We’ll find out soon how many games the Red Sox will play in 2020.
Major League Baseball has gone back and forth with the Players’ Association all spring with very little progress toward an agreement. It appears the players are fed up with the failed negotiations and are ready to get the season started even if it means neither side gets what they want. The Boston Red Sox will get to play baseball this year but it wont’ be under ideal circumstances.
The MLBPA rejected the league’s latest proposal and has no intention of countering, reports ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The union has asked MLB to inform the players of how many games it intends to play and when players should report.
"“If it is your intention to unilaterally impose a season, we again request that you inform us and our members of how many games you intend to play and when and where players should report. It is unfair to leave players and the fans hanging at this point,” stated a letter from the MLBPA to the league, per Passan."
The letter went on to demand an answer by the close of the business day on Monday, June 15.
Commissioner Rob Manfred wields the power to impose a schedule with the length of his choosing if the sides are unable to come to an agreement. It was supposed to be used as a last resort but we’re quickly approaching that territory with the sides still miles apart.
The schedule is expected to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 games. While that’s a ridiculously low total, at this point there isn’t time for much more if MLB intends to finish before November. The threat of a second wave of COVID-19 could jeopardize the postseason if the schedule extends that far, a risk that MLB refuses to take.
The league released a statement last night to express their disappointment that “the MLBPA has chosen not to negotiate in good faith over resumption of play after MLB has made three successive proposals that would provide players, Clubs and our fans with an amicable resolution to a very difficult situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The statement was more about pointing fingers at the players than any attempt to lure them back to the negotiating table.
MLB offered several proposals but they were all essentially different variations of the same thing. Players are adamant about receiving their full prorated pay and owners claim that they need to limit the number of games in order to do that. The league has increased the potential prorated shares from 70% to 75% to 80% in its three proposals, but has also dropped the number of games from 82 to 76 to 72. That’s negotiating in good faith?
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The players aren’t exactly innocent when it comes to pointing blame for this labor dispute. They continue to stand on the hill that the March agreement guaranteed them their full prorated salaries and that’s why they refuse to take any further pay cuts. Except the agreement that was reached shortly after the sports world was shut down due to the pandemic was fairly clear that this “guarantee” was made under the assumption that fans would be able to attend games. Since that’s unlikely to happen this year, the situation has clearly changed.
No, it’s not “fair” for players to have to take further pay cuts but it’s an unfortunate outcome of living in a world struggling with a global pandemic. Thousands of people across the country have been furloughed by the large corporations they work for. Many more have been partially furloughed, forced to cut their hours to part-time and their paychecks along with it. Why do baseball players believe they are immune to this harsh reality?
Stubbornness on both sides left negotiations in a stalemate but the leverage always leaned toward the owners. They knew that Manfred held the trump card to implement a short schedule. The game total will be close to what the owners wanted and they’ve already shown a willingness to pay players their full prorated amount if the season is that short. There was no way the players could convince the owners to agree to more games unless they were willing to accept pay cuts.
The owners are going to end up getting the shorter season they wanted and the players can claim they stood by their principals to ensure they get their full prorated salaries. Does that mean they can both consider it a win? They will try to spin it that way but the end result is that it’s the fans who lose the most.