Grand olé game marred

Rich Fyle column

From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:

Major League Baseball has now officially replaced the National Hockey League as the sport referred to as “another black eye.”

The NHL was chaotic in the 1970s and ’80s with benches-clearing brawls that led to hefty fines and lengthy suspensions for the combatants.

Now, it’s MLB turn — with fiasco after fiasco after fiasco.

MLB owners and players should be ashamed for just 2020’s first five-plus months, including a sign-stealing scandal from previous seasons that resulted in three managers getting a visit from the grim reaper on the professional front.

NHL players literally fought with each other constantly on the ice before Commissioner Gary Bettman stepped in and cleaned up a game that was failing with its image. Remember, when the NHL Stanley Cup Final back in the late ’80s and ’90s was televised regionalized SportsChannel networks, and also the NBA Finals were tape-delayed on CBS back in the early ’80s?

Now it’s MLB’s turn to fight, not physically but through biting, sarcastic remarks by the players’ union and the owners. It’s gotten to the point reminiscent of school children hurtling rocks at each other across a playground.

The base issue between the owners and the union is trust, and that’s important in negotiations and going forward.

Talks about figuring out a way to salvage a shortened 2020 season caused by the coronavirus pandemic — which now has crept into teams’ training facilities in Florida and Arizona, and delayed a union vote of the owners’ latest proposal — is of immediate concern. The sides are less than 18 months away from the expiration of the CBA. They are also less than 18 months away from wasting 26 years of labor peace (since the 1994 strike) that would ultimately destroy the sport’s national image.

The sides are nothing more than adversaries — just the plain simple truth.

You can expect die-hard baseball fans to be happy seeing a season of 50-to-60 games, with expanded playoffs, if indeed a season is agreed upon. But, there are also other interests in life.

Baseball definitely has its problems, starting in January when the Astros’ sign-stealing mess was uncovered. Before the pandemic, fans in other markets would buy tickets just to boo the Astros’ players when they came to the plate.

Now, the 29 other teams, and their respective owners deserve some razz from fans for a season that may not happen, or would go in the annals as a 60-game, mega-farce.

Note: Top Secret Fyles will return July 7.

Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at rfyle@wdt.net

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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