Social Media Movement May Have Pushed MLB Negotiations Back on Track, But Does it Matter?
While billionaire owners and millionaire players continue to be struggling in talks to start the 2020 MLB season, a simple hashtag that has caught fire on social media may be helping in getting negotiations back on track.
But, at this point, does it even matter?
The movement began in a statement released on Saturday night by Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLB Players Association, and from there the hashtag #WhenandWhere took off and gained traction.
“It’s time to get back to work,” Clark said during the conclusion of the statement. “Tell us when and where.”
MLB players started using, and sharing the hashtag on social media and it organically started gaining incredible momentum.
“It’s definitely not a coordinated effort,” MLBPA executive board member Chris Iannetta of the Yankees said, according to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers. “Guys just love to play, and when they saw Tony’s remarks, they really got behind it.”
“Players really meant it and believed in it so it came across as genuine,” executive board member and St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Andrew Miller said. “I don’t think that’s always the case in the world of hashtags and talking points.”
“One of the pieces of that March agreement was to give the commissioner the ability to tell us where and when, at his discretion,” Iannetta said. “We’re baseball players and want to play baseball.
“I think everyone who saw it via social media thought, ‘I stand for that.’ Tell us where and when. We want to play under the agreement we made back in March.”
But, given the constant back-and-forth, have the negotiations turned an already dwindling fan base off from baseball, even if it does return?
With unemployment rates sky high, the COVID-19 pandemic, protests for equality, and many people practicing quarantine to stay healthy, the past several weeks seemed to be the ideal time for MLB to shine, with many people looking for sports to watch.
However, the bickering over money may have turned many fans off, despite the points of either side.
The optics of arguing over money, during a pandemic and the mass spike in the national unemployment rates are not good.
It’s a fair question to ask, but there seems to be some hope that this hashtag can get things finally squared away.
“I believe that the fans have seen through the MLB PR machine,” Iannetta said. “I think you’ve seen over the course of this entire negotiation how documents have been leaked at a timely fashion from their side. I believe that comments have come out from politicians, doctors, you name it.
“I think people are seeing through that pressure tactic or PR move and fans are getting frustrated with it. Fans want to see baseball and they don’t want to see the B.S. They’re learning the playbook and they’re understanding it and sympathetic to it (the players). I’ve seen fans rally around players, and it’s very refreshing.”
“I don’t know who underestimated the unity of our group, but I believe all the players are a band of brothers and we’re all in this together,” Iannetta said. “We understand where we came from. We came from the shoulder of the players before us. They gave us the ability to play under the landscape that we have now. It’s our duty to do that for the people that come after us. Our union understands that.”