What is the significance of a full baseball season? What is the difference between 162 games and 140 for example?
The answer will reveal itself until the end of this month, with Monday counted as the opening day for the most vital showdown in Major League Baseball history.
In Florida on Monday, some players and some owners and their representatives will meet to continue their efforts to complete a new collective bargaining agreement. Both sides have pledged to meet every day this week, and could easily continue through the weekend and beyond, with February 28 serving as a logical deadline to hold the actual opening day on its scheduled date of March 31 – although realistically there is leeway for a few days. To play all 162 even if the season does not start on the last day of March.
It is absolutely vital because baseball, like almost everything on the planet besides professional football, finds itself in the midst of an existential crisis, trying to find its place in this rapidly changing world, walking a thinner tightrope in some way to pay homage to its rich history, Recognizing the changes of society, reward innovation and attract young people at once. It has already swung and missed by delaying spring training, the first show games have been postponed from February 26 to no later than March 5, and cutting back on important games will hurt even more.
Now, having written that, neither side acted with any urgency whatsoever. Commissioner Rob Manfred put a shutdown on December 2, with the stated intent to “begin negotiations,” and then his team, having changed pitches, sat on his hands for six weeks. Angel proposals bear the feel of cubic zirconia. They may carry sparkles at first glance, but they don’t age very well on deep inspection.
Meanwhile, players often don’t look like they’ve come out of a deal to retaliate after suffering a total meltdown in the 2016 primary agreement (so much so that you wonder if the owners would be better off staying away from the gassing interests of future agreements). They are entitled to ask for whatever they want, and to be fired, the workers deserve whatever they can get. You should get it, though. You must outsmart and outsmart your opponents/partners. The moral high ground does not naturally prevail. And the players want a lot at the moment.
Hence we find ourselves here. Monday will mark their seventh bargaining session on key economic issues, sixth in person, and to get back into football they’re about to hit the 20-yard line.
How far do they want to offset 80 yards over the course of eight days? This is directly related to the main question: How interested are they in the opening month? Once you get past the glory and happiness of Opening Day, baseball in April turns into a pit. It’s cold in many places (and even colder in warm places), which increases the potential for downtime. Children still go to school, which limits families’ desire to go to the playground. Of course, players generally do not like to play in front of smaller crowds in arctic conditions.
Of course, you can’t just blow April into a vacuum, with owners foregoing revenue and players forfeiting salaries, resuming in May as if nothing had happened. When Manfred described losing regular season games as a “disastrous outcome for the industry,” he certainly meant the bad intentions it would create at a time when the sport needs the opposite.
How important is that to these people? Can owners appreciate the players’ fury and design a more attractive package, where the starting point is the key moves for the proposed minimum luxury tax? Can players accept that they can’t necessarily counter the blast with another blast?
Simple questions, high stakes answers. Get ready for an exciting week of action off the field when the action is already on the field.