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How shortsighted greed is tearing baseball apart

What we’ll call the Jeff Luhnow mentality could be defined as the absolute devotion to gleaning every fragment of advantage, every bit of efficiency, regardless of whether you might drift beyond the bounds of common sense. The ends justify the means; just win the moment, baby.

It’s as if Major League Baseball’s leadership has embraced the Luhnow mindset in these tortuous labor negotiations, because the owners keep making these absurdly incremental offers at a time when the broader international context calls for decisive and bold action. With a resolution now at least three weeks too late, and counting, the industry is becoming a punchline for sports dysfunction, following antecedents like “the Knicks,” “Tonya Harding” and “butt fumble.” Every bit of news on America’s pastime these days seems to begin with the phrase: “And then there’s baseball …“nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

Under Luhnow, the Houston Astros were the sport’s supreme practitioners of tanking, becoming the first team since the 1962-65 Mets to lose at least 106 games in three consecutive seasons. In Luhnow’s first three seasons as Houston GM, the Astros spent a total of $137.4 million in payroll — $53 million less than the next-lowest team, the Pirates ($190.7 million). The Astros drew a 0.0 in local television ratings for consecutive seasons. They manipulated the service time of some of their best young players, as did other teams. Luhnow’s team engaged in ultra, next-level sign-stealing, and traded for Roberto Osuna fresh off his 75-game suspension under the sport’s domestic violence policy.4

But so long as the math made sense, Luhnow pushed the envelope and the Astros won a World Series in 2017. Of course, in the big picture, Luhnow’s management turned out to be a disaster for many reasons besides wins and losses. Under his watch, the Astros helped to drag the sport under a low bar of credibility as other teams tried to replicate his formula, with fans left to wonder if what they paid to see was farcical.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

Throughout those years, which included Luhnow giving the OK for a club employee to monitor the opposing dugout from an adjacent camera well, you kept waiting for someone to step up and lead. You kept waiting for someone to acknowledge the astounding accumulation of damage to good-faith competition and operation, just as you keep on waiting for someone on the owners’ side to end this embarrassing negotiation with the players’ association, rather than engaging in this battle of reconstituted Spam offers.

The house of baseball is burning and somebody needs to put out the fire immediately, by making a deal that moves the sport forward beyond this absurd fight over increments.

The opportunity to own the sporting stage in early July is gone. The potential goodwill (and ratings) all but certain for the first big sport out of the gate may be all but squandered.

Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts talking about a cash-flow problem when tens of millions of people have lost their jobs? Not good. Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt, who has seen the value of his franchise multiply by at least a factor of 10, talking about how you can’t make money in baseball? Not good.