The one thing I truly hate about the current impasse between MLB owners and players is that they — and when I say “they” here I am principally talking about owners — seem to view this like it’s a CBA negotiation where they have plenty of time, a full offseason with no games to be lost.
That’s decidedly not the case here. The clock’s ticking. It’s June 12 — incidentally, the 39th anniversary of the date the 1981 baseball strike began. If the Cubs had been playing, they’d have completed 70 games (barring rainouts) as of this date, 43 percent of a normal 162-game season. There’s not much time at all left to make a deal.
Beyond that, owners have throughout prioritized short-term gain over the long-term health of the game. They have many fans upset to the point where they’ve said they’re done with baseball. Maybe those folks will return when the game does, but why take the chance?
All of this is a prelude to the latest offer by owners to players:
The #MLBPA receives formal proposal from #MLB on 72-game season starting July 14, with 80% guarantee of their prorated salaries with a postseason, 70% with no postseason. Deadline is Sunday for 72-game schedule. Also, 29-man rosters for the first month. Players also have opt-out.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) June 12, 2020
So once again, owners have moved in the players’ direction... a little. But time’s passing, and seemingly more quickly every day. There’s one more thing about this offer that I find troubling:
MLB’s new offer to the MLBPA for a 72-game season is roughly equivalent to what players would receive in a 50-game season at full prorated pay, source says.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) June 12, 2020
Here’s what I think will happen if players reject this offer. Owners will then implement the 50-game season — which they have a right to do, based on the agreement signed by players and owners in March. Players then get essentially what they would in the 72-game offer that’s now on the table, except then all of us get a bastardized “season” that’s not even one-third of a normal season. 72 games isn’t great, either, but it’s 44 percent of a full season and at this point in June, that’s probably about as good as it’s going to get.
Plus, if owners do unilaterally implement a 50-game season, players undoubtedly file a grievance and the whole thing gets tied up and there’s no baseball at all this year, which would cause even more damage to the sport.
Here are a few more details of MLB’s offer:
MLB offer again includes option to suspend draft-pick comp for 2020-21 offseason. Within 48 hours of approval, league would announce timeline for resumption of season, including spring training of at least 21 days. All players would have right to opt out. High-risk would be paid.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 12, 2020
There’s been no word yet on health protocols, though Commissioner Rob Manfred stated two days ago that progress had been made on those talks and that didn’t seem to be a big stumbling block between owners and players.
It’s money. It’s always about money. I just don’t understand and never will why billionaire owners, who ought to have some reserve funds, can’t simply call on those just for this year, and presume baseball will be back to some semblance of “normal” in 2021, with fans in the ballparks. Every business is hurting this year. I don’t see why baseball has to balance its books on the backs of its employees.
Reluctantly, and with many misgivings, I suspect players should probably accept this offer, because the alternative is probably going to be the imposed 50-game season, which no one wants, except, presumably, some of the hard-line owners in these discussions.
I wish I saw another choice here. But man, I miss baseball. Very likely, so do you. Let’s get this done and play ball.
Should MLB players accept the latest owners offer?
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