Our beloved league is deeply unhealthy, to the point where the national pastime can be held hostage by 31 rich men who appear to be solely interested in breaking the union of those on whom the industry is built. After months of silence followed by a few rapid-fire days of fraudulent “negotiations,” Commissioner Rob Manfred stepped up to the podium with a smile on his face and a laugh in his heart to make an announcement: Opening Day is cancelled.
I was originally planning to write about how the Colorado Rockies should build their team around ace starting pitcher Germán Márquez, who just turned 27 in February. It was supposed to be an optimistic article about the future of Rockies baseball built on the foundation of a young and talented player I greatly admire.
Only the first two series of the Rockies’ season have been cancelled so far, but it’s difficult to be optimistic about the quick return of Major League Baseball when the emotions have been so acrimonious at the negotiating table. Opening Day was in jeopardy before, and now the entire season is in danger. It’s incredibly difficult to feel anything but crushed with the direction this league is headed. I have told my colleagues that it feels like the league is dying and we are powerless to stop it when said league seems determined to shoot itself in the foot again and again until no foot remains left to shoot.
However, even if there is no 2022 MLB season... even if the league itself were to up and vanish, it would not spell the death of baseball. Even if there is no 2022 season, baseball will persist. All that you need to do is find it.
In the 1989 film Field of Dreams, James Earl Jones’ character Terrance Mann puts it better than perhaps anyone else could:
“[T]hey’ll walk out to the bleachers, and sit in shirt-sleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game, and it’ll be as if they’d dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come, Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game — it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again.”
College baseball is perhaps the easiest to find, with the season already in full swing. Your town or state’s university might have a team to follow, or you could choose the alma mater of a beloved player from the past or present of professional baseball. While the product is not the same as major league ball, it is nonetheless baseball.
The beginning of the minor league season will also be upon us soon enough, with its first pitch unaffected by the MLB lockout. If you wish to escape the purview of more traditional outlets, many states have multiple independent baseball teams playing during the summer. I definitely plan on spending my fair share of time in Windsor, Colorado with the new Northern Colorado Owlz of the Pioneer League.
Internationally there are professional leagues preparing to start their seasons, such as Korea’s KBO and Japan’s NPO. While none of these are MLB, you are quite honestly spoiled for choice when seeking out a product to provide you the familiar sights and sounds of the summer pastime.
You could seek out and play baseball video games both new and old. Since the 80s there have been many baseball games released both with and without the MLB branding. You could even go out, round up some friends, and pick up a bat yourself. Many local communities offer recreational baseball and softball leagues during the spring, summer, and fall through their parks and recreation services. You could read books or watch documentaries about the players and teams of the past both distant and not so far behind us.
Regardless of what happens to the 2022 season, baseball can still be found wherever you go looking for it. The crack of the bat and the snap of the glove are way more meaningful than any owner or executive could ever dream to be.
Baseball itself is everlasting.
Baseball is enduring.
Baseball won’t die unless we let it.
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In the year 2000, Rockies first baseman and soon to be Hall of Famer Todd Helton had one of his best career seasons and finished fifth in NL MVP voting. However, the Toddfather was absolutely robbed. Jeff Kent of the San Francisco Giants took home the award despite trailing Helton handily in almost every major category. Rox Pile’s Noah Yingling breaks down the case for Helton being the true MVP of the 2000 season.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan has been on-point every step of the lockout thus far, and presents what needs to be done with regards to the ever-collapsing situation. “Everyone needs to do less talking and more listening,” he says, pointing to what he calls a “fundamental disconnect between the owners and players.” Passan’s proposed solution calls for actual communication and listening between the two parties. The owners need to actually listen to the player’s wants and views and stop viewing them as just big dumb athletes. Meanwhile, the players need to approach future negotiations with trust despite the league having absolutely not earned it thus far.
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