It's a good thing ESPN released Long Gone Summer when it did. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the MLB season has been delayed and I have been desperate for baseball content. Now, due to the players and the league not being able to come to an agreement, that delay will last even longer.
The 30 for 30 feature, which debuted on Sunday night, started off talking about the 1994 MLB strike. Figures from around the game - players, coaches, sportswriters and broadcasters - gave their take on how the strike affected the game.
The work stoppage damaged baseball's reputation, causing drastic decreases in attendance that wouldn't resolve themselves for another decade. It changed the way people perceived the sport and its governing body. As we heard in the film, it wasn't until Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa had their historic home run chase in 1998 that the game really started to recover.
And now, 26 years later, here we are again. The players and the owners cannot come to an agreement on how to play the 2020 season. Whether it's over how much the players should be paid, how many games to play, or any other controversial topic, the two sides cannot agree on the format for this season.
Baseball has already taken a step back in the national spotlight. Baseball players are not nearly as well known as athletes that compete in other sports. Although the TV ratings are still there, attendance has steadily declined.
If Major League Baseball wants a shot at redemption and plunging itself back into the forefront of American sports, now is the time. The NBA will return to play at the end of July with the NHL probably not far behind. Think about how bad the optics will be if the two major winter sports in the United States are able to negotiate a way to return to play during baseball season, while baseball sits on the sidelines.
I, like most media members and fans, am on the side of the players. I think they deserve to be paid their prorated salaries. It's hard to believe that owners will be losing massive amounts of money when they don't make their books public. I support the players' fight for what they see as their fair share.
But I do think that both sides have to look at the bigger picture here. If there is no season in 2020, or even if there is a 48-game season, it will hurt the game again. It will seem as if the league did not learn anything from its 1994 strike, and as they say, those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.
What will be the solution this time if this delay continues to drag out? Will the league embrace steroids users again in the hopes of setting more home run records? Will they continue to use juiced balls to inflate offensive numbers?
I don't know how MLB will respond if they continue down this road. I'm not sure what the answer is, but what I do know is that they need to figure a solution out and get baseball back in front of the fans if they want to stay relevant.
Matthew Atkins, Journalist and Baseball fan.