Larry Baer knows what a work stoppage means for baseball. Having been one of the owners of the San Francisco Giants since 1993, he can say that the 2021 lockout isn’t anywhere near like the one in 1994/1995. After management and players union reached an agreement to avoid missing any games, he had a lot to say to the fans about the issue.
Thankful for the End
Baer’s first expression was of gratitude that the conflict had been resolved. Speaking to the media over Zoom, he also said that the Giants were ready to be aggressive when it came to getting their roster in shape. He also opened up about what his experience was like during the discussions. “I’ve got to say, this has been, personally, a very painful period. It’s been tough on a lot of levels.”
During the lockout, he wasn’t able to communicate with players in many ways, despite his close connections to the team. The end of the lockout was certainly a good day for the industry, but it was also a good day for him too.
What the Industry Should Focus On
Baer said that this would be a good time for the industry to think about how they could make the sport more popular across the country, especially for younger fans who might be turning away from this American pastime. For this particular strife, many fans blamed the owners of the franchises for the lockout, one that could have easily cost games during the season.
There was also a lot of discussion about who was making money and how it was being managed. For Larry Baer, his group bought the franchise in 1993 for $100 million. It’s now worth 3,000% more than that at $3.2 billion.
Baer says that he sees his investment as a civic asset as much as he does a business. He realizes that this team has to meet certain financial objectives, but this comes second to being involved in the community. His goal is to deliver championship-level play that anyone would be proud to take part in.
The State of the Fans
In his statement, Larry Baer said that he empathized with fans. As we continue to deal with the wake of the pandemic and the Omicron surge, he understands if the crowd is fed up. What was more important to him was making sure that no one got the wrong perception. Some people might have assumed that missing games in the beginning of the season, when attendance is typically lower, was of no real consequence to management.
Baer said, “I can’t speak for every owner. I can speak for the Giants. That was a very painful thing. The notion of missing one game in April, let alone many games in the month. We were never in that mode at all. Our fans, we feel we have almost a fiduciary responsibility and trust with the fans.” He also addressed the theory that the league ultimately didn’t need to lock the players out to make the deal. This does bear some truth, but in that scenario, it would have been far more likely that baseball would have lost games this season.
The Giants will be playing at Oracle Park on April 8 against the Florida Marlins, with spring training scheduled for March 18. Baer said that there was a possibility for spring training games, though he hasn’t seen the official schedule. Any rescheduled games will be double-headers, which could extend the season by a few days.
The deal reached by the union and the players included a universal designated hitter as well as a draft lottery. This is in addition to a reformed luxury tax (which doesn’t apply to the Giants) and an increase in minimum salary. The postseason field has also been increased to 12 teams from its previous 10. Larry Baer says that this expansion will make baseball more relevant in more cities for more days during the year.
The Giants in 2022
The lockout began on December 1, when all transactions in the major league froze. The Giants were able to Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Wood, and add Alex Cobb as well. However, there’s still a lot more to get done now that everyone is getting back in the swing of things. Baer says that the plan right now is to be as proactive as possible in the frenzy to get everything back up and running.
Read more recent Larry Baer and SF Giants news here.