It’s Ultimatum Time

First, let’s reiterate what ESPN’s Jeff Passan wrote this past week:

The MLBPA has stated it would play an 82 game schedule at full pro-rated salaries.

The owners have said they’d pay full prorated salaries over a 48 game schedule.

Everything else over the past two months is just posturing.  Neither side has shown any willingness to truly approach the other’s position.  Neither side trusts the other, and neither has been inclined to extend an olive branch or a desire to engender any trust.  Both believe they are righteous and only too quick to point out the other is negotiating in bad faith.  On that last point both are right—neither has negotiated in good faith.

Most recently, the owners put forward a proposal of a 72 game season with 70% and up to 83% of prorated income if all goes well, and the season and playoffs go smoothly.

The players this time chose not to make a counter offer—their last was for 89 games at full proration..,more than what they’d initially said was acceptable, as every proposal of theirs has been.  This time they sent back a demand that MLB set a final schedule.
The March agreement and the CBA gives MLB the right to do just that.  So expect a 48-50-ish game schedule soon.  Of course that won’t be the end of it.

The MLBPA hasn’t yet agreed on the health protocols.  Remember that long, very detailed document MLB presented to the MLBPA last month? Yeah, the one that many thought might even have been overkill in some ways?  Expect that to be nit picked to the nth degree. Expect grievances to be filed.  MLB has about a month to get camps open to start games around the first of August to get at 48 game schedule done before October to then complete the playoffs before November.  Expect the MLBPA to passive aggressively push that as much as they can.

The MLBPA has even stated other leagues have shown willingness to play into October—in actuality the NHL and NBA both plan to wrap up their playoffs by mid-October, not to have playoffs in November as their own proposals would include.  Football does plan/hope to be playing then, but that’s their normal regular season that they’re praying happens.  MLBPA’s attempted point is that MLB could have a longer season and thus pay more if they wanted to.  Probably true.  They refute MLB’s claim that it is about player health—likely true—it’s about money.  The owners say they lose money playing with no fans. MLBPA disputes that too—again, no trust, so no open books to prove it.  However, to not acknowledge that playing games into November jeopardizes the playoffs potentially—and the national TV money that goes with it is disingenuous as is the assertion others leagues are playing longer.

Once the season does start, forget miked players, meeting with sponsors, interviews with more than “I’m only here to not get fined, expanded playoffs, or any other carrot the MLBPA has previously offered.

Expect the rancor to fester all winter, and there to be a prolonged work stoppage next year with the end of the CBA.

Expect baseball’s popularity to shrink massively due to both sides being willing to die on the hill of short term gains…in the middle of the pandemic, societal unrest, and millions of people out of work.

2 thoughts on “It’s Ultimatum Time

  1. Here I go again.

    I don’t store enough pox for both their houses but my big concern is that the league will impose a universal Neanderthal hitter on what another one of my baseball correspondents rightly called this impending Frankenseason. If this rulebook lobotomy is inflicted on the National League, turning its more subtle and complex rhythms into a round robin mammoth hunt, my love for the game will wither into a casual interest at best. I doubt if I’d watch more than a bit here and there of maybe one or two games a season, if that. There’s more than enough going on in my life to take up the slack, and I’ve got my baseball library, the history of the game before the brainless blight befell half of it, and plenty of old films and videos, to succor me in my dotage.

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  2. The MLBPA is possibly the stupidest union around. They sought for years to create lottery winners – if you just last long enough, you’ll be a multi-million dollar player. Then sabermetrics came along, although it took years for ownership to embrace it. Once management started making logical decisions, the union was left as Biff covered in dung, unable to understand what had happened. People who PLAY BASEBALL FOR A LIVING didn’t understand why elderly players capable only of a few HRs mixed among the DPs and SOs were not getting multimillion-dollar contracts. As they were beaten in solving free agency, the MLBPA threw younger players to the wolves, giving away the best years of their members’ careers for the owner’s tip money.

    Owners weren’t any better. Wasting millions on has-beens and never-weres, and crying that there was no money left for good players. Fans actually believed that crud while paying double-digit dollars for a small coke. Meanwhile, owners take games off local broadcast TV in favor of subscription outlets.

    Between them, these two have turned the quintessential American pastime into a niche entertainment. I’m certain more Americans recognize the name of Reggie Jackson today than they do of Mike Trout. As the posturing and selfish antics continue, the fans drift away.

    For some, it is a negotiation; for others, it is a heartbreak.

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