If you've been following the negotiations between Major League Baseball and the Players Association, you know it's been like a long game of he said, she said. One side will offer a proposal, the other side rejects it and offers their own, the other side rejects it, and so on until we get where we are now.
According to multiple reports yesterday, the players have rejected the league's latest season proposal and do not plan to counter, forcing commissioner Rob Manfred's hand in unilaterally setting the 2020 schedule.
The March 26 agreement between the league and its players allowed for a scenario in which Manfred is allowed to set the schedule on his own if the two sides cannot come to an agreement.
ESPN's Jeff Passan reports that the players sent MLB a letter yesterday asking MLB to inform them how many games they will play and when to report.
The owners responded to the union in a statement issued Saturday evening, saying "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."
"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.”
Of course, throughout these negotiations, the league has not offered much of what the players want. Each proposal the owners have offered resulted in roughly the same amount of pay for the players, but worded differently each time.
The players want their full prorated salaries, no matter how many games they play or if there are fans in attendance. That's what the players believe they agreed to in March, but it seems as if the owners didn't view the agreement that way.
If the two sides cannot reach any kind of agreement going forward, the harm done to Major League Baseball could be irreparable. The strike in 1994 damaged the reputation of the game, and if other leagues such as the NBA and NHL are able to come back from a COVID delay but MLB isn't, they could see similar damage this year.
Matthew Atkins, Journalist and Baseball fan.