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I'm 100% certain baseball is blowing it

Whether there's a 2020 season or not, the damage has been done.

Kevin Kaduk
Kevin Kaduk

First time here? Midway Minute is a Chicago sports newsletter I write every weekday morning that keeps you on top of everything with original writing, analysis and links to the best news around town. Join me today! (It’s free!)

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Good morning, frents …

Another day, another chance for baseball to disappoint us once again.

Brace for impact.

Dear baseball: Read the room

So did the owners and players come to an agreement on Monday?

At some point you’ll learn to stop asking me that question.

They messed things up further, didn’t they?

Is Wrigley Field still located at Clark and Addison?  (Please tell me it is.)

OK, so where are we at now?

Well, five days after MLB commish Rob Manfred guaranteed there would be a 2020 season, he went on ESPN and said he wasn’t so sure any more.

"I'm not confident. I think there's real risk, and as long as there's no dialogue, that real risk is gonna continue,” Manfred told Mike Greenberg.

Wait, what happened in the span of those five days?

The players union rejected the league’s proposal of a 72-game schedule that guaranteed 70 percent of the players’ prorated salaries. It told the league to go ahead and schedule whatever length of season it desired.

But instead of rolling that schedule, Manfred has instead countered with a nuclear bomb of a soundbite and claims the union intends to file a grievance over salaries based on the previous agreement from March. Manfred wants the union to waive that right before the season is scheduled, the LA Times and ESPN report.

There was also a suspiciously-timed leak of some positive COVID-19 tests among MLB players and coaches on Monday night. Was it just to give the owners some cover should the season never go off? You be the judge!

Is this just a bunch of posturing?

Trevor Bauer thinks so. The owners clearly only want a season of around 50 games but if they schedule it right now, they’ll have to explain to angry fans why they’re not playing a schedule closer to 70 or 80 games.

How did we end up on the same side as Trevor Bauer?

I told you 2020 was weird.

So what are the chances the baseball will really get canceled?

It’s not 100 percent, but the danger looks a lot worse after Monday. The two sides have wasted more than a month and can’t even come to agreement on what they agreed to back in March. If they somehow get past all these labor hurdles, how will they figure out to safely stage these games in the middle of a pandemic that hasn’t shown any sign of stopping? I wouldn’t trust sending Manfred and Tony Clark out with my Starbucks order at this point.

This is getting heavy. May we take a break to watch Eloy Jimenez mash a tater?

Yes, we may.

Man, that was great. So are you saying both sides are to blame?

Honestly, I’m just ticked off.  I’m a baseball fan and my decisions should be limited which games to buy tickets for and which pitcher to start on that night’s fantasy team. I know labor impasses have always been a part of the game, but I don’t really relish reading through all these tea leaves and carefully-placed leaks. No one follows this sport so they can declare winners of a battle fought through the press.

That said, I’ll be putting all of this on the owners if there’s no season.

Yeah, I know I’ve said I’m not really fond of running to the ramparts to wave a bloody shirt for a powerful union that can handle itself. But the owners are the ones who are ultimately responsible for making sure the product is on the field. I resent how difficult and public they’ve made all this.

Plus, I really like JoePo’s thinking here.

Do the owners know the damage they’re doing to the game?

"It's just a disaster for our game, absolutely no question about it. It shouldn't be happening, and it's important that we find a way to get past it and get the game back on the field for the benefit of our fans," Manfred said on ESPN.

So the question isn’t whether they know, it’s whether they care.

Yep. In the middle of the worst year America has experienced in almost half a century, baseball has decided it’s the proper time to start waging an extremely public labor battle. At a time when the sport can ill afford any more PR hits!

Look, I used to scoff at the old-time fans who left in a huff after the 1994 strike and proudly announced they were never coming back.

I’m not saying I’d do the same — I love the game too much — but I’m starting to see their line of thinking a whole lot more these days.


Buy: Show your Sammy support with this new shirt from our partner Breaking T.

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Sky, WNBA announce plans to return

  • The league’s 12 teams will hole up at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
  • The regular reason will be 22 games long (instead of 34), followed by a regular eight-team playoff that must end by October 31.
  • Players will receive full pay.
  • Official start date TBD, but teams will report to camp in early July with the game expected to start later in the month.
  • Sky owner Michael Alter told Madeline Kenney of the Sun-Times that not playing games at Wintrust Arena could cost the team 40 percent of its projected revenues.

The Bulls might be done for 2020 and who knows what the Big Ten season will bring, but it looks like we’ll still have a city basketball team to root for. Hopefully the Sky will have a few more fans watching after Allie Quigley’s memorable performance in that HORSE event two months ago.


IHSA boys state basketball finals are returning to Champaign

No offense to Peoria, but the prep championships are back where they belong.

  • Champaign hosted the event for 77 seasons before it moved to Peoria in 1996.
  • Sixty-one of 90 coaches recently surveyed by the Sun-Times’ Michael O’Brien said it was time to leave Peoria, which had struggled with attendance.
  • The last big-class champion crowned  in Champaign was the ‘94-95 Peoria Manuel squad, which beat Thornton to win the second of the school’s four straight state titles. (YouTube has the full game.)

Have a link for Midway Minute? Email me!

Kyle Long expects to make a decision on retirement in the near future. (PFT)

Kenny Williams shared his experience with race and racism. (Tribune)

Tim Anderson and Jason Heyward were among the Black MLB stars who taped a message similar to the one recently recorded by NFL stars. Definitely worth a watch. (Fansided)

• Let’s check in with Ozzie and see what he thought of “Long Gone Summer.”

(I don’t think he liked it, either.)

Andy Dolan’s review of Long Gone Summer was even funnier. (Pointless Exercise)

Examining Albert Belle’s claim that he had a better ‘98 than Sammy Sosa. (Southside Showdown)

Sun-Times columnist Steve Greenberg used to play poker with the guy who caught McGwire’s 70th and sold it for $3 million. Here’s how he spent the money. (Sporting News)

Driving an Uber in Chicago is tough enough without passengers going into labor. (WGN)

What’s the first brewery you’d like to hit on Wednesday? Correct answer: All of them.  (Block Club Chicago)

Thank you for being a #frentofthenewsletter. Go out and have yourself a Tuesday.


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