Copy. Paste. That’s what it feels like I should be doing here from one of the other, what, eleventy-billion articles just like this one over the last two months. But I won’t. Today the Major League Baseball Players Association turned down an offer for a 60-game season from the owners/Major League Baseball. The MLBPA then released this statement:

The MLBPA Executive Board met multiple times in recent days to assess the status of our efforts to resume the 2020 season.

Earlier this evening, the full Board reaffirmed the players’ eagerness to return to work as soon and as safely as possible. To that end we anticipate finalizing a comprehensive set of health and safety protocols with Major League Baseball in the coming days, and we await word from the league on the resumption of spring training camps and a proposed 2020 schedule.

While we had hoped to reach a revised back to work agreement with the league, the Players remain fully committed to proceeding under our current agreement and getting back on the field for the fans, for the game, and for each other.

So, why would the players turn down a 60-game plan where they are paid at their prorated pay? That’s a good question. The entire “when and where” situation seemed to be a plan to force the ownerships hand to set the schedule for a longer prorated season – about 70-ish games – and the owners played a stalling tactic. Their latest response didn’t change a whole lot in terms of what they were offering, though there were some very small concessions made.

The players still seem to be challenging ownership to set the schedule, forcing them to determine the length of the season. Either there’s something very big missing that we don’t know about between the agreement in March and the one offered that the players just turned down in, or the MLBPA is taking an enormous gamble that they can somehow still file a grievance and win based around the “play as many games as possible” part of the agreement.

That seems like a big gamble at this point given that with the date today, playing 60 games with the previously determined number of days needed for getting spring training 2.0 set and “played”, seems like it fits into the “play as many games as possible” scenario.

But NBC Sports baseball writer had an interesting theory, too.

There has most certainly been a lot of chatter that some teams don’t even want to play a 2020 season because of how much money they could lose. As recently as last week, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported he had heard as many as eight owners fell into that category. There are 30 teams and if they need 23 yes votes on implementing a season and there are 8 no votes, then Rob Manfred can’t get enough support to make that happen. And if that’s the case, then the players still hold the power of the grievance, which could cost the owners a collective estimation of up to a billion dollars.

With all of that said, there’s been an agreement to play baseball for three months. The owners, however, just didn’t like it. Whether it’s because they messed up, or whether they were lied to because their lawyers messed up – an agreement has been in place for a very long time. Instead of sticking to that agreement and getting things going, the owners and Major League Baseball offices as their negotiating team has played by the terms of “we’re going to do what we want to, this agreement means nothing because we do not like it”. They have negotiated, or tried to negotiate new terms that are far less than what the March agreement set, and they’ve been doing it for six weeks. The players, for the most part, have said no thanks to taking a far lesser deal than the one already under contract.

So here we are once again. Waiting. Wondering. Will Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball set a schedule? If he does, it sure doesn’t sound like it’s going to be tonight. Or tomorrow.

Update at 9:00pm ET

Well, it seems that Major League Baseball is going to implement a 2020 season for 60 games.

We’re about to get a Reds season with MLB to implement 60-game season

15 Responses

  1. Joseph Menninger

    I would not be surprised if the 2020 baseball season is cancelled! In my opinion, it should be cancelled! With the coronavirus going around, my concern is for the health and safety for not just the major league players, but also the coaches, managers, umpires, announcers, grounds crew, the clubhouse attendants and everyone who works around the ballpark or who works for that major league team!

  2. Sliotar

    Doug wrote:

    “So, why would the players turn down a 60-game plan where they are paid at their prorated pay?

    1) Option to file Grievance

    2) MLB Player Solidarity – Now, players can unite in saying, “Commissioner is making us play.”

    Would have been awkward if majority of the players want to play/need the money … and a minority of highly-paid players wanted to sit out … but were outvoted.

    If the players have any chance of not being steamrolled in the next CBA, they need to be united, and resolved on possibly sitting out, IMO.

    • BK

      Only 38 players got to vote; 8 players from their negotiating team and one per team. The players with little to no service time don’t get to vote.

  3. TBD

    Doug, or anyone else
    I haven’t been following this in any detail. So I figure you might know the answer to this.
    Have the players given a blue print of what they see a 2020 season playing out ?

    thanks in advance

    • Doug Gray

      They pretty much want to stick to the March agreement, with a few alterations to the health and safety sections.

  4. Old-school

    Pretty good synopsis.
    Had mature leaders come together memorial day weekend, a credible season maybe could have happened. No longer.

    The integrity of the sport is now compromised. A 50+ game season with Covid guaranteed to interrupt more and no one can predict when or where or how much.

