It’s midnight, December 2nd. MLB’s Collective Bargaining Agreement has expired.
Well, it’s not really midnight.
For me, it’s 12:18 PM on December 1st.
You might be reading this article at any other time throughout the day on December 2nd. Or, maybe you read it a day or two later. Maybe you’re a daily reader. Maybe you’re a casual reader. Maybe a friend of yours liked something about this article so much that they decided to share it on their favorite social media channel, and you clicked it to read me for the first time.
Maybe you’re a member of the media, or a fellow writer in the wild west of independent journalism. Maybe you’re a reader that I’ve met in person over the last 13 years covering the Pittsburgh Pirates. Perhaps you’re someone who read something I said about how good or bad an individual player or the Pirates might be, and it clashed with your beliefs on the subject so much that you chalked me up to an enemy on the other side of a war between people who ultimately all just want to see the same thing: A winning Pittsburgh Pirates team. Or, maybe you don’t even follow the Pirates at all, and you don’t know about the glorious place that ever has been, and ever will be Pirates Twitter.
Welcome, everyone, even if I didn’t describe your situation above.
We’re all here for the same reason.
We all share the same connection.
Baseball brought us here, to this article, in some way.
For me, baseball has been a huge part of my entire life. It’s a sport that permeates every part of my brain and every stage of my existence. I have memories with family, whether that’s playing wiffleball in my backyard with my grandfather as a child, or going to games with my parents and brother throughout my life. I have memories with friends, some of whom I met because of our shared association with a team, a player, or an alternate way to experience the sport, like fantasy baseball. I have memories of the time in Statistics class in college where I wrote about Randy Johnson’s strikeout rate, got an A, then kept writing about baseball to get an A in the course. That might have been my only A, as I usually aimed for the easy passing grade.
I knew at that point I wanted to be a sports writer. It just felt like my natural path. I’ve now spent 15 years as a professional sports writer, with the last 13 being spent independently running Pirates Prospects and now Pittsburgh Baseball Network.
At some point during that 13 year period, you started reading me. You started reading me because your love for the game of baseball runs so deep that you went searching for more information about the minor league players who might eventually make the Pittsburgh Pirates — one of the objectively saddest franchises in our current time period — well, they might eventually make that sad franchise fun to associate yourself with again one day.
I’m waiting for that day, when PNC Park is blacked out again and shaking in October, and maybe eventually November.
Humans crave connection to other humans. I think we’ve all learned that in the last two years under a pandemic. There are many ways to bring masses together, whether that’s religion, politics, or sports. We all want to know our purpose in the universe, we all want a say in how the world will work, and we all want to see what the human body is capable of.
You and I, and everyone else who will ever read this article have picked Sports, subgroup: Baseball, subgroup: Pittsburgh Pirates, subgroup: Prospect Coverage, subgroup: Independent Writers. The main subgroup that holds us all together way down here is Baseball, which is currently run in the United States by the legal monopoly that is Major League Baseball.
And right now, in my time at 1:19 PM on December 1st, it looks like Major League Baseball is going to be in an official lockout by the time you are reading this.
I’ve been planning for this day for a few years.
I hope that MLB and the MLB Players Union come to an agreement soon, and that the 2022 season doesn’t face a scheduling change.
I hope that because I make my living on Pirates Prospects.
I gather information from all sources on the minor league players in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system. I gather my own information from my own sources — the players themselves, their managers, coaches, the Pirates’ front office, scouts both internal and external, and analysts covering the game, including the ones writing for my sites. From there, I compile all of the information to try and give you a clear picture of the spectrum of possibility for each human player.
None of this is possible without baseball. And if there’s a risk of no baseball, or if MLB turns off my readers to the sport, it has an obvious impact on my life.
So, I hope MLB reaches a new agreement and the 2022 season proceeds as planned. Realistically, there’s too much money in the game right now for either side to sacrifice a significant amount of the season, or any at all.
But in the event of a worst-case scenario, I’m just an independent writer who writes about baseball, and that’s difficult to do when there is no baseball.
