As North American sports both major and minor slowly move towards a return to play, baseball appears to be bringing up the rear.
Tuesday MLB sent a proposal to the players union with parameters for a shortened season, which was not well received. Not at all.
Players immediately bristled at the proposal, which includes an 82-game schedule that would begin in early July after a 21-day spring training, sources familiar with the plan said. Teams would play three exhibition games in the final week before starting a regular season that would finish Sept. 27.
The MLB Players Association said in a statement to ESPN’s Enrique Rojas: “The proposal involves massive additional pay cuts and the union is extremely disappointed. We’re also far apart on health & safety protocols.”
The union is expected to reject the plan and counter in the coming days with a proposal that could include a longer season, according to sources.
It’s a scaled salary proposal, and reporters noted that a player making $35 million in 2020 would make about $7.8 million instead. A player earning $10 million would get about $3 million and players making $1 million would earn about $430,000 instead.
That still seems like a lot of money to you and me, and it is, comparatively, but players are obviously annoyed because they’d be accepting a pay cut of more than 50% after originally agreeing to the prorated number with the league back in March. Owners then came back around and asked for more due to a projected loss of revenue with gate heavily factored in.
Really what we have here is the average MLB fan forced to take a side in a dispute between billionaires and millionaires, which feels a little… dirty, I guess, for lack of a better word. It’s hard to feel bad for either side when the average American is just trying to stay afloat and pay the bills during a global pandemic, which is why you keep seeing words and phrases like “greedy” and “tone deaf” thrown around on Twitter. Beyond that, you look at the how other sports are handling their return to play, and it feels like the hockey and basketball players unions have a better working relationship with their respective leagues, while MLB and its players remain relatively far apart.
Marcus Stroman tweeted this Tuesday:
This season is not looking promising. Keeping the mind and body ready regardless. Time to dive into some life-after-baseball projects. Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. Brighter times remain ahead!
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) May 26, 2020
Woof. That would be horrendous. Baseball would look quite bad if the season was scrapped while other sports were able to come to agreements to play after the pandemic. You can’t accept a self-inflicted wound when some markets are already struggling to hold interest in younger fans, who are watching basketball and football and other sports in 2020.
MLB wants to have a second round of Spring Training in June, so they’ve got a little bit of wiggle room here in working out a deal with the players union.