You know the drill at this point. It’s been five+ years, and not even a global pandemic is going to change the way MLB owners and players choose to conduct their negotiations. It’ll be unnecessarily extreme, and needlessly public.
So, when the players made a proposal yesterday on terms to play this season, those terms were expectedly on the aggressive side, with full prorated pay for the duration, modest deferrals only in the event of a cancelled postseason, and a much longer regular season than had been expected. To me, I don’t really have a problem with the players making an aggressive proposal in response to what was an aggressive ask by the owners (the sliding pay cuts thing, after the even more aggressive revenue share thing). What I don’t like is that it even comes to each side always going so extreme right off the bat, and more importantly, that the over-the-top reactions always follow.
Not surprisingly, players association counter-proposal is getting bashed on owners’ side. Told there’s “nothing” in the union’s offer that was considered negotiable. “Hopefully this was just a first offer that we all know won’t fly and now we can get down to real negotiating."
— Bob Klapisch (@BobKlap) June 1, 2020
“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
To be sure, no one expected that the owners would simply accept the players’ proposal, not given the way all negotiations have gone in the last half-decade. But it’s also utterly ridiculous to suggest there is nothing in the proposal worth negotiating. I mean, the proposal includes things like the length of the season, the amount of deferrals, the structure of the postseason, the nature of pay … these are literally the things you should be negotiating.
In any case, for a more measured reaction take, read the latest from Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal:
MLB owners sticking to two points: they need a shorter schedule, and salary reductions. Deal hasn’t been rejected yet but that's inevitable. MLB and the MLBPA had a meeting yesterday following the union’s proposal.
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) June 1, 2020
The sides are extremely far apart. Clearly. No argument there. But it does seem like the topics are teed up for negotiation. Even the biggest sticking point – the fact that the owners say they’ll lose huge on games this year no matter what – shouldn’t really be a sticking point. If it’s true that you’re losing this year anyway, then what you really need to be worried about is next year and beyond. And, on that front, shouldn’t the owners’ focus be on making the best of a crap situation this year so that next year and beyond can look much better than they do right now? Squeezing tightly for every last dollar (out of the players’ pockets during a pandemic) sure doesn’t strike me as the best way to get the overall best results for your organizations over the next few years.
I just hope sanity will prevail. And soon.
The reports keep noting that the timeline can be pushed back and the season shrunk further if negotiations can’t wrap up this year, which is no doubt true, but even that incurs a lot of damage in the meantime. Yes, you might still get in a 50-game season or whatever, but think of the opportunity squandered by continuing to fight, publicly, for another month. The antipathy grows, the enthusiasm wanes, and you miss a window of time to be the thing you proclaim you want to be: something positive for fans at a time like this.
The players will probably have to bend a little. I get it. I’m realistic. But it’s really up to MLB and the owners to make this deal happen in a way that takes care of players in the short-term, and takes care of the sport in the long-term.