The Cubs won their first championship in 108 years in a thrilling World Series that lasted seven games, drew historic ratings and evolved into one of baseball’s all-time feel-good stories.
Then the owners and players shut down the game, destroyed the good vibe and alienated their fans.
How silly does that sound?
The collective bargaining agreement expires Thursday, and if the sides don’t reach a new agreement, owners could lock out the players, which would hamper player transactions and threaten baseball’s biggest offseason showcase, the winter meetings.
We would think the sides are levelheaded enough to hammer out a deal soon. A lockout seems a long shot if only because the status quo, which got both sides ridiculously richer, ain’t that bad. But if Bud Selig and Don Fehr could hijack the game for 232 days and call off the 1994 World Series, perhaps we should put nothing past Commissioner Rob Manfred and union chief Tony Clark, 21 years of labor peace or no 21 years of labor peace.
The players have wanted to transform draft-pick compensation and halt qualifying offers because they handicap free agents who receive them. Owners have fought for an international draft that basically would enable them to limit their spending on Latin players. Owners seem willing to expand rosters to 26 if players agree to limit September call-ups.
Then there’s the competitive-balance tax and whether the $189 million threshold will change. Revenue sharing is invariably in dispute, especially this year for the A’s, whose fat revenue-sharing check has been endangered.
Until further notice, it’s tough for big-spending teams such as the Giants to map out a specific strategy if they don’t know the luxury-tax ceiling or whether their roster will be 26 or 25. It wouldn’t be surprising if negotiators quickly hashed out their differences without major changes or at least get close enough to agree to temporarily extend the current agreement.
Their differences aren’t as extreme as the Selig-Fehr days, when owners sought a salary cap, wanted to eliminate salary arbitration and suggested that low-revenue teams would be wiped out. A game-paralyzing strike ensued. We don’t always learn from history, but we’re assuming the game’s leaders did in this case.
John Shea is The San Francisco Chronicle’s national baseball writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @JohnSheaHey
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