After last year’s contentious negotiations between MLB and the players union, MLBPA, that went nowhere and ended up with the Commissioner mandating a 60 game season, it should come to no one’s surprise that the union and owners don’t like each other at all. Although there are many underlying issues, the big problem between the sides is that the players see everything the owners do leads to a salary cap that the players vehemently oppose. The owners see everything the union does is to milk more money from the owners. Yes, it’s all about money.
As a fan of the game, you can’t believe what either side says about anything; it’s all a ruse that leads back to it’s all about money. If the owners say up, the players say down, and all this contentiousness leads up to the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) that expires at the end of this season. The owners have basically had their way with the union for the last several years, but that has come to an end, with the union trying to show strength by objecting to anything the owners want to do. Who will pay in the end are, of course, the fans. Because of all of this hostility, there is a 75% chance that the new CBA’s lack of agreement will likely lead to a baseball strike.
The last baseball strike was 26 years ago when the 1994 season came to an early end on August 12th. The fans were left with no postseason after watching their favorite teams all season long. It also caused the 1995 season not to start on time. Unless these two sides can find some common ground and not be as greedy on both sides, we are headed for another baseball strike.
To refresh your memory of the MLB 1994 New York Yankee season, the strike may have prevented the Yankees from winning another World Series. When the season was halted, the Yankees under Buck Showalter were 70 and 43, 1st in the East. Wade Boggs was hitting .342; pitcher Jimmy Key was 17-4 on the season. And reliever Mike Stanley was winning games at a .800 rate. The strike prevented Showalter from a World Series win; it prevented Key from a 20 win season. It also dismayed fans beyond belief. It was like reaching 200′ from the top of Mt. Everest and being told your time had run out, and you had to go home.
In the latest episode of the drama, the owners wanted to start the season a month later with a 154 game season with full 162 game pay for the players. As always, this ended up with another disagreement between Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred and the MLBPA executive director Tony Clark. Clark immediately refusing the owner’s request for a delay. The owners sighted that it would give more time for more arms to be vaccinated and create a safer environment for players, staff, and fans.
The union sighted that it was too late to delay the season, as players had already rented homes or had their cars on trains headed to Florida or Arizona. Of course, that was a factor, but only a minor one; here is where we get back to money. The union rejected it because it did not include pay for canceled games, delays, or if the season had to be canceled altogether.
So now we have a 162 game season with no expanded postseason, no universal DH. It is basically a return to the 2019 season rules.
All of this gobbledygook doesn’t seem believable on either side of the issue. If either side was concerned about health, which both sides say they are, why didn’t the union request a delay in the season to protect players? Why did the owners wait until the last moment to ask for a delay when they knew it would be rejected?
One player’s agent paints this MLB scenario:
â€œPlayers get to spring training. They go to the market to stock the refrigerator of their rentals. They go out to dinner, some go out to bars, some go to the mall, some to other things. Cumulatively that will exponentially increase the odds of some player getting (COVID-19) and transmitting it.
â€œHow long before a camp is closed? How long before games are canceled? How long before spring training is delayed? What happens if it then drags into the season? More importantly, what happens if someone becomes seriously ill? How is any of those things defensible if it was all avoidable?â€
The bottom line is that there is no way to know if, by delaying the season, any of this could be avoidable, but it certainly would make the likelihood less probable. This is just another example of how MLB and the MLBPA could not come to an agreement for the benefit of the game.