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Elephant Rumblings: MLB players are done negotiating

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Good morning, Athletics Nation!

We had a nice break from 2020 reality last week, when the MLB draft brought us a brief taste of normal baseball for a couple days. It was only five rounds, but that was enough to add some fun new prospects to the Oakland A’s organization and dig around for stats and scouting reports and highlight videos. It was baseball, at least.

But now that fleeting moment is over, and we’re back to the grind of an interminable labor dispute between MLB and its players. In the latest episode of the worst TV show ever, the gulf widened even further between the two sides, as negotiations appear to simply be over. Players Association leader Tony Clark released the following statement on Saturday:

Players want to play.

It’s who we are and what we do. Since March, the Association has made it clear that our No.1 focus is playing the fullest season possible, as soon as possible, as safely as possible. Players agreed to billions in monetary concessions as a means to that end, and in the face of repeated media leaks and misdirection we made additional proposals to inject new revenues into the industry — proposals that would benefit the owners, players, broadcast partners, and fans alike.

It’s now become apparent that these efforts have fallen upon deaf ears. In recent days, owners have decried the supposed unprofitability of owning a baseball team and the Commissioner has repeatedly threatened to schedule a dramatically shortened season unless players agree to hundreds of millions in further concessions. Our response has been consistent that such concessions are unwarranted, would be fundamentally unfair to players, and that our sport deserves the fullest 2020 season possible. These remain our positions today, particularly in light of new reports regarding MLB’s national television rights — information we requested from the league weeks ago but were never provided.

As a result, it unfortunately appears that further dialogue with the league would be futile. It’s time to get back to work. Tell us when and where.

The league responded with their own statement later that day:

We are disappointed that the MLBPA has chosen not to negotiate in good faith over resumption of play after MLB has made three successive proposals that would provide players, Clubs and our fans with an amicable resolution to a very difficult situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The MLBPA understands that the agreement reached on March 26th was premised on the parties’ mutual understanding that the players would be paid their full salaries only if play resumed in front of fans, and that another negotiation was to take place if Clubs could not generate the billions of dollars of ticket revenue required to pay players. The MLBPA’s position that players are entitled to virtually all the revenue from a 2020 season played without fans is not fair to the thousands of other baseball employees that Clubs and our office are supporting financially during this very difficult 2020 season. We will evaluate the Union’s refusal to adhere to the terms of the March Agreement, and after consulting with ownership, determine the best course to bring baseball back to our fans.

To sum all that up: The players are done negotiating, and want the league to go ahead and implement whatever length of season it wants to with full prorated pay — and they want the plans for that season to be presented by the end of Monday, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The league is very disappointed in this position (and surely regretting that their poorly written March contract is coming back to bite them).

And so we continue to sit in idle, no closer to the destination of a 2020 season. We’ll probably get baseball this summer, but it’s looking more and more like it’ll be something like a 50ish-game campaign, which will be more than nothing but far less than satisfactory. Whatever it is, though, let’s get on with it please.

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