I have prorated my attention in these MLB negotiations. What was once 50-percent concentration on these talks (or non-talks) has expanded to 75-percent. But I just don’t see how during a pandemic I can give a full 100 percent. What of my kids? Dad? Coffee addiction?
I have binge watched this contentious electronic exchange of offers sure to be spurned and nasty letters designed to elevate already hostile feelings and decided Joe Exotic was a more subtle negotiator with Carol Baskin. In fact my obsession with this reality show — Hate At First Sight — has many thoughts floating in my caffeine-filled brain such as:
— The union rejected MLB’s 72-game plan at 70 percent guaranteed pay on Saturday and told the commissioners office to just set a schedule of full prorated pay and inform the players when and where they should report. The union set a Monday deadline. Or else what?
When MLB has set a deadline, the “or else” has been lowering the number of games in its next proposal. The union made no proposal. So if MLB does not respond Monday, the players counter by … Yeah, I am as curious as you are.
— Maybe MLB should take the union up on its offer to play regular season games through October and the postseason in November. MLB has insisted it does not want to play the regular season beyond Sept. 27, largely because its health officials are telling the league that the risk for a stronger wave of COVID-19 exists the longer games are played, especially into cooler weather.
— In a letter to MLB on Saturday, union lead negotiator Bruce Meyer called that a “pretext,” labeling the refusal to play games into October/November as part of a “general bad faith determination to play as few games as possible to punish players for refusing to capitulate to MLB’s demands for massive pay cuts.”
Why doesn’t MLB just agree to the October/November plan, but if the union believes so much despite MLB’s protest just tie full prorated pay to completing all games in October/November? You get it all if the season concludes. You don’t if the season needs to be cancelled after Nov. 1.
— Rules still have to be determined even if a season is implemented by the commissioner, including if there is going to be a trade deadline or not. Perhaps it would be best to put a moratorium on trades until the offseason. Imagine telling someone they have to relocate themselves and, perhaps, their families during a pandemic.
— No matter what kind of season is played this year, it is going to be short and it is not as if especially pitchers are going to be stretched to their familiar lengths. So is an entire sport of starters who say throw 60-90 innings this year just going to return to throwing 150-plus next year? Will rosters have to be reconsidered for 2021 to have enough pitching, just at a time when MLB has wanted to limit the number of pitchers and pitching changes that elongates games.
— About next year, if there is no COVID-19 vaccine and, thus, real questions about crowd size are we back to MLB asking the players for pay cuts? No matter what MLB should anticipate an attendance reduction (probably a significant one). That combined with any hits at revenue this year are probably going to lead to many teams limiting or abstaining from free agency plus more arbitration-eligible players being non-tendered than ever. You could understand why players want to be paid in full this year because there are almost certainly going to be cuts coming. Is it fair to tell the players to take a haircut now, when future haircuts are so obvious?
— Also if the free agent market is as financially curtailed as expected are we looking at more player/union calls of collusion? Because that is what the sport so badly needs even more mistrust or is it distrust or is it both? Let’s just assume even greater animosity.
— Actually the owners don’t need to collude. They have always had the mechanism to begin to make back any losses this year even if they paid players their full prorated salary — simply decided independently to lower payrolls in the near future and make it back over time. Of course, that would coincide with more money streams coming into the industry. Already, there is a new (higher) national TV deal with Turner. You can expect ESPN next. There eventually will be gambling money. How about expansion fees?
— You know what might be the most exciting baseball we get this year? There are plans to try to expand the Instructional League and the Arizona Fall League. But without minor league ball being played this year what if each organization created a prospect team and two leagues were set up, one in Florida and one in Arizona. Games would be played from September-November. The winner of the Florida league would play the winner of the Arizona league. I think it would be fun to see the best prospects in each organization performing. It would give prospects much needed reps and sell the future of the game, at a time when that is desperately needed.
— Right now, though, the COVID-19 numbers are skyrocketing in Arizona and Florida, which should be the common enemy that MLB and the Players Association are working against. But these sides really don’t do common good.
— Which is the biggest sadness of all. There had been an attempt in recent years to try to discuss the best ways to grow the game for the future. Those conversations have all been scrapped. Instead, both sides have waged a fight in which victory is what exactly? This is about 2020 money and principle and showing toughness. But the long-term credibility of the game has been devastated. That will have a cost that outweighs any short-term victory, any principle. The inability to figure this out together will hurt both sides immensely in the future, especially since both are so convinced this is just a stairway to more labor nastiness around the collective bargaining agreement expiring after the 2021 season and the growing likelihood of a strike or lockout.
Hate At First Sight will be back after this commercial break.