In addition to being one of the more visible Cubs players thanks to his podcast, media relationships, and coffee proclivities, Ian Happ is also a particularly important member of the Cubs during this lockout as the team’s player representative for the MLBPA.
To that end, I was definitely eager to read his latest thoughts on the state of things, especially with things coming to a head this and next week: Spring Training games have now been postponed, MLB has said a deal must be completed by February 28 to preserve all regular season games, the players have said expanded postseason is off the table if a single regular season game is lost, and the sides are set to meet on Monday for the first in several consecutive bargaining sessions.
Happ just spoke with new Sun-Times Cubs beat writer Maddie Lee about the state of things, and I think it’s worth your time for an additional perspective on where things stand:
I talked with Cubs MLBPA rep Ian Happ this week about CBA negotiations and how players are communicating their goals to fans during MLB’s first work stoppage in 26 yrs.
“It’s definitely been a history lesson. At the same time, it’s a completely new age.”
— Maddie Lee (@maddie_m_lee) February 19, 2022
Happ, who hasn’t been shy about his frustrations with the negotiation process, spoke about how the current era impacts the way players respond publicly to the lockout, and message with fans. It’s obviously very, very different from the 1994-95 player strike, which makes it all the more odd that Commissioner Manfred recently said he wasn’t really paying attention to social media. I would think the Commissioner, and the owners, would want to be closely monitoring not only the players’ reactions on social media, but also be able to take the temperature of fans.
As for those fans, this is what struck me most in Happ’s comments, because it’s the thing I think about most often in relation to the lockout: “One of the most disappointing parts of the entire process is that we have fan bases that deserve better than what we’ve given them over the last few years.”
Nice to see somebody saying it.
A lot of what’s happened the last few years goes way, way beyond the control of anyone associated with Major League Baseball. Obviously. I get that, and I would offer a considerable latitude of forgiveness on it because of the pandemic. But much of the last few years could’ve been approached quite a bit differently from a league perspective, with a more concerted focus on preserving and strengthening the fan base. That could’ve been the case in the summer of 2020, and it was not. That could’ve been the case with the rules the last couple years, and it was not. That could’ve been the focus this past fall before the CBA expired, and it was not. Never did MLB seem focused on the long-term interests of the fans or the sport as a whole.
You can also see Happ, Cubs pitching prospect Dakota Mekkes, and Tigers infielder (former Cubs prospect) Zack Short discuss lockout on their podcast below, starting at about the 17-minute mark. Really interesting to see these three guys, in different stages of their careers, talking through the CBA issues: