Late yesterday afternoon, the players rejected the owners’ 60-game proposal with all the bells and whistles (universal DH, extra playoffs, games decided by free throws–wait, that wasn’t in there, was it?) that came with. The idea of the grievance was too strong to dismiss and, while I do think that the players have a point with all the dilly-dallying that the owners did to run out the clock, that became more difficult to win when they made a more good faith effort with that last pro-rata proposal. Our long national nightmare is really just beginning.
And the dominoes are now likely set to tumble:
1. Implementation of a short season by MLB
2. Some players choosing not to play.
3. PA grievance
4. Upcoming free agents get destroyed in market
5. All major labor issues merely deferred to next spring.
Mutually assured destruction.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) June 22, 2020
I would expect that we’ll see the implementation of that shortened schedule, maybe even shorter than the 60 proposed, but you can definitely see where the commissioner would then invoke the more recent COVID-19 positives in the various camps and say that they are just going to call it a year. Probably not, because they want that playoff money, but if they don’t think they will get to the playoffs before things have to shut down or even if there’s a strong chance they will start them but won’t finish them, it might be in the owners’ best interest to cut their losses and move on to 2021. From all indications right after the player vote, the implementation of a season starting July 26 will be announced soon.
Whether there are legitimate reasons for the players to reject this proposal or not, there is absolutely no doubt it is the worst look after such a campaign of “we want to play”, “just tell us where and when”, etc. You’ve been given a proposal that, honestly, is about as much as you can get right now. We’d all love much more than 60 games, but given the calendar and given everything else that’s going on, it’s not feasible right now. You had a lot of people on your side during this whole thing, what with the owners trying to produce another cut on top of the cut that you were already given, and then you waste it by not accepting the last offer which made significant strides toward what you wanted.
The players backed the owners into a corner with the whole campaign, the dropping of negotiations with the idea they’d force a season. They had the high ground and somehow lost. Obi-Wan Kenobi is very disappointed. (Though Darth Maul understands.) If you aren’t going to agree to this, you better have some very strong health-related reasons for doing so. Even that isn’t going to help much, because there’s a lot of fans that aren’t going to believe that’s the real issue, that you were fine with playing more games and taking on more risk, at least at one point, so it’s easier (and possibly more accurate) to say that money was the root of the entire thing.
The players put this spin on it:
The Major League Baseball Players Association today released the following statement: pic.twitter.com/1OnFBsoEjd
— MLBPA Communications (@MLBPA_News) June 22, 2020
Honestly, though, that seems like a lot of self-delusion. Sure, legally, maybe that’s what happened. They are going to abide by their earlier decision, but the March Agreement gave Rob Manfred the right to set the schedule, but it didn’t say he had to. It always has been presented like Manfred doing that was the last resort option, the way to make sure a season would happen if the two sides wouldn’t agree. It’s not like the two sides were looking to just work something out as a bonus for fans or anything.
Trevor Bauer had this to say on Twitter:
implement a season due to the believe that any further proposals would simply be wasting time. Instead of implementing a season, MLB made another proposal. So, neither side is really right or wrong here. This is just a separate conversation. Hope that clears some things up!
— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) June 22, 2020
And, to be fair, if the players were really wanting to play more games, they did it right. If MLB had been honorable, taken them at their word, and set a schedule then, we could have had more games. As my esteemed colleague Rusty Groppel pointed out earlier today, it was basically down to 60 games with bells and whistles and no grievance vs. 60 games with regular stuff and a grievance. We didn’t get less games (or not many) because of this action. They didn’t hold things up any more to try to get anything more from the owners. It just…..man, it really looks bad.
We’re spared the DH in the National League for at least two more years. We don’t have expanded playoffs. We don’t have to worry about extra innings starting with a runner on second. If you are a traditional fan, this player vote really works well for you.
In the realm of public relations, where both sides seem to want to fight their battles, it’s a big loss.
LATER EDIT: Well, we still get stuck with the DH for 2020, since it’s a “health and safety” issue that was agreed on, but at least it goes away for 2021. It’s fitting that a monstrosity of a season gets saddled with an eyesore of a rule. (Further edit: Actually, that might be still up in the air.) Also the league does plan to set a season, asking the players if they can be ready to start camps by July 1 and sign off on the health and safety protocols. They want to know that by end of business today, so that they can then announce a season. I would guess they are working on the schedule so they can hopefully announce that at the same time.