For the second time in a week, Chicago Cubs – and baseball – fans, as a whole, let ourselves have hope – and were rewarded with another week of canceled regular season games instead of the return of Major League Baseball.
After talks on Tuesday carried into the wee hours of the morning Wednesday, MLB and the MLBPA decided to get a few hours’ sleep then get back at it. But instead of picking up where they left off, things went to pieces quickly on Wednesday with a series of back-and-forth offers going nowhere and the prospect of an international draft derailing things in the afternoon.
In exchange for the implementation of said draft, the league would eliminate qualifying offers – something that players have sought for some time, as it definitely can serve as a detractor for those tied to QOs in free agency. But as the two sides seemingly moved toward a middle ground on things like the luxury tax, this specific issue has emerged as the new mountain to climb in talks.
"“In a last-ditch effort to preserve a 162-game season, this week we have made good-faith proposals that address the specific concerns voiced by the MLBPA and would have allowed the players to return to the field immediately. The Clubs went to extraordinary lengths to meet the substantial demands of the MLBPA. On the key economic issues that have posed stumbling blocks, the Clubs proposed ways to bridge gaps to preserve a full schedule. Regrettably, after our second late-night bargaining session in a week, we remain without a deal."
With each passing day, fans grow more and more frustrated – especially with the league and its 30 owners, who seem to have no motivation at all to reach a deal and start the regular season prior to May, when attendance typically climbs as temperatures increase across large swaths of the country. Maybe the loss of TV revenue and those contract will motivate them sooner, but at this point, I have little to no optimism.
So now, the earliest Opening Day will take place, according to MLB, is April 14. That might seem like an insignificant date – except for the fact that the very next day, April 15, is the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s big league debut. That date should be celebrated across the sport, but right now, we won’t even have teams on the field.
Per Cubs.com, Chicago would now open the season on the road in Colorado that Thursday – with the home opener at Wrigley taking place the following Monday against the Rays at 6:40p CT. As for spring training, there will be no games before March 18 – and, at this point, that’s a near totally impossible target to shoot for.
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As horrible as this is for fans, I can only think of the stadium workers and staff – and everyone else whose livelihood depends on these teams playing, both in the regular season and in Florida and Arizona. Potentially irreparable damage is being done to the game – and, unfortunately, every time we think there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, it turns out to be another train barreling right at us.