I don’t know what you’re supposed to write about when the NFL is winding down, you’ve exhausted all Seahawks post-mortem talk, and the Kraken are far worse than you would’ve expected. We’re in a real dead zone, and the MLB is doing us no favors by not getting a new collective bargaining agreement finalized.
Admittedly, I haven’t been following along very closely to all the back-and-forth between the league and the players’ union. What’s to learn? The players want more money overall and an opportunity to start earning that money earlier in their playing careers; the owners want to keep more money overall and limit some of the runaway spending we started seeing in the 1990s (that ballooned exponentially over the next couple decades before finally getting reined in a little bit with this last CBA). Beyond the money issues, there are other minor nits to pick – still tangentially related to money in some way – that will be hashed out, but they’re obviously of less import.
Then, off to the side, there’s the Major League Baseball fan. You can’t even say we’re caught in the middle, because we are of no consequence whatsoever. No matter what ends up being agreed to, ultimately we’ll be the ones footing the bill in some way, shape, or form. So, to take sides in this argument is really stupid and pointless. No one feels for the owners in this situation – though most of us do side with the teams they run – but I also have a hard time feeling too much for the players. Either they’re multi-millionaires who are set for life, because they’re superstars playing a child’s game; or they’re regular millionaires grinding out a living playing a child’s game; or they’re fringe guys eking out a living playing a child’s game. If anything, I feel for the minor leaguers who get the shaft in all of this – those players making a shitty living, playing a child’s game under much shittier conditions, who deserve to be taken care of by the organizations who exploit them and churn through them with reckless abandon – but the CBA isn’t really there to protect those guys. The CBA is for the successful, established Major Leaguers, and getting theirs while the getting’s good.
I try to mostly stay out of being informed on these issues, because they almost always get worked out eventually. Every time a CBA ends and a new one needs to be forged, there’s always consternation and lots of arguing through the media, but in the end no one wants to miss actual regular season games. That’s where the money’s made! Quibbling over a few dollars here and there isn’t worth the millions and billions potentially lost by a prolonged lockout/strike.
So, I fully expect when March 31st rolls around, we will see the full complement of MLB games taking place as scheduled. But, where things stand now, it’s looking a little dicey when it comes to getting the i’s dotted and t’s crossed by mid-February, when pitchers and catchers are supposed to report for Spring Training. Will they start Spring Training on time? I highly doubt it. Will we miss Spring Training games? Probably. But, I guaran-fucking-tee the regular season starts as planned.
Which means there will be a shitload of personnel moves that need to be made in a very tight window. On top of which, any new players signed or traded for will be arriving late to the party, and given a very narrow timeframe with which to acclimate to their new teams and prepare their bodies for the rigors of the regular season. Will that mean there’s even more early-season injuries than normal? Maybe. At the very least, I imagine game play will be more ragged and disjointed than usual for the first month or so.
Considering a team like the Mariners, I think this bodes very poorly. The M’s are a team very much in flux; a few moves have been made prior to the current lockout we’re in, but I think we all expect more moves yet to come. This very much is not the final product as it sits now. Thankfully, we’re not breaking in new leadership within management – so there’s a good amount of continuity there – but there are significant holes to fill on the Major League roster. How well will those new players acclimate to our team?
I could see the Mariners getting off to a poor start as a result, which will likely snowball into a poor season if we’re not careful. The expectations for 2022 are Playoffs Or Bust. But, last year we were a fringey team that ended up winning 90 games; a lot needed to go right for that to happen. A lot will need to go right this year as well, if we’re determined to break the post-season drought to end all post-season droughts. There’s a lot for this organization to overcome, without bringing a bad start to the regular season into the mix.
It’s just a bummer, as a fan, because this is the most excited I’ve been heading into a new season in probably two decades. Most years, when a season ends, I’m relieved, and in desperate need of a break from this team. But, as last season concluded, I couldn’t wait for 2022 to start! The 2021 Mariners were a pretty fun team to follow, and a lot of those reasons are still here for 2022 (with some new reasons for excitement joining the festivities). Delaying even just the pre-season for a couple weeks is the last thing I want. Especially coming off of two really crappy football seasons (from the Seahawks and Huskies), not to mention any of the other local sports teams, who have been underwhelming to say the least.
The Mariners are all we have to look forward to, which is a unique position for them to be in. So, it figures we have this CBA nonsense getting in the way of our good time. We are, as always, not allowed to have anything nice around here. It’s all so fucking stupid, I can’t even stand it.