And I’m being polite. This is a family blog, after all.
Let’s just say that this whole mess has turned into a…..
Over the weekend, I read a number of polls about where the blame should be placed for this year’s still TBD season. One, done by ESPN, that has fans putting 96% of the onus for failure on the owners.
Foolishly believing that MLB “stewards” couldn’t get any worse, they did. On Monday night. On national tv.
Only 4 days after guaranteeing “100% there will be an MLB season”, Rob Manfred now claims he’s “not confident there will be a 2020 season.”
And if you watched the interview, Manfred looked like he had eaten some bad shellfish.
The 180-degree change came directly after a conference call with all 30 franchise owners. It’s not hard to imagine that he got his you-know-what handed to him on a silver platter by them.
There are so many layers to this issue that it’s hard to know where to start. I could write a 5-part blog on what is going on between the owners and players.
However, something is becoming even more clear with each day – and each side’s statements.
What if the majority of those who are currently pondering the negotiations have it all wrong?
What if the assumption that both sides are actually negotiating is wrong?
What if the owners actually made up their minds months ago about what they want?
What if they are only pretending to negotiate?
What if owners already decided they just don’t want a season?
What if they decided to run out the clock on a season in order to get the shortest number of games possible (and biggest playoff broadcasting rights) if they are forced into having one?
It’s looking more and more like this is the case.
A negotiation involves 2 sides and requires participation by both parties. And this is the rub. MLB is not really participating.
They have submitted 3 proposals to the Players Association. Each of them identical in the end result with no new concessions offered. Just reconfigured. It’s like telling someone you’ll give them a quarter and they turn it down. Then you offer them 2 dimes and a nickel. They turn that down and then you say you’ll give them 4 nickels and 5 pennies.
Not much of an effort.
And in-between each round of offers, MLB has waited a full week before responding or counter-offering. No sense of urgency.
For a reason.
Let’s not forget that baseball’s owners hired one of this country’s top employment and labor leaders who has 30 years of experience working for MLB as their Commissioner. He was hired for a reason.
And let’s not forget that the Commissioner no longer serves for the good of baseball. He serves at the pleasure of the owners and is their mouthpiece. He also takes what his 5-member owner labor relations committee tells him and communicates it to the world.
So it shouldn’t be surprising that the union has stopped trying to negotiate. They see what is going on. (And for the record, the union is not blameless in this mess. But we’re focusing in on MLB right now because they are train-wreck worthy.)
Tony Clark and his committees have seen what is going on. Seeing how futile negotiations have been. After all, it takes 2 to tango and MLB is sitting on the sidelines, refusing to fill out their dance card.
Which is why the union has told owners to cut to the chase and tell them “where and when” to report. They’re playing. They want to play.
And that’s when it all blew up publicly for a lot of people. That’s when MLB’s ulterior motive became exposed.
Their bluff was called. Players ready to get started right now.
But that’s not what the owners want.
For 2 reasons.
First, it’s been widely reported that a number of owners ( at least 6 currently but it’s expected to be more) don’t want a season at all. They don’t want to take a financial hit. Even if it means there’s a good chance to grow the game during a time period where people around the world are desperate for sports. They are so greedy to hang onto their money that they don’t want to see the greater good that a long-term outlook would create for them or the game.
Bottom line: they are willing to take the risk of killing the game in order to avoid a 1-year loss. The only question is whether it is due to greed, stupidity or arrogance.
Especially teams that are nowhere close to being competitive. Or teams with really large contracts on players during their declining years.
The second reason has to do with the timing. The owners’ strategy is to run the clock down to the last possible minute so there is the shortest season possible.
If they accepted the players offer to play, it would mean a season of 70+ games. In the March agreement, it was clearly stated that owners would make an effort of “good faith” and establish a season with the greatest number of possible games.
After Manfred’s veiled threat (the “100% guarantee” of a season) to the players about imposing his mandated 50-game season, MLB is once again backtracking on their promises.
Which is why, after the players announced they are ready to play, Manfred came back and said the deal was off until all the players and union agreed that they would not pursue legal action against MLB.
Because, after Monday’s meeting with owners, it became apparent to Manfred and his mob that they would lose in court which is why they abruptly changed course about having a season. The Players Association is almost certainly going to file a grievance against MLB in their attempt to recoup approximately one billion dollars in lost wages.
All because it’s become apparent they are trying to run out the clock on a season by either not playing at all or scheduling the shortest number of games possible. MLB has been employing a lot of smoke and mirrors in their attempt to get to that magical 50.
Not an effort of “good faith.”
Hey, it’s not like the owners have ever done anything bad to players like service manipulation or collusion, you know…..
Never mind that the players have asked repeatedly for MLB to prove their statements of “crying poor.” They’ve asked for financial documents and gotten crickets in return.
Owners have had the audacity to say that “baseball is not profitable”. The same owners who got a 1000% return on their investment. The same owners who are some of the richest people in the US and have owned their teams for decades. They want us to believe that they are poor and stupid when it comes to owning a baseball team but not stupid when it comes to their other thriving businesses or the billions of dollars they have earned because of their business smarts.
They also think fans are stupid and will believe these outrageous statements.
And someone with access to contracts was also tired of hearing this and leaked the agreement MLB just made with Turner broadcasting for a $1 billion deal. And that’s just one of many local, regional and national contracts MLB signs with the media.
Don’t forget that MLB has recently made billion-dollar deals with BAM! Technology, Disney and Nike, to name a few.
Then there are the extremely profitable real estate ventures MLB has that are adjacent to the ballparks. That’s another conversation for another day….
Watch that calendar because MLB has to delay for another 11 days in order to get their way. A severely-shortened season that will help them avoid losing their grievance stance in court.
And they’ve already started with their announcement that a couple players and a coach have COVID-19 as part of their delay tactics. MLBPA says they have no record of it.
A stalling tactic that uses the pandemic to erase a season that every other sport has found a way around or is actively addressing it. MLB has also used the pandemic to shrink the minor leagues, cancel the minor league season, shorten the draft, limit bonuses and push the international signing period into 2021. Just to name a few.
Remember, MLB doesn’t like to leave fingerprints. Which is also why the owners who don’t want a season will not vote to cancel it. It takes 8 votes to make it official and no owner in his right mind will allow it to be known he was one of those votes.
Besides, MLB has other ways of trying to get rid of seasons. Tactics that will try to put the blame on the other side while leaving them untarnished.
MLB has made lots of threats to the players. But also, they are serious threats to the game.
Worst of all, they are holding the fans and the future of the game for ransom.
Hello, Congress? You could score some serious points if you make a move to remove MLB from the Sherman Anti-Trust exemption. Currently, it’s the best way to save the game.
And it’s an election year.
Let’s get moving…..
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