New York Yankees: It’s 1994 all over again, what you need to know

The New York Yankees and all of major league baseball went into lockout when the owners and the players couldn’t come to an agreement on a new CBA (collective bargaining agreement). This is the first work stoppage in baseball in 27 years. Although there are some differences, it is like 1994 all over again. This is a lockout by the owners; in 1994, it was a walkout by the players; nevertheless, the result is the same, no baseball interactions by any of the parties involved until a new agreement can be reached.

For all practical purposes, it means the players and owners can’t talk to each other. That means no trades, no more insane contracts offered to players, coaches can’t even work with players. Pitchers and catchers are to report to spring training in February, but they won’t be getting any instruction from trainers, coaches, or manager Aaron Boone. It has yet to be seen if players are locked out of spring training sites. Depending on the lockout length (in 1994, it was seven and half months), the 2022 season may not start on time or may not be played at all.

For baseball fans everywhere, most find both sides responsible, the players who are crying after making millions a year to play a game they love and the owners for being just as greedy. Forgetting the issues for a moment and looking deep into the responsibility for the lockout, it gets quite confusing. Without the owners, the ballplayers have no job. The owners spend millions on new ballparks, refurbishing older ones, paying players, in some cases insane amounts to play, and all the other associated costs of putting on a ballgame. This is not to recognize that owners make revenues from ticket sales, merchandise, and TV revenues.

On the player’s part, yes, most struggle in the early years of their careers in the minors, with relatively low pay and, in some cases, substandard living conditions that have significantly improved in recent years. But the reality is, isn’t that true of most workers, no matter what career they choose, the more considerable earnings come with time and experience. An example across all careers is that in the early years, you may have to share an apartment with a friend to get by, but after, say, 10 years, you may be able to afford a home. The big difference between the average Joe and a baseball player is that Joe will likely never make millions a year.

This writer tends to side with the owners who have much more at stake than the players do. However, the ballplayers do have some issues that should be addressed in their favor. The owners have supported a salary cap forever, but the players will have no part of that. If you think about it, a player that is paid $43 million a year to start 25-30 games in the course of a season makes nearly a million and a half dollars to pitch five or six innings. That is insane when an average family of four can’t afford to attend a ballgame. Not to dwell on the subject, but think about it a second. That pitcher makes more money in between pitches in one game than the ticket buyer makes annually.

To understand the work stoppage, let’s take a look at other stoppages through the years:

  • 1972: Players struck over a pension dispute. It lasted about two weeks, disrupting the 1972 season.
  • 1973: The owners locked out the player over salary arbitration during spring training that year.
  • 1976: Owner lockout during spring training over the evolving issue of player-free agency.
  • 1980: In 1980, if issue of free agency again halted spring training.
  • 1981: Players strike over free-agent compensation. The 1981 season was nearly destroyed when two months of playing time was lost.
  • 1985: Players strike over pension fund and salary arbitration. This stoppage only lost two games of the season.
  • 1990: Owner lockout over salary arbitration and free agency. Began during spring training, causing a delay in the start of the 1990 season.
  • The 1995 season was significantly abbreviated. 1994: Players strike largely over owners’ desire to implement a salary cap. This happened in August and canceled the remainder of the season, including the postseason. At the time, the Yankees were 70-43. Play resumed only after a federal judge reinstated terms of the previous CBA.
  • 2021: Owners lockout players when agreement is not evident. Players want more money sooner in their careers and want owners to stop manipulating how long a player remains in the minors. The union also wants a luxury tax overhaul to lure teams to spend more on player salaries without fear of harsh tax penalties. The players also want a higher beginning salary that now stands at $570,000. These are just some of the issues that have not been resolved. It should be pointed out that if no progress is made, the sides could agree to keep the present agreement in force to prevent the loss of the 2022 season.

For fans, they see both sides of the issues, not being sincere and willing to work together to make the game better for the sake of the fan and the game itself. Every time there is a work stoppage, fans leave the sport.

