Players/owners widen MLB strike zone

I remember the very first work stoppage in Major League Baseball history, during the spring of 1972. If I’m not mistaken, that means we are a few weeks shy of the golden anniversary of the first one. So, by all means, break open the champagne. Or better still, maestro, “strike” up the band.

Seriously, what better way to take away all the global concern over COVID and other worries in the world than with another baseball strike? As I always say, “strike” while the iron is hot.

The first one, believe it or not, in ’72 wasn’t that much of a downer, at least for me, anyway. Since there hadn’t been a strike ever in the history of baseball, I looked at it more with mild curiosity than disdain.

Salaries, while escalating, were nowhere near the levels of today, even after adjusting for inflation. So, there wasn’t that dismissive rolling of the eyes when discussing the strike with other fans. (Not to worry; there’d be plenty of that later in future decades.)

In ’72 the start of the season was delayed by a couple of weeks, if memory serves, and when a settlement was reached, it was agreed between the owners and players that none of the games lost due to the strike would be rescheduled. I remember joking with other friends at the time that one or more teams would regret the inconsistent number of games played at the end of the season.

Sure enough, I can remember the Boston Red Sox crying like babies when they finished a half-game out of first place when the season ended. I don’t even remember who won the division that year (but we all know for sure it wasn’t Cleveland).

From then until 1994, there were lockouts and other assorted work stoppages; most of which were greeted in Cleveland with indifference, since the quality of baseball on the field had most fans looking at a work stoppage as “Divine Intervention.”

In 1994 everything changed, however, as the (finally) contending Indians dropped a game behind the White Sox the day before the strike began. Little did anyone suspect at the time that the season – with almost 1,000 games yet to be played – was toast. (As was Cleveland’s dream of a championship).

Over the years, the rhetoric between the players and owners has been – at various times – somewhere between mildly ludicrous and downright unfathomable. Each side will accuse the other of unparalleled greed (and each side, of course, is right). And each side will once again claim to be “only trying to hold on to what we have” (and each side, of course, is lying).

On the fan side of things, the news will show people canceling their season tickets, or taking up cricket as their new pastime. Statistically, the truth is that most of those same folks will be back in the stands sooner rather than later.

Personally, I’m not sure I want to go through another MLB work stoppage. It’s the game I love the most, but I find the timing of this particular impasse especially difficult to endure. Baseball is wasting a great opportunity to ride in like a white night and save our sanity.

If the impasse is resolved very soon, no harm done.

If not, then cricket, anyone?

Jeff Bing

Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!

Read More on Sporting Views
Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 10:12 AM, 02.01.2022