Baseball is going to be played in 2020. And you might actually recognize some of it.
Negotiations appear to be done between owners and the Major League Baseball Players Association. Proposals have been rejected on both sides and talks are dead. The counter-offers and counterpunching will stop.
We’ve reached the point where players are waiting for commissioner Rob Manfred to set the schedule, which is going to consist of roughly 50 games. And then they’ll accuse MLB of not trying harder to resolve the issue and come to an agreement.
In case you missed MLB’s statement issued late Saturday night, here it is:
“We are disappointed that the MLBPA has chosen not to negotiate in good faith over resumption of play after MLB has made three successive proposals that would provide players, Clubs and our fans with an amicable resolution to a very difficult situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The MLBPA understands that the agreement reached on March 26th was premised on the parties’ mutual understanding that the players would be paid their full salaries only if play resumed in front of fans, and that another negotiation was to take place if Clubs could not generate the billions of dollars of ticket revenue required to pay players. The MLBPA’s position that players are entitled to virtually all the revenue from a 2020 season played without fans is not fair to the thousands of other baseball employees that Clubs and our office are supporting financially during this very difficult 2020 season. We will evaluate the Union’s refusal to adhere to the terms of the March Agreement, and after consulting with ownership, determine the best course to bring baseball back to our fans.”
This should make for pleasant negotiations toward a new collective bargaining agreement following the 2021 season.
As if fans already turned off by the sport’s inability to work out a deal for the 2020 season need to be subjected to a strike, as well.
You want empty ballparks? You’ve got ‘em.
The league’s most recent proposal included a 72-game regular season and 70 percent of prorated salaries, with the number jumping to 83 percent if the postseason was completed in its entirety. The union couldn’t reject it fast enough, citing again how the salary numbers are massaged but unchanged.
Usain Bolt looked at it and said, “Man, that was fast.”
We need to find out more than just the game total. How long will spring training 2.0 last and will camps open in Florida and Arizona or at home ballparks? How will the taxi squad work? What are the roster sizes? Will the playoff field stay at five teams per league? Will travel be regional only?
Fans won’t be allowed to attend games. Will the media also be locked out or confined only to home venues with the proper spacing in the press box?
Will every single person on the planet need a Zoom account?
I posed a question on Twitter yesterday whether fans will view a schedule of 50-some games and say, “At least it’s baseball and it’s better than nothing,” or “Why bother?”
I knew the responses would be mixed. You can’t get everyone to agree.
For every “The season is too long anyway and I’m stoked for baseball,” there was another, “Don’t even bother if it’s just 50 games.”
MLB will bother because owners crave that postseason money.
“Stupidity runs amuck,” also made its way onto my timeline. Many fans and members of the industry and media would agree.
Some other examples:
“Why bother? But I know me, I’ll watch” - @DoubleToughDyl
“Both sides are trying to use these circumstances to gain leverage in the next labor deal. I understand not wanting to budge but it’s bad optics” - @gtothanow
“I’ll take what I can get but watching millionaires and billionaires argue about money is getting old.” - @JLoPhD
“I lean towards the first personally. It’s frustrating to see the way it has been handled. I understand there will be a revenue hit, but there have got to be ways the teams can make up some of that. Sell the giveaway items, autographed merch, special commemorative things, etc.” - @jtb81100
“Completely uninterested in a paper tiger champion. I would focus on next season and refund season tix holders in full with interest.” - @tsday23
“One purpose of the 162-game season is to limit the influence of luck in determining the eventual champion. Luck would play an enormous role in a 50-game season.” - @bowdenzoo
“Two slices of bacon might not be six slices of bacon, but it’s sure better than no bacon.” - @Aubie_13
“Depends on the players. I understand they are already playing hard ball” - @JoeWendling
“As an Orioles fan. I look at it as saying, “so you are telling me we have a chance?” - @kedzcam1
“Let’s do it whatever - Orioles might have an outside shot baby” - @MikeAdki22
“Talking heads @espn and @MLBNetwork gonna be unbearable when the @Orioles are crowned World Series champs of a 50 game season.” - @ZWnBawlmer
I’m envisioning a scenario, because I’ve slowly gone mad, where the Orioles get hot for a month and sneak into the playoffs. And Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias will be asked again whether the rebuild is over.
“No,” he’ll say.
“But you made the playoffs,” will be the response.
Some of us will laugh.
OK, back to Twitter:
“I mean I’ll be happy to see baseball. But at same time why even bother. Both sides have taken the enjoyment out of the game for me with all the bickering.” - @Spottedbeard
“I’ll take anything at this point.” - @Christian_Ruark
“Beggars can’t be choosers. I would watch over-40 beer league slow pitch if it was on TV.” - @SoBoKevin
“I’ll watch it, but I’m not going to care any more about these playoffs than the regular season. It’ll be a novelty tournament.” - @ctorreybaseball
“I can’t wait to watch Giancarlo Stanton hit .023 while Mike Tauchman hits .800” - @thealexjackson
“No. Not if the players aren’t getting paid their share. Players over Owers, every time.” - @keithunbothered
“Are they going to be safe? That’s mine.” - @PurpleOrange05
Oh, yeah, the safety issue. Health comes first. Not money. You just don’t hear much about the former.