The biggest target for disgruntled fans is Commissioner Rob Manfred that has a very low approval rating that is near the bottom of the trash can. For Yankee fans, they will never forgive him for not stripping the Houston Astros of their 2017 World Series win after it was proved that they cheated. That aside, he has not been seen as doing what if best for the game. One thing that should be known about Manfred is that he is a graduate of Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and has a law degree from Harvard. He should be the perfect person to resolve these issues but has failed.

“Things like a shortened reserve period, $100 million reduction in revenue sharing, and salary arbitration for the whole two-year class are bad for the sport, bad for the fans, and bad for competitive balance,” Manfred recited on Thursday, while noting that the players have not budged on any of these issues. He also said the owners have already made concessions.”

“While we have heard repeatedly that free agency is ‘broken’ — in the month of November $1.7 billion was committed to free agents, smashing the prior record by nearly 4x,” Manfred penned, likely echoing what he’s heard from the crybaby billionaires whose collective interest he represents. “By the end of the offseason, Clubs will have committed more money to players than in any offseason in MLB history.”

In addition to the issues at hand, the players believe the owners have had their way in recent agreements and are not going to let that happen again. Tony Clark, leader of the players union, has been less verbal about the lack of an agreement, but he did say on Thursday:

“From the outset, it seems as if the league has been more interested in the appearance of bargaining than bargaining itself,” said Clark, who then stressed that M.L.B. wasn’t required to impose a lockout. He added, “And contrary to the statement that imposing a lockout would be helpful in bringing negotiations to a conclusion, players consider it unnecessary and provocative. This lockout won’t pressure or intimidate players into a deal that they don’t believe is fair.”

With the sides still very far apart, and neither side willing to work in good faith, it spells for a very long work stoppage, as seen by most industry insiders. Stay with EmpireSportsMedia.com for all the latest developments.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

New York Yankees: MLB owners impose lockout, everything comes to a halt

Last night, New York Yankee owner Hal Steinbrenner and the other 29 club owners unanimously voted to impose a lockout. It was not a surprise as the two sides in the negotiations for a new five-year agreement were reportedly still far apart on pending issues. The lockout means an immediate stop to any trades or new free-agent contracts. The lockout will last until the two sides can come to an agreement.

The move last night signals the first time there has been an MLB work stoppage since August of 1994. That stoppage ended the season with no World Series and lasted into the 1995 season that was delayed. The stoppage lasted over seven and a half months. That stoppage likely cost the Yankees a championship, as the team was 70 and 43 before the stoppage. This present stoppage is due to a lockout by the owners, the 1994 halt was caused by a player walkout. It’s unclear if it will affect Opening Day for the start of the 2022 spring training.

Super agent Scott Boras had this to say about the lockout:

“We have something in our rules that creates non-competitiveness. It creates something that drives down fan interest. All those things need to be addressed and addressed immediately, because the whole integrity and wholesomeness of the game needs to be back to where it was, so there’s an incentive to get back to the ballpark and win every day,”

His client, Mets newly acquired pitcher Max Scherzer and player negotiator, had this to say:

“There are so many different ways as players as whole that we believe we can make the game better. We’re absolutely committed to doing that,” Sherzer told reporters. “I hear every other player, whether young or old, they’re all saying the same thing clubhouse to clubhouse. It’s not just me who thinks this, it’s everybody. It’s obvious to all the players.”

In the wee hours of Thursday, after the lockout was affirmed, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred explained why the lockout was necessary.

“This defensive lockout was necessary, because the players association’s vision for Major League Baseball would threaten the ability of most teams to be competitive… It’s simply not a viable option. From the beginning, the MLBPA has been unwilling to move from their starting position, compromise or collaborate on solutions.”

How long this lockout will last is anyone’s guess, but a short outcome does look like it is in the offing. At stake is money, the players want more earlier, and the owners want to keep that money. In the last several agreements, the owners have pretty much had their way. This time the players have made it clear that they are sick of it and are not going to take it anymore. They have their heels dug in, which does not spell for any early agreement.

