We all get that MLB is a business intent on making a profit, and they do that well to the tune of $10 billion last year. So, why the fuss now?
MLB owners met yesterday, approving a plan that will see the 2020 baseball season resume on or about July 1. Today, the same idea is on the table for the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) for their approval.
Good luck with that.
MLB players have two concerns: Safety and Money. Of the two, the safety of the players is, compared to the question of salaries, slam-dunk easier to negotiate and resolve.
CDC (Center for Disease Control) guidelines are readily available. Moreover, they make sense and are difficult for either side to combat.
MLB/MLBPA Spelled With A Dollar Sign
The real problem, though, is issues about the almighty dollar.
The owners insist that since this is a down year for all of MLB, everyone should share in the pain.
To wit, the owners want the players to commit to a 50/50 split of revenue earned over the shortened season – precedent-setting to be sure.
The owners’ position, and it’s accurate, is that they rely on fan attendance for 40 percent of their annual revenue.
With no fans in the seats, team revenue will subside accordingly – and it’s only fair the players should share in that hardship.
When “fair” came into play, I have no idea.
But the players counter with the agreement already in place with MLB that reduces their salaries for 2020 by a prorated portion of games played — or 50.6 percent in an 82-game season.
MLB And The MLBPA – Two Peas From The Same Pod
The crux of the matter for the MLBPA is that they see the new proposal’s call for revenue sharing with the players as a salary cap, something the MLBPA has fought and put off for decades.
For one, I don’t see the connection, and if there is one, the MLBPA owes us an explanation.
Beyond that, though, let’s take a look at what this thing “revenue sharing” is or could be because I’m not sure I understand that either.
Does it mean that team revenues are to be reported to MLB on a weekly, monthly, or even daily basis to be distributed how – and how much to whom? And what happens if a team decides to “cook the books”?
But let’s take a for instance, and let’s say MLB revenues for the 2020 season do not approach the $10.7 billion earned in 2019.
And with the shortened season, total revenue drops to $4 billion. A 50/50 split would then put $2 billion in the player’s pool, translating to 2,000 million dollars.
This sounds like a lot, but it would mean that if divided equally among all 30 MLB teams, each team would receive about $67 million – which in turn must be allotted to all players under contract.
For the Yankees, this would mean the money would cover only seven players on their current 40-man roster.
Ticketed For A Public Relations Disaster
I’m not sure of this, but I do know MLB and the MLBPA are playing with fire if they intend to make the COVID-19 a battleground for the CBA that will expire after the 2021 season in these negotiations.
We baseball fans are not ignorant, and we certainly are not stupid. We know no one owner or player is waiting on a food line or one of the fifteen percent of Americans who have been relieved of a job they depend on to (simply) pay their bills.
Ask me if I could live on half of the major league minimum salary for 2020, or about $280,000, and I will tell the owners and players that amount is five times what I, and so many others, have to live on in today’s economy.
We don’t complain – neither should you. MLB and the MLBPA, or at least by the rhetoric, stand united in their desire to help return America to some semblance of normalcy.
When things go wrong as they did during the recession of 2008, everyone is hurt. Even Google shared the pain during the crash with reduced revenue – ergo profits.
The battle between MLB owners and the players is an old one that is not about to be extinguished here or anytime soon.
MLB: We See-Thru Every Move You Make
But for both parties, amid the worst economic and health times, we have seen since the pandemic of 1917 and the ensuing Great Depression – neither side is poised to win this battle in the eyes of the general public – and especially fans of baseball.
All of you (owners and players) have enough to get you through the rest of 2020, while many of you have no worries even through the next decade.
How about you save your little squabbles among co-equal gainers – to concentrate solely on how you can get us to – Play Ball?