Just about the time you thought that things were going better, new tension has arisen between MLB and the MLBPA. Despite efforts to collaborate on getting some sort of season put together in the wake of the pandemic, the sides are now at odds over pay for players.
According to the league, player salary should be lessened, due to the fact that the stands will be empty. The basis of this ridiculous argument, stems back to a tentative agreement that was reached to restructure the season. MLB cites a cause that reads that both sides will “discuss in good faith the economic feasibility of playing games in the absence of spectators or at appropriate substitute neutral sites.”
By this standard, it would appear as though their original agreement was only valid if a regular season was played. This is hardly a rational argument. At best, the season won’t start for another 4-6 weeks. At that point, there’s no way to get 162 games played, with the more realistic goal being 80-100 games. Furthermore, throughout this entire process, at no point were there ever going to be fans in the stadiums. MLB now has four contingency plans, none of which include fans.
The MLBPA’s Argument
In light of the pandemic and a shortened season, the players agreed to play for a pro rata salary (prorated per game). Union chief, Tony Clark argues, “Players recently reached an agreement with Major League Baseball that outlines economic terms for resumption of play, which included significant salary adjustments and a number of other compromises. That negotiation is over.”
The MLBPA needs to stand their ground on this issue for a number of reasons. First, it was always assumed the stands would be empty. Next, the wear and tear on their bodies and the risk of injury doesn’t decline because MLB can’t have stadiums packed with fans. Additionally, if attendance was mandatory for salaries, teams who can’t draw crowds even in optimal circumstances, would never be able to afford to pay the face value of a player’s contract.
At this point, the increasing tension between the sides is going to cause further backlash. It appeared as though the parties had been working to eliminate some of the sore spots between them, but now it looks like they’re adding fuel to the fire that will ignite when the current CBA ends n December 1, 2021.
Let’s get it together. Pay these guys a prorated salary and let’s get to playing baseball.
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