As of this writing, baseball player’s union leader Tony Clark, who is an ex-Yankee first baseman, has not made a statement on the lockout.

At 12:03 am today Manfred issued this letter to baseball fans:

To our Fans:

I first want to thank you for your continued support of the great game of baseball. This past season, we were reminded of how the national pastime can bring us together and restore our hope despite the difficult challenges of a global pandemic. As we began to emerge from one of the darkest periods in our history, our ballparks were filled with fans; the games were filled with excitement; and millions of families felt the joy of watching baseball together.

That is why I am so disappointed about the situation in which our game finds itself today. Despite the league’s best efforts to make a deal with the Players Association, we were unable to extend our 26 year-long history of labor peace and come to an agreement with the MLBPA before the current CBA expired. Therefore, we have been forced to commence a lockout of Major League players, effective at 12:01am ET on December 2.

I want to explain to you how we got here and why we have to take this action today. Simply put, we believe that an offseason lockout is the best mechanism to protect the 2022 season. We hope that the lockout will jumpstart the negotiations and get us to an agreement that will allow the season to start on time. This defensive lockout was necessary because the Players Association’s vision for Major League Baseball would threaten the ability of most teams to be competitive. It’s simply not a viable option. From the beginning, the MLBPA has been unwilling to move from their starting position, compromise, or collaborate on solutions.

When we began negotiations over a new agreement, the Players Association already had a contract that they wouldn’t trade for any other in sports. Baseball’s players have no salary cap and are not subjected to a maximum length or dollar amount on contracts. In fact, only MLB has guaranteed contracts that run 10 or more years, and in excess of $300 million. We have not proposed anything that would change these fundamentals. While we have heard repeatedly that free agency is “broken” – in the month of November $1.7 billion was committed to free agents, smashing the prior record by nearly 4x. By the end of the offseason, Clubs will have committed more money to players than in any offseason in MLB history.

We worked hard to find compromise while making the system even better for players, by addressing concerns raised by the Players Association. We offered to establish a minimum payroll for all clubs to meet for the first time in baseball history; to allow the majority of players to reach free agency earlier through an age-based system that would eliminate any claims of service time manipulation; and to increase compensation for all young players, including increases in the minimum salary. When negotiations lacked momentum, we tried to create some by offering to accept the universal Designated Hitter, to create a new draft system using a lottery similar to other leagues, and to increase the Competitive Balance Tax threshold that affects only a small number of teams.

We have had challenges before with respect to making labor agreements and have overcome those challenges every single time during my tenure. Regrettably, it appears the Players Association came to the bargaining table with a strategy of confrontation over compromise. They never wavered from collectively the most extreme set of proposals in their history, including significant cuts to the revenue-sharing system, a weakening of the competitive balance tax, and shortening the period of time that players play for their teams. All of these changes would make our game less competitive, not more.

To be clear: this hard but important step does not necessarily mean games will be cancelled. In fact, we are taking this step now because it accelerates the urgency for an agreement with as much runway as possible to avoid doing damage to the 2022 season. Delaying this process further would only put Spring Training, Opening Day, and the rest of the season further at risk – and we cannot allow an expired agreement to again cause an in-season strike and a missed World Series, like we experienced in 1994. We all owe you, our fans, better than that.

Today is a difficult day for baseball, but as I have said all year, there is a path to a fair agreement, and we will find it. I do not doubt the League and the Players share a fundamental appreciation for this game and a commitment to its fans. I remain optimistic that both sides will seize the opportunity to work together to grow, protect, and strengthen the game we love. MLB is ready to work around the clock to meet that goal. I urge the Players Association to join us at the table.

New York Yankees: Is the hot stove about to go stone cold? All about the CBA

For the New York Yankees and the other 29 franchise owners and all the players that play the game for MLB, there is just one week to settle employer employee disagreements. On December 1 at 11:59 pm the present CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) will expire. All issues must be resolved or a lock out or a player strike could take place.

What’s at stake?

