MLB lockdown: Owners indicate they’re ready to miss a month of games: sources; Derek Jeter steps down as CEO and owner of Marlins

Have you read a good book lately? Man, there are so many. Dostoyevsky, Didion, Avni Doshi. The library lends them for free. Open one and find yourself transported.

Owe a call to an old friend? Are you curious about the NBA playoff picture? Haven’t given up on your New Year’s resolution to learn to cook yet? You can do all of these things on March 31. You can roast pork chops or cast “The Idiot” or catch Bucks-Nets on TNT. You can gorge yourself on one of those comedies that don’t tell jokes but vaguely make you feel better. You can do so many things we need to support and distract us.

What it seems you can’t do on this last day of March is watch Major League Baseball. Not if Commissioner Rob Manfred follows through on his threat to the MLBPA and cancel Opening Day, which his office has insisted he will if a new collective bargaining agreement cannot be reached by Monday. The MLB-imposed deadline will make official what Manfred’s 30 bosses have been telegraphing for the past three months: Owners don’t care if you want to watch a full season of baseball.

A seventh day of the staring contest took place Sunday in Jupiter, Florida. While an MLBPA official pointed to the gap between the two sides, an MLB official called the latest round of talks “productive.” That framed the dynamic pretty well: Every day closer to Manfred’s arbitrary endpoint on Monday, every day closer to ballplayers not getting checks, represents progress for owners.

The collection of shipping tycoons and real estate moguls and guys born to prosperous dads who control America’s pastime would rather there be no baseball on opening day, may -be no baseball during the first weeks of April, rather than games that force them to pay the primary labor better wages. Whether the guaranteed salaries for these jobs seem rather cushy — most fans would rather be a baseball catcher than a baseball consumer, or even a baseball columnist — is immaterial. That the union slept behind the wheel for years and woke up wondering how the industry landed in a ditch is not worth dwelling on.

The owners did.

The owners initiated this shutdown. The owners waited 43 days to make a proposal. The owners have refused to budge on the relatively modest demands made by gamers for a fairer slice of the industry’s massive revenue pie. Players are ready to make the pie bigger by watering down the playoffs and smearing their uniforms with ads. They just want to be paid more. The union does not mobilize for the revolution; they demand an increase in the cost of living.

That’s all. That’s it. And the reason baseball doesn’t happen, the reason the camps are closed, is because this legal monopoly – the stewards of the sport who refused to pay minor leaguers minimum wage and contracted affiliates and reduced the draft in recent years – will not pay players a little more.

(Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/USA Today)

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