What’s a Saturday night without a little tumult?
Hours after the Major League Players Association delivered a statement anchored in the idea the league can kick rocks, the league itself turned back to a public dispatch in order to frame the narrative as it sees fit. It, essentially, told the players’ association it can also kick rocks.
“We are disappointed that the MLBPA has chosen not to negotiate in good faith over resumption of play after MLB has made three successive proposals that would provide players, Clubs and our fans with an amicable resolution to a very difficult situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The MLBPA understands that the agreement reached on March 26th was premised on the parties’ mutual understanding that the players would be paid their full salaries only if play resumed in front of fans, and that another negotiation was to take place if Clubs could not generate the billions of dollars of ticket revenue required to pay players.
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“The MLBPA’s position that players are entitled to virtually all the revenue from a 2020 season played without fans is not fair to the thousands of other baseball employees that Clubs and our office are supporting financially during this very difficult 2020 season. We will evaluate the Union’s refusal to adhere to the terms of the March Agreement, and after consulting with ownership, determine the best course to bring baseball back to our fans.”
Keeping up with the blow-by-blow will produce redundant thoughts and paragraphs. But, here they are anyway: The more games without fans, the more money the league loses. The more games played, the more money the players make. Simultaneously, the league believes the March agreement for prorated salaries was dependent on fans in the stands. The players believe they agreed to a pay cut, the end. Theoretically, the truth exists on a piece of paper somewhere.
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Following that first agreement, the two sides took an extended hiatus while everyone tried to better understand the impact of coronavirus. They also dawdled when it came time to return to the negotiating table. This current grappling could have taken place in May — not mid-June — producing eye-rolls and likely a solution. Instead, the timeline to pull off any form of season is dwindling. The timeline to have a reasonable season likely has passed.
Earlier in the evening, Tony Clark, executive director of the MLBPA, issued a statement which said the players would not counter the league’s most recent offer of a 72-game season at a 70 percent rate of the previously cut salaries. They dared the league to impose a 50-game season — an ongoing threat from commissioner Rob Manfred — and asked for details on “where and when” a season would start. According to ESPN, they expected the answer by Monday.
It took only a few hours for the league to issue a rebuttal partially built on an unstable guilt trip, which came via this line:
“The MLBPA’s position that players are entitled to virtually all the revenue from a 2020 season played without fans is not fair to the thousands of other baseball employees that Clubs and our office are supporting financially during this very difficult 2020 season.”
The players’ position is in fact rooted in the idea people pay to see them play. No one comes to the stadium wearing a Lerner or DeWitt or Ricketts jersey. This Saturday night extrapolation by the league is just a finger-crossing surface-scratch they hope no one will spend more than three seconds pondering because it otherwise immediately unwinds on its face.
The rest of the statement is expected. The league claims the March 26 agreement says one thing. The players say it says another. The stamping around the room goes on. The bats stay silent.
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MLB’s latest response to players continues ugly cycle originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington