From the Press Box: MLB and MLBPA missing major opportunity

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MLB and MLBPA missing major opportunity.

I love baseball. It’s my second-favorite sport behind football. 

But both Major League Baseball and Major League Baseball Players Association are missing the opportunity of a lifetime.

Baseball’s popularity in America is declining behind football and basketball.

But as we head into summer and as other sports are still on a hiatus, baseball has the opportunity to re-capture the hearts of Americans and give some reprieve to the pandemic.

Unfortunately, we are caught in another war of millionaires vs. billionaires.

I am typically pro-player in these type of wars. 

Want a new contract? Try to get what you feel like your worth, you only play in these sports for a segment of your life. (Not you, Mr. Jump-in-Line Ezekiel Elliott)

Want to retire early? Go ahead. Preserve your body for your long-term health.

Player safety? All for it.

But I can’t get behind the players here.

Supposedly, MLB proposed to the players an 82-game schedule with significant pay reductions to the top players already prorated salaries. 

For example, Mike Trout of the L.A. Angels would receive a little less than $6 million, compared to the $19 million. 

The lower-payed players would receive less severe pay-cuts.

Reportedly, MLB is losing $640,000 in an 82-game season without fans. 

The problem here is optics. 

Millions of people are suffering because of the effects this pandemic. The Washington Post reported there were 40 million jobless claims in the last 10 weeks. 

America doesn’t care that billionaires are losing some money and millionaires are losing money to “go play ball.”

It makes it hard to listen to sports media and hear the discussion about these negotiations when you’re not 100 percent sure your next paycheck is coming. The problem is exasperated when you are dealing with an overloaded unemployment system trying to receive some help during the pandemic.

Sports is supposed to be a release from reality. Baseball being traditionally played daily has the opportunity to capitalize on ratings, social media trend and the fatigue associated with the cyclone of COVID-19 news.

The players’ out-spoken nature about the negotiations also isn’t helping their situation. 

The owners are pushing out the news they want heard to paint the players as the villains and the players are taking the bait. 

I may not be writing this article if the narrative wasn’t so financially driven, but because it is, it’s hard to feel sympathy for the players.

I hope the players eventually realize the optics on them as these negotiations continue.

Everyone is suffering in one way or another, they are probably going to also. But we just want baseball back.

John Lee is the editor of The Pampa News and can be reached at pampanewseditor@gmail.com or find him on Twitter @jcl1987.

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