Warning: While there is no actual profanity in the text below, an acronym which contains a letter that may offend is included. It's an "F," so if you’re squeamish, read no further.
Spoiler alert: the term "effing" is also in evidence below.
And finally, a scene from a movie is referenced directly below. There is an element within the scene -- the element isn’t actually mentioned below -- which may also offend. If you’re unfamiliar with the movie, you should be fine. If you are, if you remember both the scene and the element I'm referring to, you've been warned. Skip to number 2.
Here is my 9-point plan to return baseball to the big league diamonds of America. And Baltimore:
1. Hearken back to the film, “Midnight Express.” Billy Hayes languishes in what is arguably the most depressing movie prison ever. All is not lost, however. Billy’s girlfriend visits with a message from, “Mr. Franklin, from the bank,” which is code for cash enclosed and a lot of it. Before leaving, the gf cries, “you’ve got to get yourself together, Billy!” The implication being that there is a way out. All you have to do is snap out of whatever is troubling you -- and yes, we know it's bad -- and move forward. Or else.
2. To baseball commissioner Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball Players Association leader Tony Clark, I say this: You’ve got to get yourself together, guys! Right. Effing. Now.
3. Next. Manfred and Clark, get yourself into a conference room, along with your most trusted lieutenant in tow. A total of two individuals for each side. No one leaves for anything other than a five-minute bathroom break until an agreement is reached. No cots, no reclining chairs, no cell phones, no leaks to the media allowed. Oh, you’re uncomfortable with that, are you?
No one the eff cares. See COVID. See race relations in this country. No one in the world gives an eff about your being uncomfortable for eight, 10 or 12 hours. Bring a fanny cushion to sit on. And get a clue already.
4. Realize that both sides are at fault here. While it seems to most savvy baseball fans that one side is more to blame -- and they're spot on about that -- no one here is blameless. Well, except for the fans.
5. This one is for Manfred only. Realize, sir, that you are this close to sewing up the worst-baseball-commissioner-in-history label for time and memoriam. In baseball parlance, you’ve got a sure double. I strongly suggest that you do not go for three. You really really really suck at this.
6. This one is for Manfred too. Please note that while you are awful at the nuts and bolts parts of your job as commissioner, you are also quite bad at public relations. So stop trying to win that war. It's over and you lost.
The players made it easy for you, and caved in a sense; in saying that they were ready and willing to get to work, if you would only set a date. Independent of and with knowledge of the fact that you can impose a 50-or-so game schedule and that they will receive approximately a third of their contracted-for salary, they've said, "let's play ball." So set the schedule already. Like, oh, I don't know, first thing tomorrow morning.
Then, all you have to do is pick a date for a second Spring Training. And it's still spring, remember, for another six days. Allow me to suggest an early-reporting date of Wednesday, June 17, 2020, with a mandatory reporting date of Friday, June 19, 2020. The "2020" part is included to assure that there is no misunderstanding that we're talking about this year. Baseball this year. Opening Day three weeks from next Monday, on July 13.
7. Also to Manfred. Please note that if you refuse to pick a reporting date, you are in essence imposing a lockout.
8. To Manfred, club officials, Clark and individual players, the phrases "negotiating in bad faith," "we are disgusted" and "pro rata" are hereby banished from the discussion. You need a line to replace those, here's one: "the best interests of baseball." Remember that? Here's another: "we're sorry." And "we apologize for airing our dirty language in public. We're sorry for everything we've put you through, fans. We done ya wrong. Please forgive us."
9. In case any of the above isn't clear -- and I don't know why it wouldn't be -- just stop. Stop talking. Just stop talking. It's not your strong suit. So just stop. Make the apology your final words on the matter. Just stop talking. STFU.
And remember, glove conquers all. If only you can get yourself together Robbie! And Tony!
Howard Cole has been writing about baseball on the internet since Y2K. Follow him on Twitter.