As expected, a work stoppage occurred last Thursday when Major League Baseball club owners and the MLB Players Association failed to achieve a new collective bargaining agreement.

The issues are bit more nuanced than they were during the Marvin Miller era when work stoppages revolved around bread-and-butter economic issues such as salaries, pensions and health insurance benefits.

There were fun accounting issues as well with the players demanding the owners open their financial records. The owners, of course, did not want to show how they were able to underreport revenues and generate artificial losses by using income-reducing accounting weapons.

The skirmishes between the owners and the players now center around two key issues. The biggest obstacle is players must spend six years in the big leagues before they can become free agents. The union understandably wants the service time to drop to at least five so players can rake in the big bucks earlier. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred makes no secret of representing ownership. He didn’t make baseball fans reach for the Kleenex when he spoke last Friday of the depression fans in smaller markets experience when their favorite players leave, literally and figuratively, for greener pastures.

Another issue is how veteran “middle class” players are being squeezed off MLB team rosters. Owners who shell out astronomical sums for big stars think nothing of cutting payroll corners by getting rid of veteran players and replacing them with cheaper minor leaguers.

Familiar names such as Neil Walker, Curtis Granderson and St. John’s alum Joe Panik have been squeezed out this way. Expect MLBPA executive director, and former Mets first baseman, Tony Clark to demand the owners raise the minimum salary significantly from its current $500,000 as a way of ridding this disincentive.

This is the first lockout stoppage since 1994. My guess is there will be an accord by the time spring training is scheduled to get underway despite the hardline posturing from both Manfred and Clark. There is too much money to be lost for both parties if games are canceled.

There are far more entertainment options now than there were 27 years ago. Streaming services were not around back then. Also, baseball’s “national pastime” status has gone the way of Madison Square Garden being the mecca of basketball. Both descriptions have frayed badly since Bill Clinton’s first administration. Manfred and Clark both know that.

All labor disputes eventually get resolved. The less the public anguishes over what is going on in baseball, the faster this one will.

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On a happier baseball note, the Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee finally corrected a major injustice by voting in the late Gil Hodges to be enshrined in the Cooperstown museum. Hodges, as most of you know, was a great Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman, and was the manager of the 1969 New York Mets, who remain the best story in modern sports history.

Hodges should have been inducted 40 years ago, and for a long time it seemed as if Hall of Fame voters wanted him to be baseball’s answer to Susan Lucci, the well-known actor from the ABC soap opera “All My Children,” who was nominated for an Emmy Award 19 times before finally winning one.

WFAN will be replacing its 10 a.m.-2 p.m. duo of Marc Malussis and Maggie Gray with that of Brandon Tierney and Tiki Barber, effective Jan. 3. The move was precipitated because their lackluster ratings were hurting those of the station’s marquee afternoon drivetime “Carton & Roberts Show,” hosted by Craig Carton and Evan Roberts. “Carton & Roberts” is getting beaten by Michael Kay and his team on ESPN New York in their head-to-head competition. Audacy executives are understandably unhappy with that development.

Gray will shift over to the CBS Sports Radio Network to do a show with Andrew Perfoff on Jan. 3. Gray was a writer for Sports Illustrated before shifting gears to the electronic media. Doing a national show aligns with her talents far better than doing provincial local sports talk radio.

Malussis’ future status is unclear. I thought he did a good solid job on the FAN, but he never became a breakout star who generated must-listen-to buzz. The radio industry these days demands all the talent be Max Scherzer and not just a dependable starting pitcher like Rich Hill.

Knowledgeable sports talk radio listeners are as aware of the names of the producers of their favorite shows as they are of the on-air talent. Producers must screen callers, massage the egos of those in front of the microphones and, most importantly, book A-list guests. Longtime Chicago sports talk veteran Randy Merkin has authored a book about the trials and tribulations of landing celebrities to come on his shows titled “Behind the Glass” (Eckhartz Press). It’s a fun, breezy look at the radio biz. His tale of the hoops he had to jump through to land George Steinbrenner will make you chuckle.

Indoor professional lacrosse is back in our area as the New York Riptide of the National Lacrosse League began play Saturday night at the Nassau Coliseum. Native Americans invented lacrosse centuries ago and it is an exciting sport for both participants and spectators. For those who begrudge the high salaries professional athletes in the name sports earn, most National Lacrosse League players have regular jobs, so it is easy to root for and relate to these guys.

Even though the UBS Arena at Belmont Park has opened, the Nassau Coliseum is still very operational. The Brooklyn Nets’ G-League team, the Long Island Nets, play their home games there. It remains a terrific facility for both indoor lacrosse and minor league basketball.


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