize, driven by a gentleman’s agreement to ignore the apparent infestation of PEDs. The fallout from that continues to this day with each Hall of Fame ballot. However, MLB has survived, but so do cockroaches.
I am not expressing a unique position when I read over the social media posting boards. Can a prolonged lockout resulting in games canceled be a tipping point? Again using 1994, there are consequences for actions alienating the casual fan and fans with a far deeper commitment and loyalty, and that loyalty may now be in question.
A divorce does not mean termination but more of a redefining of priorities from a personal perspective. Less of multiple Red Sox road trips each season and possibly Worcester as an MLB alternative? The longer the labor hostilities go onward, the more the likelihood of negativity being shown in ticket sales, merchandising, and cable ratings. The real driver is the loss of national and local media revenues.
As a casual writer of baseball, I can focus on various topics, especially in the history of the game. Baseball offers quite a palate of issues, even if it chooses to slumber. But the specter of offerings is being ignored due to a dwindling audience.