The players union put the ball squarely back in the owners’ court, demanding to see “The Books” and to increase the schedule to 100 games—pure genius.
Just when it looked like the players union was stuck in neutral, the MLBPA countered the owners’ proposal to pro-rate salaries even further, taking money from the rich (players) and giving it to those at the bottom of the scale.
MLB Players Finally Get Creative
Finally, some creative thinking has emerged from the MLBPA’s leadership. We’ll do the easy one first. The players now say – hell, let’s play 100 games, and not just the 82 currently on the table.
The logic is indisputable since owners are trying to pay their players piecemeal. Play more games say the players, pay us more money.
And by that, they mean to revert to the March agreement in which salaries are to be cut in half across the board.
More games mean more television money in the owners’ pockets – hence more money for the players.
To whet the appetite of MLB owners even further is the distinct chance that with the extra games, the World Series will be played after Thanksgiving – and a T.V. rating bonanza for everyone.
The MLBPA Demands A Lie Detector Test (Of Sorts)
But the second part of the MLBPA’s proposal is the one to focus on. It goes directly to the heart of the “To Tell The Truth” war by players, and even fans such as myself.
Since 1922, Major League Baseball has enjoyed an exemption from federal antitrust laws. The net effect is that owners are not required to file documentation reporting revenues and the source(s) of where that money comes from.
As recently as June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld challenges to the exemption.
Thus, when MLB owners state as they do now they stand to lose more than $600,000 for every game that’s played with no fans in the stands, what is the recourse players have to dispute the claim?
The players want documentation to support this and other financial matters that pertain to a team’s revenue.
With time being of the essence to get Spring Training underway again with hopes of there being baseball on the 4th of July, this could be a dealbreaker if the owners choose to stall, playing the Nixon game with the tapes.
Scott Boras Adds To The Players Argument
Notably, super-agent Scott Boras echoed these thoughts in an email sent to the 71 players he represents the Associated Press obtained that.
In his message, Boras convincingly lobbies his clients not to “bail out the owners.” Pointing to record revenues by MLB over the past several years, Boras innocently but quite effectively asks – where did all that money go?
Like any good lawyer, Boras never asks a question he doesn’t know the answer to, and he goes on to cite MLB teams’ propensity to take out loans designed to increase the value of their franchise – loans that still require substantial payments.
Scott Boras, paired as the militant son-of-a-bitch realist, with the fatherly more laid back President of the MLBPA, Tony Clark, offers a two-pronged attack designed to please everyone.
For The Owners – An Offer They Can’t Refuse
Now, the focus shifts back to the owners. They’ll likely do anything but open up their books to the full view of not only the players but the media and fans.
The next best thing then is for the owners to latch on to the 100 game proposal as a – what the hell, what can we lose – alternative.
Imagine, for instance, if FOX-TV had to choose between their currently scheduled matchup between the New York Giants and the Cincinnati Bengals – Game 3 of the World Series between the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers?
A final thought on the MLBPA’s strategy from here on in suggests that, whether by design or not, Scott Boras is a valued asset in these negotiations, not only to the players but to baseball in general.
I say that because Boras will never pull the pin on the 2020 MLB season. He wants his players to get paid.
But at the same time, he has a refreshing instinct to put things in perspective – with ideas that come across as militant for some – but always with a reason that is well-researched by his staff.
But let’s get back to the MLB owners for now. The upcoming week is critical to resolving the entire matter. Visas and transportation need to be arranged for the countless number of players currently in the home countries.
Players need to find living accommodations for themselves and possibly their families wherever their team is headquartered for “Spring Training.”
MLB owners – what say you?