Players vs Owners can they come together?
By Andrew Santangelo
It was March 12, 2020, when baseball first suspended their season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then it has been all talk about possible solutions on how can the league get back to playing at least a partial season. The latest talk has stirred up the most debate out of any sports. While the NFL, NBA, and NHL are all finding ways to try and make different things work seems to agree on a lot of different things the MLB has turned into the opposite. Some might say it is a bad look or a messy situation at this point that seems to be an understatement.
The latest MLB proposal included significant rule changes which included Universal DH, An 82-game schedule, mid-June spring training for an early July start. The MLB needs to take advantage of a possible July 4th opening which would be a great way to start the season and give fans something to watch. Another big rule change would be 14 playoff teams and rosters expanded to 30 players with games being played in front of no fans like the Korean Baseball league.
The main thing that grabs not only fan’s attention but the players is the 50/50 revenue split that has caused the biggest uproar and biggest debates among fans. There is no easy way to describe this and the latest question is who is to blame? A lot of fans including myself want sports so we can watch and have something to do. However, the obvious question is whether or not if it is safe to play. However, we are going to assume health officials deem it safe. The next question is the money battle between the player’s union and the owners. Personally, the owners need to take the majority of the blame here along with head commissioner Rob Manfred. This is a sad story and is a terrible absolutely terrible look for the game of baseball itself. After keeping much of the negotiation process under the news with a couple of leaks here or there the MLB threw this striking number of 50/50 revenue split at the players and the MLBPA.
That is a horrible look on the owners that might get missed. The reason that is because people want the game of baseball back and now the players threw it at the players and their side is the hold up they could be to blame. The next problem that stemmed from the players is they fell right into the trap with Blake Snell and Bryce Harper coming out publicly commenting on the issue and now will never hear the end of it on their stance, because of the bad way Snell originally delivered the message.
The league is trying to take a situation here and implement many different rules that they have tried to before but have been criticized keeping them from adding them. They are trying to force their hand. This includes things like the universal DH, expansion of playoff teams to name a few. This is where fear now lies in the players. Baseball continues to be played without a salary cap or any sort of split revenue style. Back in 1994 when baseball went on strike and lost a year with a World Series champion over the salary cap debate. The players fear that this is a step to try and go down that road again because a split could be a step to that salary cap. The fear is another reason these players are declining it. This is also something to take note about with the CBA contract ending at the conclusion of 2020 could this whole debacle and lead to a strike? For me, it is way too early to make that assumption but it is an interesting thing to keep an eye on it.
The player’s side of things. First, they have already come to an agreement with the league on prorating their salaries and taking already some sort of cut. Now, this situation occurs where they are being asked to give up even more money because of the owner’s situation and the amount of money the league is losing as a whole. Again they have already agreed upon a deal when this all started. The league is trying to make an adjustment because they are most likely worried as well. Some of the lower owners of the smaller market teams could be forced to lose their team depending on how much they lose. While by no means do I think it is fair to ask the players for the 50/50 revenue split especially in the absurd fashion the league did so. The issue that comes up with the players is how stubborn they have been in their handling of the situation. They should at least think about or consider the possibility of a lower split says 15-20% with the situation on hand. People are going in everyday working or taking pay cuts or say even the millions that have had to, unfortunately, had to file for unemployment.
Without question, both sides of this equation have been and will continue to be impacted especially if they cannot play. Players are impacted in the sense of the 2020 free agents left value is hurt, the players on a one-year deal get impacted not only stars like Mookie Betts and JT Realmuto but the ones that are looking to prove something, and lastly, they will not get any more salary past the already agreed-upon deal. Owners clearly lose a tone of revenue in this with some being in jeopardy of being forced to sell, more people losing jobs possibly to save money. Both sides are at the risk of losing a lot.
It is time that both sides actually step up to work together on this issue. They clearly are far off on an agreement it seems like. The health concern is also a major thing as well and the fact that Commissioner Manfred is on record saying one case does not mean the league would be shutdown. The players are being asked to do a lot more than the owners. Players will be the ones interacting, traveling, and playing while the owners can stay locked at home the whole time. The blame for me is on both but by far more on the owners than the players because they continue to try and take advantage of the power and through their players under the bus here with the league. Hopefully, something positive can start to turn from this but with starts speaking really bad on the proposal it seems a little far off. The hope for the 2020 MLB season continues to shrink by the day for me, and am the most worried about it since this all started. Players vs Owners can they come together?