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The Reality is: Dark Days are in Baseball’s Near Future

The Reality is: Dark Days are in Baseball’s Near Future

By Cary Greene

November 17, 2021

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When the clock strikes midnight on December first and the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) between major league baseball’s owners and players expires, MLB is most likely looking at a chilling work stoppage that will certainly provide fans with an irregular offseason to go along with the irregular regular season that was once again impacted by the Covid pandemic.

MLB hasn’t had a work stoppage since 1996 and it is quite possible that the pending stoppage, which ESPN is reporting is, “all but certain,” could put a deep freeze on free agent signings as there would be too many budget related questions pertaining to luxury tax thresholds and accelerator details for teams that are repeat threshold offenders. Numerous other unknowns surround free agency that each team would need to work out before they were able to move from the unknown, to the known, feeling comfortable enough to run their businesses. Will there be far steeper qualifying offers? What will the compensation payments be to teams that lose free agents? Will there be a salary floor? What will the rules be regarding arbitration eligibility?

I’m left wondering if there will be some sort of interim agreement that might decree that the current compensation scheme and competitive balance tax structure remains in place for the first year of a new agreement? Will MLB be smart enough to do that or are the two sides truly going to take the gloves off and drag this out to the point where significant time will elapse before they can come together?

Indeed the two sides do appear to be very far apart on many key issues, yet die hard baseball fans are gleefully speculating away about which players will sign where because after all, we’re certain that some sort of compromise will eventually be reached…aren’t we?

I’m hopeful that even if no temporary agreement is passed, a spring thaw might occur and perhaps we’ll see free agency accelerate to fruition and that MLB will somehow stay on schedule for a normal spring, yet I fully realize that this situation is pretty far above my pay grade and much is yet to be determined. Therefore, let’s allow ourselves not to think of doom and gloom before the holidays and instead, let’s do what we do best — and that my friends, involves talking about New York Yankees Baseball!

Granted, Yankee fans suffered through a pretty difficult season, filled with inconsistency, injuries, Covid Interruptions and many performance related peaks and valleys. The lack of a balanced roster finally erupted in the media and became a Mount Vesuvius like molten-hot lava flow that even the most pinstriped goggle wearing, ipad wielding supporters of an all right-handed hitting lineup finally melted under. The vaunted Yankees were teetering only a few games over .500 and the roster inadequacy was finally, universally and inarguably brought front and center.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman was forced to admit and acknowledge the carbuncle he had spent so many seasons cultivating. Injuries struck, Covid-19 ran rampant, and the Yankees were forced to promote several Triple-A players who collectively became known as the Scranton kids. Some succeeded, others didn’t, but during this time the Yankees came to life and righted the ship. Yankee starting pitching also suddenly woke up and helped out marvelously and the net effect was that the Yankees gave Brian Cashman the ability to make some deadline moves and the rest is now recent history — the Yankees wound up making the playoffs.

We are past all of that now and the two main questions we’d like answered now are 1. What are Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman going to do about the need to create a more competitive, better balanced roster? –and– 2. What’s the plan to bring a World Series Championship back to the Bronx?

Yankee fans are pretty savvy and they expect the Yankees to be far more than “capable of contending.” They want results. Yankee fans have been verbally massaged and strung along for too long now, they want action from ownership. Yankee fans aren’t going to condone a strategy of bargain shopping with the ultimate goal of avoiding luxury tax penalties. They aren’t going to be satisfied with piecemeal rosters or a strategy centered around discovering players other teams are underutilizing.

Yankee fans are growing impatient, they want a championship and they want a real roster that would be seen not as contenders, but as favorites. They expect the team to do things the Yankee way. Yankee fans know the team plays in a stadium that caters to left-handed pitching and hitting. They’re aware that teams built according to the Yankee blueprint have won big in the past. Yankee fans are crying out this offseason, “Enough is enough Mr. Cashman!” “Either build us a real team or step aside and let someone who can do that get started!”

With American League East rivals now putting some distance between themselves and Brian Cashman’s Yankees, there is much to be done this offseason in order to not only help the Yankees close the performance gap between themselves and the Rays and the Red Sox, not to mention one that will help them fend off the vastly improved Blue Jays who have a young core in place and are in the process of building a very solid pitching staff.

Let’s hope the Yankees act quickly and that the labor problems do not hamper this offseason.

#LaborDispute

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