TheÂ New York Yankees and the other 29 MLB teams are in lockdown. The present CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) expired on December 1. Commissioner Rob Manfred wasted no time putting the clubs in lockdown. A lockdown forbids any transactions. Historically the owners have mostly had their way in CBA negotiations, except for getting their long-sought-after salary cap. The players association (MLBPA) knows that they are determined not to let it happen again.
With Manfred frequently speaking out, most fans know the owner’s complaints, but that is not true of the players. Few speak out on social media with their complaints; even the union head Tony Clark is seldom open about the negotiations. There are 30 owners and over 1,200 players, so the players should have the upper hand, but they don’t, they have little bargaining power. They can get more power if they state their case to fans that now see it as a fight between millionaires and billionaires.Â
Having the most exposure, MLB can put pressure on the players, in many ways, including scrubbing articles and even their photos from the official MLB site. The players union has not placed a gag order on the players. The only way for the players to get the fans on their side is to talk, which almost all are not doing. If they can get the fans on their side, that is the best chance they have of putting pressure on the owners and possibly elevating their wants.
The union should schedule daily Zooms in which players explain to fans, through reporters, why they believe the game’s economy is broken. Get their case out there to the fans. Also, use your social media account. One of the significant issues they should explain is that over 90% of players earn the league minimum salary, very few players have mega-contracts, only the ones you see in the news. Players want more money sooner rather than later. The NFL, NBA, and NHL all have higher starting salaries than the MLB players. When you consider the average baseball life is only about four years, the minimum salary is significant.
Many minor league and even major-league players have second and third jobs in the off-season. They are laborers, janitors, or any position they can get to get by and feed and provide for their families. Again, I have to point out we’re are not talking about the Mike Trouts or Max Scherzer’s of the baseball world; they have plenty, and most have no worries for the rest of their lives. Most of those players are grossly overpaid.
In my opinion, compared to other sports, the players should have a higher starting salary. They should at the same time accept a reasonable salary cap, something they will never agree to. But for the time being, get out there and state your case. Get the fans on your side.