DAN BICKLEY

Major League Baseball is back but a long way from a great future

Mar 10, 2022, 6:13 PM | Updated: 7:27 pm
Ketel Marte #4 of the Arizona Diamondbacks throws a ball up to the fans during the ninth inning of ...
Ketel Marte #4 of the Arizona Diamondbacks throws a ball up to the fans during the ninth inning of the MLB game against the Texas Rangers at Chase Field on September 08, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Baseball is back and miles from home. A whisper of what it used to be.

Do you forgive? Do you even care?

The overdue agreement between owners and players on Thursday happened after a 99-day lockout; after a series of false deadlines; after more reckless behavior from a sport that is out of touch and out of time.

But at least it ended a hint of self-awareness.

“Great news,” Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall said Thursday evening. “Play ball.”

Is it enough for you that there was actual urgency and self-awareness at the end, when the feuding parties actually cared enough to read the room?

For all the threats, there will be no serious damage and no missed games. Diehards and television networks will get their 162-game schedule. The Cactus and Grapefruit leagues will take modest economic hits, but Hall said he hopes the Diamondbacks can still play between 20-25 spring training games, citing room for creative scheduling. And in the end, the labor dispute amounts to no harm, no foul. Especially for those who are craving the romance, poetry and nostalgia of baseball.

But who is that anymore?

Hall notes the new deal represents revolutionary progress, including a front-page headline buried deep inside the agreement: The National League will now feature designated hitters. After 49 years of a house divided, there will be unanimity in lineups and strategy, a change that further diminishes the value of Madison Bumgarner.

“I think it’s going to be great for the sport, I really do,” Hall said.

But the sport remains paralyzed by a lack of trust and cooperation. All the significant tempo changes — pitch clocks, a ban on defensive shifts, larger bases, etc. — won’t happen overnight. And that’s a shame. Major League Baseball has no time to wait.

The league needs to immediately embrace a new era and a new energy. For years, there has been a culture war underfoot. Old school groupthink vs. celebrations of the individual. The scolds against the bat flippers. The latter must prevail.

Major League Baseball must embrace its diversity of cultures, from the flexing to the hurt feelings. The sport must highlight and showcase the interpersonal drama that helps define the NFL and NBA. For years, MLB has been referred to as, “The Show.” They must take that moniker seriously from now on.

To that end, MLB must find a way to put the ball in play faster and more often. No more teasing audiences with pitchers stepping off the mound, hitters stepping out of the batter’s box, a funeral procession of strikeouts and a chorus line of relief pitchers summoned from the bullpen. Action and athleticism must be the priorities. And that requires a true alliance with its players, where both sides willingly scratch each other’s backs. That’s how they do it in the NBA.

“It now time for us to be partners,” Hall said.

So are you willing to give the sport another mulligan?

Hall said he recently received an email from a fan named Dave, a season-ticket holder from the team’s inaugural season in 1998. He said he had seen enough. He said he was canceling his season tickets. When Hall pleaded for mercy, Dave reiterated his stance: I’m done.

When news of an agreement broke on Thursday, the fan reversed course, telling Hall that “baseball is back and so am I.”

“This became a great day,” Hall said.

Indeed. And a long way from a great future.

Penguin Air

Dan Bickley

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy speaks at a news conference after an NFL divisional pla...
Dan Bickley

The Valley, even Cardinals fans, should root for the 49ers and Brock Purdy

The Cardinals became the first team in three seasons to miss out on a homefield championship. In their place, we should cheer for the 49ers.
3 days ago
Arizona Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort speaks with reporters during his introductory press conference...
Dan Bickley

Cardinals’ hiring of GM Monti Ossenfort is sign of progress, step in right direction

It proves that owner Michael Bidwill is not afraid to open his organization to outsiders, handing a high level of control to a fresh set of eyes.
10 days ago
Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints on the sidelines before the game against the Atlan...
Dan Bickley

Sean Payton is the remedy to Cardinals QB Kyler Murray’s struggles

Imagine what an authentic, innovative, alpha male, Super Bowl-winning coach like Sean Payton might do for our slow-growing franchise QB.
14 days ago
President and owner Michael Bidwill of the Arizona Cardinals before the NFL preseason game against ...
Dan Bickley

Arizona Cardinals’ Michael Bidwill at own crossroads with changes looming

The Cardinals need an overhaul. They need an owner smart enough to look in the mirror and brave enough to step outside his comfort zone.
18 days ago
Dan Bickley

Cardinals can reset by trading high draft pick, DeAndre Hopkins

The Cardinals can secure a top-four pick, trade down and then turn to dealing their elite wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins to pile up assets.
21 days ago
Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Spencer Brown (79) pauses as Damar Hamlin is examined by medical sta...
Dan Bickley

Bills S Damar Hamlin collapse is latest of NFL’s frightening moments

Monday Night Football halted in one of the most nauseating, stunning, sobering viewing experiences in recent memory.
24 days ago
Major League Baseball is back but a long way from a great future