Usually at this time of year, before we ever heard the term COVID, I would find myself in the sun in Port St. Lucie, Florida hitting baseballs and sharing stories with Ron Swoboda and Mookie Wilson and Doc Gooden. It was my regular winter ritual.
COVID threw a wrench into that ritual a couple of years ago.
COVID has thrown a wrench into so many rituals over the last two years. It really is weighing us down.
Sometimes I think that it isn’t so bad. I mean, there have been some great changes that I have made in my life that I would never even have considered were it not for this pandemic. But still I have this feeling that there is always a haze or a cloud following me around and that COVID is the cause.
Most of us just keep waiting for it be over. And I guess that when something this big is disrupting our lives for this long, we look for someone or something to blame. But this is too big to blame some “one” or some “thing.” This thing just “is.” It really has infected us, even those of us who have been fortunate enough not to be infected.
In our changed world where nothing is as it was, we still turn to the rituals and recurring benchmarks of our past for comfort, distraction, and solace.
For me, one of those is spring training and the start of baseball season as a harbinger of brighter days to come. In this third year of COVID haze, where one full baseball season was ripped away from us, and another was just unusual with seven-inning games, and ghost runners on second base, it looks like the hope that comes to us in the second week of February will not be there this winter.
COVID is not the cause, yet, but it certainly has made this loss even worse.
For those of you who don’t know, the Major League Baseball Players Association – the union – and the Major League Baseball owners are in the midst of a lockout that is likely to stall the commencement of the 2022 baseball season possibly well into the spring or summer.
Last week the owners made their first substantive proposal in weeks to try to get a season back on track. Like most negotiations in the early stages, it landed with a thud. The players reportedly were unimpressed.
The players want to reduce the time it takes for them to reach free agency and earn the right to negotiate contracts that recognize their full value. In today’s game, players who arrive to the big leagues in their early 20s are putting up huge offensive numbers and brining eyes to screens and fannies to seats. But they don’t see paychecks that match the value they bring. Big pay in MLB depends on seniority and owners want to maximize the value they receive from these players for the longest duration possible.
It is no different from any other negotiation where leverage is what counts.
After negotiating contracts for 25 years, I predict that we won’t see players on a field until late March, and that a full season of games is highly unlikely. And that will just make the haze of this pandemic worse for folks like me.
Eric Brown is an attorney with offices in Connecticut. He can be reached at 888-579-4222 or online at www.thelaborlawyer.com.