These are complicated issues, so I’ll give myself a little grace for the mental backflips I do daily trying to keep straight what I feel about everything that goes into trying to play baseball this year. You should do the same with yourselves, and probably with each other. Oh, and me. You should definitely take it easy on me, too.
Looking at just the financial discussion, I try very hard to consider all the angles, letting myself hold two thoughts in my mind at once: I think it is fair for the owners and the players each to try to get the best deal that they can right now; I also think everyone involved needs to consider that the long-term health (and value) of the sport would be crushed by failing to reach a deal this year because of money.
So, yeah … fight for your rights and all that, but also get a damn deal done.
Because when I see news like this – which is going to start coming from more and more teams – it makes me very sad:
The Angels have informed the majority of their minor league operation, including player development staff, minor league coaches and coordinators, that they will be among those furloughed starting June 1, sources tell The Athletic. https://t.co/8k3pmVao3v— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) May 19, 2020
Thus, while the owners and players spar, the regular employees will take the hits for now. And if the sparring kills the entire season? The hits the regular folks will get all the deeper and more permanent.
Speaking of the sparring, Jon Heyman reports another angle to the current standoff:
MLB in recent talks gave the union 2 options: 1) negotiate a new financial arrangement (sonething other than prorated pay for players playing games with no fans in attendance) or 2) wait until the Coronavirus yo clear to the point where fans can attend games.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 19, 2020
By the language of the interim agreement from back in March, the league will not begin to play until fans can be permitted in the stands … unless there’s a new agreement. So, basically, yeah, this set of choices just follows the agreement.
HOWEVER, doesn’t it feel like it’s flashing a bit more than that? Doesn’t it feel like it’s starting to get uncomfortably close to the kind of ultimatum that casts the players as the bad guys if they don’t take less money (as opposed to the owners being the bad guys for being unwilling to pay full prorated salaries to the players who are risking their health to play)? The realities of a set of choices like that is that you’re asking the players either to give up money immediately, which might be unreasonable depending on the status of the additional financial documentation, or asking them to be the reason that the season gets put back on ice, possibly for good.
I mean, if the players decided to honor those two choices, and opted to wait for fans to return, there’s a good chance that flat out does not happen this season. Even if it did happen, how many games are we talking about? In how many locations? It’s kind of a crazy proposition on its face as we sit here today. So again, it feels designed to force the players into a situation where they either cut their salary, or they are presented as the villains who cost everyone a season.
Like I said this morning, I wish the sides could just find some way that the owners still absorb the majority of the financial loss this year (because they are better able to do so, because they own that risk by being the owner of a business, and because they are the ones who will benefit from keeping the sport afloat for future team valuations), but where the players give up some nominal thing of value to get a deal done (and maybe get some improved medical benefits in the deal). I just don’t like seeing something that starts to approach an ultimatum.