It’s beginning to look like there may not be any baseball this year. The MLB and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) are in a game of “who will blink first,” as each continues to hold out and counter for what they deem as the best course of action to get players back on the field. If MLB owners thought that players would blink first and give into their demands, they have learned a valuable lesson – there are more players than owners and solidarity wins.
After the MLBPA rejected the league’s economic proposal, the union sent back a counteroffer, but many feel that this proposal will meet the same fate as the owners’ – pure rejection.
MLB Players Counter With More Games
The economic plan presented by league owners included provisions that would see some players earn as little as 20% of their regular pay. After not being able to present evidence to support owners’ claims of “billions of dollars in losses,” the MLBPA scoffed and sent its own version of how things should move forward. The players are willing to play 114 games, as opposed to the 82 games proposed by the owners, in a season that would run from June 30 to October 31. In addition, they are willing to work with owners on creating salary deferrals, but cuts in pay are out of the question.
The deferrals would only be allowed in the event MLB were forced to cancel the playoffs; otherwise, players would expect their normal pay. Only players whose contracts include salaries of $10 million or more would be affected by the cancellation. The union also proposes allowing players to opt out of games; however, if they do, they would not be eligible for a salary.
The MLBPA’s attempt at making peace also includes a provision of having expanded playoffs for two years – owners wanted just one year, with an expansion from ten to 14 teams. Players would also receive a cut of a $100-million salary advance package, which would be paid during Spring Training 2.0. In return, the union acknowledges the counter that more MLB players would wear microphones during games, as well as participate in other types of broadcast enhancements.
What’s Up Next For Negotiations
Chances are, the league owners are going to reject the proposal. This is an assertion that has been made by several individuals, including player reps and Jeff Passan of ESPN. Given that the deadline to get games started is approaching quickly, and a modified spring training period is still needed, an inability of the owners and players to resolve their differences could lead to disaster for professional baseball, as well as for fans.
There is a general understanding that a decision has to be made this week if the season is going to be able to get underway as scheduled. That certainly doesn’t give much time, and everyone is now dealing with the coronavirus, as well as riots in the wake of the George Floyd death at the hands of police officers in Minnesota.
Still, Bob Nightengale of USA Today believes that baseball will happen, and said on Twitter yesterday, “There definitely will be baseball this summer, but we just don’t know how many games or how much the players will be paid: MLB Players Association sends counter proposal, asking for 114-game regular season and opt-out option.”
Not everyone shares his optimism. It’s apparent that owners aren’t willing to give in, nor are the players. It has become blatantly obvious that baseball is no longer about the game, but about the money, and perhaps the current situation will serve as a wake-up call to force a change in how things are viewed. While it’s understandable that teams need to be able to make money to survive, nothing good ever comes out of putting profits before people.