MLB owners have always held an ace in the hole that can render negotiations with the players moot. In the next day or two, we’ll see what they do with it.
The news of the day is that MLB owners are scheduled to have a teleconferencing call in which they may decide to “go nuclear” on the players by imposing a start date for the regular season with a schedule calling for X number of games.
Throughout the mislabeled “negotiations,” MLB owners have always had this hammer to hold over the players’ heads. Still, they’ve restrained themselves rather than risk the wrath of fans, and most of all, the players and their union (MLBPA).
The number of regular-season games has always been critical for owners who claim each will lose $640,000 for each game played with no fans in the stands.
The MLBPA has challenged that number, asking MLB to provide a written account to support their claim.
But that’s about the same as asking Donald Trump to divulge his income-tax returns since he became president.
A civil suit against MLB can send the issue to the courts, where the Trump case is now. But there is no time for that with the 2020 season on the brink of extinction.
MLB Owners Can/Will Shorten The Season By 70%
So far, the number of games has varied from the 82 we started with back in March (MLB & MLBPA approved), to 114 the MLBPA proposed two weeks ago, to the 50 games MLB answered with.
Most likely, if MLB owners do play their trump card, the regular season will be the 50 games they have on the table now.
For scheduling conveniences, the actual number will be 48, since six and eight are both factors dividing play easier to arrange within divisions.
We can assume MLB owners will have no legitimate argument against the previously agreed to format of pro-rated player salaries.
But, the MLBPA and player agents like Scott Boras will be quick to point out that a 48-game “season” equates to an individual player receiving only thirty percent of his salary.
Simple math says a player making the major league current minimum ($564,000) will see his earnings for the 2020 season cut to about $169,000.
At the top of the scale where we find Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole, they’ll take home about $10.8 million of the $36 million due to them this year.
The MLBPA Has A Nuclear Option As Well…
If things indeed develop to this point, MLB players will be pissed to no end, but where do they go as an alternative?
The elephant in the room then becomes the option for a player’s strike, something we hadn’t seen since the 1994-95 season when it became necessary to cancel the World Series.
Or will players individually express their rebellion? Will Blake Snell, for instance, who vocally said in no uncertain terms he expects to receive all of his money due for 2020, report for duty to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Will Max Scherzer continue with his well-armed and calculated attacks on MLB owners? And, what weight will these protests have, if any?
MLBPA: You Gotta Know When To Fold ‘Em…
Predictions are of little use, but logically, the MLBPA’s hand is forced, it makes better sense to live to fight for another day.
And after all, a bird in the hand (30%) is better than zero percent of a salary if the entire season ends up going by the wayside.
Of utmost importance to both MLB owners and players, but purposively avoided, is the end date (2021) of the current bargaining agreement.
In the negotiations for a new agreement, MLB owners will not have the nuclear option, and everything under discussion now is spilled unto the table for a renewed talk. “There is a time for every season, turn, turn, turn.”
A Giant Sigh Of Relief
MLB owners, players, baseball fans, and sportswriters of all shapes and sizes are all united by a single frustration. We are weary from the impact COVID-19 has thrust upon our lives and lifestyles.
But beyond even that, we all share a weariness from the day-to-day negotiations charade between MLB owners and players.
I’ve said it once, I’ll repeat it – Nobody’s right is everyone is wrong.
Play out the 2020 season for what it’s worth, and move on – just like the rest of us have and will continue to do.
And as repayment for our not so negligible share of the $10.7 billion we helped you reap last year, MLB owners and players – you need to stand down and take a knee for the good of the game.
Now, how about turning the discussion to the REAL issue at stake here – the safety of the players and attendant personnel.
Oh yeah, remember? Or, is that something that got lost between all the zeros and dollar signs?