Sports leagues work for generations to build up their reputations. Sometimes, they can destroy all of that hard work in a matter of weeks or months. That is exactly what is at risk with Major League Baseball, which is witnessing a once-in-a-generation battle between the owners of the league (the MLB) and the league’s player’s union (the MLBPA). The last time such a strike happened was 1994, when a player strike led to the remainder of a season being cancelled, including the World Series, which had not happened since 1904. For fans, this cancellation was an abject tragedy, and the wounds surrounding the lockout took many years to heal. Almost three decades later, the MLB is at risk of destroying its reputation yet again: the MLBPA and the MLB have yet to come to an agreement, and fans are furious. They have already missed the first few weeks of the season, and it looks like there might not be any sort of agreement until April. The MLBPA’s demands mostly centre around players receiving a higher minimum salary and having more control over the terms of their contracts. As it stands, teams essentially own players for the first six years of their careers after they are drafted. The MLBPA also wants to address tanking, which is an ongoing trend in which teams intentionally lose in order to gain better picks in upcoming drafts.
This labour dispute is strange in so many ways. Mainly, it is extremely public, so everybody knows about each offer, counteroffer, concession, demand, and negotiation point. This publicity makes for a jarring juxtaposition; it is millionaires debating billionaires. We somehow relate to the underdogs, yet in this case, the underdogs are extremely wealthy athletes. Part of it is disheartening for workers that may be planning strikes; even millionaires struggle to get their way because the wealthier side has the reserves to wait the other side out.
Boom & Bust
There is perhaps no industry more cyclical than the oil and gas industry. When the going gets good, there is so much money to be made. Then, sometimes literally overnight, the bottom can fall out of the industry and opportunities, financing, and jobs can disappear from an entire city, country, or region. That is why OPEC’s leaders are not exactly celebrating despite how the price per barrel of oil has hit 130 USD, its highest value in almost a decade (prices were below 20 USD per barrel in early 2020). And because many countries have started instituting embargos on Russian oil and gas, experts predict that prices may rise to record levels, even over 200 USD per barrel. After each boom comes an inevitable bust; these leaders far prefer stability. And stability is not what they will get when the world’s largest energy consumers learn to live without fossil fuels. In response to the war, the European Commission unveiled its new energy strategy, explicitly designed to slash the bloc’s reliance on Russian gas, which accounts for some 40% of its total consumption of the fossil fuel, by two-thirds this year and entirely “well before 2030”. So, even though prices are surging now, there is reason to believe that this boom will not last, and when it eventually subsides into a bust, the landscape will look different than it ever has before.
Energy companies and countries with significant resources have long been preparing for a world less reliant on fossil fuels. But there has never been such an urgent reason to make the transition away from such energy sources, and these companies and countries are realising that they may not have the runway they had before.