Major League Baseball’s powers have proven about as productive as New York City’s government during this shutdown. In their defense, however, at least there’s an explanation behind that:
They hate each other’s guts.
Multiple industry sources confirmed the vitriolic content of a letter sent from deputy commissioner Dan Halem to his MLB Players Association equivalent Bruce Meyer, the union’s top negotiator, that accompanied the owners’ latest counter proposal on Friday. The Athletic first reported the biting missive.
“I must have misinterpreted your June 6th letter,” Halem wrote to Meyer. “I thought the letter reflected a willingness on the part of the Association to discuss in good faith the economics necessary for the Office of the Commissioner to waive its right under the March Agreement to resume the 2020 season only when there are, among other things, no restrictions on fan access. After reviewing the Association’s counterproposal, I stand corrected.”
The primary issue causing the rancor is the disagreement between the players and owners on how much the players should earn during a season held without paying fans, as would be the case for at least the start of this campaign. The aforementioned March agreement guarantees the players prorated pay, yet it also calls for further discussion in the scenario of attendance-free contests.
The players, who at first appeared to either misunderstand or willfully misinterpret the language in the March agreement, now have expressed resolution that they won’t take a further cut because they’re the ones putting themselves in harm’s way and they question the owners’ claims that they’re getting financially slaughtered.
In a statement, the PA said, “Mr. Halem’s self-serving letter is filled with inaccuracies and incomplete facts. We will respond to that and the league’s latest proposal in short order. It should not be forgotten however that even MLB admits that our March Agreement does not require players to agree to further pay cuts.”
The owners’ latest proffer includes a 72-game schedule with the players receiving 70 percent of their prorated pay and another 10 percent — plus a $50-million player pool for the participants — upon completion of the postseason.
The March agreement empowers commissioner Rob Manfred to unilaterally impose the conditions of a season as long as the players receive their prorated pay. The commissioner has floated the possibility of a season as short as 40-50 games.