MLB owners, sometime soon, will launch the Nuclear Option to establish a schedule for the 2020 season. As expected, players are rendered helpless.
The deck was always stacked against the MLB players. Oh, there will be baseball, but not without festering hard feelings.
MLB players have now thrown in the towel with a message that sadly recalls the days when players were indentured servants to the team that owned them.
Faced with disingenuous offers from MLB owners, one following the other with a new spin on the previous proposal, the players finally said – you know what – let’s just play baseball.
Tell us when and where you want us to be, and what the terms of my employment are, and we’ll be there.
MLB Owners: The Chickens Always Come Home To Roost
For fans of baseball, this is one of those happy-sad days that will come back to haunt the sport.
MLB players have shown their true colors. They live to play the game they have loved since their early days of childhood. Money, of course, matters, but so does exercising their God-given talents on a baseball diamond.
Predictably, MLB owners have demonstrated theirs as well.
Team owners own the players in the final analysis of the negotiations charade we have witnessed, and this is only a prelude of what we can expect when the two sides “sit down” again after the 2021 season.
Any day now, Rob Manfred, at the behest of his employers, will use the Nuclear Option at his disposal to dictate the parameters of the 2020 baseball season.
MLB 2020: A Season In Disguise
The season will be diluted to the point of irrelevance, containing a minuscule number of games, exposing the likelihood that the cream may or may not have a chance to rise to the top.
Another dilution is on the way as well, with six teams added to the usual ten to compete in the postseason.
Won’t it be fun to watch a power-packed and heavily favored Los Angeles Dodgers or New York Yankees team get knocked out by the Padres and Orioles in a best of three series in the first round?
Believers in the tale of David versus Goliath will cheer. But that scenario will also be a case of just desserts when both owners and the television networks have games to broadcast outside the broader markets they rely on – with no one watching.
MLB Owners: Darwinism At Its Height
Do not rejoice. We have our baseball back, and there will once again be games to watch, with box scores and standings to pour over every morning.
But let us not think or believe that Rob Manfred and team owners are giving us the best they could – if only they wanted to – not by far.
And therein lies all we need to know about the three-month show put on by MLB owners, with orchestration provided by Commissioner Manfred. There was never any intent by MLB owners to negotiate in good faith with the MLBPA.
Can it be proven? Not in a court of law, probably. But if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, we can be pretty sure it is a duck.
It’s the same as asking why did Donald Trump issue an Executive Order on April 30 to call the Selected Reserve of the Armed Forces to Active Duty?
The answer is simple and non-debatable – because he can.
Tony Clark Failed The Test Miserably
It didn’t help the players cause any that leadership within their union failed dismally to unite their members and to escalate strategies when MLB owners first took hold of the negotiations.
The lack of leadership was most striking with Tony Clark, President of MLBPA. Weeks went by in which you could Google his name and not find a single story or interview in support of his members.
Real leadership came from outside the MLBPA. It wasn’t solicited, and in some cases, nor was it welcome. But Scott Boras laid the claim out on behalf of major league ballplayers in clear, concise, but still authoritative terms.
In any case, soon, there will be baseball played on a diamond we are familiar with. The distance from the pitcher’s rubber and home plate will still be sixty-feet and six inches, and from home, plate to second base 120 feet.
We’re In Too Deep Now…
But it remains to be seen how we’ll be looking back on the 2020 season as it plays out. New rules, modified playoffs, a universal DH, and most significantly, the ever-impending threat of a new coronavirus outbreak in the fall – we await the outcome.
Ironically, MLB owners will now be looking towards the hand that feeds them – the players – to bring about an exciting and safe conclusion to the season.
The players will perform and entertain us. MLB owners will meet with their financial teams to tally up shrinking losses, but most likely not with the players who bring them good fortune year after year.
As dedicated fans of baseball, we can only shudder at the idea of the two sides beginning negotiations for a new agreement following the 2021 season.
Saner voices need to rise to the forefront before then. Where will they come from?