The players have had enough.
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
So let’s think about what this means.
- There will be baseball. We’ve known this for a while, but there will be some sort of season. It may not be what we want or how long anyone besides the owners would like, but there will be two teams on a field playing each other at some point. The only thing that could change that now would be if there are some unsolvable differences on health and safety or if the virus flares up enough to make it dangerous to play even in these sort of precautions. For instance, Texas now has more people hospitalized than they’ve had at any point during the pandemic. Does that throw a wrench in things for the Astros and the Rangers and, by extension, both Western divisions? We’ll have to see. Barring anything related to health, though, we’ll see some sort of season.
- The season will probably be about 50 games. To paraphrase Qui-Gon Jinn from The Phantom Menace, “The season will be short.” The owners have been coming at the same salary number from a myriad of different ways, but with this move by the MLBPA, they have no choice but to pay pro rata for whatever season they schedule. Which means that we’ll see a season of 48-54 games. Any more than that would be stunning.
- The players have messed with the timeline. The owners most likely wanted this to drag on so they had no choice to play that 50 game schedule. Now that the players have forced the issue and have said they want to get back to playing, a 50 game schedule is going to look ridiculous. They want to know by Monday the plans. You’d think that spring training could start by June 24 or so. Three weeks from there would be July 15. So if the season started around that time, there would be roughly 70-75 days to play 50 games. That’s a lot of off days. I would imagine the owners will come up with some issues that can’t be resolved and will have players start reporting around July 1, meaning Spring Training 2.0 might be done more like the beginning of August. A season that starts August 1 would mean 50 games would go into 58 days (with the season ending on September 27) which is more in line with what the owners would like to see. But that’s six weeks from now. A season with a start date then might feel a little forced. Then again, the owners could bump up the end of the season until mid-September and start the playoffs before October, the better to get them in before any coronavirus-related stoppage becomes an issue.
- The players are going to file a grievance. Since the owners could, in theory, play around 70 games if they didn’t dilly-dally and, from the players’ perspective, they could have already been on the field by now and playing more like half a season than a third, the players are going to argue they violated the March agreement to make all best efforts to play as many games as possible. This is something that will be filed while they are playing and I don’t know if they would win it–though they have a good case–but it swats back at the owners for not negotiating in good faith (in their opinion.)
- I’m not sure what’s going on with the playoffs. I think while the owners had control over the schedule, the players would have a say in the playoffs. On one hand, they could play more games that way, but I don’t know that it is financially helpful if they do. It would seem that the playoffs would be the same as we’ve been used to, with the wild-card play in game and then three rounds after.
- The next CBA is going to be ugly. The players struck in August of ’94 because they had received most of their salary and that way they put pressure on the owners to settle before their big playoff money was threatened. Of course, the owners didn’t, but that seemed to be the thinking. Is that a possibility for next year? I do wonder. After losing so much in 2020, the owners would be feeling it if the players walked out and didn’t complete 2021. If that happens, it could run into 2022. It might be 2023 before we see an actual 162 game season again.
- This season is going to be a mess. I have a feeling the players aren’t going to be quiet about the whole situation even when they get back on the field. We’ll see roughly six games against nine other teams decide a division. We’ll see a team go 7-0 and basically lock up a playoff spot. We’ll see a season no one will ever take seriously and a World Series that will probably be enjoyable for the fans of the team that wins it but will feel hollow to pretty much everyone else (and somewhat to those fans as well).
We’re in the endgame now, as Dr. Strange would say. We’re getting close enough to baseball that we will soon be able to start counting down the days. Whether anyone will really care, though, remains to be seen.