J. D. Thorne, speaker and author of the new book Baseball’s Winning Ways  (Available on Amazon Books).

“Starting Over”

Following the announcement of MLB cutting a deal with its players union, a baseball fan friend emailed to tell that he was boycotting “commercial baseball.”  He is not attending Major League Baseball games until his personal boycott is over.  He is so upset that his personal boycott also includes minor league baseball and collegiate league baseball.

To feed his fetish for baseball, he will be attending only amateur games in the Wisconsin “Land O’ Lakes” or “Rock River” leagues, and the games in the “Wisconsin State League.”  These teams play for Wisconsin cities and towns such as Lannon, Jefferson, Butler, Waterloo, Watertown, Janesville, Waukesha, Delafield, and Delevan, etc.

At these venues, he believes he can find his own seat in the stands or bring his own lawn chair and sit wherever he wants without being directed by an usher.  And its free.  If thirsty, he can purchase a regularly and modestly priced refreshment from the volunteer operated food stand.  If hungry, he can buy a hot dog or two, with the usual condiments, and clean his messes with an ordinary paper napkin.  He will park for free, but still be in time to hear the single umpire yell, “Play Ball,” to start the game.  He will really hear the sound of the ball slapping the catcher’s mitt as the pitcher warms up.  He will hear the actual sound of the crack of the bat against the ball on the first hit!

“Forgive us our trespasses and let us be forgiving of those who trespass against us” was my reply to my good friend.

I said, I played in those amateur leagues until I was age 42, and was grateful the coach penciled my name in the line-up.  “Are you sure about this boycott.  Usually those games are interesting only if you know someone playing?”  (By the way, it was great fun to play.  We usually played 15 to 20 games a season.  I might get 60 at-bats and hurl some innings too.  At the end my legs gave out.  When I almost was thrown out at first base on a sharp single to right field, I thought it might be time to hang up the spikes?  But when the umpire said, “Nice hitting, old-timer,” I took it as a sign from God.  But that is the level of play.)

Now with MLB baseball, it is an arduous process.  The two sides are mandated by federal law to negotiate in good faith over “wages, hours, and working conditions” with intent to reach an agreement on the contract rules to play.  To do this requires the parties divide the revenues of an $11 billion annual raking in.  As a negotiator, it is not easy work to keep your respective side happy even if there is enough largess in the end for all sides.  Tougher negotiating is when management requires unloading unneeded expense to remain competitive in the market, and choosing is about what to do to lighten the load.  Fortunately, baseball remains popular with the American public despite its ills, warts, and imperfections.

I must forgive MLB Commissioner Manfred for mandating through the Collective Bargaining Process that from now on, after 119 years of play in the National League, pitchers won’t hit.  I guess the National League owners must have silently approved this prior to negotiations so this rule change could be pushed through this way without voting on it?

I must forgive MLB Commissioner Manfred for agreeing to allow, like the NBA, sponsor’s logos to appear on team uniforms.  Certainly, Professional Golfers get sponsored by golf club and ball makers, and NASCAR Drivers add to their income with patches on their jumpsuits of car component makers?  What’s wrong with allowing ballplayers to do it?

There are going to be more interleague games.  Does it matter if the World Series is diluted to just more interleague play?

So please forgive me feeling it’s time to just move on, accept our fate, and adapt to it. When is opening day again?


Sporting Chance Press includes books on sports including baseball. Our baseball books:

The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy’s Principles for Baseball (and Life)  also by J. D. Thorne

Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball’s Fred Merkle

Baseball’s Winning Ways