MLB talks ignore risks to game’s future

For those of us who have good reason to snarl upon returning the nozzle to the gas pump, the finances of Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are low-grade nonsense.

They sit across the table from one another in an increasingly hapless effort to decide how their gold will be shared. Each side makes the numbers dance and sing to their tune. Each side knows that, eventually, the need to get on the field and start fleecing the paying customers will overwhelm any determination of truly winning the latest skirmish in their long-running labor war.

Of course, both sides will claim victory. What is considered untenable today will mysteriously morph into a startling display of common sense.

If past is a prelude, the smart money is on the players chalking up another win.

The owners have an uninterrupted streak of absorbing losses but finding a slender twig on which to hang their cap. Just a cursory inspection will reveal it as another layer of foolishness, again anchoring MLB’s leadership in its role as the Washington Generals, the Harlem Globetrotters’ eternal foil.

Neither side seems aware that they have already jack-hammered one of baseball’s great rhetorical treasures. Whenever pItchers and catchers finally report (now with position players in tow) fans are not going to be perched on barstools telling one another that if this guy wins 20 and that guy hits .300 and the manager figures out how to use his bullpen, this could be the year.

There is no colder, wetter blanket to toss onto baseball hopes and dreams than an extended period of rich people bickering over money. Someone working two jobs to make $40,000 a year could not possibly care less about whether first-year MLB players make $570,000 or $750,000.

None of the above is earth-shattering news. Anyone paying even casual attention to big-league baseball understands the basics on how the money is divvied up.

The closest we come to a startling revelation is the reinforcement of the owners’ and players’ willful blindness to where this is ultimately leading them.

Not that the war over dollars is the lone element in the game’s rendezvous with circling the bowl. The on-field problems, primarily those that stretch nine innings over three or (too often) more hours, is the game’s fatal disease.

Anyone under the age of 30 who loves the game will feel increasingly lonely. And that dividing line, 30 years old, will soon claim 40-somethings.

Baseball’s core audience – let’s charitably peg that at ages 50 and over – will show deeper signs of crumbling.

The older you get, the easier it is to stop wasting time.

And waiting for sabremetricians to decide whether the shortstop should be positioned behind second base or in short right field is time poorly spent.

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