Tony Clark, left, head of the Major League Baseball Players Association, and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred are under pressure to work out a deal to start the 2020 season.  AP

Flashback to this space two weeks ago, discussing the negotiations between Major League Baseball and the players’ union.

There was hope:

“June 1 is a week from Monday. Sounds like the ideal deadline for a deal … The season needs to start in July – and how apropos would it be to begin on July 4 weekend?”

But, also reality:

“How can baseball’s principals come out of their economic quagmire looking good? First of all, compromise …”

Two weeks later:

Still no deal, no baseball and, definitely, no compromise.

Former Sea Dogs pitcher Pat Light sent out this tweet on Saturday:

“If Major League Baseball does not come back for July 4th, it would be an epic miss on what could have been a historical game. Real shame.”

“If Major League Baseball does not come back for July 4th, it would be an epic miss on what could have been a historical game. Real shame.”

Not even a swing-and-a-miss. Just a miss.

At one time during these struggling, pandemic times, we talked of baseball playing a part in the healing process of this nation, similar to the times after the 9/11 tragedy.

Part of the healing would come because people care about baseball. They love the game and can get lost in its beauty and grace wrapped inside a competitive contest.

But how long will people continue to care about Major League Baseball?

It is obvious that the game is being held up over arguments about money and power. Both sides of the argument may express valid points, but there has been no real compromise.

Dear baseball leaders, do you hear the outrage over your squabble? Neither do I. That should be concerning. That sound of silence, that avalanche of apathy, should be deafening. People are moving on.

There may have been a buy-in from fans if baseball started on July 4. But now with talk of a 50-game season, am I supposed to get caught up in the romance of Opening Day on Aug. 1?

These are days of unemployment and economic upheaval, not to mention social unrest. Small businesses are closing. Furloughs are rampant. Baseball had a chance to be part of the healing process. Instead, negotiations to begin the season have gone nowhere. Healing? No. Only conflict.

And realize this, baseball leaders: we don’t care about your conflict, especially during these times. You are like the neighbor complaining to me about rising yacht prices, while I’m trying to pay my mortgage.

MLB owners make a legitimate point that they will lose money because, at least initially, games will be played without fans. But the owners botched their initial proposal to players, suggesting that the players make severe concessions (revenue-sharing or massive pay cuts for top players) that they had to know would be rejected.

That was hardly an offer to compromise.

But what about the players? Back in March, they agreed to a pro-rated salary for the number of games played. But, in light of those games being played without paying customers in attendance, could the players not offer some kind of concession, a reasonable compromise?

The players offered a 114-game schedule ending in October, with playoffs taking up November. The owners say they fear a second wave of the pandemic in the colder months and, reportedly, TV networks would rather the playoffs be in October. Plus, there is that concern of paying the players without getting ticket revenue.

Now the owners are hinting that they will stick to the prorated salary agreement – but possibly for only 50 games.

Any chance for a compromise? How about splitting the difference between 50 and 114 games – 82 games (imagine that) – with players initially taking less (but not significantly less) than their prorated salary; with additional money coming from a limited, one-time-only revenue sharing plan (especially if/when fans are allowed in stadiums).

Yes, both sides don’t trust each other. We get that. One side’s arguments may be more valid. We understand that.

But no one wins. Neither side emerges from this unblemished. For all the talk of helping the nation and bringing baseball back by the Fourth of July, this is, indeed, an epic miss.

Your obstinance in these negotiations may win you applause from your fellow owners or players. But listen closely to your dwindling fan base: There are no protests of people demanding that baseball comes back. What you hear is worse than that; the quiet footsteps of everyday fans walking away, moving on.

The sound of indifference.


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