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MLB needs reform before it’s too late

It’s nice to finally be able to catch a baseball game at one of the local parks in the area as baseball is starting to begin play around the Mahoning Valley.

Groups of men and women came together, along with Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health, to find a way to work around the COVID-19 pandemic and bring baseball back.

And yet owners, players, lawyers, unions or any other type of national mediator can’t do the same with Major League Baseball. Let this sink in for a minute: Youth leagues created ways to play the game safely at sandlots in a matter of weeks, but millionaires and billionaires are too busy squabbling over who gets more money to figure it out.

It literally makes me sick. The game many of us grew up loving —America’s pastime — has turned into a joke, and it’s almost to the point where maybe it shouldn’t recover.

MLB, much like America as a whole, needs a reform. The financial politics of baseball are an endless abyss of percentages, skewed revenues and back-alley agreements — and that’s when the season isn’t interrupted by a pandemic. The current situation is complex and touchy, with several variables affecting how many games could be played in the regular season and the postseason.

In the end, it comes down to money — who could lose more or be lucky enough to gain more. Don’t let anyone trick you into thinking it’s about health. If youth leagues around the country can figure out how to play safely (and they have fans attending their games), so can the countless doctors and health experts involved in a billion-dollar corporation.

Throughout all the back-and-forth arguments and failed proposals by each side, they have all lost sight of who is losing out the most: the game of baseball and its dwindling fan base.

MLB has been trying — and failing — for years to find ways to engage the younger generations. The game is suffering at the youth levels, with participation and viewership decreasing, and it has been for years. Obviously, this current dispute isn’t helping, and the overpaid fools involved are either too blind to see that, or they just don’t care. Either way, this could be crippling for the sport.

Even if an agreement is reached in the coming days, some of the league’s best players could choose to sit out if the arrangement doesn’t suit them. Anyone want to watch the Cleveland Indians without Francisco Lindor, or the Los Angeles Angles without Mike Trout? Sure, the die-hard fans would probably still tune in, but not the kids — not the future.

I’m not naive enough to overlook that people are risking their health and safety, not to mention the millions of dollars they’ve spent most of their lives trying to earn, but that doesn’t forgive their greed. You’re being paid an absurd amount of money to play a game! Enough already.

The days of playing wiffleball in the backyard and pretending you were Ken Griffey Jr., Jose Canseco or Sammy Sosa when you were at the plate seem lost. Those moments playing catch with dad are fading. The game of baseball is crumbling, and the people who grew up loving it are a big reason why. The owners are just as guilty, and their insatiable desire for money is equally disgusting.

All of it is staining one of the purest sports created. Let’s hope the kids down at the local field can somehow infuse a different respect for what was once America’s pastime.

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