Why does everything have to be such a tug of war these days? There are enough various opinions on things these days that if you said the sky is blue, many people would argue it was grey or want clarity of hue! Everything does NOT have to be 100% laid out for you nor does it have to be 100% planned correctly. The key to anything in life or business is the ability to take action. This leads to the current negotiation of the MLB owners and the players union.
The owners have sent or at least are discussing/negotiating a plan for the games to begin for the 2020 season. That is, it for the good news. The two sides are working out the parameters such as schedule, number of games, DH rules, and other things. This is not the issue though. The problem is money. Doesn’t it always come to the money? The owners are asking the player to take less money.
That side of the discussion is about the loss of revenue for the sport. There is an expectation of no fans to start or maybe even the entire season which leads to less revenue. There are several teams who seem to have financial hardships mostly from smaller market teams. Teams are being sued from fans that have purchased tickets yet have not been refunded. All the teams have asked their executives, scouts, trainers, office workers, and such to accept lesser pay due to the pandemic. The owners have already reached an agreement with the players union this season regarding how they would pay them. It was based on a percentage of games played. An example is a talked-about 82 game schedule. 82 games are 50% of the normal games played so players would be getting paid 50% of their salary. At the time of this agreement, the owners had assumed there would be fans and the revenue stream would be comparable to seasons of the past. Now they are saying that without fans, they will lose money for every game played. They want the players to take a payroll reduction like the rest of their staff has. They are proposing that of all the monies, the owners and players will split it 50-50. The player's side is saying that they just made an agreement regarding the pay and will not accept a reduction above what they already agreed to. They also are skeptical of the monies that come in being correctly accounted for and it being a lesser amount thus acting as a salary cap. The players are not going to accept anything that resembles a cap.
I can argue properly for each side. If the statements MLB makes are true and the monies are impacting the future of teams or the overall game, then logically it makes sense to ask for the 50-50 split. I do not believe that to be the truth. I believe MLB is trying to make as much money for the owners as possible (which is not necessarily bad, it just looks that way). All businesses should try to maximize profits. The owners are very wealthy people and they got that way by making savvy deals that benefit them. The issue that must be addressed in this circumstance is the trustworthiness of MLB. It requires two sides to trust that the best interests of each are in the deal. It cannot be one-sided.
Now the one thing that is coming across very poorly is the player stance. They are taking to social media and making comments about “fair pay” and they will not play if not paid fairly. I think they have the right to voice their beliefs, but they need to say it, so they don’t come across looking like spoiled millionaires not willing to sacrifice a few bucks in a similar way to the team’s staff. I get their point and it is extremely valid. The presentation of their stance is what is tricky. I would get the union to speak for the players and try to keep them out of the public crosshairs. They also are the ones griping about “risking their lives” to entertain us. Full disclosure, I live in Florida and I can tell you that virtually all of us are interacting and going places. We are not shuttered at home and I personally have no fear of being out. So back to the players, I believe they are being overdramatic in this stance. I am not advocating working in an unsafe environment, but I also think risking your life is a strong statement.
So if I were commissioner and I was having to work this out, I would have to let the players “see the books” to get an understanding of what the financial situation truly is or I would have to allow the agreement they signed this season to the rule of law. I would go back to the owners and have them draw up some other plan/scenario if they disagreed to show their books. This way both sides could trust each other which would lead to a result. The result would not mean baseball being played. This is where I would have to “force” the sides to find agreeable measures that would result in some sort of season. MLB had to work extremely hard to gain back the fans lost via the strike, I would hate to see the sport suffer any further damage over how to safely play the game and pay the players. It has overcome the PEDs and tainted records. It already has a black eye from the Astros cheating scandal but is positioned well and to not only survive, but to thrive. The game is in a place where the stars are youthful, the major hero and villain teams are good, the divisions are starting to become closer in competition, and the future only looks to bring on more young stars! Let us hope the geniuses of MLB and the players union get this right and do not jeopardize the well-being of this sport. Put it together right in this trying time, and the future will reward the give and take agreements that had to be made. I want my MLB back. After watching the KBO and other leagues, it is plainly obvious how good these players are. They are the best in the world. I want to see them play again.