Good morning, Athletics Nation!
As tensions rise around the country and the world, the situation at baseball’s negotiating table remains unchanged: MLB and its Players Association are at a stalemate. The league wants the players to take further cuts to their paychecks, after already agreeing to reduce their guaranteed full-season salaries to a per-game prorated portion. The players won’t budge on the salary issue, and also balk at the concept of playing only 40-50 games.
This deadlock has gone on so long that it now threatens to push back the original target date for a 2020 Opening Day. The hope had been that the baseball season could get going by July 4, but that would have required a deal to be made around now, which hasn’t happened.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic did not mince words in his appraisal of the situation:
So, forget July 4. Just tell us, oh squabbling parties, how low do you want to go? A 50-game season that would carry little credibility one year after the Washington Nationals started 19-31 in their first 50 games, only to win the World Series? A canceled season that would result in the sport going dark for nearly 18 months, diminishing income for all parties, wrecking players’ careers and deflating owners’ precious resale values in the process?
The bickering is unpopular enough in ordinary circumstances. Under the current circumstances – more than 100,000 dead from the coronavirus, more than 42 million filing for unemployment in the past three months, the nationwide anguish stemming from the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and police treatment of African-Americans – it is nothing short of appalling. And yet, neither MLB nor the Players Association seems to care that both parties resemble children sitting in separate corners with their toys, refusing to play with others.
A more likely scenario now has the season starting in August, suggests Rosenthal, as well as David Lennon of Newsday Sports. Lennon notes that would probably mean a campaign of around 50 games, based on the realities of the calendar and both sides’ disinterest in stretching beyond November — especially with the specter of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic possibly coming this fall/winter.
However, Monday morning brings a ray of hope. Karl Ravech of ESPN reports that MLB has made a new proposal to players, this time for a 76-game season with players earning 75% of their prorated salaries. That’s not necessarily any different than the previous offers, though, just framed in different terms, and the initial reaction is that the players aren’t happy about it.
Either way, the players have until Wednesday to respond, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN. Fortunately, the worst-case scenario doesn’t appear to be a canceled season, but rather a campaign of around 50 games, which the league has the power to mandate (at full pro-rated player salaries). So, while the news continues to be discouraging, the bottom line is that baseball will almost certainly be played this summer. The question is just how many games, and how much this toxic relationship will spill over into Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations when the current labor deal expires at the end of 2021.
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Best of Twitter:
Bottom line of the situation
Continue to believe there will be baseball. Manfred’s ability to mandate a short season would seem to almost ensure that, barring Covid spike. Manfred prefers negotiated deal w/players but has in back pocket ability to mandate season of any length, provided player pay is prorated— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 6, 2020
Maybe the Coliseum could be filled with thousands of Hello Kitty bobbleheads?
They’re playing professional baseball in Korea in front of stuffed animals. This should be a permanent change. pic.twitter.com/zWaE9fj3Uo— Eric Hynes, in the view of some experts (@eshynes) June 7, 2020
MLB players speak out, with the support of the league
More from former A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell
An open, honest, emotional, and insightful conversation with former A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell. I hope you listen. #WithAuthority— Casey Pratt (@CaseyPrattABC7) June 5, 2020
Seriously, seriously, I’m telling you Athletics Nation is gonna love this guy (assuming he ever actually gets to play in an A’s uniform)
John Fisher addresses the media for the first time in 15 years as A’s owner
Statement from A’s owner John Fisher on paying minor leaguers again: “These players represent our future and clearly our decision to not pay them was a mistake.” pic.twitter.com/VIG9fg3247— Shayna Rubin (@ShaynaRubin) June 5, 2020
He was a possibility to go in the first 5 or 10 rounds of a normal draft. How many more prospects will opt to stay in school?
Mississippi State signee Kellum Clark will head to Starkville officially, dropping out of the #MLBDraft. Tremendous LH power, could play either IF corner. Will be a draft-eligible sophomore in 2022. #HailState https://t.co/EbzGrDHxpg— Brian Sakowski (@B_Sakowski_PG) June 7, 2020
We have put an @EricSogard signed @Athletics jersey up for grabs in the @GiftofAdoption AZ chapter online auction! Please go check it out to help families who are growing through adoption ❤️https://t.co/QPlx7kBtmb pic.twitter.com/jZYWeZmhqb— Kaycee Sogard (@KayceeSogard) June 7, 2020
LIVE! Learn ⚾️ fundamentals from Josh Donaldson (@BringerOfRain20)— ProCamps (@ProCamps) June 8, 2020
On Thursday, June 18th at 5pm Josh is hosting a Virtual Baseball Camp! All ages and skills welcome.
Spots are filling up quickly, register --> https://t.co/PkfUquph6G@ProCamps #baseball #DonaldsonProCamp20 pic.twitter.com/NukNJDdLph