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Dan Bickley

MLB’s endless squabble risks the long-term livelihood of the sport

Distance markers on the outfield wall and the foul pole, top left, frame the upper center field concourses at Globe Life Field, the newly-built home of the Texas Rangers, in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday, May 20, 2020. The park that was supposed to have its home opener on March 31 against the Los Angeles Angels has yet to see one game played in it this season amid the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

You think the bickering is over?

It will not end until the sport that gave us Harry Caray commits hara-kiri.

It will not end until the suicide squeeze is redefined as what greedy owners just did to ungrateful players.

It will not end until a father walks into the expansive Jefferson Street Aeronautical Museum and says, “Ya’ know son, they used to play baseball here.”

A son will look confused.

“Wow. Really?? That’s amazing! What’s baseball?”

Baseball was once the greatest game ever invented, until money ruined everything. Before this show of pandemic petulance, MLB and its players were responsible for seven work stoppages in the past 48 years. Not once did either of the two sides learn a single lesson. Not once did they ever believe that fans would rise up, throw up their arms and walk away for good.

But the world is changing fast. Protests and shows of solidarity are becoming real harbingers for reform. Billionaires and millionaires should be paying attention.

But they won’t. They can’t. They are incapable of winning this battle because they are all irretrievably lost.

The fighting certainly won’t end after commissioner Rob Manfred imposes a shortened season, thereby forcing his stressed-out workers to play baseball for a living. Sorry, pal. Try working on a garbage truck before hydraulics were invented. My brother did that when he was younger, and I can still smell him from here.

Nevertheless, in the coming days, players will suddenly become obsessively concerned with their collective health, paranoid over their potential working conditions. A pandemic will be used as leverage. They might even demand hand sanitizers stationed at every base, just to drive Manfred crazy.

They will withhold their right to sue down the road, in case anyone gets sick. After all, they’re being forced back to work, under terms that were not collectively bargained, at a time when COVID-19 cases are surging across the country.

Just remember: these same players didn’t care that much about coronavirus when it was 100% of prorated salaries for 89 games.

Such a travesty.

Not that long ago, we believed the Astros were the silver-lining beneficiaries of a pandemic, clear winners of baseball games to be staged inside empty stadiums. Now, it will be a peaceful reprieve for most everyone in uniform, shielding them all from the anger and revolt bubbling inside this country and inside this sport.

But the little people? We can vow to remember. We can pledge to keep the stadiums empty even when they’re opened. Imagine showing these greedy, feuding, delusional elitists what real power looks like.

We are the people. We are the customers. We are the hot dog eaters and bleacher bums. We pour all the precious metals and priceless ingredients into the sport – the romance, the nostalgia, the generational link, the poetry and the historical standards that makes everyone inside the lines filthy rich.

Alas, they are dumb enough to break our hearts once too often. And it’s about time they know who’s really in charge around here.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.


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Dan Bickley bio
Dan Bickley is the most influential sports media member in Arizona sports history, having spent over 20 years as the award-winning lead sports columnist for The Arizona Republic and AZCentral.com and almost two decades as a Valley sports radio talk show host. In spring 2018, Bickley made the decision to leave the newspaper to join the Arizona Sports team as host of the entertaining and informative midday show Bickley and Marotta, as well as bring his opinionated and provocative column exclusively to ArizonaSports.com.
Bickley’s journalism career began in his hometown of Chicago, where he was part of a star-studded staff at the Chicago Sun-Times. He chronicled Michael Jordan’s six NBA championships; covered the Olympics in eight different countries and attended 14 Super Bowls; spent three weeks in an Indianapolis courthouse writing about Mike Tyson’s rape trial; and once left his laptop in an Edmonton bar after the Blackhawks reached the Stanley Cup Finals.
He has won multiple awards, written two books, formed a rock band, fathered three children, and once turned down an offer to work at the New York Times.  His passions include sports, music, the alphabet, good beer and great radio. After joining Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, he couldn’t be happier