The MLBPA has rejected a sweet deal put forth by owners for the 2021 season for the flimsiest reason. Strike One on the players.
The MLBPA (Major League Players Association), as well as fans and journalists, have been waiting a long time for MLB to put forth a plan for the 2021 season, with rules and a schedule to govern what appears to be another COVID impacted baseball season.
MLB did just that, submitting a proposal for ratification by the MLBPA that included provisions for a 154-game season with players receiving full-pay for the contract stipulated 162-game season.
Additionally, the universal DH, a much sought-after perk by the MLBPA that added 15 jobs, was granted by the owners and expanded playoffs that would increase the number of qualifying teams from ten to fourteen, a mutual benefit to both sides from added TV money.
The owner’s proposal also called for a delay in opening spring training camps to March 22, with opening games starting on April 28.
The delay is given as a chance for most or even all players to receive the COVID vaccine.
All of which sounds reasonable – right?
Alas, not in the climate building up to the expiration of the current agreement between owners and players set to expire in December.
MLBPA And MLB – Let The Posturing Begin
Curiously, the MLBPA rejected the owner’s proposal (cited above), putting everything back to square one with Spring Training set to open in ten days or so. Opening Day is set for April 1 – with no resolution on the issues beyond scheduling.
Why did the MLBPA balk? According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, “the union immediately balked, citing language in the proposal it believed would grant commissioner Rob Manfred more expansive powers to cancel games in the event of a potential COVID-19 outbreak”.
The inference is a matter of trust. The players wonder if games that should be canceled due to COVID-related events such as a breakout of positive tests within one team would be ordered to be played by the commissioner.
There is no trust between owners and players, and this is par for the course in any negotiation between workers and management.
MLBPA: Is Their Paranoia This Deep Set
I’m not sure I get the players on this one. Is their paranoia and mistrust of MLB and the owners so deep they believe that MLB will do anything to harm their holy grail – the players who form the foundation of the sport itself – only to see a scheduled game played?
So that if Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout, and Anthony Rendon all tested positive on the same day, that MLB would insist a meaningless game against, for instance, the Texas Rangers be played that night on September 27?
MLBPA And MLB – An Epic Battle About Control
More than enough money is scattered throughout Major League Baseball ($10 billion in 2019) to make everyone, including the players, happy.
We are seeing worse than a struggle over money between the haves and the have-nots because everyone is a have in this game.
No, it’s more about control and which side gets to determine who does what and when.
Recall as an example, for instance, last season when numerous teams altered their schedule, traveling out of sequence from the mandated schedule to play games in foreign cities, occasionally on off-days, to keep the season going.
That was power in the players’ pockets and the MLBPA as an example to fans that we care – and we are with you through this COVID thing.
It could be as simple as the MLBPA and individual teams wanting that option back in their court, rather than be subjected to the whim of MLB. Still, if it is, we are in for a long and protracted battle when negotiations actually begin on a new agreement.
MLBPA: This Is Only The First Salvo Over The Bow
There will be more meetings, press releases, and proposals between the MLBPA and MLB in the coming days and weeks.
They’ll tackle individual and specific issues regarding the NL DH, the postseason, etc. Each will entail an elongated spell of sparring between the two sides, with subsequent videos and quotes from the powers that be that are targeted to sway you and me.
Like last year, we’ll sift through the spins as best we can, but in the final analysis, all we want and care about is baseball games played for our entertainment.
The MLBPA has, in my judgment, gotten us off on the wrong foot by rejecting the offer cited above by the owners and MLB.
COVID is not ready for baseball and the 2021 season schedule as it’s currently constructed.
Players and all attending team personnel need to be vaccinated – at a minimum before venturing out (again) into a world still unknown to our species.
In any event, the MLBPA takes strike one right down the middle on a pitch (the owner’s proposal), they should have hit for a home run.
They didn’t, so here we are again – just like last year – waiting for the next “proposal” to rain down on us by either side.
Already, I’m tired and bored with the whole exercise, and if I – a lifelong fan of the game feel that way, you can imagine how those neutral fans MLB so dearly desires to bring into the fold feels.
When will they ever learn…