The MLBPA has known the MLB 2020 season was always in the hands of the owners. And so it is that the proclamation to “Play Ball” is forthcoming.
The MLBPA didn’t need to admit it, but they had to know the 2020 MLB season has always been in the hands of Commissioner Rob Manfred and the thirty team owners he represents.
To be sure, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) made a cameo appearance during the three months of “negotiations” between the two sides.
But it was all for naught as MLB held the card that trumped every proposal exchange between the two sides – the so-called nuclear option – to impose the parameters of an MLB 2020 season – whether the players like it or not.
There’s a sham deadline of 5 p.m. imposed by MLB for the MLBPA to accept the terms of the league’s latest, and reportedly, final offer.
However, accepted or not, MLB has the authority to (and it will) impose a 60-game regular season on the MLBPA, with a start date on or close to July 29.
MLBPA And MLB: Emporers Wearing No Clothes
It’s been no secret to those who have followed the trail of exchanges between owners and players as to what their intentions were.
The players wanted more games – i.e., more money per the pro-rated salary agreement reached back in March. The owners wanted (and claimed – but never proven) as few games as possible to reduce their losses in the MLB 2020 season.
The MLBPA revealed its lets than right hand a week ago when individual players stormed to social media to issue statements to the effect, “Just tell us when and where and we’ll be there.”
Not exactly the calling card of a strong union, but it did reveal the essential weakness and ceding to the fact that MLB holds all the cards – so why try to fight it any longer – let’s just play ball and make the best of what we have left.
A noble, but defeatist approach the MLBPA must correct before they engage owners again in the all-important negotiations that follow the expiration of the current MLB/MLBPA agreement after the 2021 season.
MLB 2020 Season A Go But With Unanswered Questions
For the moment, remaining are questions surrounding the player’s acceptance to adhere to the MLB guidelines and protocols about player safety.
Foremost among them is the requirement submitted by MLB for players having to sign a wavier releasing the league of any responsibility for COVID-19 related “injuries” – before that player steps on the field.
CBS Sports provides a list of other unresolved issues remaining on the table awaiting the action of the MLBPA and the owners still include:
- Expanded postseason in 2020 and 2021 (14-team and 16-team formats).
- Ties or revised extra-inning tiebreaker rules.
- Advertisement patches on jerseys.
- Universal designated hitter in 2020 and 2021.
- Elimination of the qualifying offer (2020-21 offseason only).
- Full salary guarantee for arbitration-eligible players (rather than partial termination pay if released in spring training).
These are not nit-picky items. The expanded postseason and the universal designated hitter have both received widespread enthusiasm from players and fans of baseball as a means to inject excitement and novelty into a game with a shrinking audience among the Gen-Xers.
Despite all of the above, there will be major league baseball in 2020.
The Elephant In The Room Still Remains
COVID-19 will determine the fate of the MLB 2020 season decidedly more than the team owners and players.
There are breakouts in cases throughout Florida, causing the league to prohibit Spring Training facilities from opening, pending further notice as incidents of positive testing among players and team personnel rise.
A smooth ride to and through the postseason can only be based on a wish and a prayer. Not to mention that in the interim, a player is not struck down with the serious implications of the virus.
With that in mind, the call by either the MLBPA or MLB to”Play Ball” with the first regular-season game should be met with a dual emotion of feelings.
Our National Pastime is back, and we are grateful for that – but Godspeed to all that we see on the field that you arrive home safely when the final games are played.
But alas, remember the real war has yet to be staged.