MLBPA Update: Looming Issues as the 2021 Season Begins

To Tank or Not to Tank – is that the question?


Credits to Dean Rutz (Seattle Times)

Connor Toronto

Spring is here, and as the world prepares for baseball’s inevitable return, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) has made some adjustments. One of which includes speaking out on several issues to ensure that this season and multiple seasons to come run as smoothly as possible. 

In a tweet from Andy Martino, a writer and sports anchor for SNY, it was reported how New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole, a leader in the MLBPA, condemned tanking, addressing the issue as harmful to generational fan-bases. Cole further explained that teams who tank “aren’t doing right by their fan bases.” While tanking has been evident in virtually every sport today, this tactic is especially common in baseball. Rather than continuing a cycle of constant competitiveness, as Cole described it, many Major League Baseball franchises elect to “win multiple World Series and then tear it all down.” Instead of letting the chips fall where they may, most front offices attempt to control their respective team’s destiny. Yet success in baseball can never be mapped out in a blueprint. Time and time again, good culture and coaching have proved to be more important than robust rebuilding timelines. Similarly, these clubs are forcing veteran players out of their roster or regular lineups in a focus to make their teams more youthful. Dedicated fans of certain franchises are bound to disagree with this because they will always root for their teams to win as opposed to rooting for a better draft pick. 

Furthermore, tensions are at an all-time high between the MLB and the MLBPA. This internal struggle has come to a head in a variety of facets. First, on the discussion of tanking, the Mariners reportedly have been delaying star prospect Jarred Kelenic’s progression in order to keep him on the team for longer. Kelenic wasn’t called up to the big leagues in 2020, and this decision clearly wasn’t made with a “win-now” mindset. Also, the MLBPA and MLB have gone back and forth on seemingly trivial details such as COVID protocols and scheduling. This raises the question of whether or not the player’s association can live harmoniously with the MLB’s administration.

On a separate note, the MLB Draft, while still a few months away, gets closer with each passing day, beginning on 11 July 2021. Prospects from all across the globe get ready for the call up to the next level of their playing career. Delbarton’s own Jack Leiter is a part of this group. Leiter, currently a starting pitcher for the Vanderbilt Commodores, is projected to be drafted in the early first round. Leiter just recently pitched a no-hitter for the Commodores in a 5-0 victory over South Carolina. On top of this, Leiter pitched seven more hitless innings on March 26 against Missouri. However, he was pulled from the game before he could finish the job. Vanderbilt’s relief pitchers ended up losing the no-hitter, but the team still won in a decisive 11-3 victory. These epic performances by the son of Al Leiter should do nothing other than to increase his already high draft stock this upcoming summer. Only great things are to come from this pitcher, and he is only just getting started.