Five days ago, this is what Commissioner Rob Manfred said about having a 2020 MLB season:
Commissioner Rob Manfred on @MLBNetwork just guaranteed that there will be baseball this year. 100 percent he said. As has been noted, if there’s no agreement with players Manfred has the right to mandate players return to field as long as they receive prorated pay.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 10, 2020
Late Monday afternoon, here’s what Rob Manfred said about having a 2020 MLB season:
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN on Monday he’s “not confident” there will be a 2020 baseball season and that “as long as there’s no dialogue” with the MLB Players Association, “that real risk is going to continue.”
In a conversation with Mike Greenberg for ESPN’s “The Return of Sports” special, Manfred walked back comments made to ESPN last week, when he said “unequivocally we are going to play Major League Baseball this year” and pegged the likelihood at “100%.”
“I’m not confident. I think there’s real risk; and as long as there’s no dialogue, that real risk is gonna continue,” Manfred said when asked if he was confident there would be a season.
Dialogue? I don’t see owners having “dialogue.” I see them making the same offer over and over and over to players with different window dressing, accomplishing nothing. You know, like this:
MLB: Do you want a half dozen donuts?— Daniel Descalso (@DanielDescalso) June 13, 2020
MLB: Oh, So you want 6?
MLBPA: That’s the same thing
MLB: Our mistake. How about 2 sets of 3?
MLBPA: Never mind.
MLB: Wait wait, I can give you 3 sets of 2. How’s that?
It’s absolutely clear to me that MLB owners are NOT truly interested in having a 2020 season; they’re only interested in attempting to try to get players to take the blame for not having a season. This is a dangerous, dangerous game. You know, one way that MLB owners are making lots of money from baseball these days is from ancillary ventures like real estate developing. This exists near Wrigley Field in the things the Ricketts family has created through Hickory Street Capital. It exists in St. Louis in “Ballpark Village.” It exists in Atlanta, where the Braves moved to a suburban area surrounded by a large commercial/retail real estate development.
How much money are those developments going to make with no baseball in 2020? And if the coronavirus pandemic somehow continues into 2021, that’ll be even less, and then we’ve got a labor agreement that expires after the 2021 season and that’s going to be the worst labor negotiation in sports that you have ever seen. Yes, worse than the 1994-95 dispute that cancelled the World Series, worse than the 2004-05 dispute that killed one entire hockey season.
And just to be clear, I’m going to once again place this blame 100 percent where it belongs: on team owners and Commissioner Rob Manfred.
Players should take whatever legal action they can right now, and I mean right now as in tomorrow. File a grievance. Get this before an arbitrator. MLB owners have clearly not discussed all this “in good faith,” as was agreed to in the March memorandum of understanding between the parties. Get this into federal court if possible — don’t forget, the only reason the 1994-95 dispute was settled was a ruling by federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who now sits on the U.S. Supreme Court. Maybe it’s time for baseball’s antitrust exemption, a ridiculous anachronism that should never have been created in the first place, to be scrapped once and for all. All of this is especially so because of this:
Source: In a letter today, MLB told the MLBPA there would be no 2020 season unless the players waived any legal claims against the league.— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) June 15, 2020
Yeah, get that into court as soon as possible. Because not only is that not bargaining in good faith, it might be illegal. I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that you can’t force someone to give up the right to a legal remedy for a bunch of stuff that hasn’t even happened yet.
Can you tell I’m angry? Yes, I’m angry, and every single baseball fan should be angry with team owners for killing their sport.
If you think that’s hyperbole:
An agent last week: "They're actually going to burn it all down."— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) June 15, 2020
I’ll leave you with the words of Cubs righthander Yu Darvish, who is a treasure: