This is an open letter to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred about the plan to start a 2020 MLB season.
Dear Commissioner Rob Manfred,
Stop. Take a step back and look at the bigger picture of baseball. Think about the long term future and health of this sport. That is, after all, your job.
If you look at the bigger picture, you will realize that all this posturing and nasty negotiating tactics is hurting your sport and hurting your fan base, not just in the short term, but in the long term as well. Fans are fed up with your inflexibility and poor treatment of the players. Players are fed up with the same thing. We all want baseball, but it seems like you and your group of owners are the only ones who don’t, and that’s a shame.
2020 has presented an opportunity to your league to vault themselves into the attention of the entire country by returning and bringing a sense of normalcy and comfort to a country that’s gone through a lot in the past few months. This was a great chance to put MLB in the collective consciousness of the country. Yet, you failed miserably with all this arguing with the players’ association.
Since money seems to be the only factor, consider the massive loss of revenue that will happen after diehard fans cancel their season ticket plans and casual fans lose interest in the sport because it’s no longer accessible to them and they give their attention to other things. Season tickets, single-game tickets, concession and beer revenue, merchandise sales, attendance, and so much more will all decline because fans are no longer there because cancelling the season when the country needed you most caused them all to abandon you. With less fans, the value of TV contracts will decline.
Then consider what will happen if you do put forth a genuine effort for a complete season and don’t cancel it over economic issues at a time when everyone is having economic issues. Once fans are allowed back in stadiums, the excitement will be at an all-time high. Sellouts almost every game, high levels of merchandise sales, concession revenue, and because of more interest in watching the sport, better TV contracts.
The long-term benefits of playing a complete season in 2020 will far outweigh any short term losses this year or next. Your job is to look out for the sport to keep it healthy long into the future. Your predecessor, Bud Selig, understood this, and was able to keep labor peace since the shutdown in 1994. There were so many fans that left the sport after that shutdown and only some of them have come back since then, and it took a long time to get them back.
If you shut down the 2020 season before it gets started, you will lose even more fans, the trust will no longer be there, and baseball will be lost from American consciousness.
I implore you, prioritize the long term health of the game over short term losses. If you cancel the season, while your losses in 2020 may be lower, the losses in 2021 and beyond will pile up far beyond what you saved in not having a season this year.
If any of the team owners that you represent are willing to sacrifice the sport, then they shouldn’t own a baseball team. If you personally are willing to sacrifice the sport, you should resign your post immediately and put in someone who does care about the game of baseball and its place in American society.
Please Rob Manfred, for the love of baseball, find common ground and reach an agreement with the players to have a complete 2020 season.
A baseball fan who doesn’t want to lose his favorite sport