By Patrick Kelly
With the NHL already laying out a plan to return and the NBA expecting to put one forward this coming Thursday, it would seem that urgency among members of the MLB and MLBPA would increase as they are on the outside looking in for a late summer return. According to Buster Olney of ESPN.com, “There is a group of owners perfectly willing to shut down the season, to slash payroll costs and reduce losses.” While the idea of this has seemed to be implied at times to have it outright reported is probably the biggest revelation of this whole fiasco.
Any professional athlete is in no better position than a lot of people in this country. They have lost money during this pandemic and they possibly stand to lose more going forward. However, the unwillingness to play from either side will create long-term effects that could last for most of their careers while defining the legacy of many owners. The cruel irony is that in late March and early April it seemed that not only would the MLB be the first to come back, but one of the safest sports to play during a pandemic considering they continued on during the Spanish Flu and the NHL was unable to. While MLB attendance had dipped a bit after the 1994 strike, they recovered attendance wise rather quickly. But attendance has been down for the past two consecutive years and more than a year off from non-spring training games could be devastating for several years to come.
It is unclear when fans will be able to attend games again, but if it is before April of 2021 when the next season would begin, then not only would the NHL and NBA among other leagues finish their seasons, but they would be able to gain the crucial revenue they would need with fans in seats. One would hope that the MLB can work something out, especially once it is clear that they will have no other option even though jabs continue to be thrown by both sides.