BenFred: MLB fans should remember these numbers if baseball mangles the regular season | Ben Frederickson

We are supposed to be digging into the newest numbers, I guess.

Baseball owners and players are still at least $100 million apart on a proposed bonus pool for pre-arbitration players, about $150,000 apart on what the league’s minimum salary should be, and those differences are small potatoes compared to their conflicting stances on everything from luxury- tax adjustments to revenue sharing.

I’ll pause here, to give baseball fans who are one mention of “core economic issues” away from losing their breakfast a chance to let things settle.

I share your stomach pains.

So, let’s focus on some different numbers instead, as baseball prepares to enter a very important week and a half.

I’m talking about the numbers that paint a picture of the priceless time that was squandered before baseball reached this regrettable point.

An off-season was shuttered. Winter fan events, like Cardinals Winter Warm-Up, got bagged. Spring training excitement has been torpedoed as communities in Florida and Arizona pay the price for this owner-player quarrel.

People are also reading…

If things break bad, fans should remember baseball’s costliest error, besides owner greed and player bitterness.

Whether you are for the owners, the players, or just want to be alerted when all of this is over, you should be horrified by how much time these guys have wasted.

Fans just want the regular season to start on time.

Owners and players can say a lot of things, but they cannot say they did their best to make that happen.

Not with a straight face.

186: Friday marks the 186th day since owners made their first economic proposal to players, the proverbial first pitch – best described as a low ball – in talks designed to start the process of negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement as the past one neared its expiration . What has followed has been a series of small compromises and multiple accusations that neither side is willing to compromise. A record has been set for reporters breathlessly tweeting about how one side has “walked away unimpressed” from the other. Prepare for more of that.

108: It has now been 108 days since the World Series ended, meaning all of baseball’s attention could have turned toward prioritizing the diligent pursuit of an agreement. Problem was, that didn’t happen.

78: Seventy-eight days have now passed since MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced the owner-led lockout following the expiration of the old collective bargaining agreement. “Simply put, we believe that an offseason lockout is the best mechanism to protect the 2022 season,” he said at the time. “We hope that the lockout will jumpstart the negotiations and get us to an agreement that will allow the season to start on time.”

72: Since Manfred’s lockout started, 72 of the 78 available days were not used to have meetings between the two sides about those dreaded core economic issues.

42: The number of consecutive days the two sides went without discussing core economic issues after the lockout was first implemented.

41: The number of days left until the regular season is supposed to begin.

21 to 28: The generally agreed upon number of days players will need for some sort of preseason camp before the regular season can begin. Don’t forget COVID protocols must be established and cleared before camps can open. Often overlooked challenges, like work visas, must be worked out for some. Cutting it close has gone from bad idea to best-case scenario.

15: The number of minutes Thursday’s meeting lasted between the two sides’ negotiating teams. It ended without the next round of talks being announced. “I’m pretty sure I’ve had at-bats longer than this meeting,” infielder Luis Guillorme tweeted.

10: The number of days until Feb. 28, the date the owners’ side has told the players’ side to circle as a tentative deadline for an agreement before regular season’s opening day would have to be delayed. Anyone feeling optimistic? Me either.

7: The number of days until Grapefruit League games were supposed to begin in Florida.

6: The number of meetings the negotiating parties for players and owners have had since the lockout started, and that includes Thursday’s 15-minute speed date.

3: The number of years, at the very least, that it was painfully obvious baseball was walking a bad path toward this regrettable destination because of the growing revenue rift between players and owners. Back in January 2019, I wondered what it would be like if a Cardinals fan who bought one of those fancy Ballpark Village suites overlooking Busch Stadium didn’t have games to watch below. The response? Hyperbole! This was easy to see coming. The pandemic, which no one saw coming, presented a chance to move both sides toward the middle. Somehow it seemed to make things worse. Baseball got its wake-up call, but it pressed snooze.

1: The number of baseball’s nine work stoppages that have lasted longer than the one Manfred is currently overseeing.

Zero: The number of legitimate excuses baseball will have to fall back on if a mad dash toward a resolution – or lack thereof – results in a regular season scarred. Baseball fans keep score, and they know an avoidable error when they see one. All of that precious time wasted looms oh so large now.

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