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Stellini: Baseball isn’t coming back for a while. Now what?


I was five years old when I attended my first big league baseball game. The Yankees played the Tigers and I remember almost nothing about it except that it was a day game, that the Yankees lost, and that one of the Tigers hit a home run.

A bit of sleuthing on Baseball-Reference tells me that this is probably the game in question seeing as it was a day game, the Yankees got walloped, and Tony Clark took Andy Pettitte deep. I remember the following year’s run to the Subway Series slightly better, but baseball remained a relatively back-burner thing for me until high school.

Thatl was when things started to change, when social media truly blossomed and I discovered things like, hey, Albert Pujols is signing with the Angels. That’s when my love for baseball really took flight. When I was an idiot and went to film school, I found myself paying more attention to baseball than to proper lighting technique. I love this game.

So yeah, the news this week sucks. We’re not going to have baseball for at least four weeks. My gut instinct tells me that it’ll be longer than that.

The game persisted through wars, through the Great Depression and complete social upheaval. It has now been brought to heel, and rightfully so as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on the world.

Now what?

Now we wait. Now we band together and support one another as we ride out this storm that is all too invisible until the coughing and nausea begins. I don’t know how long this is all going to last, but there’s going to be a great deal of quarantining and hand-washing and fear involved for some of us. Some of us have family or friends who are immunosuppressed or have underlying conditions that would make COVID-19 even scarier than it already is. We don’t have sports to serve as a distraction from that terrifying reality.

And that’s what sports are, aren’t they? They’re distractions from the banality and horrifying minutiae of everyday life. Work sucks, school sucks, your relationship sucks, your cat’s in the veterinary hospital, your bills are piling up. So you throw the game on and turn your brain off for a couple of hours. Sports can be a great canvas through which to explore the social problems of our time, and that’s one of the reasons I love writing about them, but they’re also just damn fun.

That’s gone for now. We’re not going to get to enjoy finding out who the cool surprise team is, who’s suddenly morphed into a star, or which team has a funky new schtick that’s going to become a social media sensation. At least not for a while we won’t. We’re not going to have those distractions.

I was depressed as hell when I was in film school. It was a bad time in my life. Baseball offered me a distraction. I will never forget the overwhelming joy I felt when I watched the 2014 AL Wild Card game in my dorm room. It was a crappy day in a long line of crappy days, but for that one night the A’s and the Royals put on a show for the ages, and do this day it remains in my opinion the greatest game ever played. I know there are others that have good arguments for that title. But I’m biased, because for that one night everything didn’t feel quite so miserable.

You come to this site to read about baseball, and we’re going to do our best to try to keep that bit of lively fun in your lives. This delay to the season is happening for a good reason, and it was absolutely the right decision for Rob Manfred to make. But we know that this is important to you, so we’re going to try to keep the fun going as best as we can. We’ve already got some stuff planned that we think you’ll enjoy.

Please, be well. Be smart. Wash your hands. Look after one another. And know that when this is all over, there will be baseball.

If you want to learn more about COVID-19, give the CDC’s site about the virus a read. Informing yourself is the most important step.

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Max Scherzer: ‘There’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions’

Max Scherzer
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MLBPA player representative Max Scherzer sent out a short statement late Wednesday night regarding the ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. On Tuesday, ownership proposed a “sliding scale” salary structure on top of the prorated pay cuts the players already agreed to back in March. The union rejected the proposal, with many worrying that it would drive a wedge in the union’s constituency.

Scherzer is one of eight players on the MLBPA executive subcommittee along with Andrew Miller, Daniel Murphy, Elvis Andrus, Cory Gearrin, Chris Iannetta, James Paxton, and Collin McHugh.

Scherzer’s statement:

After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions. We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received. I’m glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint and believe MLB’s economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information.

Indeed, aside from the Braves, every other teams’ books are closed, so there has been no way to fact-check any of the owners’ claims. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, for example, recently said that 70 percent of the Cubs’ revenues come from “gameday operations” (ticket sales, concessions, etc.). But it went unsubstantiated because the Cubs’ books are closed. The league has only acknowledged some of the union’s many requests for documentation. Without supporting evidence, Ricketts’ claim, like countless others from team executives, can only be taken as an attempt to manipulate public sentiment.

Early Thursday morning, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the MLBPA plans to offer a counter-proposal to MLB in which the union would suggest a season of more than 100 games and fully guaranteed prorated salaries. It seems like the two sides are quite far apart, so it may take longer than expected for them to reach an agreement.