At a minimum, I’m glad to see that the Players Association isn’t yet formally threatening to have all of its players not show up for Spring Training. So we’ll start there with the good news.
— #MLBPA (@MLB_PLAYERS) February 4, 2018
Now for the not so great stuff.
First of all, how about offering up the absolute bare minimum response to some really incendiary happenings in the labor market on Friday. No clarity or context for what the player agents said on Friday (including a Spring Training boycott threat), nor for the original union statement that, at best, ignored those threats, and at worst, tacitly adopted them. This statement is better than nothing at all, I guess, but only barely. You can see my thoughts on that and frustrations with the union’s handling of player interests here, and you can see Buster Olney’s excellent take on the myriad labor problems here.
Second of all, there weren’t “press reports” suggesting the players union had threatened to boycott Spring Training. There was a player agent statement that flat out said it. And then, with hours and hours to respond, the Players Association said only that they would continue fighting for players. How else were we supposed to take that? Did they need two more days to come to the conclusion that they weren’t, in fact, in favor of threatening a Spring Training boycott? My fear is that, yes, they actually did need those two days. That’s how not-on-the-same-page the players, their agents, and their union are.
Whatever the course of action here for the union and its players, they need to come up with something more coherent than they’ve offered over the past week. They’re getting pressured by MLB to come to terms on pace-of-play arrangements, they’re facing a group of 50 to 100 legitimate big leaguers who still don’t have jobs, and they’re facing it all with Spring Training about to start in a little over a week. Offering these kinds of bare minimum reactionary statements is not actually going to help anyone, and I am seriously concerned for the players and the fans, who simply want to go into the 2018 season feeling good about where things stand.
Instead, not unlike the players, we’re left wondering what the heck is going on.
UPDATE: Yup, this sounds about right:
"We're all going to walk right off the cliff together."
The battle inside the MLBPA to establish a strategy and find unity as its labor fight against Major League Baseball threatens to turn into a war. News at Yahoo Sports: https://t.co/uA1S9dmZTH pic.twitter.com/jmTgUsaPgO
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 4, 2018