David Brandt

PHOENIX (AP) – Nathan Ruckert’s personal finances are weakly tied to the Major League Baseball, thanks to about 20 years he spent in setting up his own company that produces handmade artwork for fans.

Not so Tuesday was a very bad day.

At heart Rukert just loves baseball. And, like most baseball fans, he responded with a mixture of resignation, anxiety, sadness and anger when MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the March 31 opening day had been canceled because the players ’union and management failed to conclude a work contract in time to end 90 -day lockout.

“I’m just thinking about all the father and son moments that will be missed,” said Rueckert, who runs Baseball Seams Co. from his home in South Dakota. “All the opportunities that are stolen by the season, which may not be. Especially given the state of the country and the world baseball is such a big distraction.

“People want to go to a football stadium, eat a hot dog and get rid of stress.”

For fans, MLB’s decision to cancel the game only adds to the stress. And anger. Or, perhaps, the most important thing – apathy.

This is the latest setback for a sport that may have been the worst of the major U.S. sports leagues that include the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB when it comes to COVID-19. The pandemic began in mid-March 2020, immediately halting spring training less than three weeks before opening day and causing the season to be shortened by more than 100 games.

No other league has lost much of its schedule.

There was nothing that could be done about the pandemic. Labor disputes over how to distribute $ 10 billion in industry is a different story. Now, for the second time in three seasons, at least some regular season games will not be played.

There are no heroes in this lockout story, but much of the outrage on social media has been directed at Manfred, who has been commissioner since 2015. On Tuesday, an Associated Press photographer spotted him practicing golf between talks. Others were upset that Manfred was laughing and having fun with reporters at his press conference announcing the cancellation.

It is safe to say that baseball fans are not having fun.

“People need games after COVID-19 to lift their spirits and get back to normal,” said Toronto Blue Jays fan Bill Farina, who lives in Palm Harbor, Florida, and watched the NHL game “Senators.” -Lighting “. “I’m disappointed in baseball. They don’t care about the fans, and the fans are going to leave them behind.

“Why do they stay and support these guys just to get burned?”

St. Louis Cardinals fan Hunter Kniffin is among many wondering if the game will survive a long shutdown. He was a teenager during the 1994-95 strike that destroyed the World Series and about 70 regular season games for each team.

He remembers the opposition of fans that ensued, and how the sport was eventually intensified by the Mark McGuire-Sammy Sosa race, which captured the country in 1998. He’s not sure this time baseball was lucky. It’s a different world than the mid-late 1990s, and there are more options for entertainment than ever.

“It may be much harder to come back this time,” said Kniffin, who attends about 10 games each year. “I just don’t understand how baseball can afford to get more into other major sports.”

Pittsburgh Pirates fan Anthony Marjot has two sons who play youth baseball. He is adamant that the lockout will not affect his plans to attend games when and when they are played, especially if the summer night will be good weather.

But he also knows that many fans are not like him. When baseball is out of sight, it’s not in your head, and it certainly doesn’t attract young fans when games are canceled.

“I’m sure it doesn’t help, so to speak,” said 45-year-old Marjot.

The worst thing about MLB could be that many fans seemed to have come to terms with the decline in baseball’s popularity. On Tuesday night, Joe Hart was wearing a Detroit Tigers hat, but was watching a different sport while attending the NBA Pistons-Wizards in Washington.

He said the decision to cancel the opening day of baseball “is no surprise” and to blame the owners a little more than the players in the current fiasco.

But more than the desire to lay the blame, there is just disgust. Being a baseball fan these days is not easy.

“People are struggling and experiencing hard times, and they’re trying to figure out how to split billions of dollars,” Hart said. “That’s what there is.”


AP authors Baseball Ronald Bloom and Noah Trister along with AP Sports Writers Fred Goodall and Will Graves contributed to this story.


More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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