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WOODSON COLUMN: Baseball, this is your chance so don't blow it

WOODSON COLUMN: Baseball, this is your chance so don't blow it

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Don’t let money determine if baseball returns.

Baseball, this is your chance.

For much too long, baseball has been the punching bag of American sports.

There was a time when baseball was THE sport in this country. Now it gets criticized for everything from being too slow, players on steroids, banging on trash cans and the hunger of money for everyone involved.

Football is king, and everything else is playing catch-up.

Yet, it is not football season, and won’t be for several more months. You can only listen to the talking heads on sports radio rank the quarterbacks so much. Or debate Dak Prescott’s contract or why Cam Newton still isn’t signed yet.

Then there is college football, which is my favorite sport not named baseball. There is the constant speculation on whether there will be a season, who will play and which schools might sit this one out.

It is May, there is still time.

America needs a distraction … now. That is the purpose sport has long served.

Basketball and hockey are still on the sidelines. The PGA will be back in June, while NASCAR returns on Sunday, taking a gamble that sports can get back to some degree of normalcy, even without fans.

Yet, baseball is the sport that America needs.

Baseball, this is your chance. Be THE sport that matters in this country again, at least until football season.

Please, don’t let money ruin it for all of us. Baseball has lost lots of fans over the decades simply due to greed.

Right now is NOT the time for billionaires to be fighting millionaires.

Now don’t get me wrong. No one wants anyone associated with baseball to pick up the coronavirus. If the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say it isn’t safe to play baseball, then don’t play.

Some teams will actually lose more money by playing than simply packing it in for a year. It would hurt since baseball has picked up that nasty “regional sport” term, but the most avid of fans will be back.

If the CDC says all is well with proper testing and there are proper protocols in place on how to deal with the virus, then baseball has a chance to come back soon.

Baseball, this is your chance.

America needs baseball now, much like we needed it in the aftermath of the horrific 9/11 attacks nearly 20 years ago. Baseball, at least for a few weeks, was back on top. President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch and Mike Piazza blasted a memorable home run for the Mets. A thrilling World Series followed.

That was good stuff, told the world that America can’t be bullied, that our country is better than that.

Baseball continued on during World War II when President Franklin D. Roosevelt told the sport to keep playing, that the country needed the distraction from the horrors of conflict and battles. They even played during the Spanish Flu.

Please, if health is the issue, then don’t play. Simply say it and move on. The public will miss you, but most of us will be back. We love the game too much not to.

But, please, I am begging you, don’t let it be about money.

An agreement was reached back in March between the owners and players to cut salaries if games were missed.

That was a minor miracle in itself. After all, those two sides agree about as often as Republicans and Democrats. There is rarely any room for compromise.

Now baseball apparently has an avenue to return, with an abbreviated spring training starting in mid-June and a regular season schedule of around 82 games possibly starting around July 4. That would be followed by an expanded postseason.

That is great news.

Now the bad news. The owners want more concessions from the players, and the proposal of a 50/50 split of revenue sounds suspiciously – at least to the players – as a salary cap. There is about as much chance of the players agreeing to that as there is finding a quick cure for the coronavirus.

You can’t blame the players, they are concerned about the health and safety of themselves and their families. You can’t blame the owners, who stand to lose a combined $4 billion. Even billionaires have limits on what they can lose, and they certainly don’t want their players getting sick either.

Already several players have raised concerns, which is fine. You should be concerned about your health, but please, unlike Tampa Bay pitcher Blake Snell on Thursday, don’t talk about money. .

Now it is easy for someone like myself to bash the players for not wanting to play just to provide us sports fans some entertainment. I don’t want to be one of those guys. I just want them to be smart and keep their mouth shut.

If you don’t want to play, then don’t. Sit out the season. Surely with the salaries these players make, they could feed their family for a year. Snell would still be making millions if he chooses to play. If not, hopefully he saved some of his millions.

Please don’t be Latrell Sprewell, who once famously commented that he couldn’t feed his family on his $7 million annual NBA salary. He must have had a really big family.

My only advice is to keep your money issues to yourself. We have record unemployment, people fighting over toilet paper and hand sanitizer, afraid to leave their homes, wearing masks whenever they do and so many more are trying to figure out what their future holds.

They don’t want to hear how some professional athlete is struggling to survive on a few million bucks, or even a few hundred thousand.

One thing we have learned from his pandemic – and this is not a good thing since I work in sports – is we can do without athletes and so-celebrities, who seem to have the answer to everything.

What we need more of are the selfless, like doctors, nurses, truck drivers, grocery store clerks, folks who are providing what are being called essential services to the public.

Baseball players are not on that list. Come to think of it, neither are politicians.

This is an opportunity to bring baseball back, but only do it if it can be safely done. If not, call it a lost season and come back in 2021.

We didn’t have a World Series in 1994 because of the almighty dollar…lots of them. We can do without it again, but make sure it’s because of health and safety.

No matter what you do, please don’t let this decision be made, not based on health, but being unable to come to an agreement about money.

We don’t want to hear it.

Baseball, this is your chance. Don’t mess it up.

bwoodson@bristolnews.com | Twitter: BHCWoodson

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