It’s now February. A new CBA isn’t even close. This is sad for baseball. Dare I say pathetic? On Monday, Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich reported that spring training is already clearly in jeopardy, while if an agreement isn’t reached in the next couple of weeks, Opening Day will be too.
I get it. Negotiations aren’t easy. There’s a lot on the line. But nobody wins if games start getting canceled. Not the owners, not the players, not the fans. And especially not the sport. There are people predicting that soccer will surpass baseball in popularity in the United States by 2026 when the World Cup comes to America. Below are the current most popular sports by the percentage of people who view them:
In 2019, the Yankees had $470 million in stadium revenue. Canceled games will start eating at that figure very quickly. The same year, MLB teams in total made approximately $9.9 billion in revenue, with 28 percent of that coming from gate receipts.
Seton Hall University recently conducted a poll regarding the lockout. Out of a 1,570-person representative sample, 30 percent of all fans and 44 percent of avid fans said that a prolonged work stoppage would make them lose interest in the league. You know things are bad when players are tweeting about their dislike for commissioner Rob Manfred (again) and the whole situation. For one, Tyler Matzek:
In 2021, the total attendance across the league was its lowest since 1984. Granted, COVID certainly played a part, but attendance has fallen each year since the last local maximum in 2012. Many changes have been implemented since then, mainly targeting the pace of play. So while those changes haven’t positively affected attendance, surely they’ve at least achieved what they were set out to do? Nope! The average time of games per nine innings in 2021 at three hours and ten minutes was the highest it has ever been in the history of the sport. The second highest? 2020. Third highest? 2019. See a pattern?
Major League Baseball can’t figure out the pace of play problem. They can’t seem to attract new fans. They can’t even understand that the longer this lockout goes on, the worse it will all get for everyone. At this point, I don’t really care which side “wins”. Both sides are going to have to make concessions. Stop killing the sport. Get it done.