Given the fact that the world went even crazier than normal this weekend, it’s possible that you missed the latest from Major League Baseball. Granted, all of these discussions felt pretty trivial compared to everything that was going on in the country, but it’s still fairly noteworthy.
No evidence of progress yet in MLB/ players talk so no realistic hope to meet the “soft” deadline of tomorrow June 1 for deal. That deadline was soft for a reason, and hope remains to start season July 4 weekend — if a deal can be done by range of June 5-June 9.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 31, 2020
How is already June 1? Anyway, given that as far as I know no official counter proposal from the players has been sent to the owners, obviously things aren’t getting done today. (Unless they’ve been very quiet about their discussions, but I have problems believing something wouldn’t have gotten out.) It was a soft deadline, true, but we’re talking about perhaps less than a week to get something done and that lack of activity doesn’t inspire confidence.
Also in all of these Jon Heyman tweets was this one.
Though there’s no evidence of progress in MLB/players talks yet, there’s a sense of a bit more optimism, for whatever reason. Could just be because both sides know they absolutely can’t let money kill the season. Would be devastating for the sport, which should be reason enough.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 31, 2020
Countering some of that optimism was this report that said some owners were fine with the whole “no 2020 season” idea. To wit:
Heyman poured a little cold water on that, saying there might only be 2-3 open to doing it, so believe who you want. It is pretty telling that Olney’s recitation of issues shows the owners doing some less-than-optically-pleasing things (such as Pittsburgh stopping payments to the employee 401(k) plan) to save less money than they probably spend on catered meals most seasons. If some owners are willing to take the public bullet that things like that or cutting (or keeping but not paying, which is even worse) minor leaguers, would they be willing to scrap a season if they believed it was cheaper to do so?
It doesn’t sound like MLB will budget on 82 games, so perhaps it’s as “easy” as the players tossing that out for the prorated salaries that they say they’ve already agreed to in the March agreement. When push comes to shove, the idea of looking ridiculously greedy in the face of so much suffering might be enough to get both sides to swallow hard and postpone open warfare until the CBA comes rolling around.
(Olney suggests the players might go on strike next spring, at least if there is no 2020 season. I would sincerely hope not. This series is too long as it is.)
But folks, this world has become more and more crazy. Things that would have shamed normal people are now defiantly proclaimed. The extremes have taken hold of our politics, our religions, our day-to-day life. The center, the place of compromise and trying to understand the other side, seems to be shrinking daily. So I would say 10 years ago that the situation would force them into an agreement. Now? I think it will. But I’m not sure.
Maybe some calmer heads will prevail. Maybe the idea of being the scorned sport will scare them into making a deal. Maybe the thought of much lower TV revenue and less accommodation from governments on building projects will play into their self-interest. Or maybe the idea that Congress will again look at that antitrust exemption if there are no games will be the stick that gets them moving. It has worked numerous times before.
All I know is if we reach next Monday with the gap like it is now, this season is done. MLB isn’t going to extend it past September for many reasons. If you can’t start by July 4, you aren’t starting. So hold on tight because this week is the big one.
EDIT: So late last night, word came out that the players submitted their proposal to the owners. The rough outline was 114 games between June 30 and October 31, with potential salary deferrals if the postseason got cancelled and the ability for players to opt out, with high risk players getting paid while others only getting service time. It was a step–maybe not a huge one, but a step–toward the owners’ position of cash flow problems. Unfortunately…..
“Non starter,” is the way one ownership person responded to the players’ response. The good news; There’s probably still a week to figure this out.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 1, 2020
It’s not surprising that ownership would reject the proposal, but hopefully it at least spurs some discussion. A week goes by real fast sometimes.