MLB owners rejected the players’ proposal, resulting in what could be a permanent standoff.
An agreement to implement the use of a league-wide designated-hitter for the 2020 season appears to be the only detail agreed upon thus far by both MLB owners and the MLBPA. After more back-and-forth between the two parties this week, it’s becoming apparent that America’s pastime is in fact nowhere near a return. Although from one side’s perspective, that unfortunate truth is beginning to feel like its planned intention all along.
In case you haven’t been following MLB’s labor war recently (perhaps you decided to take a much-needed break from the drama; believe me, I understand), the clash over the last several weeks has centralized on the economics of a possible 2020 season, featuring an ownership group hell-bent on preserving their bottom lines, even if it forces the players to earn only a fraction of their original 2020 salary.
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First a decision back in March to pro-rate salaries for a possible 82-game season, then a sliding scale model that further chips away at those already altered figures (by as much as over 70% for some players), in terms of the MLBPA reaching an even remotely favorable resolution — not to mention the prospect of actually successfully pulling off a 2020 season — the current outlook certainly looks feeble.
But Wednesday’s rejection of the MLBPA’s most recent proposal suggests that all of this is exactly what team owners and the league wants, especially considering MLB has no interest in providing a counter-offer — a blatant illustration of a group that obviously doesn’t feel pressured to start baseball games any time soon.
Ever since it was unofficially confirmed that fans would be banned from games through at least the entire regular season, MLB’s stance has been clear: trying to play as many games as possible — which happens to correlate with allowing players to earn as much of their 2020 salary as possible — is NOT what it wants.
Just consider the league’s claims throughout this entire mess. While other sports are actively, and quite successfully, plotting a return — you know, making sacrifices and doing what’s necessary to bring back their respective sport — billionaire MLB owners are terrified to lose a dime.
- In mid-May, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press, MLB projected the league stands to lose $640,000 per game if there are no fans during the 2020 season. Notably, the documents also indicated the New York Yankees stood to suffer the most damage, projecting the organization’s losses at $300 million overall in 2020. Although within hours, those documents were heavily criticized and contested by numerous writers, showing that the league’s numbers were, at best, heavily skewed.
- Also, just a few days ago Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts spoke with ESPN in what amounted to him standing up against the perception that baseball teams are “cash cows”, claiming that yearly revenues are mostly put right back into the team. In fact, Ricketts even stated that the scale of losses across the league right now is “biblical” (yes… he really said that). Regardless of one’s stance, it’s not difficult to imagine real losses for teams this season, but just the idea that an almost $11 billion business is currently claiming biblical losses is laughable, and that’s before we even start accounting for still-available TV revenues and the various “unknown” ones owners are able to claim through separate entities.
And these are just a couple of notable and recent examples of a league and ownership group seemingly heavily against playing ball in 2020, unless, of course, they can essentially protect themselves from any and all damage. But that’s what’s sad about this situation: no one can really expect to be exempt from losses this year — not the MLB owners nor the players.
It’s going to come down to both the league and the Players Union making compromises, for one side shouldn’t be forced to cede more than the other. However, after the league made it evident on Wednesday that it has no intention of negotiating any further, it appears they’d rather take their toys and go home, rather than do whatever it takes to reach common ground.