When will MLB fans realize they have all the power?
Ah, yes. Baseball players sniveling over revenues during a health crisis. With regular people out of work. Some are dying. Others can't pay their mortgage, rent or even for groceries.
Let them eat cake, say the baseball players, whose deafening tone deafness doesn't allow for the bandwidth to process this: Many of the people (fans) who normally supply much of the revenue for their salaries can't afford cake at the moment.
Instead, we get Players' Association Union Chief Tony Clark bellowing about how a temporary, COVID-related 50-50 revenue split between players and owners begins the slippery slope to a salary cap — and how the dastardly owners are using a pandemic for sinister, monetary gain.
Remember: Owners have shifted their thinking from an original agreement in March to prorate the players' salaries to asking for a 50-50 revenue-sharing agreement — because most or all the 2020 season will be played without fans in attendance.
Do we have any idea what that truly means?
It means the fans have all the power.
All of it. Yes, the fans. All of us poor souls who all but get extorted every trip to the ballpark. All of us who have been made to feel powerless amid the machine.
We are learning — if we didn't know before — how much the league relies on its paying customers. Old friend Pete Abraham reported in the Boston Globe earlier this week, "the league derives 40 percent of its revenue from ticket sales and its subsidiary items such as concessions and parking."
From The Athletic: "To be clear, the owners are going to lose money with no fans in the seats. MLB league-wide attendance last season was 68.5 million, and the average ticket price is $53. In addition to losing out on ticket sales, teams won't be able to rely on fans for concession stand, parking and in-stadium merchandise sales this year."
Translation: They need us more than we need them.
Maybe we should start acting like it.
We are being shown a clear, direct path toward sending a message to the teams we root for. If we don't like their direction, prices, policies or anything else, there is one foolproof way of enacting change: Stop showing up. Hit them in the wallet. They'll listen. They'll have no choice.
No, this isn't new advice. It's just being reinforced by current circumstances. We've been conditioned to show our distaste by showing up and booing. Or with bags on our heads. Or with catcalls. That's when the joke's truly on us. It's like saying "thank you sir, may we have another?"
Nothing matters if we keep going to the ballpark. We can heckle and boo until we hyperventilate. But we've already lost. Because we've paid for tickets, parking, food and merchandise, thus providing the revenues that keep players and owners laughing all the way to their favorite financial institutions.
This pandemic, while certainly no interval at Hammonasset (day at the beach) still can teach some lessons. Like this one: Players and owners just exposed themselves with their bickering. Forget about their obliviousness. This is about fear. The fear of playing a season — and perhaps seasons beyond— without familiar revenue streams. Where will money for such lofty salaries truly come from?
They know revenue isn't there for reasons beyond the surface — that public health safety won't allow fans to be in close proximity yet. But it's deeper than that. The residual effect of the pandemic — a tanking economy — means average Joes and Janes won't have as much (any?) disposable income to throw around at the ballpark.
It scares the hell out of players and owners, regardless of whether they choose to acknowledge it.
I don't write this as some guiltless know-it-all. I keep showing up at the ballpark as a fan, too. In spite of the prices rivaling the gross national product of Argentina, I go because I like it so much ... that I've convinced myself that not showing up is disloyal. It's as though I have no choice.
Except that I do. We do.
And we ought to use it whenever we need to send our favorite team a message. We don't hold some of the power. We hold all of it. They can't function without us. The bickering is all the proof we need.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro
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