    Shut it down. Both sides failed. Owners now have timing on their side to rightly say Covid pandemic in 2020 ends our season. We tried but safety is #1 priority. No idea what players say.

  5. Kugo

    The owners wanted to pay the players less than they agreed on AND they wanted them to waive their right to grievance. That’s just asinine. But if they do end up playing, the fans will forget all about it. I think the owners could save the season by adding 6 games. 66 might do it, but I think they are too proud to do it.

  6. CallowayPost

    Feels like an abusive relationship at this point, and we’re just the kids caught in the middle.

    The avid baseball fan of course wants baseball back, myself included, but right now it feels like planning a family vacation by two parents that hate each other and are using all of their baggage to justify cancelling it.

    Imagine the nerve of depriving people something that may help bring community together, a kids sport full of big, professional kids, during like 3-4 national crisis’ rolled into one. National pastime turns into National my-time. It’s not either sides obligation to hold it hostage, especially over something that will generate revenue and a paycheck for both sides. You have an entire “off-season” to figure this shit out…just concede a mutual starting point whether neither side exclusively benefits, and in the off-season, remind your lawyers that they are there to advise, hash out your issues, then hand it over to your lawyers to find a way to make it work. Period. This is how nasty divorces and nasty custody battles play out…me, me, me, mine, mine, mine…lawyers will push and push to get the best outcome for their clients interest. Figure it out yourselves, and make the lawyers earn there money…don’t let them make selfish decisions for you then represent you in court…their only goal is to win.

    Language, my friend. Keep it clean.

  7. ClevelandRedsFan

    Both sides collectively outsmarted themselves in trying to outsmart the other. It feels like they tried to turn checkers into chess, and then 3D chess, and then 7-layer chess and then both sides completely forgot the rules and why they escalated each game.

    MLB is severely broken. Manfred and Clark need to be gone before 2021 CBA. Both are bad for baseball.

  8. Mark Moore

    Time for Rob “The Lapdog” Manfred to earn his paycheck. Essentially, this is the same statement from the players asking when and where to show up. The “where” is now their own home facilities. The “when” is a little iffy in my book, but it has to be very soon as noted.

    Is some baseball really better than no baseball at all? And I’m thinking this just crushes all the minor-league ball for the future. Too many marginal teams that will fold and small towns everywhere will lose out on a great experience.

    Sigh …

  9. Redsvol

    Rest my case that the players leadership is beyond inept and short-sighted. MLB owners unanimously agreed to resume a COVID-forced, shortened season. Owners caved on giving players full pay for shortened season – even though revenue will be far below what they expected due to lack of fans.
    Players failed to secure expanded playoffs or universal DH. Both would have led to more money for more players. Players whine about increased COVID cases while sports like NASCAR, Soccer, and GOLF resume playing with far less protocols.
    Owners will have far more expenses than normal – testing, enforcement of protocol, lodging, potentially playing at a remote “bubble site”, etc. etc.
    Very poor leadership by the players as stewards of the game during this unprecedented time in sports history. Break the Union! Establish a salary cap and floor!

  10. IndyRedsFan

    Doug and all,

    I get really frustrated when I read that “there was an agreement reached in March and the owners won’t live up to it”.

    In my mind, it’s the players who have failed to live up to that agreement.
    Please tell me, if the clause about “negotiating in good faith the economics of playing without fans” doesn’t mean renegotiating the FULL pay for players, …..What DOES it mean.

    There have been a lot of comments about the owners just making the same offer over and over again in different forms. The players have only made one offer…..”give us our FULL pay”.

    I think the players are being provided very bad representation by Clark and the Union.

    I know I sound like an owner here, but I’m not. I”ve always sided with the players in the past, but this time…they have no sympathy from me.

  11. IndyRedsFan

    First, I failed to put the question marks on the “What does it mean???” in my previous note…..I really would like someone to answer this.

    Second….just to build on RedsVol comment that players leadership is inept and short-sighted.

    Tucker Barnhart was on the radio in Indy yesterday. Basically he was saying “we can’t give an inch now, because in 2021 they might ask for more”.

    Talk about short-sighted…..

    The strategy seems to be, “let’s do everything we can to pee-off the people who sign our big checks now, and then maybe they’ll give us a better deal in 2021”.

    The players could have more reasonably taken the position that “we’ll agree to this now because of Covid, but we expect you guys to give us XX in the 2021 negotiation”.

    Clark led them into a really bad deal in the last agreement, and he’s leading them into a worse one for 2021.