Written by Chris Kubala
All the optimism from early last week has washed away when it comes to major league baseball. The thought process that the league was moving toward an actual resolution after commissioner Rob Manfred met with MLBPA executive director Tony Clark last Tuesday didn’t pan out. As it turned out, the owners sent over a 60-game proposal with full pro-rated salaries, along with a universal DH and expanded playoffs from 10 to 16 teams. That offer came last Wednesday but was quickly rejected by the union.
The MLBPA countered with a 70-game schedule along with the other concepts that the owners had previously offered. Manfred rejected that proposal, stating that the league didn’t want to play doubleheaders and had no interest in adding more games to the schedule. They chose not to counter at that point in time and were sticking to their original 60-game offer. The players were going to vote over the weekend only to put it off, first due to the closing of all spring training facilities due to the breakout of COVID-19 cases in the states of Florida and Arizona. They postponed again after Manfred offered to cancel the expanded playoffs and universal DH in 2021 if a full season doesn’t take place in 2020.
On Monday, the doom and gloom that has pervaded the sport for more than a month became more official as the players summarily decided to reject the offer on the table from the owners. The vote wasn’t even particularly close as the players, which consisted of one team representative from each team and the eight-man executive committee, voted 33-5 against the proposal. As part of a statement that the MLBPA released after the vote rejecting the proposal, they said:
"The MLBPA Executive Board met multiple times in recent days to assess the status of our effort to resume the 2020 season. Earlier this evening, the full Board reaffirmed the players' eagerness to return to work as soon and as safely as possible. To that end we anticipate finalizing a comprehensive set of health and safety protocols with Major League Baseball in the coming days, and we await word from the league on the resumption of spring training camps and a proposed 2020 schedule.
While we had hoped to reach a revised back to work agreement with the league, the Players remain fully committed to proceeding under our current agreement and getting back on the field for the fans, for the game, and for each other."
At this point, we’re left with Manfred devising a schedule and imposing it on the players. We’re back to looking at somewhere between 48 and 54 games, though the possibility of that 60-game slate that the owners had proposed could be in play. The players have gone back and forth with the owners with neither side willing to give much in the way of ground. Now, we’re faced with the nuclear option where the schedule is set by Manfred and the players have to decide if they’re willing to play given the way things are right now. Baseball has done a terrific job of botching this entire situation and left them in a no-win situation. It will be interesting to see what transpires next after Monday’s events.