If you don’t like reading about stuff like this, I will make it simple for you. It’s all about the money. The players want as much as they can get, and the owners want to keep as much as they can. It’s really that simple. Insiders to the talks don’t hold much promise that there will not be a work stoppage. The last time there was a stoppage was during August of 1994 when the players went on strike. The season was not completed, there was no World Series and baseball didn’t start again until long after the 1995 should have started. Fans were irate, with many leaving the sport not to return for a decade. Another stoppage for the sport could be devastating.

Some times it’s hard to wrap your head around all of this because it’s a sport, but make no mistake about it, it is as much a business as owners make huge investments in players and property to draw fans to their parks, and increase their TV and other revenues. For the Players, its their livelihood. There is much at stake, one side will eventually win, but the loser will be the fans themselves.

Let’s set the stage. The chief negotiator for the owners is Commissioner Rob Manfred, in the other corner is Tony Clark President of the MLB Players Association. If this sounds like a fight it is. By its very nature it is confrontational.

Here is a brief explanation of what’s at stake for the players. The last few Collective Bargaining Agreements have heavily favored the owners, and the players are sick of getting the short end of the stick. To borrow a phase, they are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore. The only one without a seat at the table is what is good for the game of baseball, and you the loyal fan.

Players want more money earlier in their careers

Young players in particular want to be able to make more money earlier in their career than they presently can. The salaries of MLB players have dropped, in 2017 the average annual salary for an MLB player was $4.1 million, for 2021 it’s expected to average between $3.6-$3.7 million. It’s been reported that MLB has proposed free agency will no longer be based upon players accruing six years of big league service, but available to every player who turns 29.5 years of age. This would mean that a player 21-23 could wait more than six years to achieve free agency.

There are a host of other less interesting items to be sorted out, but Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated that we  could be headed for a lockout, as labor negotiations between the league and its players association are progressing slowly.

Lock outs and strikes don’t always end well, back in 1981 the Schlitz Brewing company in Wisconsin went on strike. The company was coming off a poor season of reduced revenues. Baseball is coming off a $3 Billion loss in 2020. The workers wanted more money but the company said no. Eventually Schlitz closed the plant down and 700 lost their jobs permanently. It is possible that a work stoppage that lasts into the 2022 season could put some poorer teams under.

  • A lockout would put a hold on all MLB transactions.
  • The league is not required to initiate a lockout after the CBA expires but may choose to do so.
  • Should the two sides fail to reach an agreement before the season is set to start on March 31, MLB could face a shortened or even canceled season.
  • A lockout during the postseason if it moves the process forward is not a bad thing, but if it continues beyond opening day it could be devastating.
  • The players and the owners have just one week to get all the issues sorted out for the good of the game.

 

 

 

 

New York Yankees: Pay by how you perform, how radical is that?

For the New York Yankees and the other 29 MLB teams, even though it’s early in the offseason non the less they are scurrying about checking on who is available to fill the spots on their teams that need to be filled. They also have to figure out how many will be done by cash and how many by trades they can come up with. But Just a few weeks from now a major hurdle in the offseason must be leaped over, that’s the GMA that caused the players to go on strike in 1994.

General Manager Brian Cashman has made it public that after a failed experiment with Gleyber Torres at shortstop, his main priority this off-season is to get a quality tried and true shortstop for the club. However, every baseball fan must know that when Cashman and company sit down together to decide what to do about shortstop and second base, there will be a giant grey elephant sitting in the room. His name is MLB CBA.

That is short for Collective bargaining agreement; basically, the owners and players come together to decide who will make the most money over the next term. No one wants to lose that battle, but one side of the issues must lose, and for the last several years, it has been the players. To steal a phrase, I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Most industry sources are saying the mood is this year’s talks that have a December 4 deadline.

Now a bit more than three weeks away, the deadline approaches. There has been very little leaked out of the talks, mostly due to keeping it in the boardroom is to the benefit of all. But this week, MLB has put forth an idea that has been brought up more than once. It’s a change from arbitration, being replaced by a so-called pay by performance. An amount of money would be spread out among the eligible players, and then instead of raises by arbitration, they would be given out by WAR or performance. It sounds a bit like a salary cap for those players, something the Players Union has rejected time and time again.

