BOSTON (CBS) — We all know that Dan Roche loves baseball. With the game he loves stuck in limbo as MLB and the MLBPA bicker about a return from the league’s coronavirus halt, Rochie is getting uncharacteristically upset.
Dan is done pounding the ball into his mitt: He wants baseball back. And he’s not sparing either side from any of the blame.
Rochie took no prisoners during Sunday night’s Sports Final, telling Steve Burton that it’s time for baseball to stop being so greedy and do what is right for the game.
“I’m going to use six words for you: For the good of the game. That should be the overriding theme as far as what is going on, and it’s not,” said Rochie. “It is disturbing and the fact that this has gone on as long as it has is really frustrating for everybody — and fans especially. It’s not right. You’re bickering over money, tens of millions of dollars per team.
“You have to do what is right for the game itself,” Roche continued. “They should be starting July 4th, when we have baseball, apple pie, hot dogs and everything else, but we’re not. They can’t get it right and are still at a disagreement. It’s been frustrating to watch all of this unfold and it’s not good for the game of baseball, which is trying to get that share of the market place. We all know which way baseball has been going of late, with less and less young people watching the sport.
Commissioner Rob Manfred has always maintained that there would be a season, and over the weekend players said it’s pointless to keep negotiations going and owners should just order them to play. That means we’re likely heading to an extremely short 2020 season (potentially only 50 games) and a return when other leagues will be resuming play as well. Instead of having the sports world to themselves for a brief period of time, baseball will now have to compete against the NBA and NHL playoffs, among others.
Rochie said this shortened season would have been a great opportunity for baseball to test ways to make the game more appealing to new fans. But baseball can’t seem to do anything right this summer, so don’t expect any sort of evolution to a game that could soon be facing extinction.
“There should have been an agreement put together where they could have been around 60-70 games, and to me, taken a step further and done everything, all the bells and whistles — put in a pace-of-play rules, a pitch clock, automatic strike zone. Whatever you wanted to do for 50-60 games, put it in. It would be, to me, an olive branch for both sides where you put these news rules in and at the end of this whole thing, sit down together and say, ‘what do we like? What didn’t we like? How can we negotiate a new Collective Bargaining Agreement?’ — which comes to an end after next season,” explained Rochie.
“They’ve screwed this up from the beginning but it will end up being a 50-game season, and you wonder how happy the players will be playing and how happy the owners will be having baseball back. In the end, the fans are the ones who will miss out the most.” he added.
All of this has created a pretty horrible image for baseball, which has struggled to gain new fans over the last decade
“It’s not good at all. MLS is doing it right, having a World Cup-type tournament, which will bring in new viewers,” said Rochie. “That will be a blast to watch. Lacrosse is doing that. The NBA and NHL are going to have their playoffs, so MLB is going to have competition, and the NFL is going to be starting as well. If you’re MLB, you don’t want to become an afterthought.”