Commissioner Rob Manfred Not As Sure About MLB Season
We continue to play the waiting game about how things will unfold with the 2020 Major League Baseball season. The campaign was originally slated to begin on March 26 before the whole COVID-19 pandemic came through and wreaked havoc on the globe. On March 12, Opening Day was put on pause until further notice. There have been a variety of potential plans pitched to get things going, some more farfetched than others. Proposals have been sent back and forth between the owners and the players’ association, then summarily rejected by the other side. The talking heads have had a field day trying to figure out what might eventually transpire.
As it stands, three months after the league was paused two weeks before Opening Day, we’re really no closer to a solution than we were back then. On Friday, the owners pitched a 70 to 75-game season where players would get somewhere between 80 and 85 percent of their pro-rated salaries. As has been the case with the majority of the offers being kicked around, it was clear that the offer wasn’t going to get far with Pirates pitcher Trevor Williams saying that the offer “expired when the owners hit send.” Hardly the kind of encouraging statement you’d want to receive from the MLBPA.
Over the weekend, the players rejected that offer and told the league to get a schedule together. MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said Saturday: "Further dialogue with the league would be futile. It's time to get back to work. Tell us when and where."
Now, after being “100 percent confident” that there would be a MLB season in 2020, commissioner Rob Manfred said on Monday that he isn’t as confident about getting teams back on the diamond at this point thanks to the lack of communication between the owners and players. He told Mike Greenberg that “I'm not confident. I think there's real risk; and as long as there's no dialogue, that real risk is gonna continue.”
According to a source that spoke with the Los Angeles Times, the league won’t move ahead with planning a schedule until the MLBPA waives their right to claim that the owners violated the agreement that was struck in March between the two sides. Manfred reiterated that the owners remain 100 percent committed to having a season in 2020 but the players “decision to end good-faith negotiations” has hampered the ability for getting things going again. He does recognize the negative optics that the situation continues to shine on the league, saying:
"It's just a disaster for our game, absolutely no question about it. It shouldn't be happening, and it's important that we find a way to get past it and get the game back on the field for the benefit of our fans.”
So it remains a waiting game for the two sides to try and hammer something out that will get players back on the field. Each day leads the league closer to a result that no one ultimately wants and the resulting fallout, not to mention credibility damage that the sport would take should the season be lost, is something that can’t be easily measured. There’s no guarantee that things will be any better in the offseason, especially with the collective bargaining agreement expiring after the 2021 campaign. It’s going to be interesting to see if the two sides can put their differences aside and get back to actually playing instead of bickering and throwing out sound bites that are utterly meaningless. One can only hope that something useful comes out of this and no one is left lamenting that there was no baseball in 2020 thanks to the stupidity and greed by both sides.