MLB plan for 82-game season looks very unlikely now
In the dumpster fire that is 2020 Major League Baseball, “You’ve Got Mail” hardly constitutes a feel-good title. Instead, it represents the latest exchange of rancor between the players and owners concerning the ultra-tense negotiations to reopen this season.
The top negotiators from MLB and the MLB Players Association took turns lodging complaints and accusations toward one another, as the two sides remain far apart on the number of games and the amount of pay that would stop the fussin’ and the feudin’ and get teams back on the field.
Bruce Meyer, the union’s top negotiator, wrote to MLB’s deputy commissioner Dan Halem that the owners, in suggesting they could pay the players their prorated salary only if they limited the regular season to about 50 games, were deploying the “cynical tactic of depriving America of baseball games.” Halem, who wrote his letter first, expressed, “[W]e do not have any reason to believe that a negotiated solution for an 82-game season is possible.”
Multiple industry sources confirmed the content of both letters, which were first reported by The Athletic.
The fundamental disagreement between the two sides involves the players’ willingness (or lack thereof) to work for less than their prorated pay. All of the ancillary disputes emanate from that. MLB proposed an 82-game regular season with a sliding scale for players by which the top-paid performers would receive the biggest haircuts. The PA countered with a 114-game regular season through October, with the postseason occurring in November, and full prorated pay with deferred payments for players making $10 million or more if the worst-case scenario of a canceled postseason occurs. When the union presented that idea on Sunday, commissioner Rob Manfred responded by saying that, by the terms of the March 26 agreement that guaranteed players their prorated salaries, he could hold a season of any length. A season of about 50 games while paying players their prorated income would be financially viable, MLB has contended.
“Even assuming that this is an appropriate basis for the league to frustrate the playing of baseball games (we note that MLB frequently claims that it has negative operating profits from playing baseball yet it still puts on baseball games every year), the league has done nothing to persuade us of the veracity of its claims,” Meyer wrote.
Aside from the dollars, running the regular season through October wouldn’t work because, Halem explained, “We are uncomfortable from a public health perspective extending the regular season into October. In addition, your proposal ignores the realities of the weather in many parts of the country during the second half of October. If we schedule a full slate of games in late October, we will be plagued by cancellations.”
Concerns linger that the coronavirus could return in the cooler weather of November, and left unmentioned is the reality that MLB’s broadcast partners would prefer to air the postseason in October.
Meyer also asserted the two sides still needed to agree on health and safety protocols that would cover the game’s return.
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