I came up with a plan for this over the last few years. Pittsburgh Baseball Network is that plan. It preserves Pirates Prospects as a news source exclusively for prospects in the Pirates system, while creating a separate site for opinions on the Pirates and baseball in general.
That’s my plan: Provide you with baseball content to read every single day, whether there’s baseball or not.
It’s not much different from the plan over the last 13 years.
Every day of the lockout you can come to No Quarter and read my latest First Pitch article, which I’ll try to consistently post around midnight to serve as a discussion post of the day. You can stick around to read what our other contributors have to say.
You can jump over to John Dreker’s Pittsburgh Baseball History to read what happened each day throughout the past of the Pirates franchise.
Or, you can head over to Pirates Prospects, where I’m aiming to have content every day, regardless of what happens with the lockout. I have a few things saved up from my trip through the farm system in September, and will be running those articles as soon as I get the new membership software ready to go, which should be in the next week.
You’re here now, you’ve been here in the past, and you’ll be here in the future for one reason: Baseball. You want to discuss the game with other people. You want to read what someone else has to say to check your own opinion on the latest events. You want a distraction from the tediousness of regular life and from having to work a disproportionate amount of time during that regular life.
Regardless of what happens with Major League Baseball, we’ve got you covered.
You know what I hope for even more than a quick finish to MLB’s expected lockout?
I hope this is all worth it.
Right now, if you’re a Pittsburgh Pirates fan, you’ve got two ways of viewing this sport.
1. The sport is fair enough for a team like the Pirates to contend, and Bob Nutting isn’t doing enough to make that happen.
2. It doesn’t matter how much Bob Nutting spends, or what moves anyone he hires make: The deck will still be stacked against the Pirates in this unfair league.
We don’t really know which one is the case. All we can do is hope that the result of this next round of CBA negotiations results in either:
1. A league where the Pittsburgh Pirates can win, which would also ensure that Bob Nutting is absolutely using every resource he has available to achieve winning.
2. A league that gives Bob Nutting the resources he needs to combat the revenue disparity across the game that stacks the deck against any good moves the Pirates make.
We all just want to see the Pittsburgh Pirates as a good team again. We all want that positive response when we tell people about our association with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The CBA negotiations can reshape the league. They can put the Pirates on more of an even playing field as the biggest market teams. The negotiations could implement changes that would ease the concerns that small market owners aren’t doing enough to win. At the end of all of this, there will be a different version of Major League Baseball.
Hopefully that version gives the Pirates a better chance to win than the current version.
It sucks following this team. There’s a feeling of double hopelessness. There’s the hopeless feeling of watching a team that rarely is in competition, and always doing something that makes them the butt of a joke. Then, there’s the added hopelessness that nothing can be done, because the league is stacked against the small market teams, and the Pirates owner has insisted he’ll never sell the team.
That could all go away with a salary cap, floor, and revenue sharing that would allow for every team to spend to the cap and floor. The Pirates could be like the other two professional teams in Pittsburgh, playing in leagues that reward good moves, punish teams who make dumb moves, and allow for small markets like Pittsburgh and Tampa to actually win championships.
This might be a pipe dream. But this is also the time to have that pipe dream. This is the time for small market owners to step up and swing the game more in their favor. It’s the time for the 1100+ players who aren’t making $20-40+ million to fight for better salaries for the guys at the bottom.
We all want baseball to return as quickly as possible. If it returns in a form similar to this one, where teams like the Pirates are at a perpetual severe disadvantage, then I’m not sure it would be a victory for Pirates fans.
The game is thriving from a business standpoint, but it’s deeply flawed and broken from a competitive standpoint.
Hopefully, the competitive issues can be fixed, which I believe will help on the revenue side. Not that MLB needs help bringing in revenue. I just think that having a league with 30 teams who all have a fair shot at a title is preferred over advertisements on uniforms and 3+ hour games that are the result of excessive commercial breaks.
I’ll be covering the CBA talks each night in First Pitch, with a focus on what the talks mean for the Pirates. Feel free to join in on the discussion in the comments, starting today with a simple prompt: What got you following the Pirates?