Will the Boston Red Sox and MLB watch the season evaporate over a labor-management dispute? Looks like the players are digging in.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has expressed optimism regarding the pending 2020 season. Based on the now soon to be conflagration over labor issues, optimism may be a generous term to apply. It looks like a potential labor-management dispute is starting to simmer.
Blake Snell brought to the surface in a barely articulate stream of conscientious that players expect to be paid. The issue is just what? The players expect a full salary and if I can somehow decipher the meanderings of Snell, he feels his life is at risk from both the inherent danger of his sport and COVID-19. Pay me or I sit.
Snell has now received support from his brothers in the union since his sacrifice is taking the expected media blow-back. Snell apparently is just crudely verbalizing what an unknown number of players are mumbling and grumbling about. On a sympathy scale, it is relatively low as the average Joe and Jane going week-to-week just wonder what type of fog athletes live in?
From a pure union perspective, Snell and his compadres do have some legitimacy despite their exorbitant salaries. They signed a contract in good faith and expect it to be honored. The circumstances are no fault of the players and many view it as similar to an injury – you get paid. I do have a bit of difficulty equating their union stance with say a mine worker who faces disabilities and danger daily. Being nicked by a batted ball is hardly in the realm of a cave-in or Black Lung Disease. Even a baseball union must do what any union does and continue to protect its membership.
How does this impact the Red Sox?
Matt Barnes is the current Red Sox player representative and his opinion has yet to surface. As any good union man will attest, Barnes will get feedback from the members he represents. In the past, these situations usually reach a loggerhead where neither side cares to move. In 1994 it put the kibosh on the season and the World Series. Other points in labor-management history have had similar but not quite as drastic results.
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Owners may also view this as an opportunity to take the sting out of the union. Maybe squeeze some meaningful concessions? Either way, the season will continue to whittle away until both sides just end it and advance to planning for 2021. The old never let a crisis go to waste.
Both sides are now in the process of killing the golden goose. The last thing a public-facing economic and emotional devastation wishes to read or hear about is a battle between millionaires and billionaires. The players have a sense of entitlement and the owners are part of the fabled 1% class. Nether carry much weight with the fans.
Now baseball may actually result in condensed baseball as winning back the fans could be the real issue if the season is put in the dumpster. Fans may find other entertainment instead of supporting two sides that are bringing collective dysfunction to a new level. Absence may not make the baseball heart grow fonder.
The key is quickly brushing aside this labor issue either via mutual concession or showing the fan base they are not dealing with two sides that are brain dead. The more this festers the more unlikely a season will take place and even more likely the long term consequences could dramatically change the professional game.