Jun 20

The owners propose, the virus disposes

From the Washington Post:

While MLB and the union haggle over the terms of the season and the money each side receives, the virus ultimately will decide how much — or whether — baseball will be played in 2020.

[snip]

MLB is left to decide whether it wants to impose a mini-season, leaving itself open to a potential $1 billion grievance the union would almost certainly file, or use the spread of the virus across the game’s ranks as a reason to punt on 2020 entirely.

At the same time, the players have the choice between accepting MLB’s latest proposal for a 60-game season — which would come with an expanded postseason and an agreement to waive potential grievances — or rejecting the proposal and accepting whatever imposed schedule, probably in the 50-game range, MLB comes up with.

For the first time I am not hopeful that there’ll be any season worth thinking about. Fifty games is ridiculously short, as is anything short of 81, as far as I’m concerned. A fifty game season would require the mother of all asterisks in the record books. But trying to squeeze 81 games plus playoffs by the end of October is impossible, particularly when you have the most visible and trusted public health doctor in the country suggesting MLB really should wrap up the year by the end of September.

We’ll see, but I feel about a 50-game season the way Juliet felt about falling in love with Romeo so quickly:

“I have no joy of this contract tonight.
It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden,
Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be
Ere one can say “It lightens.”

Jun 05

Impasse?

From the LA Times: Owners don’t want to pay players for more than 50 games if there are no fans in the seats. Players say that’s nonsense, and we’ve accepted all the pay cuts we’re going to in this situation.

I don’t know who’s right, but the chance of baseball in 2020 isn’t looking promising.

From The Athletic:

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.

“This threat came in response to an association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. Among other things, players proposed more games, two years of expanded playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a 2020 playoff cancellation, and the exploration of additional jewel events and broadcast enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our players to the fans while simultaneously increasing the value of our product. Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless Players agree to further salary reductions.”

The players believe they already took one reduction when they agreed their 2020 salaries would be paid on a prorated basis, based upon the number of games played. MLB maintains the March agreement allowed it to pursue additional cuts based upon language concerning the “economic feasibility” of playing without spectators and suggests the union misrepresented the March deal to players by saying no further negotiation was necessary. The union’s bottom line is that nothing forces the players to accept another reduction.

Mar 21

Labor strife ahead?

Magic 8-ball says yes.

As late as March 1, scores of free agents were still unsigned as front offices divest from players who are 30 or older — All-Star outfielder Adam Jones is 33, Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel is 31, closer Craig Kimbrel is 30. At the same time, teams manipulate the service time of big-league-ready young players such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. by leaving them in the minors. Teams do this assured in the knowledge that while these veteran and rookie players could obviously help a team, the public condones the anti-labor practice of tanking. Many teams simply aren’t trying to win, and fans don’t care.

[snip]

But today’s player, across sports, was born into a country that has demonized labor so thoroughly that some of them do not even believe philosophically in the principles of unions and more quickly turn on one another. It should forever be remembered that when the owners squeezed veterans in the NBA and NFL, the players responded by attacking younger players, advocating for a rookie wage scale.

[snip]

Baseball’s ownership is now reaching a brazen point. The new generation of Ivy League GMs, with their own metrics and measures for paying players (how is it not collusion if everyone is seemingly using the same methodology?), have crossed two lines:The first is their philosophy of no longer paying players for what they’ve done, only for what they are projected to do. The second is controlling players for six full years and then refusing to pay them once they reach their free agent seventh. The modern player, richer than ever, is faced with a question: Is a punitive free agent market, and a culture that threatens any player over 30, enough to shut down the game?

So far, the players aren’t looking like Curt Flood, while the owners are looking like Charles Comiskey (the reason the Black Sox threw the Series was because their owner was such a cheap man). The players seem to be opting for the security of multi-year contracts, which is rational seeing what’s happened to the stars who’ve hit free agency and received no offers at all.