What MLB players, owners must do to avoid a new labor war

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Tony Clark's decision to make a mountain out of a molehill this week was like a preview of coming attractions for the next two years, a trailer for the forthcoming labor rhetoric. It seems just about impossible to find anyone who takes the words of Atlanta Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos as a face-value indicator of collusion, rather than a sloppy and imprecise description of the general conversations that occur annually between teams.

But this is where we are in the countdown to a showdown that careens toward inevitability, given the many unproductive months in the recent union-MLB relationship. If Clark and the players work from the Fehr-Orza playbook of 1994, then we will see a strike authorization for sometime in the second half of the 2021 season, July or August.

Hopefully, the two sides will have some meaningful discourse before then. In the interim, each side can take steps on its own to improve a product that nobody seems especially satisfied with -- least of all the fans, who continue to slowly trickle away, as reflected in the gradual erosion of attendance and World Series television ratings.