Considering recent relations between Commissioner Rob Manfred, MLBPA director Tony Clark and the owners, expect a difficult time ahead. Although finding that shortstop, centerfielder, and starting pitcher for the New York Yankees may be a problem getting past the GBA may be the most challenging. Another lock-out or player strike would be devastating to baseball.

MLB: Where is baseball going, does baseball know?

MLB, the New York Yankees, and all of baseball are in transition. It could be called a war between MLB and the Players Union (MLBPA) or a war between the newbie analyticals and the baseball traditionalist. Sometimes, conflict is in the background, sometimes right up front when MLB changes that rock the baseball world.  This is a complicated situation, to say the least. This is for sure because baseball today is not the same game it was in the ’20s and ’30s, and comparisons can’t be made. Baseball is evolving, and there will be no stopping it, like it or not.

Anyone that does not believe this wait until December 1, 2021, when the present baseball collective bargaining agreement ends and will be taken up again. These two entities no longer work together, they work against each other, and there is a 50/50 chance these issues at hand will not be resolved without the first baseball strike since August of 1994 that led into the 1995 season.

Aside from the collective bargaining agreement, the last several years have seen many changes in the game we all love. Because of the lack of trust between the owners and players, the 2020 pandemic season could not be resolved to lead Commissioner Rob Manfred had to dictate a 60 game season. They did resolve some issues, and they lead to a host of changes in the game, some that the fans like and most that they don’t. The universal DH, the man on second after the ninth inning, the seven-inning doubleheaders, the relief pitcher having to face 3 hitters, and others. The only one not to remain in the 2021 season is that the NL has gone back to pitchers hitting. At some point, this has to become universal across both leagues.

Some changes in the game have just happened without the powers to be having their hands in it, and those changes will cause even more changes. A good example of this is in the past few years, pitchers have gotten better, a whole lot better at a disproportionate rate than hitters getting better. In years past, pitchers used to be encouraged to complete games; today, that is a rarity; managers across baseball actually discourage pitchers from finishing games. Today the relief pitcher is every bit as important if not more important than the starters. Starting pitchers now pitch differently than they did in years past. Years ago, when pitchers were expected to see the opposition lineup three times or more, they saved some of their best pitches to use later in the game. Today knowing that he is only expected to five or six innings, he puts it all out there, maybe even in the first inning.

Across baseball, hitting is down, and for a good reason. Better starting pitchers that go five or six innings, and then the hitters face flame-throwing relief pitchers in each inning that follows. When you have to face a new pitcher every time you come to the plate, you are at an automatic disadvantage. Less hitting and fewer runs scored creates less excitement in a game that most fans already feel is too long and tedious. Some of the changes already installed have addressed this issue, some see them as successful, and some are annoyed by them. By having a relief pitcher face, three hitters, you are reducing the number of relievers used in a game, encouraging starters to go deeper into games. The man on second rule has shortened the length of games; you aren’t going to see many games that go over 12 innings.

Like the drug era, all the changes that have happened will make comparing stats even more difficult. How successful would Babe Ruth have been hitting with a robot umpire? How successful would Mickey Mantle have been hitting today’s starters and the arsenal of one inning flame throwers? MLB in the minors is experimenting with several new changes to satisfy the issues of the day. Robots to make umpiring more accurate, moving the pitching mound back a bit to give the hitters a better chance to see the ball a bit longer and improve hitting, and a host of other changes to the game. Whether the traditionalists like it or not, the game will continue to change. The trick will be balancing it to satisfy the most people and ensure the game’s growth that has seen a slide over the last few decades. The future of baseball is on the line.

 

 

New York Mets: No Universal DH in Agreed Health and Safety Protocols

The New York Mets desperately needed the universal designated hitter for the 2021 season but will not get their wish. Major League Baseball and the Players Association agreed on health and safety protocols for 2021, including 7-inning doubleheaders and a runner starting on second during extra innings.

