MLB lockout epitomizes US’ labor issues

Ethan Hurwitz, Associate Sports Editor

Illustration by Peyton McKenzie

As former baseball team owner Bill Veeck once said, “There are only two seasons. Winter and baseball.” Well, it looks like winter may be an all-year occurrence now.

After decades of being the country’s most popular sport, Major League Baseball has done the one thing it could not afford to do — shut down. The ninth work stoppage in the league’s storied history and fourth full lockout comes on the heels of a new collective bargaining agreement not being fully agreed upon this offseason. A disappointing stalemate between the owners, who will not pay mid-tier players, and the players, who want higher compensation, is a gloomy start to December for all baseball fans.

This lockout is terrible for the players, the fans and the sport and is symbolic of labor disputes in this country. It is absolutely horrible for the game when you compare baseball to the rest of American sports.

In the social media age, football and basketball have skyrocketed in popularity. Hockey is now taking a step forward, thanks to the new ESPN partnership and baseball has taken a step back.

The league is downright terrible at marketing the game to the younger generations. Even when it attempts to show its flashy young stars in advertisements, the MLB struggles to showcase these young stars on a national stage. It limits fans’ ability to watch games by blacking out, or restricting, games across the country, making the games impossible to watch. Games won’t be nationally televised, meaning that the only way to watch out-of-market games would be to purchase a streaming subscription.

Players across the league have already struggled to market themselves. Now, the league’s very own players are poking fun at the entire organization. Due to the lockout, every MLB-affiliated site has changed its pictures of players’ faces to a generic grey face. Players are posting and tweeting about their grey headshots, which have gone viral on social media.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred took the beloved sport and threw it down the toilet. Worse than that. He did a full Andy Dufresne, swimming through sewage and waste pipes, something straight out of “The Shawshank Redemption,” to soil MLB’s long-standing legacy, leaving it to rot in his trail.

This is an issue affecting the entire country, and MLB is just the latest to fall victim.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has counted 12 work stoppages involving at least 1,000 workers since January 2021. The MLB’s lockout is one of the biggest stoppages and leaves thousands of free agents without any job security. Under normal circumstances, ballplayers not signed to a team would meet with their agents and professional teams all winter to discuss contract details.

Now, teams cannot even look in the direction of players. With a wave of a magician’s magic wand, it is like the sport vanished into thin air.

As a diehard Boston Red Sox fan, and a baseball fan, I feel disappointed that I cannot look forward to the new season. In the past, no games have been skipped because of these lockouts, but now there is no certain future for the sport.

Jameson Taillon, a starting pitcher for the New York Yankees, took to Twitter Dec. 2, and described how he is affected by the work stoppage.

“Since MLB chose to lock us out, I’m not able to work with our amazing team physical therapists who have been leading my post surgery care/progression,” Taillon tweeted.

This battle between billionaire owners and millionaire players projects what is going on at a more personal level throughout this country. Big corporations do not have their employees in mind when making decisions that can affect workers’ livelihoods. Looking back at the baseball aspect, this decision will affect every minor league player who is not making tens of millions of dollars each year.

In the era we live in now, people are more inclined to project their voices and fight for their beliefs. What many call “The Great Resignation” in the U.S. affects thousands upon thousands of people but will not get as heavy recognition as the MLB. Jobs are at stake, and most people do not view athletes as “regular humans.” However, they rely on a steady income just as much as the average American, even though their average income is usually in the seven-figure range.

For example, what would you do if McDonald’s and its employees entered a work stoppage, and there were no McDonald’s until the dust had settled? You would move on to Burger King.

For professional baseball, there is no alternative option for American fans. Unless you want to watch baseball taking place in Japan with a 14-hour time difference, nobody gets their daily baseball intake.

Lockouts are bad publicity for any business, and the time period in which we live seems to place workers and the public against the big corporations. That is exactly what is happening here with MLB. Fans are irate at the teams for taking away the sport they love, and rightfully so.

The CBA, which expired Dec. 1, can be adjusted and re-accepted. Until then, nothing is set in stone.

Granted, there is still time before the 2022 season is in full swing, but this lockout shows how moronic the sport of baseball has become in the eyes of the American public.

Imagine a world without the McDonald’s of sports.