It must be weird to be inside Rob Manfred’s head. “Oh, that’s an actual idea — let’s put it to the side. We now return to our game of ‘chicken’ already in progress...” Manfred’s head appears to be simultaneously spacious and cluttered, which is how I would describe my Aunt Bertha’s garage as well as my liver.
And yet to hear it from the Commish, it has all been leading up to today. Today, Manfred proudly (that’s a synonym for “smugly,” right?) proclaims, you are going to hear the counter offer of all counter offers from the owners. Sure we stalled beginning to negotiate for months and months, then confused the concepts of an offer and a request for mediation, but just you wait for Saturday. Words like “Yuuuuge!!!!” and “Tremendous!!!” don’t even do it justice, oh just you wait and see.
I expect a press conference later today with roughly the following announcement from Manfred:
“On behalf of the owners, for whom I am a lackey and shill, we are somehow both proud and humbled to share the counter-offer we submitted to the players just minutes ago. It’s honestly so good that it’s going to change the way we rate things in the future. Expect standard ‘1-10 rating scales’ to become ‘On a scale from 1 to that offer MLB made on February 12th, 2022’ and don’t be surprised if phone keypads for the iPhone 14 have an ‘MLB 2/12/22 offer’ button as an option for evaluating the helpfulness of the front desk staff at your recent dermatology appointment.
First I want to emphasize that the offer contains not one, not two, not three — you can see where I’m going with this — but seven, count them seven key concessions. That’s more than six and a lot more than three or four. In no particular order because I’m too lazy to bother, here they are...
1. We have agreed to the universal DH!!!! Sure this has been considered, all along, to be the one non-controversial point everyone knew was going to happen, but nonetheless today and not on any other day we have formally offered it.
2. Owners have long refused to open their books while players have asked for them to be fully open. Well today owners are agreeing to open them 1% of the way. We mean this literally: books will be cracked open 1% and whatever you can read you are welcome to read. I want to stress that mathematically, a rise from 0% to 1% represents an increase of infinity. That’s right, folks, owners have agreed to open their books infinitely more than they have ever opened them before in the history of anything.
3. Because it’s too tiring to create an experience fans actually want to pay money to have, owners are seeking to earn yet more non game-related money through advertising patches on uniforms. And they are extending the olive branch to ‘olive branch extension record’ proportions, agreeing that while 100% of the proceeds will go to owners, players will have unilateral control on whether patches are placed on the left or right sleeve and on the left or right butt cheek.
4. Salary cap. The figure stays the same, but every player on the 40-man roster receives a complimentary “I bargained for months and all I got was this lousy cap” fitted baseball cap in the color of their choosing.
5. Revenue sharing. We were unable to discuss this because none of us are familiar with the word ‘sharing’. We do, however, pledge to try to learn more about this word by the time the next CBA expires. In the meantime, as a show of good faith we are agreeing to give each player with 0-3 years of service time a coupon good for 50% off a haircut at any Supercuts, which we think might have something to do with revenue sharing but again we’re just not sure.
6. Players have expressed grave concern over teams tanking for draft picks and the owners have listened! In our proposal there is much incentive for teams not to finish with one of the worst records in baseball. The team with the worst record will have to do its own laundry the following season while the team’s owner will be the subject of a roast in front of his peers (paid for by fans’ subscriptions to MLB.com). Also some sort of lottery system for the bottom picks.
7. Bonus pool for top young players. We proposed a pool of $10M while the players asked for a pool of $105M. We are offering $10.5M, which has all of the digits of the players’ offer and is higher than our last offer!
I don’t know what else to say except ‘LET’S PLAY BALL!!!!!’ And if you’re a business that wants to advertise on your favorite player’s butt, call the number you see on the front of the podium.”
That’s honestly about what I’m expecting, hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Which I rarely am when Manfred steps up to the podium and lets us into that spacious yet cluttered monstrosity that is his cranium. But we’ll see.