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Elephant Rumblings: MLB faces major backlash for threat to cancel 2020 season

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MLB news roundup

Washington Nationals v Chicago Cubs
What’s the matter with Manfred? He’s a bum!
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Good morning, Athletics Nation!

Welcome to the latest installment of the labor dispute between MLB and its Players Association. Things somehow got even worse on Monday, as Commissioner Rob Manfred said he was no longer confident that a 2020 season would happen. “Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that I’m 100% certain that’s going to happen,” he told Mike Greenberg of ESPN (click link to see video of full comment).

This statement by Manfred came just five days after he said “unequivocally we are going to play Major League Baseball this year,” putting a 100% likelihood on it. The sticking point he cited Monday was that if he imposed a short season, at a length the owners were willing to pay prorated salaries despite no fans paying to attend, then the MLBPA would file a grievance demanding more games be added (and thus more salary be paid out by the owners). (Note: He didn’t specifically say all of those details, but that is the issue he appears to be referring to.)

Be that as it may, that the players have that trick up their sleeve and could be planning to use it, the baseball world made it clear whose side they’re on in this debate. Jeff Passan of ESPN, one of the most respected writers in the business, pulled no punches in his column this morning — several times he quotes Manfred expressing a commitment to start the season, followed by the response, “Then do it.” Baseball Twitter was harsh in their criticism, and you can see a roundup of some of the best takes here (plus a few more in the Twitter section below).

The hope is that there’s no actual danger of the season being canceled, and that this is just a delay tactic by Manfred. The longer they take to start the season, the fewer games they can fit into the realities of the calendar. On the other hand, starting immediately (with plenty of time for more than 50 games) would give the players grounds to ask for a longer schedule, per the March agreement by the two sides that called for the “best efforts to play as many games as possible.”

We keep waiting for one side to blink and take the first step toward a real agreement, and the owners look like they’re scrambling for eye drops. Public pressure helped get Oakland A’s owner John Fisher to do the right thing and pay the team’s minor leaguers, so maybe it can help show Manfred that he needs to stop the theatrics and get the sport back on the field, even if it costs the billionaires a little extra money.

A’s Coverage:

MLB News, & Interest:

Best of Twitter:

For more tweets on the labor dispute, here’s our roundup from yesterday afternoon.

Two more new signings! Full story coming later today.

Sums it up well

Numbers are indeed tough

Yup

Just a massive missed opportunity

Tony Kemp starts an important conversation

... And he’s joined by many more players throughout the league