This truly might be a winter of discontent for Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred. There are some issues that need to be addressed beginning with Major League Baseball having to deal with every day life issues including sexual assault and an umpire going on twitter giving an opinion on the state of political affairs. Then there are the business problems. The World Series and the Major League Baseball playoffs no longer generate the kind of interest in 2019 that previous generations gave to baseball’s crown jewel events. Making a game that probably had its roots in the 18th century appeal to young people in the 21st century has become a daunting challenge. Baseball appeals to AARP members not youngsters. The business problems include what to do with the Oakland and Tampa Bay franchises where local ownership has not been able to pry land and money from local politicians to build new stadiums. Oakland A’s ownership does have a plan to build a baseball park on land adjacent to the Oakland waterfront but there are lawsuits that have the ability to stall the project. Tampa Bay Rays owners are seemingly stuck in a contract to play in a domed stadium in St. Petersburg until 2027 and have struck out in an effort to get an Ybor City stadium, near Tampa, built.
The business challenges include getting a new minor league development contract in place for 2021 and there is a cloud hanging over those negotiations as Major League Baseball owners apparently want to cut as many as 42 minor league teams out of organized baseball. The owners and players have two years left on the present collective bargaining agreement. Major League Baseball does have loyal fans who watch the product on regional cable TV networks. Baseball is a local not a national product and record revenues still flow into the business.