MLB did not want the universal DH and felt it was not important towards COVID-19 safety like the other rule changes. For the Union to get the DH, they have to agree on an expanded postseason. Ironically, playing extra innings is a health risk but asking players to add more games to the postseason is perfectly fine. This ongoing chess match between Rob Manfred and Tony Clark is a competition between two people in well over their heads.

Will The Rules Stay?

Anyone against the extra-inning or doubleheader changes can hope they do not remain past 2021. It will not be easy to agree upon a new collective bargaining agreement before 2022. The future Zoom meeting will feature arguments on these topics, along with much more. There is good reason to assume the two controversial rules are just for the pandemic. The universal DH is a higher priority to the Union than playing fewer doubleheader innings or shortening extra-inning games.

The Mets suffer the most without the universal DH as they are stuck with Brandon Nimmo’s defense in center field. Unless Nimmo is traded before spring training, Jackie Bradley Jr. is off their radar. In a perfect world, Bradley plays center, Nimmo in left, Dominic Smith plays first, and Pete Alonso becomes the DH.

Signing Albert Almora Jr. meant the Mets saw this as the likely outcome. Bradley would be an expensive fourth outfielder with a multi-year deal. Almora gives the Mets flexibility, a bat for left-handed pitching, and a defensive replacement.

Since each position is at least two players deep, the Mets seem finished with adding position players through free agency. They may add a free agent pitcher (Jake Arrieta/Rich Hill), but their next position player move is likely through trade.

MLB Analysis: MLB and MLBPA just don’t like each other, you will pay

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:

“Players 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.

“How 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?”

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.

MLB News/Rumors: How long will the 2021 baseball season be?

If the MLBPA has any say, it will be a full 162 games for full pay. MLB reached out to the players union, asking them if they would be open to a shortened season in 2021 that might lop off at least the first month of the season. The immediate response was absolutely not. A big fat NO! MLBPA Executive director former Yankee Tony Clark reiterated what he said  at the end of the season, “the players are planning for a 162-game season and plan to show up for spring training on time.”

The beginning of the season and how long it will be has yet to be ironed out, along with many other 2020 rule changes as to whether they will be continued. Not the least is if there will be a universal DH in 2021 and if they will keep the man on second base after nine innings. At the end of this year, the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is set to expire after the 2021 season. The MLBPA is not going to seem weak, going into those negotiations. They will want to hold firm for everything they want for the 2021 season.

The CBA is the negotiated agreement that governs almost every aspect of the working relationship between management (the clubs) and labor (the players). While we’ve had a long run of labor peace in baseball — the sport has gone without a labor stoppage since 1995 — there’s reason to fear that may end with the next round of negotiations. At another time closer to the negotiation I will explain the complex issues involved.

But for now, the details of the 2021 season have to be ironed out, and for owners, it’s not starting well with the denial of playing a full season of games in 2021. In a USA Today story this week, team owners were quoted as skeptical that a full-length season could be completed.

“We’ve seen anonymous quotes attributed to club sources casting doubt on the start date and length of the season, “Bruce Meyer, the MLBPA’s senior director of collective bargaining and legal, said in a statement on Tuesday. “To be clear and ass we’ve made clear to the league, players are planning on showing up on time for spring training and for a full 162-game season as set forth in the collective bargaining agreement and the leagues previously issued schedule.”

If you recall, the length of the MLB 2020 season and how much baseball players would be paid caused long and tense negotiations before Commissioner Rob Manfred mandated the 60 game season. There is no reason to expect anything different before this upcoming season. With so much unknown about the 2021 season, don’t expect any of these issues to be decided by spring training in the headlights. There are so many unknowns from the effect the coronavirus will have on the season, if fans will be in the stands, how successful the hopeful vaccines will be, and if players will be required to take the vaccines. Much more to come on this and many other MLB subjects in the weeks to come.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

Yankees Owner Hal Steinbrenner Expects Fans at Yankee Stadium

New York Yankees, Hal Steinbrenner

New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner is very optimistic that the Yankees will have some sort of fan presence at Yankee Stadium this year.

