Proposed Line Items for MLB’s Negotiations to Bring Baseball Back

Baseball’s owners have finally stooped to considering whether or not they’ll return to the negotiating table to discuss with the player’s union if America will have its national pastime back this year. Here are our proposed line items to add to the bargaining process to ensure that the return of baseball is a success:

  • Automatically declare Tim Anderson and Javy Baez the AL and NL MVPs of our hearts, respectively.
  • Finally put the Seattle Mariners out of their misery.
  • 200% more steroids.
  • Give me a firm commitment that I will be able to download an app version of Backyard Baseball to my phone by no later than mid-July.
  • No concrete policy idea here, but can we make this sport a little more fucking exciting?
  • All players must choose among The Outfield’s “Your Love,” Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage,” or Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” for their walk-up song. There are no other options. 
    • LoR would be willing to accept a proviso outlining that a player may choose either Megan Thee Stallion’s initial version of “Savage” or Megan Thee Stallion feat. Beyonce “Savage (remix).” 
  • Mandatory racial sensitivity training for all St. Louis Cardinals baseball fans before they’re allowed to tweet. Actually, better expand this to all baseball fans. 
  • Change the Hall of Fame induction rules to make Charlie Blackmon’s beard immediately eligible.
  • Two Pirates–Reds games per year replaced with a three-hour, no-holds-barred, dugout-on-dugout bench-clearing brawl. 
  • Atlanta Braves aren’t allowed to use the name “Atlanta” until they move back within the city limits. 
  • I get to hit Bud Selig.
  • Send all Cubs fans a $10.50 cup of warm Bud Light and an audio recording of Karen from Naperville loudly insisting that “all lives matter” to simulate the gameday experience at Wrigley Field.
  • Force Joe Buck to run blindfolded in front of the pitcher’s mound every half inning.
  • Any team with a baby-blue throwback uniform required to wear it until there’s a new CBA (yes that’s over half the league) (and yes that last one was a stretch). 
  • Defund Tom Ricketts. 

The Cub Fan’s Lament

We swore we just wanted one before we died. We didn’t set preconditions or enter into negotiations. That’s not really how deals with the devil work. We just wanted a World Series title for our beloved North Siders before we passed on — and honestly, if it came a year or two after we croaked that was fine too. For that single trophy, no cost was too high.

And then we got it. Ohhhh boy did we get it. 10 innings of it. Five million people in the streets for it. The miracles and rain delays and David Ross of it. It was all we’d ever dreamed of.

But from the very get-go, we knew what we’d given up. I remember saying the night of Game 7 that in hindsight, I was actually glad that Aroldis Chapman had given up the lead in the eighth inning because it meant that he – fresh off a suspension for domestic violence and seemingly unrepentant – wasn’t on the mound the moment we clinched. He wasn’t in the photos and wouldn’t be remembered as our savior. He could be relegated to the role of a rent-an-arm who had sort of panned out and could now be shipped back to the Bronx.

Fast forward four seasons and things are… blurrier. When the Ricketts family delivered a World Series championship, the love they felt from the city was as overpowering as it was genuine. Perhaps no owners in American sports built up such a vast amount of goodwill in such a short amount of time. And they immediately started spending it.

Consider: 

Now, as the 2020 season approaches, the relationship between ownership and fans has deteriorated even further. Tom Ricketts was booed heartily at the Cubs Convention when he mentioned the yet-to-be-launched Marquee Sports Network, and he seemed genuinely confused by the reaction. Never mind that with less than a month until pitchers and catchers report, 60% of Cubs fans still have no way to watch games. Or that the lucky few who are permitted to watch games will be forced to tune in to a channel owned by the people who did this. What’s not to love? Why are all you booing the nice billionaire?? Where has all the goodwill gone???

The honest answer is that it was spent much faster than anyone could have anticipated. And while the on-field results have been disappointing (at least by the newly high standards of the fans), the reality is that it had little to do with baseball.

The Ricketts have, intentionally or not, carried out a real-time sociological experiment on the importance of local sports teams relative to other issues. Could a trophy paper over the racism and bigotry of those who delivered it? What was more likely to drive action: a desire to see the team in person, or a fear of indirectly funding the president’s reelection campaign? And just how far can you push a group of people, once you’ve given them everything they wanted?

The loser in all of this is, as it always is, the fan. Just three years removed from the highest of highs, Cubs fans are now grappling with questions as basic as whether their team’s professional baseball games will be televised to ones as profound as when to walk away from something you love.

It is, of course, not fair of ownership to do this to the fans. But then, there has rarely been anything fair about being a Cubs fan. So as we enter the twilight of this team’s championship window, Cubs fans are left to grapple with a question that seemed inconceivable just a few years ago: was it worth it?