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Perspectives: My Concerns About 2022

by Paul Semendinger

December 19, 2021

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I have this sense, this growing fear, that baseball and Yankees baseball as we know it won’t be the same in 2022 and that we’re heading off into a dark period for the sport and for the team.

I just have this sense that the people who run Major League Baseball believe they can do whatever they wish and that the fans will come running back as soon as they reopen their doors. I think that the owners are gravely mistaken. I don’t think the fans will come running back. At all.

Many fans have felt betrayed by the sport. This lockout is coming at a bad time – a terrible time. As people’s personal worries about the economy and their own health are discussed often, the one distraction many of them went to, baseball, the sport they love, was ripped away from them. This was done simply because of greed. It’s a terrible look. And baseball will pay the price when they see the fans stay away in droves. It’s not simply that they shut down the sport in December when people supposedly don’t care about the game (even though they do), it’s that they shut down the sport. Period. They took the game away from us. They have done it before, they’ll do it again.

Simple question, why should people invest their time and money into something that might be taken away from them at any time?

The biggest problem with all of this, the biggest concern, is that the people running baseball don’t even seem to realize what a shaky foundation the sport is on. People have lost faith in the game – in its very legitimacy. Cheating scandals, lots of betting, constant rule changes (even during the season) that change the very way the game is played, and questions about the very equipment that is used makes people doubt the authenticity of the product.

Once people doubt a sport’s integrity, the sport loses its appeal and popularity. This is where baseball is.

Major League Baseball is in a very bad sport right now and the lockout isn’t helping any of that. At all. It’s only making it worse.

A lot worse.

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I have this very real fear that once baseball comes back and the owners see that the fans are staying away and not investing in their product, that they will think the solution will be to tamper with the game even more. Once this happens, they’ll be simply adding to the problem and making the overall product worse.

You’ll see the league use a lower mound one year, bigger bases the next. They’ll toy with the balls and the bats and rules about lineups and player positions. They’ll tweak and then radically change things. And as they do all of this, the game will look nothing like the one that its fans originally came to love.

The product will be changed in ways unimaginable and the game will look nothing like what it used to.

This will be baseball’s response to a problem they created, but the people who made this problem won’t be able to reflect and realize that this was their problem, not the sport’s.

Baseball’s problem isn’t the game. The game itself is great. The problem is that the people running the sport don’t seem to understand the game or the fans. I don’t think most of the people running the sport actually love the game. I fear that many don’t even understand it or its appeal. These are business people. They see baseball as a way to make money. It’s an investment, not a game to love.

This is the big disconnect.

The problem isn’t the game, it’s the people running the game.

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The people running baseball have been blinded by their own success. They believe that all of the tinkering they have done has made the sport better. It hasn’t.

They believe that the fans will come rushing back. They won’t.

***

I fear the Yankees are also in this situation. The Yankees have also been blinded by their own success. “We win every year,” they say. And they have. The Yankees’ record of over .500 seasons dating back to 1993 is very impressive. It’s amazing.

I fear the Yankees are so convinced of their ability to put out a team that wins more than it loses that they think that this can go on for perpetuity.

It can’t.

It won’t.

And I fear that if there is baseball in 2022, that reality is going to hit the Yankees square in the jaw.

As I have written, it is clear to me that the Yankees no longer feel compelled to put the greatest team on the field. With expanded playoffs, they just feel they need to be good enough to get into the post season. That’ll be the Yankees model. Instead of being great, the Yankees will seek to be good enough.

But good enough never is.

And it won’t be.

The 2022 Yankees don’t look very inspiring. Take a look at the team right now.

Is Gary Sanchez the answer at catcher?

Who will play first base?

Can Gleyber Torres or D.J. LeMahieu cover second base? Where will the other player go once the position is given to one or the other? Should the aging guy get the spot, or the young kid? Is Gleyber Torres a player to build around? Will D.J. LeMahieu be a .300 hitter again? Realistically, is either the answer?

Who will play shortstop?

Did you know that Gio Urshela has never even played 135 or more games in a season? Is he really a starting third baseman on a team looking to win big?

Will Joey Gallo hit above .200?

Who will play centerfield?

Who will make up the starting rotation? After Gerrit Cole and maybe Jordan Montgomery, who can the Yankees truly rely on?

How about the bullpen?

And finally, does the manager, now signed for four more years, really have the skills to manage and lead the team to a championship?

That’s a lot of questions for a team that will sell itself, when the sport finally comes back, as a potential championship squad.

As I have written, I just don’t see the Yankees throwing money at these many questions. But if they don’t, they also don’t have players in the minors ready to jump in…and they also don’t have a host of trade chips to be used to address their many needs.

There is a very real possibility that the 2022 Yankees will be a fourth place team.

***

It’s looking like 2022 might be a bad year for the sport of baseball and for the Yankees.

What a shame.

It didn’t have to be this way.

At all.


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