In an interview earlier today with YES Network’s Meredith Marakovits, Steinbrenner said, “I do expect to see fans in our stadium at some point to some degree, and that’s going to be a great day as well.” 

He went on to say the stadium will “at first” be 20-30% full. He is confident that management can provide the proper precautions for fans to stay safe in the stadium. 

Teams can create their precautions regarding fans in stadiums. However, Commissioner Rob Manfred must approve them before they can be put into action. 

The MLB put out a statement that read, “The commissioner has made no decisions regarding permitting fans at games. The decision will be based both on whether local health authorities approve fans to attend games and whether our medical advisors believe it is appropriate to do so.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been very vocal about allowing sports venues to hold sporting events but hasn’t talked about allowing fans in attendance. 

The Yankees will stay in their home stadium for workouts and simulated games leading up to July 23rd. From there they will travel to Washington to take on the defending champs in primetime action. 

MLB News: Despite optimism there is no agreement for a baseball season, details here

While New York Yankees President Randy Levine expressed his optimism that there would be a baseball season, urging the sides to negotiate, Commissioner Manfred issued what appeared to be blockbuster news.

“At my request Tony Clark and I met for several hours yesterday in Phoenix.  We left that meeting with a jointly developed framework that we agreed could form the basis of an agreement and subject to conversations with our respective contituents. I summarized that framework several times in the meeting and sent Tony a written summary today. I am encouraging the clubs to move forward and I trust Tony is doing the same”

Manfred’s statement led baseball lovers everywhere to believe a baseball deal had been accomplished, and the only thing left was a union vote approving the deal.  But as the evening progressed, a letter from players union executive director Tony Clark was released stating: citing “a number of significant issues with what [MLB Manfred] proposed” and stated, “there certainly were no tentative agreements reached.”

Here is what Manfred’s latest proposal looks like:

  • Spring training would begin no later than June 28 for position players.
  • The season would consist of 60 games over 70 days, beginning July 19 or 20 and ending Sept. 27.
  • An expanded postseason in 2020 and 2021, with a minimum players’ pool of $25 million.
  • 100 percent prorated salaries (60 games would amount to about 37 percent of a 162-game season and salary)
  • The designated hitter in both leagues in 2020 and 2021.
  • Opt-out rights for high-risk individuals, as defined by the CDC.
  • MLB would direct $10 million for social justice initiatives.
  • ‘Minimum’ player commitments for broadcast elements, including the miking of players.
  • Corporate advertising on uniforms in 2020 and 2021.
  • Enhanced housing allowances for spring training and regular season.
  • Mutual waiver of potential grievances under the March Agreement.

MLB on their part has made significant comprises to the players union so that a season can be accomplished.  100 percent of prorated salaries is one of them. Previous MBL plans have called for large reductions in play.  The plan also allows players to have corporate advertising on uniforms to increase player revenue. But among other issues, the players are holding fast to wanting more games going later into the season.

According to how you look at the MLB deal, it appears each side of the negotiation gets a little of what they wanted.  The players will be paid their full prorated salaries, and the owners get a shortened season that will reduce losses from a much longer season. It makes you wonder why the sides couldn’t have come to a similar compromise earlier, producing a much more legitimate season.

After the final tweaking of the agreement, both sides may see that 66 games make more sense schedule-wise. 12 games each vs. 4 division opponents, 3 games each vs. 4 interleague opponents, and 6 games (home and home) vs. interleague rivals. The exact details may not be known until spring training 2.0 is resumed if the sides can finally come together and make it happen.

With the sides constantly disagreeing on issues now, they don’t seem to be able to agree on whether an agreement has been reached.  However, there is more optimism today than a few days ago when Clark said that further negotiations would be futile. With yesterday’s MLB announcement, I was hoping to be writing about a start to the season this morning, but It appears the sides are closer together to make that happen to provide some hope of an MLB season.  The supposed agreement could be a jump start that has been needed.