Today was supposed to be all about ‘Long Gone Summer,’ the 30 for 30 documentary about the 1998 home run chase, and how Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire electrified the country in a way they hadn’t been about baseball in so long. But now, thanks to greed and idiocy, all I can think about is how MLB is deeply hurting itself at the worst possible time.
• I’ll share it, because it’s news, but it isn’t any surprise given the union’s rejection last night. Here’s MLB’s official statement about how things will proceed now, which is basically just an opening statement in the inevitable grievance:
We are disappointed that the MLBPA has chosen not to negotiate in good faith over resumption of play after MLB has made three successive proposals that would provide players, Clubs and our fans with an amicable resolution to a very difficult situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The MLBPA understands that the agreement reached on March 26th was premised on the parties’ mutual understanding that the players would be paid their full salaries only if play resumed in front of fans, and that another negotiation was to take place if Clubs could not generate the billions of dollars of ticket revenue required to pay players. The MLBPA’s position that players are entitled to virtually all the revenue from a 2020 season played without fans is not fair to the thousands of other baseball employees that Clubs and our office are supporting financially during this very difficult 2020 season. We will evaluate the Union’s refusal to adhere to the terms of the March Agreement, and after consulting with ownership, determine the best course to bring baseball back to our fans.
• It seems most plausible now that the owners and MLB will declare a 48-game season, with Spring Training Part Two to begin in about a month. But the sides will then immediately have to negotiate ancillary items (expanded playoffs, roster size, DH, etc.), and I would expect the players will give zero in that process. The sides will also have to finalize the health and safety protocols, which I would now expect the players to be EXTRA aggressive on a number of items. For example, if you’re a player, and the league just mandated your season in a way that you think was completely unreasonable and unfair, and you separately always felt like daily testing was a really important thing (while the league was thinking more like testing every three days), why would you agree right now to anything less than daily testing? I expect a fight on this stuff, even as no one has mentioned it yet.
• It is extremely shocking to me that anyone can have optimism at this point, but, well, mmhmm:
Believe it or not….owners are not dumb enough to implement a 48-50 game schedule regardless of big losses.They understand importance of trust,credibility, long term success &more importantly what fans want & need at this point . I’m expecting them to do the right thing 72G +
— Jim Bowden (@JimBowdenGM) June 14, 2020
• To be sure, that’s what the owners SHOULD do if they actually DO collectively understand and appreciate the long-term implications of their decision. But how on earth can anyone think such a thing will happen given the evidence we have available? If the owners mandate a 70+ game season, sufficient to get the players on board with expanded playoffs and all the other stuff, I will *literally* dance for an hour straight on a live stream. I might even wear a thong. I am confident that I – and your eyes – are safe.
• To that end, this doesn’t feel like “mildly good news,” and instead feels like “terrible confirmation”:
Mildly positive baseball news (very mild): If a season is mandated by the commissioner (as allowed by the March 26 agreement), it wouldn’t be for just 48 games. I hear the number of games would start with a 5
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 14, 2020
• It’s not as if the difference between 48 games and 52 games is going to change anything here in what is being done to the sport, the fans, and the players. If the mandated season isn’t long enough to get the players on board with expanded postseason – the thing that would give you the sense that they feel taken care of AT A BARE MINIMUM LEVEL – then you’ve absolutely failed in a spectacularly short-sighted way.
• It feels like this isn’t making the point the league intended:
Bruce Meyer said Rob Manfred told the MLBPA that teams "were not interested in salary deferrals because they could easily borrow the money at miniscule interest rates."
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) June 13, 2020
• “We can easily get the money we need to finance this season at minuscule interest rates.” Um. OK? So … do that?
• OK. I need a palate cleanser. Some very nice things from Make-A-Wish, and the wonderful work that they do connecting young fans and families to moments they need:
Seth from Wheaton has always been a @Cubs fan. Seth's wish came true earlier this week when he was able to privately tour Wrigley Field! Seth threw a pitch, raced around the bases, and ate in the dugout. Thanks to #Cubs for helping to make a fan's wish come true! pic.twitter.com/PH0dZ2FbGP
— Make-A-Wish Illinois (@WishIllinois) June 11, 2020
• Cubs prospects know what’s up: