Commissioner Rob Manfred showed up at the MLB/MLBPA negotiations for the first time, after four days of having others negotiate for the owners side.
We have proof that he was there!
Here is video of commissioner Rob Manfred walking inside a baseball stadium. pic.twitter.com/VNnsTLXoe6— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) February 25, 2022
The two sides caucused separately, then met together and went back and forth at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida several times:
They just went back. This is like tennis… easily the most back and forth of MLB folks we’ve seen this week. Whether that translates to more back and forth in the room remains to be seen. https://t.co/rqUyDgxJ5q— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) February 25, 2022
Here’s what happened during Friday’s meetings:
A little progress! MLB, players made gains today in one area: amateur draft order/lottery. MLB made a proposal on it, players countered in same day. Not done yet, but there is optimism. Rob Manfred met with Tony Clark one on one. Manfred did not meet w/ players. They’ll meet tomm— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) February 25, 2022
That appears to be it for movement today, but at least there was some movement. It doesn’t appear the CBT was discussed, or if it was, not very much was done on it.
For the rest of the wrap of Friday’s events. let’s go back to this morning and these numbers revealed by Eric Fisher:
Liberty Media-owned Atlanta Braves report $568 million in revenue for 2021, $20 million in operating income, big shift from pandemic-impacted 2020 totals of $178 million in rev, $128 million operating loss. Adjusted OIBDA swings fr $53 million loss '20 to $104 million gain in '21— Eric Fisher (@EricFisherSBG) February 25, 2022
Now, let’s be clear. These are only certain numbers from one MLB team. We don’t know all the financials or the exact profit figure (OIBDA stands for Operating Income Before Depreciation and Amortization). Still, it would seem to indicate that while teams took a major hit in revenue in 2020 due to the absence of ticket sales, it was all made up and more for at least one team in 2021. This article by Jeff Schultz in The Athletic elaborates a bit further:
The Braves posted a record $568 million in revenue from baseball and development (up from $178 million in the pandemic season 2020). The 2021 revenue far exceeded the previous record of the last pre-pandemic season of $476 million in 2019. This effectively amounted to a 2021 profit of $111 million (baseball and development combined) in adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization (OIBDA, in geek-speak).
This is also worth noting:
Related… remember when a streaming deal with Apple to replace the games dropped by ESPN was close to being done? Sources said streaming deal was absolutely in the works. Normally those things announced by now. Either fell through or held back. Why held back? CBA negotiations.— Maury Brown (@BizballMaury) February 25, 2022
Yes, I remember hearing about that potential streaming deal. It was reported by CNBC and others about six weeks ago. And yet, since then? Crickets. I believe Maury Brown is right, that the CBA negotiations might have held up this deal, which would have produced quite a bit of revenue for MLB. CNBC’s article suggests such rights could have been worth $350 million per year — that’s a little less than $12 million per team. Not a huge amount, to be sure, but again, additional revenue for MLB that they didn’t previously have.
Now, let’s go with a bit of humor to start off today’s wrap, and I’m going to go through events chronologically. It’s clear that Evan Drellich of The Athletic is getting bored with holding vigil outside Roger Dean Stadium. He’s now tweeting videos of people walking through a parking lot:
JUPITER, Fla. — The players are entering the stadium for Day 5 of meetings with MLB. Here is a video of baseball players, lawyers and other MLBPA staff walking in a parking lot in the direction of a baseball stadium. pic.twitter.com/DjP3rn2LqL— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) February 25, 2022
Per several of the writers holding court in Jupiter, owners and players met together for about 75 minutes, then broke into caucuses separately. A little less than three hours into the sessions, this happened:
Just arrived at Roger Dean Stadium where negotiations are taking place. Write the caption. Go pic.twitter.com/ZvL6D3PiA4— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) February 25, 2022
Anything to break up the monotony of waiting, I guess. A couple of other humorous tweets about today’s session:
This is like a live action version of the “how do you get the wolf, the goat and the cabbage across the river” logic puzzle https://t.co/IxaHDnqmRS— Adam J. Morris (@lonestarball) February 25, 2022
Is Manfred showing up, like when the car salesman has to go back to talk to his manager to come back with the deal you are going to take or to tell the other side, guys, "This is as good as it is ever going to get, so take it now or it is going to get worse later." #Intrigue.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) February 25, 2022
All this back and forth in bargaining is a good sign. But this dog on a golf cart is still the best thing I’ve seen today. pic.twitter.com/FuRD54HzLq— Hannah Keyser (@HannahRKeyser) February 25, 2022
Lastly, more writer art:
99 minutes into Day 5 of Jupiter meetings.— Michael Silverman (@MikeSilvermanBB) February 25, 2022
Sides met, sides now caucusing.
Picture of a gate. pic.twitter.com/zFRhoarWX0
My usual signoff is “As always, we await developments.” With the meetings going for several hours, and having several back-and-forths between the two sides’ meeting places (owners in a suite, players in the Cardinals clubhouse), there might be some tiny cause for optimism going into tomorrow’s session. Hopefully, more developments to come.