MLB labor negotiations take a surprising turn; 2020 season on the brink
You could forgive the Major League Baseball Players’ Association for feeling a bit like Charlie Brown trying to kick a soccer ball.
Just when it looked like the 2020 season had kicked off – Commissioner Rob Manfred had said a lot a few days ago – these chances were withdrawn in the manner of the main character of Lucy and Charles Schulz.
On ESPN Monday, Manfred said he was “not sure”That the 2020 season was going to unfold in any form.
The main issue, according to Manfred, is whether or not players will waive their rights of appeal against the league. Said grievance, in short, is that the owners and Manfred did not make a good faith effort to negotiate a 2020 season with as many games as possible.
More games are important to both sides in part because players wanted as close to the normal 162-game schedule as possible, even offering to continue playing regular season games until October at some point, and in part because more matches means more money for both parties.
But as players have always shown their willingness to accept pro-rata salaries and a gradual decrease in the number of games offered by their team, owners have systematically focused on trying to keep their payroll as small as possible. Whether it was the suggestion of revenue sharing, a sliding pay scale, or the 48-52 game schedule, their only apparent desire was to protect their pockets.
League players reacted on social media to Manfred’s prognosis on Monday, and their reaction has been fairly universal. The most common refrain was “tell us when and where”.
After weeks of negotiating attempts, the players’ association had come to this point last week, showing their willingness to accept a 50-game list with prorated wages just for the sake of having a season. Put simply, they just wanted to play, even under less than ideal circumstances.
But when Manfred saw that the players’ association was planning to file a grievance asking for more money because he believed that he and the owners hadn’t done their best to play as many games as possible, he changed course on his belief that a season would be over and called the potential grievance a “bad faith tactic”.
“I had hoped that once we had come to some common ground on the idea that we were going to pay full player salaries in full, we would get some procedural cooperation under the law. ‘deal we negotiated with MLBPA on March 26,’ Manfred told ESPN. “Unfortunately, over the weekend, as Tony Clark declared his desire to return to work, the union’s top lawyer was telling reporters, players and ultimately owners that as soon as we released a schedule – as they had requested – they intended to file a grievance claiming that they were entitled to an additional billion dollars. Obviously, this kind of bad faith tactic makes it extremely difficult to move forward. before under these circumstances.
It is possible that this was an eleventh hour attempt or a pass from Hail Mary to try to get the players’ association to reconsider their grievance plans. Until Monday, all signs were pointing to a 2020 season of around 50 games, so Manfred and his company may well be making a last ditch effort.
But this chicken game largely imposed on the players’ association by the owners has bigger ramifications for the sport of baseball than the 2020 season alone. Had things been called off because of the coronavirus – also on Monday, The Associated Press learned that several players and employees on the team had tested positive – this would have been legitimate and easier for baseball fans to accept. However, the negotiations were almost all about the money, and the owners came out as petty, cheap, and downright deceptive.
For the future, what happened during these negotiations does not bode well for the expiration of the current collective agreement at the end of 2021. The actors clearly do not feel that the owners carried out these negotiations of good faith, not to mention the latent frustrations over two wobbly free agency offseason that was less than player friendly, so negotiations on a much larger scale in a little over a year are not necessarily good in the current climate.
This creates the possibility that after no major league baseball this year, the league may find itself in an equally ugly position again in the near future, so if owners really care about the long-term health of the sport in the States. -United, this is not the time to quibble over relatively small amounts.
The next few days will tell if Manfred and the owners are really bluffing, like Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer tweeted on Monday, but whether or not they are, the lasting legacy of these negotiations will be the damage Manfred and the owners do to the institution of baseball in this country by shaking the players’ association. Just let Charlie Brown hit the football.