MLB Wins the Battle, But May Lose the War

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Barring a wildcat strike by the players, the 87-day war between MLB and the MLBPA appears to be over. MLB may have won the battle, but they may lose the war. Major League Baseball is set to resume on July 29th, 2020., with teams playing a 60-game schedule.

This afternoon, the MLBPA struck down MLB’s final proposal by a vote of 33-5. Commissioner Rob Manfred is now set to unilaterally impose a 60-game season. The players will still receive fully prorated salaries.

The union is not pleased with the (lack of) negotiations, issuing the following statement this afternoon.

According to ESPN multimedia reporter, Adrian Gonzalez, “The MLBPA said it will move forward with the terms agreed to in March, which allows Rob Manfred to set the schedule so long as players get full pro-rated pay. That agreement was reached 87 days ago. What took place in that 87-day stretch might define this industry for a long time.”

That’s an understatement.

The Next Steps

Before baseball can resume, steps need to be taken for the safety of the players. First, spring training facilities need to be fully vacated, then decontaminated. The Phillies’ and Yankees’ camps have already been infected, but there’s bound to be more.

Once the facilities are safe, players will need to be tested – likely on a weekly schedule – to ensure players remain safe. There’ll be no fans in the stands, nor will the families of players be allowed in the first stage of operations.

When all is deemed safe (well, at least as safe as possible), you’ll see Spring Training 2.0 begin. This should last approximately 3-4 weeks before games finally begin. The schedule and format have yet to be determined.

Prepare For the Fallout

Just because the players will be playing, doesn’t mean the union is happy. Expect a grievance to be filed at the end of the season, as the MLBPA seeks compensation for lost wages.

Beyond this season – if that’s what you wish to call it – the union need only get through the 2021 season before the current collective bargaining agreement ends. Watch out after that.

Unless the 30 owners vote to replace Rob Manfred between now and then, the MLBPA will be loaded for bear when the talks begin for the next CBA. The list of sticking points is too long to list in its entirety. Topping the list, issues over service time tampering remain. Concerns over the pay and working conditions for minor leaguers is still a sore spot. Then there’s that little issue over minorleague contraction.

Trevor Bauer sees the writing on the wall. Never mind the fact that the fans will have become part of the collateral damage. For a sport eager to bring in a new fan base, they sure as hell aren’t doing much to maintain it.


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