Today, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) made a move that can only, in my eyes, be a move to land the killing blow to baseball in America.
Last season, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league saw several changes to allow them to not only have a season, but also drive up viewership and therefore revenue to replace the empty seats. The season was shortened from 162 games to 60 regular season games. The number of teams allowed into the playoffs was increased from 4 (5 if you include the extra Wild Card team) to 8 teams. The Designated Hitter was also implemented in both leagues for the first time to ‘prevent unneeded stress on pitchers needing to hit’ but, lets face it, it was to boost offense to draw in viewers. Even these changes were like pulling teeth last season with the MLBPA and MLB fighting and splitting hairs over a handful of games and rules changes, nearly costing the league a season altogether.
I Love Baseball
First, I love baseball. I played as a boy and have been a big Red Sox fan my entire life. I remember being heartbroken year after year (’86 included……Billy Frigging Buckner). Why wouldn’t I want to see an extra 4 teams reach the playoffs every year? It makes sense. There are so many good players out there who flounder on mediocre teams and dont have much postseason experience (looking at you Mike Trout) that could create a ton of attention and excitement by getting into the playoffs.
Second, do you care if a pitcher needs to hit? A vast majority of the time, you watch this lanky batter up there looking totally uncomfortable. Weak swings, soft ground balls, lazy pop flys and strikeouts….yay! Wouldn’t you rather watch an actual hitter do his thing than watch a pitcher do everything he could to lay down a bunt while not breaking his fingers? I know I would.
So, why is the MLBPA hellbent on killing baseball? For years now, ratings and the number of new fans have plummeted. Both a Universal DH and an expanded playoff would bring more excitement and therefore revenue to the anemic league.
The players are making a mistake by rejecting the MLB’s proposal. When (not IF) MLB dies, it will be due to the players not doing what is needed to save America’s Pastime.