|Obi Kris, You're Our Only Hope|
Wait, no. Yeah, no one is saying that Bryant isn't the best option for the Cubs at third. Even a franchise that hasn't won a World Series for over a century isn't that insane. Rather, the Cubs will benefit with ridiculous fiscal advantage by protecting Bryant's service clock from gaining the full year by starting him in the minors. So performance doesn't matter. Down he goes, and the MLBPA be damned, and the fact that the players' share of the revenue is at a two-decade low from shenanigans like this also doesn't matter.
Nor does the integrity of the game, the fact that Bryant might help the Cubs, you know, win more games in the early going that they'd find remarkably useful later in the year, or just that This Is Clearly Madness and one more reason why People Should Not Take Baseball Seriously. The fact that it's also not a new problem, and that it's becoming increasingly impossible to just go to a game without getting your accountant on, is also of no concern. Bryant's service clock is the only thing that matters.
Now, I don't really want to get into the history of teams that have shot themselves in the foot over this. Keith Olbermann's already done that in an excellent segment, and you should go watch it, over at the World Wide Lemur. (The short of it is that the Red Sox, Dodgers, Brewers, Phillies and Angels have all probably cost themselves playoff glory over service time machinations, and that karma is a stone cold bitch. But you probably already knew that.)
Rather, I want to point out the one person in America that could end this nonsense.
In this case, his name is Kris Bryant.
Bryant could tell the Cubs that if he's not going to start the year with the club, he is not going to sign a contract extension with them. EVER. A decision that, well, fans of every other MLB franchise would applaud.
Bryant could tell them that they might as well put him on the trade block right now, since he's playing with a franchise that would rather play accountant than baseball. Also, that he feels so strongly about this, that he's not going to go to Peoria; he's just going to go home. Maybe take up another profession, like MMA, or motorcycle racing, or alligator wrestling. Be creative.
(Also, this. We live in an era where people feel fine about shaming each other for poor jokes on Twitter. Why the hell are we, or anyone, not shaming the Cubs at every possible instance for this?)
Bryant could tell the MLBPA that he would like to be the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit for every unjustly quarantined minor-league player whose wages and pension is being docked for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with baseball. You'd have to think there would be more than enough statistical evidence to turn this into money in front of a reasonable judge. Plus, hey, spectacular PR for a league that's just shiny and perfect.
Bryant could tell the MLBPA and the Cubs that he is morally opposed to the production of any merchandise with his name or number on it, since he's not going to be with an organization that doesn't put winning first. Or, indeed, that he's not going to be with this organization for very long.
Here's the thing about all of these actions. In each and every instance, Bryant would be 100% justified.
And in each and every instance, the Cubs would cave faster than you could say...
And, hopefully, prevent every other club from pulling this nonsense in the future, and honestly put fire to the ass of MLB to fix their idiot clock issue...