Alexander: What did last year’s baseball lockout achieve, anyway?

The world according to Jim:

• Next Friday it will have been a year since baseball players and owners agreed to a collective bargaining agreement, ending an absolutely unnecessary 99-day lockout.

How unnecessary? Consider that baseball’s small-budget (or should we say small-minded) owners – who helped lead the charge to lock out the players – are again complaining about payroll disparity less than a year later, griping about New York Mets owner Steve Cohen and (particularly) the Padres’ Peter Seidler.

• When Commissioner Rob Manfred told members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America at last December’s Winter Meetings, “I think everyone in this room understands that we have a level of revenue disparity in this sport that makes it impossible for some of our markets to compete,” he was aware the regional sports network model from which so much money flowed had become precarious.

But I don’t think he anticipated it would be close to collapsing by spring training, with the owners of the Bally Sports regional networks facing bankruptcy and Warner Bros. Discovery preparing to, um, cut the cord with the three RSNs it owns in Denver, Houston and Pittsburgh, plus a fourth in Seattle in which it has minority ownership. …

• As much as we savaged the Dodgers for launching a network that most cable/satellite systems wouldn’t carry for years, there must be some relief in that organization knowing their deal at this point seems secure. (Unless Spectrum knows something we don’t.) …

• Cincinnati Reds President/CEO Phil Castellini told a fan group in January that “This team operates as a non-profit” and has no chance of winning. The Rockies’ Dick Monfort whined about the Padres’ moves to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post and basically says his team’s ceiling is .500. And the Pirates’ Bob Nutting dodged a question from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jason Mackey about spending more aggressively on payroll as a team that receives revenue sharing, referring simply to revenue disparities “so different from capped leagues and leagues like football, where you have real shared national revenue.”

That rhetoric says as much about their operations as it does about the sport’s financial health. …

• Which leads us back to the Padres, who at this point have a $274.1 million payroll for luxury tax calculation purposes according to Cot’s Contracts. third-highest behind the Mets and Yankees. (The Dodgers, for the record, are No. 6 and the Angels No. 8.)

The Padres suffered through a rebuild of their own from 2016-19, and ownership made an implicit promise to its fan base that when the time came they’d make the necessary moves to go for a championship. Seidler has not only kept that promise but raised the stakes, and give him credit for that.

Do you hear anything like that in Cincinnati, Colorado, Pittsburgh or elsewhere in Cheapskate Acres? Didn’t think so. …

• I prefer the way Phillies owner John Middleton put it in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, and I’d imagine most fans feel the same way: “If my legacy is that I didn’t lose any money owning a baseball team on an annual operating basis, that’s a pretty sad legacy. It’s about putting trophies in the cases.”

Keeping payroll low and essentially forfeiting the chance to win is a middle finger to your fans. If you’re not going to try, maybe you should sell to someone who will. (Then again, this is being written in Southern California, this land’s most competitive sports market and one where fans don’t tolerate tanking.) …

• And a reminder: Many of the executives running their big league teams on the cheap are the same ones who (a) were behind the elimination of minor league teams and (b) have treated their remaining minor leaguers so shabbily. These are not people who have the best interests of the game at heart. …

• A suggestion to those who (still) televise baseball: The new pitch clock will be a fairly important aspect of the game. Wouldn’t it make sense to superimpose that clock on the screen before every pitch, much the way NBA telecasts always have a visual of the 24-second clock? …

• My colleague Mirjam Swanson broke down the NBA’s load management issues wonderfully in Friday’s paper (and any column that starts with a quote from the late Pat Summitt is absolutely worth reading).

One suggestion from here, if the league is really serious about making sure the best players are consistently available to play: End back-to-backs, whether it means reducing the number of games or extending the schedule another two to three weeks. …

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• How far we’ve come, by the way. It was in 1990 that then-Lakers coach Pat Riley rested Magic Johnson and James Worthy in the final game of the regular season in Portland. They suited up and participated in warmups but didn’t play, and then-Commissioner David Stern fined him $25,000.

• It’s probably karma that Pete Maravich remains the all-time college scoring leader, for now. Antoine Davis of Detroit Mercy came up just three points short of Maravich’s career total of 3,367 points on Thursday night in a Horizon League Tournament loss to Youngstown State, and that was with the benefit of the 3-pointer (Davis has 588 for his career, Maravich didn’t benefit from that rule) and five years of eligibility (because of COVID) to Maravich’s three at LSU (because freshmen weren’t eligible).

But this saga might not be over. Even though Mercy is 14-19, it still might get an invitation to the College Basketball Invitational to give Davis one more crack at the record. If he gets it, congratulations to him and no need for an asterisk. Pistol Pete will remain a legend either way.

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