MLB Players Ready, Willing To Strike Without Major CBA Changes
Players at the MLB All-Star Game in Cleveland "made it quite clear" that they "want changes, big-time changes, in the next collective bargaining agreement, or there will be significant consequences," according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Pirates 1B Josh Bell said, "We've met for years for preparation, and we'll definitely see what happens in the future. Hopefully we can find common ground, but if not, we're more than prepared." Astros P Gerrit Cole said, "We really respect the people that come before us who have put us [in] a position we're in now." Cole: "When push comes to shove, I think we'll be prepared to do whatever we need to do to keep that honor continuing down the line" (USA TODAY, 7/11). THE ATHLETIC's Evan Drellich wrote at the moment, there is "little reason for optimism" that these CBA talks will "produce change ahead of schedule." The current tenor of conversations "does not make a work stoppage inevitable; it doesn't even mean that these midterm negotiations will indeed be fruitless." Drellich: "But, put simply: It's not looking good" (THEATHLETIC.com, 7/10).
ISSUES AT HAND: The AP's Tim Dahlberg writes MLB will resume play tonight "with a lot of issues." Attendance is "down for the second straight year, dropping nearly 500 fans a game" after being down 4% the year before. Meanwhile, the All-Star Game "drew its lowest rating ever on TV." Additionally, only one division has a "heated race, games seem to take forever, and the cost of taking a family of four to the ballpark is prohibitive." The ball is "part of the problem," but "fixing the ball won't fix everything that ails the game" (AP, 7/11). In S.F., Ann Killion writes MLB "thinks it has a speed-of-game issue ... a dwindling popularity issue" or a "how-do-we-get-the-kids-to-like-us issue." Killion: "What it really has is a credibility issue. ... All we have heard from MLB for years is the league needs to attract younger fans, find more excitement, create some drama that might get sports fans to look up from their phones where they are tracking the destination of NBA free agents and actually notice baseball. And suddenly, home runs start flying out of the parks at a record pace?" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/11).
WHO DIGS THE LONG BALL? Rob Manfred earlier this week said owners do not want more home runs being hit, to which ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said the commissioner is "telling a large fib here." Smith: "Everybody loves the long ball. We understand that the long ball helped resurrect baseball (after the '94 strike). You go to the ballpark hoping to see home runs. Don't tell me that the owners don't care about the home runs, when it's been proven that home runs sell" ("PTI," ESPN, 7/10). In Detroit, John Niyo asks, "When was the last time you heard a fan leaving the ballpark griping about seeing too many home runs?" (DETROIT NEWS, 7/11).