Around the world, sports are working hard to return to action. The NBA, WNBA and NHL in the United States have all set down concrete plans for comeback; while some international soccer and baseball have already resumed competition.
But MLB on the other hand is making a royal mess of things. Just days after Rob Manfred said in no uncertain terms that a 2020 MLB season would happen the league commissioner back-tracked on Monday; saying he’s “not confident,” about it anymore.
“I think there’s real risk. And as long as there’s no dialogue, that real risk is gonna continue.”
The MLBPA did not appreciate this sudden about face.
“Players are disgusted that after Rob Manfred unequivocally told Players and fans that there would ‘100%’ be a 2020 season, he has decided to go back on his word and is now threatening to cancel the entire season,” said executive director Tony Clark in a statement.
Manfred expressed his lack of confidence to ESPN’s Mike Greenberg after the MLBPA said it could no longer negotiate with the league; and simply asked Manfred to implement whatever season he saw fit as agreed to in March.
What’s Going On?
So, the player’s have seemingly given up negotiating and have put the ball in the league’s court to set a season.
So why hasn’t MLB done just that? There is some speculation that the league is intentionally stalling; dragging out the talks as long as they can to reduce the number of possible games to play. Cincinnati Red’s pitcher and vocal Manfred critic Trevor Bauer took to Twitter to accuse the league of just that.
“Players told you to set the season, but it’s too early to set the season right now, isn’t it Rob? Because then you’d have to explain why you’re only going to impose 50 games when we could easily play 70+ right now.” he wrote in a thread of Tweets.
“The tactic is to bluff with “no season” again and delay another 2-3 weeks until you clear the risk of “not negotiating in good faith by trying to play as many games as possible”
There are also rumors that the MLBPA has intentions to file legal grievances against the league once a season is announced; and that the league is posturing to prevent that from happening.
A Really, Really Bad Look
If baseball can’t make as season happen, it will likely be disastrous.
To the average person struggling to work normal jobs and pay bills, the millionaire ball players getting stiffed by their billionaire owners will garner little sympathy. To fans who have followed the debacle of a negotiation, the billionaire owners trying to wring every possible dollar out of the players (who would also be the ones taking the biggest risks) is greedy and ridiculous.
But regardless of whose side you fall on, to see talks break down so utterly is embarrassing for the league and should outrage fans. Every other league in America has worked to find a way forward that helps reduce the pain for everyone.
For a sport already battling a reputation of bored apathy across the country; the battle to remain relevant will only become more difficult with words like greedy and petty also synonyms with the league.