At various times this winter I realized that baseball would never, ever return. It is good that my realizations ended up being stupid. Or is it?
I suppose that depends on whether or not the 2022 Cleveland Guardians trend toward their best, worst, or most likely outcomes during the regular season. For the first time in a number of years, I can say without any hesitation that I have absolutely no idea what this team is going to do.
As always, we’ll start with the worst case scenario. I honestly don’t know if that’s what we usually start. You’re not going to go check, and this is actually how a lot of culture happens.
Isn’t that terrifying?
Worst Case Scenario: 81-81
WAIT JUST A DARN SECOND YOU’RE PULLING MY LEG HERE SCOOTER HOW ON EARTH CAN A .500 RECORD BE THE WORST CASE SCENARIO?
In a vacuum, it isn’t. However, Major League Baseball is utterly broken because owners continue to exploit labor and even buy entire neighborhoods with reckless abandon. Baseball teams. They named it Wrigleyville as a joke. BUBBLE. GUM. CITY.
Owners claim to be unable to afford fairly insignificant contracts relative to league average while staying mum about the $60 million in additional revenue that they pockets from just national television deals this offseason.
So, an 81-81 record would signal to ownership that they once again did the bare minimum to keep fans interested. They would make no investments in the team whatsoever and would trade away both Shane Bieber and José Ramírez in order to keep the carousel running.
And we’d keep buying stuff. Just wait for the commercials where Flo is the “Guardian” of Progressive Field. People will eat it up.
Best Case Scenario: Major League Baseball folds
Major League Baseball exploits young men by promising a massive payday in order to squeeze every ounce of profit out of them possible. Keep in mind that these are human beings who are trying to do That Thing They Love. A tiny fraction of these players ever make real money, and a tiny fraction of those ever sign a non-rookie deal.
The players are the only reason sports still exist and so they should run the leagues. Do not tell me that owners have to pay for stadiums or other nonsense when everyone can plainly see them coerce and intimidate others into bankrupting or destroying themselves just to avoid lifting a finger. It’s actually Presidential behavior now.
I cannot take the league seriously until radical change arrives. Here is a good start: Major League Baseball’s monopoly is built on the idea that they do not participate in interstate commerce. There is a SCOTUS decision and everything. By the way, don’t they have gambling and cryptocurrency sponsors?
Pitch clocks, though. That’s what this Great Game needs.
Most Likely Scenario: 81-81
Cleveland stumbles out of the gate as it struggles to find its footing. They cruise a few games below .500 until the All-Star break. A mid-season callup lights a fire under the team and a long single-digit win streak puts them in a position to make a playoff run.
Then, someone will make a horrendous outfield error; José Ramírez’s helmet will fly into an umpire and the ump will throw him out of the game, causing the benches to clear; somehow, Cal Quantrill will step on a yellowjacket hive during a game; a player on the Tigers will teach the local crows to fly behind the pitcher and squawk every time he throws; and so on.
At this point, it becomes clear that the Guardians are going to fall just short of the playoffs. So they’ll trade Bieber, and they’ll trade Ramírez, and they’ll trade [That Other Guy You Love]. And we’ll start the whole charade over again.
If it doesn’t sound fun that’s because it isn’t supposed to be. Ownership has seen that it can run a mediocre team out onto the field every April. Sometimes a couple of players will surprise them and they’ll make an acquisition or two and push for an extra season. Then they’ll work the payroll back down.
The only thing that might possibly break this cycle is the overwhelmingly talented group of incredibly underpaid men who cannot rent a car at this time.
In the meantime, Major League Baseball is sponsored by a company that drops generic Viagra off at your door and it’s named “Roman”.