Right now the league and the MLB player’s association are trying to work out a deal to get baseball back in 2020, and it’s not going so well.
A lot remains to be seen when it comes to figuring out if we’ll have Major League Baseball back in 2020, and there’s only so much control that the players and the ownership groups have. That said, there’s a lot to work out between the two parties if things get to the stage.
For now baseball will have to wait, at least until more of North America opens up again, but there have been plenty of rumblings about potential return for the game even if it means there won’t be fans in the stands. According to most of the reports floating around, there are a few proposals being discussed at the moment, with a target return for sometime in July. With the players basically needing to start their spring training over again, that means they’d have to get moving in a few weeks here.
Before that happens, the owners and the player’s association are going to have to work out a lot of kinks in their current discussions, and it’s hard to say how long that could take. According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, “a fight is almost guaranteed”, which is both expected and somewhat surprising.
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The reality is, all parties want baseball to return this year if it’s feasible. There are varying opinions about the safety procedures that would need to be in place, but it feels like that isn’t the biggest hurdle. Not surprisingly, that would be the financial terms of the deal, and that’s never an easy place to start. The league and the player’s union have already agreed to a pro-rated payment system for this year, but it sounds like that’s not as simple as it could or should be. According to Passan’s breakdown, the league now is now proposing a 50/50 revenue split, and that would be a non-starter for the players.
For a more lengthy explanation of what that means, Passan does a good job of explaining how that could be hurtful player’s side. MLBPA President Tony Clark said, “A system that restricts player pay based on revenues is a salary cap, period”, making their side clear right from the get go. In the view of the players, the league would already be getting a massive break with a pro-rated system. To take it a step further would be unacceptable.
If I’m going to break it down as simply as I can, here’s how I see the crux of biggest issue that needs to be resolved:
Owners: No fans in the stands means no tickets sold, and there has already been a huge portion of the calendar lost. Without a crystal ball to see into the future, the owners don’t know if the 2020 “season” will return to some sort of normalcy by the fall, or even in a worst case, that they may have to shut it down again if there’s a significant second wave of the Covid-19 virus.
Players: They’re already agreeing to a big pay cut, and likely some pretty interesting adjustments to their lives in order to make this work. Changing the system of how they’re paid to add more risk isn’t very appealing, especially when they’ve lost significant money as well. The other point to consider is that the players haven’t immediately benefitted with their revenue share when league revenues have soared in the past, so why should the owners benefit again on the other side of the coin?
I think it’s pretty clear that both sides are willing to make concessions, but it’s disappointing to hear that an agreement sounds pretty far off at this point. I realize the conditions and circumstances in North America are changing all the time, but it’s been two months since there’s been Major League baseball on a diamond. Are you telling me that in all of that time, a deal couldn’t have been figured out?
I know it still could and that it’s far from a lost cause, but I’ll be incredibly frustrated if there’s no season in 2020 because of a dispute over money. For what it’s worth, I definitely take the side of the players in this case, especially considering all that they’ve given up already, even if I think both sides will have to continue to work together in order to make this work. I understand that there have been significant losses for the ownership groups here, but there’s only so much you can expect to claw back.
I don’t know if there’s going to be baseball this season, but I do know there are conditions that I can, and can’t accept such a scenario. If a world-wide pandemic wipes out a season, there’s not much we can do about that, but I sincerely hope that the league and the player’s association can work through the controllable part of this whole thing.