Now, again, back to Twitter:
“I’m not bothering with any season from MLB or any other major sport anymore. Tired of the politics of it, the business of it, and they don’t deserve my devotion or love anymore.” - @EdtheMythical1
“I’d take a 1 game season at this point” - @StephenPAdams
“I’ll take 50 games. Every little bit of normalcy helps, baseball in the summer is normal!” - @buzzpinson
“I like it .... but any ‘champion’ will be diminished so I would be careful about crowning someone World Series Champion ... maybe just “weird 2020 winner” or something” - @mdprguy
“It would be the equivalent of a 5 game NFL season, which everyone would likely agree is ridiculous” - @Lance_Britton
“A 50 game season is like a 5 game nfl season... why bother” - @HNate717
“At least we get baseball! We can’t not have a season! Any amount of baseball works for me! - @DiehardOsFan86
“I’d rather @mlb take the season off rather than come up with some sham of a season that doesn’t involve including fans” - @bmguido
“Play games Even if stats are not documented as official results. Games will be entertainment for fans and families. Need positive distractions/entertainment.” - @DaneDogGuy
“Both sides are now responsible for damaging the game, but no baseball would be a disaster them both. The fans have had enough” - @RBP0001
“O’s can’t lose 100 games if they only play 50” - @JButta321
“I miss baseball. I miss going to games, sitting at home with my wife watching games. Whether its 50 or 150 I think it’s more about having some sort of normalcy back in my life.” - @blarvatz
“It feels like nothing more than an exhibition season. But, *sighhhh*, at least it is baseball.” - @clivelyone75
“The pure pleasure I get from watching games tells me it’s better than nothing. I agree that Manfred isn’t up to the job.” - @jtstarkraven
“One week long round robin tournament in Las Vegas! Final two brackets play best of seven for world title!” - @LenAtPlay
(Sign me up for this one.)
“I think as with everything else this year, you find the good in it and enjoy it for what it is. Lemons and lemonade.” - @jgpinsky
“I think more along the lines of better than nothing, but also a sense of “it doesn’t really count” as a season.” - @wayhip
“I hate being a sheep for baseball to run over continually, but I agree. 50 is better than nothing. Baseball can’t be ruined, even by the morons that are running it now.” - @charmcitydeac
“Why don’t they just flip a coin and call it a day.” - @StanleyRayToday
“I’m in the “at least it’s baseball” camp, but I’m turned off a bit by public bickering. I blame Manfred & the owners most, but as someone who negotiates contracts for a living I don’t believe Clark and the MLBPA handled the negotiation well even if they have the moral high ground” - @shw001
“I just don’t want the O’s to luck into a good season and ruin our 2021 pick. I know - that is sad but for me, it’s true.” - @timcooke82
“*health caveat* I can’t imagine being upset about number of games or lack of fans. It was never going to be normal. Enjoy the ride.” - @IntrglactcUtley
“No sport has wounded its loyal fans more than baseball. In this #YearofSadness where we REALLY need the magic of the grand old game, 1. Owners and 2. Players flat out #selfish. That’s what #BigMoney creates.” - @SteveLevy17
“Why bother. . . I am so fed up with both sides and their who will blink first mentality.. . U have a sport that is losing viewership and participants so “let’s just argue, look like clowns take the year off.” Hmmmm supposed to be the smartest people available negotiating.” - @OrioleHoudini
“The inability of MLB & the PA to work out an agreement reeks of greed & selfishness, and now it feels like any shortened season is simply a bastardized version forced down our throats to mitigate the financial losses of the League. Why even bother?” - @OriolesAaron
“Why even bother? What sets baseball apart from other sports, and makes it special is the day-to-day grind of a LONG season. To see who can stay healthy for that grind... which teams can maintain a high level of play through it, etc.” - @ATCguy24
(There was a clown face emoji at the end of this one.)
“Sure it’s baseball but how will we even know ‘did Mustard win?’ ” - @BobbyMiller3
That one made me chuckle. This one raises an interesting point and really shows how far the sport is going to stray from tradition:
“One thing for sure Roch...the intensity will be off the charts nightly with the season being a sprint not a marathon!” - @coachpeteyoung
Here’s a two-parter from @etkeld. It’s a thinker and should lead its own discussion:
“1/ I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I love baseball, miss the rhythms of life that revolve around the season and know that in some cases the return of a partial season could ease some of the stress of life. But ...
“2/ At this time, I really wonder if the distraction of baseball wouldn’t give some of us (re: middle-class white people) an excuse to lose focus on the important issues of racism that need to be addressed.”