Do you remember when the MLB commissioner had absolute confidence there would be Major League Baseball in 2020? If you remember he said, “unequivocally we are going to play Major League Baseball this year” and pegged the likelihood at “100 percent.” Well he is not so confident anymore. In a conversation with Mike Greenberg of ESPN, Manfred walked back those comments.
BREAKING: MLB commissioner Rob Manfred tells @Espngreeny that he’s “not confident” there will be a 2020 baseball season. “Unfortunately," Manfred said, "I can’t tell you that I’m a 100% certain that’s gonna happen.”— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 15, 2020
News at @espn: https://t.co/h1I6Yh5R55
Manfred blamed the lack of dialogue between the league and the union for the change of certainty he had just a week ago. Since his claim of 100 percent certainty, the MLBPA rejected the latest proposal from the league. In the latest proposal the league offered a 72-game season with players receiving 70 percent of prorated salaries for the regular season and 80 percent for the postseason.
Source confirms: MLB proposal to union: 72-game season with players receiving 70 percent of prorated salaries for regular season and 80 percent if posteason is completed. First @BNightengale.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 12, 2020
The MLB proposal obviously falls well short of what the MLBPA had proposed, which was a 89 game season with salaries prorated at 100 percent. So far the league and the union have budged little with regard to the salary question and at this point seem incapable of doing so.
On top of the issue of prorated player salaries, the league introduced a new twist. MLB does not want to face potential legal responsibility for bringing baseball back if a player get sicks or even dies from COVID-19. MLB also does not want to face player grievances regarding wages and the length of the season.
Source: In a letter today, MLB told the MLBPA there would be no 2020 season unless the players waived any legal claims against the league.— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) June 15, 2020
At this point players have little-to-no trust in owners claims, and they might be looking to challenge those claims. Along with protecting against litigation for potential health issues, it looks as if Manfred is attempting to keep players from filing grievances that could force MLB to open their books.
At the root of the problem is that players don’t believe owners claim of 640K loss per regular year game w/o fans. Players suspect owners make $ per game, even w/o fans — huge disparity. Some players relish the ability to grieve and possibility owners books may prove them right.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 12, 2020
Both sides are posturing, expressing an ardent desire to get back on the field. To illustrate the leaders of each group made statements in kind. Manfred told Greenberg, “The owners are a hundred percent committed to getting baseball back on the field.”
Tony Clark recently issued a statement that explained the unions position and ended with, “Tell us when and where.”
Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark today released the following statement: pic.twitter.com/d1p3Oj4K70— MLBPA Communications (@MLBPA_News) June 13, 2020
Manfred indicated that Clark’s statement was a bad-faith tactic as he accused the union’s top lawyer that as soon as the league issued a schedule that the union intended to file a grievance suggesting players were entitled to an additional billion dollars.
The public back-and-forth between MLB and the MLBPA has players responding in kind. Be sure to read the entire thread of statements conveyed by Bauer.
If you’re a baseball fan and really want to know what’s going on. Look no further https://t.co/2EvsVs0aPP— Christian Yelich (@ChristianYelich) June 15, 2020
What once looked like the promise of a baseball season has turned into a pessimistic cluster that seems to promise labor unrest instead. Both sides obviously feel they have leverage to play with, while the fans can only sit wait for the smoke to clear.