The MLB owners group, with their latest financial volley, has delivered more than a glancing blow to the player’s union, causing dissension in the ranks.
MLB owners have drilled and discovered the weakest link in any labor union. Split the membership, or better yet, create a dynamic in which the association is divided against its own.
The MLBPA (Major League Baseball Players Association) has no one to blame but itself for the tenuous position MLB owners have put them in. This is what happens in any negotiation where one side allows the other to take the lead in making proposals.
Since day one back in March, the MLBPA has been reactive instead of proactive, permitting MLB owners to take the public stage while union leadership scrambles to meet the latest missive aimed to make money from the player’s pockets.
MLB Owners to the MLBPA: What’s Wrong With Robin Hood
On stage at the moment now is the owners’ proposal for players to accept a pro-rated salary schedule that provides players at the top of the scale taking the biggest hit – with players at the bottom retaining a higher percentage of their guaranteed salary.
It’s classic Marxism – take from the rich and give to the poor. Except in today’s environment, the player’s condemnation of the proposal as socialism, or even worse, communism, is likely to be a public relations disaster.
Instead, with nearly 40 million Americans out of work, the owners’ use of words like “fair” and “equitable” leave the players and their union looking greedy if they don’t accept the offer so (and here’s the kicker) America’s National Pastime is up and running again.
Gerrit Cole Versus Pete Alonso Et. Al.
For illustration purposes only, and according to Sports Illustrated, Gerrit Cole, who signed a $324 million deal with the Yankees that provides for an average annual salary of $36 million. Under the MLB owners plan, Cole’s half-season salary of 82 games is cut to $8 million in 2020.
Pete Alonso, first baseman for the New York Mets and 2019 NL Rookie of the Year, was slated to receive $652,521 for the 2020 season, making him the highest-paid second-year player ever. If accepted by the MLBPA, Alonso will make around $300,000 in 2020.
Jeff Passan of ESPN provides a table showing a cross-section of then and now player salaries.
At all levels, the hits are substantial, and they are well above the fifty percent cut the players agreed to in March when the season was initially shut down.
Tony Clark Is Not The Answer – Scott Boras Is
The players’ union has been outmaneuvered every step of the way by MLB owners. MLBPA President Tony Clark has not answered the call in leading his membership to where they are today.
Scott Boras is a notorious son-of-a-bitch who is known to represent the players who choose him as their agent callously. Boras likely would have been out front of this from the beginning.
A coup from the inside might be coming if this turns out as badly as it appears for the players. (more to follow tomorrow)
MLBPA: A Union’s Worst Fear – Dissension In The Ranks
“We want to play baseball,” Miller told Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. “This pandemic is going to have a profound impact on all of us. Players are willing to make sacrifices and surely will to get back on the field. However, we will not sacrifice our principles or the future generations of players to do so.”
That last sentence is where the rub lies. What principles is Miller speaking about? And who cares about “future generations” of players when there is a dire need to sacrifice for this generation now?
But noticeably, Paxton, who stands to lose nine million dollars this year if the plan goes through, and others expressing similar opinions, stop short of stating unequivocally they are willing to fall on their sword for the sake of players at the bottom of the pay scale.
MLBPA: MLB Owners Have Boxed You In – Save The Fight For Another Day
The player’s union lost the fight weeks ago when they patiently stood by waiting for the owner’s next proposal instead of actively and very publicly proposing one of their own.
Which is why Andrew Miller can now only lamely voice his “disappointment.” What did he expect – a gift from the owners? No, this is hardball, and the players have one year to get their act together before the current contract expires after the 2021 season, and the next round of negotiations begins.
Neither owners nor players enjoy overwhelming public support. The average fan of baseball is most like to view them both as whining one-percenters who still want and feel they deserve a more significant piece of the pie.
The good news for both MLB owners and players is that the pie is huge and ever-growing. $10.7 billion in revenues for MLB, split equally with the players in 2019, is not chicken feed.
2020 should be seen by both sides as a hiccup year, with record revenue setting years to begin again as soon as 2021.
The players’ union lost the battle, but they can still win the war at a later time.
But first, the players need to come to grips with a failed leadership at the top of their union. Fittingly, that will be the focus of my next post coming right up…