Opening Day will not happen on time. Management is transferring the locks on their spring training facilities to the gates of major league stadiums.
Great American Ball Park will be locked and dark on March 31 ... no Opening Day for the Cincinnati Reds. Their game scheduled against the Chicago Cubs has been canceled, not by inclement weather, but by order of commissioner Rob Manfred.
There will be no shouts of, “Play ball,” at any major league parks on March 31, the original date for Opening Day.
Negotiations toward a new collective bargaining agreement broke down Tuesday and Manfred made good on his threat — if there was no new contract agreed upon by 5 p.m., each team’s first two series would be canceled. The games will not be made up and the players will not be paid.
Owners made what they termed, “Our best and final offer,” at 4 p.m. Tuesday. The players promptly unanimously rejected it and the talks ended. There is no re-start button on negotiations.
The situation drew a couple of responses by Cincinnati Reds players on social media.
“Let’s stay at the table and get this done,” wrote relief pitcher Amir Garrett.
“This is just sad,” wrote Rookie of the Year Jonathan India.
It is sad in more way than one:
—It is sad because there is no baseball when there should be baseball.
—It is sad because loyal, long-time fans are without their baseball fix and many are expressing thoughts like, “I’m fed up. I’m done with baseball.”
—It is sad because the real people hurt, beyond the fans, are the support people — the ushers, the security people, the concessionaires. And it is painful to hotels, restaurants and bars that count on baseball games to enhance their bottom lines.
The contract expired Dec. 1 and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA, the players’ union) made an immediate proposal. The owners let it simmer for three months before making a counteroffer.
So who is serious here?
The owners know that once the players begin missing games, they won’t be paid and they believe that will force them to come begging on bended knee for a quick solution, one advantageous to ownership.
Every major league player will be given $15,000 in April by MLBPA, money stashed away for this eventuality from licensing profits.
On the other side of the now empty bargaining table, ownership can afford to hold off the season for nearly a month. Television contracts ask for 140 games and TV money won’t be deducted until games played fall below the 140 threshold.
They won’t miss that much revenue from ticket sales, parking and concessions because other than Opening Day, April crowds are historically small.
So here we are. No baseball. Why? Because baseball is in crisismode due to stubbornness by both parties and short sightedness by both parties. Both sides don’t seem to care that they are burying the game, that more and more fans don’t care.
So many fans love the game but right now the proprietors of the game and the players of the game don’t love them back.
Manfred’s many unpopular rule changes, the slow pace of games, the boredom of home runs, walks and strikeouts, were already eroding the game’s popularity.
When they call the coroner at baseball’s death bed, the coroner will write on their clipboard: “Death by self-inflicted wounds.”