The baseball owners and the players continue to fiddle while baseball burns.
The squabble pretty much has boiled down to 10 baseball games. MLB (Commissioner Rob Manfred and the owners) are offering 60 games with full pro-rated pay. The MLBPA (players union) wants 70 games with full pro-rated pay.
So what’s the problem? Can anybody here compromise? How about 65 games, full pro-rated pay?
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Don’t they believe there is a solid middle ground? No, they don’t. Both sides appear to have their feet planted in dried cement.
The latest players proposal was for 70 games. Manfred immediately rejected it, saying 70 games couldn’t possibly be squeezed into a shortened season before the playoffs. And no doubleheaders, he said, because that is putting players together too long in a day.
The problem, say the owners, is that 10 additional games will cost them $250 million in losses, $25 million a game.
As always, it is mostly about the money.
In addition, Manfred said the owners will not make a counter-proposal. Of course, he said that before and the owners came back with an offer. That one was quickly turned down by the players.
If there is no agreement soon, Manfred can step in and implement a schedule with whatever amount of games he and the owners want — perhaps as few as 50.
That, though, would only increase the contentious behavior between these short-sighted parties.
If Manfred forces play, it will lead to the players filing a grievance for unfair labor practices and some players might refuse to play.
Manfred said baseball’s executive committee was expected to meet over the weekend to decide the game’s immediate future.
There is another twist. There are reports that at least eight owners are in favor of canceling the season. It takes a three-fourths vote to pass an issue. If there are eight owners in favor of mothballing the season, that’s enough to do it. Manfred needs 23 yes votes to continue the season. With 30 teams, if eight say no, Manfred would have only 22 yes votes.
And…just wait a minute.
While it seemed both parties were totally ignorant of what is happening throughout the world, something called the COVID-19 pandemic is still out there.
It has caused widespread health issues, unemployment and an unprecedented economic tailspin.
While millions are jobless and millions are sick with the coronavirus, baseball has buried its head in quicksand, arguing over money.
It is an ugly veneer.
But COVID-19 forced baseball to pay more attention this weekend. Several players working out at the Philadelphia Phillies spring training complex in Clearwater, Fla., tested positive. And there have been cases at other Florida camps and Arizona camps.
Players have been working out on their own at spring training camps, but with the discovery of positive cases MLB has shut down all camps so they can be totally cleaned.
This could be fair warning.
While MLB and the players haggle and hassle over money, the health safety issues have barely been addressed, other than games will be played without fans.
They have not come to terms over social distancing and testing, how do they protect the players and staff? And what happens if during the season the virus runs rampant through a team, as it has done in college football at the University of Texas, Alabama and Clemson?
The absurd negotiations are turning fans off all over America, disturbed that billionaires and millionaires are squabbling over money while the country is in pain.
Even if a short season evolves, it won’t be real baseball. They’ll run out of asterisks to denote what happened in 2020. The designated hitter will be used in all games. The playoffs will be expanded to 16 teams — and that’s for 2020 and 2021.
And there will be no high fives (or low fives) and no spitting. Also slipped into any agreement is the owners’ decision to put advertising patches on the uniforms, a revenue stream.
While it seems as if they are so close, it also seems because of stubbornness, they are so far.
Both parties need to go into a room, lock the doors, work out all the issues — money, pay, games played and health issues — and don’t unlock the doors until an agreement is reached.
Other than that, cancel the season. Forget about 2020. And, as usual, forget about the fans.
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