MLB owners and players – if only I had a hammer to knock some sense in your heads – I would tell you how disingenuous and miserly you appear at the moment.
MLB owners and players have had three months to agree on a plan to reignite the 2020 baseball season. There are no games, and there is no season, even though states and cities are cautiously clearing a path for the return of baseball amid the coronavirus.
Pick your side, the owners or players – it doesn’t matter they both lose in the court where it matters most – we, the fans of major league baseball.
82, 114, 48, 89, 56 – pick a number – any number and you’ve scored as to the number of games that should be played this season.
Each side has power and the money to get their “story” and talking points out to us in an instant via leaked stories to The Athletic or the Associated Press.
But between themselves, they exchange “letters” like high school students in a Biology class when the teacher isn’t looking, rather than sit at a table face to face to iron out their differences.
MLB Owners Playing With Fire
This is not the end of baseball, as some are predicting, wherein large numbers of fans will vacate the sport seeking refuge for entertainment elsewhere.
Fans of baseball marry into the sport. Most, like myself, say “I do” at the altar while Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Lenny Dykstra, and Domingo German get excused in the confessional for their sins, and life goes on because the bulk of the sport is clean.
But at some point, MLB owners and players will face a jury that renders a verdict on their behavior since March when the coronavirus shut down baseball.
The American way is to forgive and forget. So, if baseball can produce a playoff season, filled with more teams qualifying, and excitement prevails through the World Series, June 11, 2020, will be a faded memory.
My wits with this thing have come to an end, and if I had a hammer, I’d feed MLB and the MLBPA pizza all night long until a firm agreement is reached to jumpstart the season.
I don’t have that hammer, but there is one person who does, and with one stroke of a pen, he can declare that the 2020 season will begin on Day X and end on Day Y – and nothing short of a work stoppage by the players can say otherwise.
Rob Manfred And The “Nuclear Option”
Commissioner Rob Manfred has had the power to do so since “negotiations” with the MLBPA began to set the parameters of a return to baseball.
Manfred has refrained from using what I call the “Nuclear Option” because it puts MLB and team owners on the wrong side of public relations game with fans.
And most especially with fans old enough to remember the days of indentured servitude before Curt Flood, Marvin Miller, and others broke the hold on owners dictating the terms of their employment.
The Nuclear Option is coming, and more and more, we see references in quotes from Manfred that gently serve as a reminder suggesting – “Hey, ya know I can do this.”
But the underlining reason why Manfred has not pushed the nuclear button is that he is beholden to MLB owners and their interests.
Therefore, Manfred is mindful of the owners’ claim that for every game that is played without fans in the stands, they lose money ($640,000 per game per team is the number thrown out there).
Hence, for every day that goes by without baseball, the burden is eased on MLB owners. To no avail, the MLBPA has challenged MLB to open its books to prove what they allege. But that’s like asking Donald Trump to reveal his tax statements from 2016 forward.
MLB Owners: The Rest Of Their Gameplan Exposed
In the coming days, expect the following course of events to take place:
- MLB owners will declare negotiations with the MLBPA to be at an impasse. At their request, Rob Manfred will issue a regular and postseason schedule with beginning and end dates, with pro-rated player salaries.
- This will give reason to create the illusion for casual fans of baseball that games are just around the corner, striking a win for MLB owners who are providing the fans what they want.
- At that point, nothing will be further from the truth as Manfred’s proclamation does nothing to address the many unresolved issues about player safety.
- Among these is the wavier MLB owners want players to sign before they play, setting the stage for owners to step away from players who are inflicted with the coronavirus, the frequency of testing, and the indefinite periods of quarantine requiring separation of a player from his family.
The MLBPA made a mistake in letting the number of games and a salary structure become the focal point of negotiations, when in fact, the real issue has been players putting their lives and the welfare of their family on the line.
If MLB owners do indeed exercise the Nuclear Option, it’s going to be too late, short of a work stoppage (strike), to negate an already established Opening Day.
Any efforts by the MLBPA to prevent or stall regular-season games will not sit well with the majority of fans who are not aware of the inner workings of what we have seen over the last three months.
All of which helps to explain why Rob Manfred, in the name of MLB owners, can be so confident in declaring, as he did yesterday, he is 100% sure there will be baseball in 2020.